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Windsor Fringe apologises after rejecting a director because 'a male would be better'

James Hockaday

James Hockaday

‘Deep regret’ and sincere apologies have been expressed by the Windsor Fringe Festival after rejecting a director for a role because she was female.

On June 28, Olorunfemi Fagunwa applied to be a director of a play as part of the Kenneth Branagh Award for new drama writing.

The festival feature showcases and judges unpublished plays written by amateurs.

The festival, which will run from September 23 to October 9 across the town, responded to Ms Fagunwa’s application saying: “It was a hard decision but the committee and the play’s writer have agreed that a male director would be better for this play.”

The law graduate shared her response to the rejection by organisers on her Facebook page under the heading ‘when you find out that having a penis makes you a better theatre director’.

The London director said: “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.”

She added: “Sexism as [a] 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.”                                     

Windsor Fringe chairman Mike Denny and head of drama awards Ann Trewartha have now issued an apology on their website, saying: “The contents of the email were a result of extremely poor communication and lack of judgement 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 apologise again for the error in judgment of the email content and affirm that all applicants are judged on merit only and this year was a particularly difficult choice as we had many extremely talented directors apply.

“We deeply regret any offence caused by the contents of the email.”

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