Where Have All the Young Women Gone?

As both a publisher and a playwright, I hear quite often from theatres “We need more plays with female roles — good roles!” So when writing a new play, “Pretty Little White Heads” this past year for a competition in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I created four meaty female roles for young women between the ages of 18 and 22. I figured at best, high school students could play the roles as well as the young 30-somethings who can still pass for their early 20’s. Was I in for a surprise! First, after winning a spot in the competition and discussing the play with the director, I get a disturbing email that he was having trouble casting the play. How can that be, I wondered? Aren’t there supposed to be tons of female actors just waiting for their chance to get on stage? Obviously, not like I’ve been led to believe. Fortunately the play was ultimately cast and Riot Act, Inc., did a great job producing the premiere of “Pretty Little White Heads”—but as I get ready for the 2nd production of the play in Helena, Montana in the Last Chance New Play Fest, we’ve run into the exact same problem. I’ve contacted the theatre department at Carroll College, the drama department at both Capital High School and Helena High School, the theatre education program at Grandstreet Theatre and every person I know who may know anyone who can play an 18-22 year old. The good news is, an actor/director friend is willing to encourage his high school senior and recently college graduate daughters, both fine young actors, to take a look at the play. I’m optimistic and excited. And if they agree to take on the project I can only hope that they have two young friends who are equally willing to come on board!

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