Double (XX) Fest 2.0: Why I Began Writing

by Machelle Allman,

Double (XX) Fest 2.0 playwright

Double (XX) Fest 2.0
What's She Building?

Master and Commander.  That’s what did it.  I watched the movie and loved it-the direction, the acting, the efficient and engaging writing-but then it hit me.  Hard.  There were no women in the movie.  None.  Zero.  Of all the women in the “industry,” nobody got a job on this film. Sure, it’s about the Royal Navy in Napoleonic times, so it’s going to have male actors, I begrudgingly told myself, so I started digging.  Production credits?  Male. Music?  Men.  Same with production design and art direction. Oh, the casting directors were female-finally!

So then I started examining my thoughts about the matter.  I liked the film! Why be “begrudging” about it?  If it’s good artistic entertainment, then kudos to them, whoever “they” are.  But I had reached a point of no return. When I watched anything else after “Master and Commander” those faceless crowds of women NOT hired were in the back of my mind.  I kept noticing roles that could have been women that were written and cast as men. Cops, crooks, doctors, lawyers, bartenders.  I also noticed behind the scenes credits for women and gave a mental high-five when I’d see one.  Agnieszka Holland.  Nina Kostroff Noble.
So when I began writing, I made sure to write for women. This doesn’t mean that I’m writing about the Royal Navy and recasting everyone as women and hoping I get away with it.  Nor does it mean that I’m writing about a maternity wing of a hospital so that the majority of the people there have to be biologically female. I’m just making sure that everyone gets a fair shake in my scripts.  When I see a cop in my mind, usually he’s male, but then I make him female, because I can do that in my mind.  I can do that in my scripts.  That’s the fun part about being a writer, making stuff up and changing it around because I can. I would submit that it’s also a duty for those of us who care about issues of equity in addition to entertainment. There are talented women out there looking for opportunities to act, produce, direct, and more, so I make sure to write for them.

The more we write and the more we produce, the less unusual it is to see lots of female names in program credits, which is still statistically unusual. Many thanks to Double (XX) Fest for providing a venue for new plays and giving us jobs. It’s important work.

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Machelle Allman is a playwright, actor and director in the Seattle area. Her play, Smell of Snow, directed by Rachel Delmar, will be produced during the 3rd week of the Double (XX) Fest (May 3-6)  – she will also do double duty as an actor in another play (Residue by Susan Sher) and write overnight for the 24-Hour All-Female PlayFest (Sat, 4/21).

Help us build! We’re running a Kickstarter Campaign closing 4/13…won’t you donate a little to $upport our female writers and playwrights?

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