Visualizing the (lacking) diversity of directors at the Mark Taper Forum

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Two weeks ago, we shared a series of graphs that tracked 50 years of playwrights at the Mark Taper Forum through the lens of gender and race. This analysis, based on Center Theater Group’s production history and done by graduate student Christina Ramos, tracked the trends (or lack thereof) on the Taper’s stage.

This week, we shift from playwrights to directors and look at the same dimensions.  As you might suspect, it echoes the complexion of the playwrights. First, the racial breakdown across the Taper’s 298 productions:

(You can filter this graph isolated both race and gender by scrolling right to the filters. Hover over the graph and you’ll see both the total number of plays and gender/race of the director.)

When we isolate gender, female directors once again make up just slightly more than 15 percent  of the total.

Unlike female playwrights who have never enjoyed more than half of the plays in a given season, female directors have directed more than 50 percent  of a season’s plays but only in three of the 50 seasons and only recently (2013, 2016, and 2017-18)

When we look at the racial diversity of directors through time, we can echo what we wrote about playwrights, “small peaks are always followed by valleys” and across time there are no consistent trends towards diversity.

If you want to dig into this data yourself, and discover which plays each director was responsible for, you can click on any of the blocks in the graph below (each block represents a play).

What about our other regional theaters, The Geffen Playhouse and South Coast Repertory?

That’s the next data we are going to tackle along with the correlation between playwright and director race.

Notes on Methodology:
In cases where more than one playwright was listed, the first playwright listed is the one included in the data.

and In cases where more than one director was listed, the first director listed is the one included in the data.

Race for both playwrights and directors was determined through bios, press releases, interviews, and photographs. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a start. We are happy to correct any discrepancies.

In the cases of mixed-race playwrights and directors, a judgement was made based on bios, press releases, and interviews on which ethnicity to identify them as. They were never identified as white.

We welcome any comments, questions, suggestions, or insights at: