Playwright and WhoDunnit co-founder Ann Waterman. Photo courtesy of WhoDunnit.

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Even though the arts are an area generally ahead of the curve on such things, women remain underrepresented as writers and directors. So it is no small thing that WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theater has won a 2016 International Centre for Women Playwrights (ICWP) 50/50 Applause Award. WhoDunnit is one of the 107 awardees (on five continents) recognized by The ICWP. The 50/50 Applause Awards spotlights theatres whose 2015/16 season included at least 50% plays by women playwrights. In WhoDunnit’s 2015/16 Season, Louisville resident Ann S. Waterman wrote all five plays.

WhoDunnit is one of only two winners in Kentucky, and the only one in the Louisville area (the other being Actors For Children Theatre in Flatwoods). A full list of the winners can be found here:

The International Centre for Women Playwrights started in 1988 with a mission to support women playwrights worldwide and bring attention to their work. The ICWP 50/50 Applause Awards were founded in 2012 to increase awareness and applaud theatres that produced a season with an equal or greater number of plays written by female playwrights. More information about the awards can be found at .

The ICWP reports that a record-breaking number of recipients will receive the 2016 50/50 Applause Awards, which recognizes theatres that produced 50% or more women playwrights in their 2015/16 season of shows. ICWP defines 50/50 by the number of qualifying performances in a theatre’s season. This allows a concrete measurement of the resources being devoted to women playwrights.

For the awards’ 5th anniversary, ICWP recognized 107 recipients in ten countries on five continents. The list includes theatres in Australia, Canada, England, Italy, Kenya, the Philippines, Scotland, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United States. Approximately 32% of the theatres are repeat recipients, demonstrating gender parity in two or more seasons. Recipients range from community and college theatres to internationally renowned theatres.

For several years, the international performing arts industry has been scrutinized for its underrepresentation of women playwrights as well as women in leadership positions in theatre. According to the League of Professional Theatre Women’s (LPTW) 2015 study “Women Count: Women Hired Off-Broadway 2010-2015”, women playwrights were produced 28%-36% of the time. Among ten Australian theatres, 39% of original and adapted works were by women (The National Voice 2106, Australian Writers Guild). The UK’s Purple Seven study “Gender in Theatre” of 2012-2015 seasons reported 28% of playwrights were female.

Though these numbers are higher than they have been in the past, women playwrights are still not receiving their due, and there are many potential reasons. The LPTW study points out that new works by women are more likely to be produced today than those by women in the past, although there are many classic women playwrights. The AWG cites that commissioned adaptations are where women are making the least amount of headway.

A full list of the qualifying seasons by our 50/50 recipients can be found on our website.

WhoDunnit’s production of Ann Waterman’s play Murder by Shadow: The Ghost of Walewind Castle continues through November 5 at the Downtown Bristol in Louisville.

Haunted Mansion: Candlelight Vengeance, A fundraiser for WhoDunnit, will be performed at the Pepin Mansion in New Albany on Sunday, Oct. 23!

For more information visit