How were shows selected and collected?
The show selection criteria were:
- The performance took place in the 9 county San Francisco/Bay Area: San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Marin, Sonoma, San Mateo, Solano, and Napa counties OR the contract’s city of origin was within the 9 county San Francisco/Bay Area (this typically excludes commercial productions of recent Broadway hits that are on a national tour).
- The company pays their actors: no school performances or shows done by a company that identifies as a community theater or amateur theater. There are some unpaid actors included in the count, typically working as interns/apprentices/students on a production that also included union actors.
- The performance was a full production: no staged readings, developmental showings, etc.
To collect show data, audience members and artists answered questions in an online submission form. The vast majority of shows collected were submitted by someone who either saw the show or was involved in the production. Show submissions came from actors, directors, playwrights, stage managers, technical crew, producers, and artistic and administrative staff. In the first few months of the project, there were a few shows that I collected via online programs (fewer than 15 of the total shows counted).
Why are there so many more playwrights and directors than shows?
Some of the shows included were written or directed by teams. Other shows might include multiple short plays, which may be written by more than one playwright and/or directed by more than one director. For musicals, the director category includes both directors and musical directors, and the playwright category includes writers of the book, lyrics and/or music.
Did you count transgender/gender non-conforming artists?
Yes. Any artist who self-referred with the pronoun she/her was counted as female and he/him was counted as male. If the artist used pronouns such as zhe/hir/they, they were counted as transgender. Mostly this info was gleaned from program bios, but in a few cases, I searched online for interviews with artists that included questions about their preferred pronouns. I fully acknowledge that my counting method privileges a female/male gender binary. Because the numbers of transgender artists counted were extremely small, I did not include them in this version of the report.
Why didn’t you count race/ethnicity in this project?
I felt that an accurate reporting of race/ethnicity would have required all artists involved to self-report their ethnic identity/racial background, and given the resources I had available for this project, I didn’t have the capacity to do that. Asking those in the audience to speculate on the ethnicity of the actors they saw was something I was not comfortable doing. I urge organizations with more funding and organizational infrastructure to track race/ethnicity in future data gathering efforts.
Why didn’t you count age in this project?
Like race/ethnicity, accurate reporting of age would have required artists to self-report. I was not comfortable with asking others to speculate on the age of actors they saw, and collecting self-reported data was beyond the capacity of this volunteer project. I urge organizations with more funding and organizational infrastructure to track age in future data gathering efforts.
Who do you count as a writer for adaptations and translations?
When a show is adapted from non-theatrical source material, the person doing the adaptation is counted as the playwright, not the author of the original material. For translations, the original playwright is counted, not the translator.
How do you count doublecast roles?
For doublecast roles, both actors are counted as full performers. Most often, this happens with children who alternate performances.
How do you count musicians?
Counting musicians depends on what they are asked to do in the performance. If the musicians are not onstage and do not have any lines, they aren’t counted as actors. If they are seen onstage, it depends on whether or not they are given lines and/or blocking, wear costumes that integrate with the cast, have character names or are simply credited as ‘musician’. This is probably the most important counting related reason for seeing the shows live versus using a program or online resource to count.
Did you include understudies in your actor count?
No. Understudies are integrated into productions in very different ways at theaters in the Bay Area. In some cases they are paid a full weekly salary and their photo and bio is included in the program along with the cast, and elsewhere they may be uncompensated and/or uncredited. They may be only hired as an understudy, or also acting in the show in a smaller role with understudying a lead or larger role included in their job description. Because of the great variety of understudy compensation and obligation, I chose to leave them out of this report.