In Raleigh and beyond, the theatre production industry is male dominated. Yes even in 2019 where women have the right to vote, wear pants to work, and are working to receive equal pay they still are not receiving director positions for theatre productions. Why is that? Let’s learn more from the Women’s Theatre Festival Team below. 


What is the Women’s Theatre Festival

The Women’s Theatre Festival (WTF) is a group of theatre artists who seek to address gender parity, diversity, and inclusion in the Triangle theatre community (and beyond!). Their mission is to create, produce, and promote extraordinary theatre by women and all marginalized genders. This year’s festival was held at HQ Raleigh’s Warehouse location on the weekend of July 12th-14th. This group of changemakers could not fit our HQ mission closer, from the moment they walked in our space, we knew that we wanted to help grow their story. 


“When we say marginalized genders, we are including people who identify as trans, nonbinary, or basically anything other than a cisgender male.” –Rachel Kasten,Community Outreach Coordinator


The WTF Purpose 

“The perspectives we see in American theatre are predominantly white and male. A local study from 2012-2014 showed that only 15%-25% of shows produced in the Triangle were written by women and only a third were directed by women. So a group of women and allies decided to get together and brainstorm how to fix that.”

From the above quote from Rachel Kasten it is clear that there is a direct need to change the demographics within the theatre world. Not that men should not own their spot in the directors chair, but more so that we should see a new level of collaboration. So in conclusion of a number of studies and a powerful dream of the founder Ashley Popio the interactive and hands on learning workshop was born. 


The Festival allows them to do several things (all at the same time!):

  • – produce new/experimental works written by women
  • – give more women the opportunity to direct shows so they can build their resumes
  • – emphasize the voices of women of color and members of the LGBTQ community
  • – connect women theatre makers from across the region to provide mentoring and support
  • – train women in specific areas where the parity gaps are the biggest, such as lighting design and theatre criticism


Local Impact 

In our interview with Rachel we dove deep into the impact they are making within our local community and beyond.  We talked about how they provide child care for interested mothers at WTF and provide information on how to balance parenthood while on the job. Directing can take a large amount of an individual’s time, leaving a misconception that parents do not belong in the role. We loved hearing Rachel speak about the variety of ways scheduling can be set up, along with the need for in house childcare options for all theatre staffing. Rachel also spoke about their local growth: 

“We know for a fact that we’re seeing positive change in the Triangle! Over the past few years, both the percentage of shows written and directed by women have increased significantly. Last year, we almost reached parity in directing! Beyond that, we have received lots of incredibly positive feedback from participants in this year’s Festival. It was described as “transformative” and “fulfilling.” “


Setting the Stage at HQ Raleigh 

As it often seems, Rachel and the crew discovered HQ Raleigh by coincidence. The crew was walking around downtown Raleigh in search of the perfect venue to make the magic happen. stumbled upon our blue wall and Rachel remembered hearing of our space from mutual friends. Knowing HQ stood for diversity and impact, they decided to stop in for a tour and we must say it was love at first sight (for us too). 

For WTF our flexible space provided a multipurpose opportunity for learning, networking, and even the space for performances. For both HQ and WTF collaboration is a core value of how success is born and so what better opportunity than to grow together? In line with their mission, family is extremely important so our mothers room was a great option for new/ nursing mothers at the event. Below you can see Rachel’s review of their time in our space:

“HQ was the absolute perfect location for the workshop portion of the Festival. We offered nearly 30 workshops and panels over two days, and HQ was able to accommodate everything from workshops that required movement to roundtable discussions. The cafe area was a beautiful place for participants to get snacks and network in between sessions. HQ was able to fulfill all of our A/V needs as well. And of course, you can’t beat the downtown location! HQ is within walking distance of several of our performance venues and of Morgan Street Food Hall.”


How to Get Involved 

If you are as inspired by this story as we were, we encourage you to contact [email protected] and see how you can get involved. Also if you feel inspired to help out the cause they have multiple opportunities to give or host an artist, which you can view here. Also if you are interested in working alongside powerful entrepreneurs we would love for you to come tour with us. We have available office suites at any of our four locations, along with open co-working space. So do not hesitate and book a tour today!