This article continues our series on Designing Women.
I started working on a project about designers in League of Resident Theatres (LORT) because I wanted to know who gets hired to design in regional theatres in the United States. I wanted to know about racial/ethnic and gender demographics amongst theatre designers. As a person of color, I strongly believe in self-identification. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to gather enough self-identified demographic information to be statistically representative. So this report looks only at gender, which I generally figured out from artist bios.
This report looks at set, costume, lighting, and sound designers only. While I did track video/projection/multimedia designers, in the early years of the study particularly, many of these designers went without credit and in some cases, no one could actually remember or find any information on who the designer was. I'm happy to share the raw data I found if anyone is interested in trying to figure it out.
While many regional theatres exist outside of the then-seventy four members of the League of Resident Theatres, I decided I wanted to study results from theatres all over the country and with a common collective bargaining agreement with United Scenic Artists, Local USA-829. All categories of LORT Stages, from A+ to D, were included as determined by the LORT-AEA agreement (weekly box office receipts and Tony eligibility) and the LORT-SDC agreement (C Category divided into two by number of seats). Many designers work in a variety of venues and situations, and many with LORT productions being only a small percentage of their overall work.
I collected data from websites, Theatre Communication Group member profiles, Theatre World Book Series, Playbill.com, and various newspaper and internet review sites. After collecting all the data I could find, I wrote each theatre individually to ask for confirmation and corrections. Of the seventy-four theatres, sixty-one responded with confirmation of 2223 of the 2677 productions. All the graphs are based only on confirmed information. I excluded the following: tours, events, galas, Theatre for Youth Audiences shows, and any production that was presented rather than produced.
In cases where theatres run their seasons yearly, the 2010 season was combined with the 2009-10 season for statistical purposes, and so forth. Only lead designers, no assistants or associates, were counted. In cases where multiple designers worked as co-designers, they each got partial credit. For example, Joe and Jane were the co-scenic designers of a production, so they each received 0.5 in the designer counting.
If you work at one of these theatres and would like your specific statistics, please write me at email@example.com from your institutional email, and I’ll happily send them to you.