Women in Theater Panel Tackles Global Opportunities, Challenges, and Outlook for an Evolving Industry

October 6, 2022 Women in Theater Panel Tackles Global Opportunities, Challenges, and Outlook for an Evolving Industry

NILES, Ill., October 6, 2022 — Shure invited top professional women in the theater industry from around the globe to join Shure President and CEO Chris Schyvinck for a panel discussion around the evolving role of women.

Panelists included:

  • Vicki Hill, Front of House Operator for Theater (UK)
  • Nancy Lam, Chief Theatre Technician, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (Hong Kong)
  • Victoria (Toy) Deiorio, Head of Sound Design at DePaul University (US)
  • Stephanie Farina, Adjunct Professor at The Theatre School at DePaul University, and a Journeymen in IATSE Local 2 of Chicago (US)

The live online broadcast provided a myriad of topics ranging from what inspired these professionals to pursue this career, to challenges faced in the industry and global regions, to advice they have for young women interested in theater production.

“This talented panel of women from all over the globe really provided some fantastic insights into their diverse adventures in theater,” said Schyvinck. “The ability to bring their perspectives forward for the next generation of young women to experience is an essential part of our industry’s efforts to increase inclusion, diversity, equity, and access.”

The following are select excerpts from the panelists on the key topics discussed. The full panel discussion is available here.

Vicki Hill on stereotypical challenges:

“For me, I found the problem was breaking into that next level. And I got a lot of ‘oh but you're so good backstage…you're such a good communicator. Everybody likes working with you backstage, you're really great with the cast, you're really great with stage management. You should just, you know, do that. You're great at it.’ And that's probably the place where I found the barrier. I AM very good at those things but doesn't mean I won't also be very good out front. It doesn't mean that I won't also be very good at a programming a show or engineering. It just means that I am also good backstage. So, I almost found that that was the big barrier for me -- getting people to see me as a leader, as an engineer, as a programmer rather than necessarily a facilitator and a communicator. Simply, I think they're all skills that you need all together, but I think I got kind of pigeon-holed in there for a little bit. And I ended up having to be quite ruthless about turning down work that I didn't want and in pursuit of the work that I did, and it was fine. It worked.”

Nancy Lam on some of the regional challenges faced:

“When I toured in China or South Korea, and when they first saw me as a woman, they were quite surprised. Honestly, they didn't want to listen to me. Especially in Asia, from the history we have, women may be not as high as they think. I just did what I had to do and push and insist. And well, after they listened to what I said, then they followed. So, I think what I did, it made them really surprised (in a good way).”

Toy Deiorio on what the industry can do better to promote women in theater:

“I would say what you're doing right now is having a webinar with women speaking. That alone is enough to open up avenues for those that are seeking support or understanding of what they need to do in order to move forward. I think that's really important. I think companies can hire more than one or two people on sound, especially on the pictures.”

Stephanie Farina on being accepted and advice for the next generation:
“A lot of times for me it comes down to I just need to work harder. I need to be on my stuff. I need to make sure that I'm on top of it, which has actually been extremely beneficial to me in a way because I've had to learn things faster and do things faster, and a little bit better.”

“Be on time. Bring a wrench. And don't be a jerk. I feel like if you follow those three things, you will succeed in any job ever. You don't have to actually bring a wrench -- it's the idea of being prepared.”