The Vista Voice

The Gender Drought

Maddie Roman, Arts and Entertainment copy editor, section writer

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“We have a lot more girls than we have boys.”

“We have an abundance of girls, but little boys”

“There are only girls here, no boys.”

Within high school theater, these are recurring sentiments throughout high school theater. Many drama departments have a lot of girls but little-to-no male involvement. In college and professional theater, however, this is the opposite; they have a surplus of boys but are lacking in girls.

“There may be some gender roles at play in high school theater. Boys tend to learn to not act feminine,” said Vista senior Emily Daniels, assistant director for the upcoming play Radium Girls. “In high school especially, it is difficult to find boys who are willing to break gender norms because it’s such an awkward stage in life.”

Last year, Vista put on two performances that heavily depended on having a few males.  Within the fall play, four boys proudly stood on stage but were outnumbered by the girls.  Preset ideas of masculinity have kept many boys from going into the theater and driven them towards something that doesn’t make them stand out or appear different — more often than not they stick with sports said, Daniels.

This was not the case, however, with Vista’s spring musical, “Bye Bye Birdie”, when senior Trent Jas stepped on stage. This was his first time on a stage and he immersed himself in something unfamiliar to his normal interests but loved every second of this newfound  skill.

This imaginary binary that sets the arts as more feminine and sports as masculine is sadly still present but is weakening more every year leaving hope for it to one day disappear altogether.

“ [I think] gender norms that hold guys back can definitely be broken.  Look at Trent Jas!” said junior Lance Padilla, who was also in the spring production of Bye Bye Birdie. “He was definitely masculine; he played football and was a pretty beefy guy, and unexpectedly stole the show.”

Trent broke the status quo and led the way for other boys to do the same.  This year, more boys showed up than expected and it wasn’t the same crowd normally seen.  Many who auditioned this year are more often seen on the field, but they said Trent’s performance and confidence last year is what drove them to join.

“I really wish I would’ve joined a lot earlier than senior year,” said a misty-eyed Jas last year at his final show. “It’s sad to leave when I found something new that I am good at and genuinely enjoy doing. This cast and crew have become like a family and I’ll definitely miss them and be thankful for this opportunity and encourage others to try something outside the norm like this too.”

“High schoolers, in general, are heavily concerned with fitting in and seeming cool to their peers, but that goes away as soon as high school ends., said Christina Rae, Vista del Lago drama teacher and director of the school’s musicals and plays,

I believe that as theater has become more mainstream, and even “trendy” or “lit” with the popularity of shows like Hamilton and the godlike status of artists like Lin-Manuel Miranda, perhaps we will see a shift soon.”

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1 Comment

One Response to “The Gender Drought”

  1. Christina Rae on November 7th, 2016 10:44 am

    Excellent article, Maddie – great job in raising awareness about this strange gender gap phenomenon that exists in HS theatre. Hopefully we’ll see more male faces onstage at Seussical auditions this winter!

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