Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Theater Artist, Creativity Facilitator

I am Woman, Hear Me Write

Did you hear that?

The clamor of hundreds of theater practitioners standing up and roaring when it was announced that no recipient would receive the $25,000 Wendy Wasserstein prize given to emerging female dramatists.

Why not? Everyone demanded. How can you silence women like that? You cannot say that, out of 19 candidates, there was one worthy of support? That is unbelievable!

The battle waged over a weekend, and in the end came victory. The plays are going to be reevaluated and a prize will be awarded.

In the aftermath of this, I have been thinking about what the prize means. To be eligible for the Wasserstein prize, a female playwright must be under 32 years old. What does that mean? Where did that random age line come from? What does age have to do with being an "emerging playwright?"

While I commend any opportunities given to support female artists, playwrights, authors, musicians in a world which still undermines the value of a female voice, I'm suddenly acutely aware that many of these awards are limited by age as well. Of course I want to support youth as they enter their fields, but I also value the voices of age. How many people change fields, or only discover their desire to write or create at a later age? Some don't find their voice until they've lived, and that voice can be truly powerful.

Can't you be a new voice, and be over 32 years old?

I am a woman. I am trying to become a writer. I am in the middle of a career change (or at least a career adjustment)  which is not easy for anyone at any time of life. But, it seems my worst crime will be that I am over 40.

Yes folks, I've passed over the dreaded age line which allows me to be an up-and-comer and have landed squarely in the middle of a has-been. Funny thing though, I still feel like I have a lot to offer.

So, kudos to the Wasserstein committee for recognizing the error of their ways. But now I'd like to see the development of a grant program that would help women writers of all ages. Wouldn't that be wonderful?