Female Voices in Musical Theatre: How our Transmission Fund helped Wigmore & Green’s musical theatre careers
Caroline Wigmore
Musical theatre writer
13th December 2019
Female Voices in Musical Theatre: How our Transmission Fund helped Wigmore & Green’s musical theatre careers

Jen Green and Caroline Wigmore are recent recipients of our Transmission Fund, which helped them at a crucial point in their development, both as artists and as women working in theatre. Caroline has written a blog to tell us more about their experience at SHE Festival New York this past June, presenting their new show, ‘The Bachelor Girls’.

If you tell someone that you write musicals, the typical response is “that sounds so fun!”. That word, ‘fun’, makes my eye twitch. I'm one half of the Wigmore & Green writing partnership, made up of Caroline Wigmore and Jen Green; we have about 35 years of theatre experience between us, 6.5 original musicals, 4 children and 2 husbands. At this point, “fun” might not be the appropriate word to describe our work lives, as much as we both love theatre. The truth is that theatre work is hard. And when you add complications such as being a woman and a mother, the challenges are double, or maybe triple.

The respected industry paper The Stage researched gender disparities in the West End over the past decade to find that ‘only four out of 118 musicals had a female composer solely responsible for writing the score’ and that ‘three-quarters of musicals staged in the West End had no women on their writing teams’. What this means, plain and simple, is that the big jobs go to the guys. This also means that the few shows that have a female driven narrative are probably not being written by women...

Thanks to Help Musicians, whose Transmission Fund generously supported this opportunity, we had the honour of presenting a version of our new musical theatre show, ‘The Bachelor Girls’, this past June at the SHE Festival New York, which highlights female writers and stories. ‘The Bachelor Girls’ uses 1920s-influenced music and dance to tell the story of a lost generation of women following World War I. Only 1 in 10 women would marry as there were 2 million more women than men.  These unwanted women struggled to find their place in the world, deemed ‘surplus women’ by the newspapers and encouraged to emigrate to other countries to ease the ‘burden’ on society.

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There's something painful about writing a show like this because 100 years on from when the story was set in 1919, we're still struggling. Women have gained a lot of rights over the past century, but still have the sense that our stories and voices are unwanted. 

We had an exhilarating, exhausting, and productive fortnight in New York. As well as being in rehearsals every day, we had meetings with a multitude of theatre companies and industry contacts. We saw other peoples’ work, from shows at the SHE Festival to standing tickets at Broadway productions.

We were thrilled that our shows were sold-out and received incredible audience feedback. We're incredibly grateful to Help Musicians who helped make this development opportunity possible, which was invaluable to us artistically and as female musical theatre writers.

This trip was so important, not just for this particular project, but also for our wider career development and contacts for the future. We couldn't have done it without your support.

The Transmission Fund is currently accepting applications until 10 January 2020 - apply now

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