Backstory: On 28th June 2016 I applied to be a director as part of the Kenneth Branagh New Writing Awards at the Windsor Fringe. On the 4th July I was rejected for the following reason.

Dear Ann

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/women/womens-business/10091323/Rosemary-Squire-British-theatres-most-powerful-woman-sadly-we-need-quotas-for-women.html
  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.

Warm regards,

Olorunfemi Fagunwa

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.