Recent grad told she doesn't have the right set of genitals to get theatre job
Theatre director and recent graduate Olorunfemi Fagunwa has just received a rejection email from a theatre company, telling her that she didn't have the right set of genitals to direct a play at the Windsor Fringe Festival.
Olorunfemi, who recently graduated from the University of Surrey, applied to be a director of a play at the festival as part of the Kenneth Branagh New Writing Award.
The reply she eventually received for her applications told her that whilst they would keep her CV on file, she didn't have enough of a penis for the job this time around.
The reply, which Olorunfemi shared on Facebook, under the caption:
"On 28th June 2016 I applied to be a director as part of the Kenneth Branagh New Writing Awards at the Windsor Fringe Festival. On the 4th July I was rejected for the following reason."
Understandably miffed that the theatre should reject her because of her lack of a penis, Olorunfemi shared her response to the email on Facebook.
The theatre director, whose credits include "Super Skinny Bitches" at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, started her Facebook post with the headline "WHEN YOU FIND OUT THAT HAVING A PENIS MAKES YOU A BETTER THEATRE DIRECTOR" and it only gets better from there.
Her letter to Ann and the committee involved in the decision reads in full...
Many thanks for your email. I’m not one for political correctness so I was genuinely appreciative that you were so open about the feeling of the committee and the writer. I’d like to be just as open. Being that the year is 2016, and that women have acquired the right to vote and now are heads of state, you’ll understand why I’d beg to differ on the point that a ‘male director would be better for this play’.
1. I was sent a play to read and consider. The play had a male character as its main protagonist and the surrounding characters/voices in the play were also male. At no point was it a genuine occupational requirement that a man be the director of that play. It is and was not a necessity for the directorial success of it which is why you sent it to me!
2. This right here is STUPID! Sexism as decision making tool is completely unintelligent and those who help to perpetuate it further, especially in so obvious a manner, are beyond foolish! The gender imbalance both onstage and backstage is no secret. Furthermore the ratio of men to women directing the plays coming out from this award only seem to further support that fact (sitting at about 2:1). And let’s not forget that one of your former judges, namely Rosemary Squire has openly discussed the need for more women in the theatre — see article http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/Rosemary-Squire-British-theatr…
3. I do not blame you alone, this was a collective decision so I blame the collective — the committee (this anonymous committee) and the writer (who clearly believes that stories told about a man should be told and directed by a man, possibly only a white man, of which I am neither).
4. I expect more from the Kenneth Branagh New Writing Award committee and thought they would at the very least encourage diverse voices in helping to tell stories and not just with regards to writers, but also with directors (we are storytellers too). Isn’t that part of the reason we have new writing awards?
In conclusion thank you, the committee and writer, for removing pretty much any possibility that I will do any directing at the Windsor Fringe festival and for making the detrimental self-injurious decision to not select me as director based on my gender. Without a doubt your willingness to make decision based on my organs and hormones serves as a reflection of your incompetence.
p.s. you should probably take a look at your diversity with regards to ethnicity too but I dare say that issue is for a separate email.
Lack of judgement
Since the email and Olorunfemi's response have gone all over the internet, Dr Mike Denny, chairman of The Windsor Fringe contacted WhatsOnStage to apologise for the incident:
"The Windsor Fringe would like to apologise for the unacceptable and hurtful contents of the e-mail to Olorunfemi Fagunwa."
"The contents of the email were a result of extremely poor communication and lack of judgment and not a reflection on the selection process. All applicants are judged on merit only and it is a priority of Windsor Fringe to promote and deliver equality and diversity as we support new and emerging artists... We have confirmed our three directors, all selected on merit only."
"We deeply regret the offence caused by the email content."
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