Playwright Lauren Gunderson explains why she insists her play, I and You, should be cast with actors that are not the same race. Read her explanation here.
Category Archives: Race and Representation in America’s Theatres
TCG Circle: Playwrights Crossing: Young Jean Lee, Kimber Lee, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Writing Across Race Lines
This article talks about the works of three different playwrights, including C1 artist Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Neighbors), that explore narratives outside of their own racial backgrounds. Read the article here.
Catalyst is Coming!: A National Convening of Black Theaters
This HowlRound article by Carmen Morgan talks about how black theaters across the country are asking how will they sustain themselves and remain relevant in a world where the paradigm is shifting so that in 2042, people of color will be the majority in the country. Also, Catalyst is Coming!: A National Convening of Black Theatres, which will bring together represenatives from black theaters from across the country to talk about these pressing issues, will be held in NYC from August 4-7. The event will be livestreamed via HowlRound on August 7.
GreenStage Theatre Company’s “Othello” Casting Controversy
This article details the controversy surrounding GreenStage, located in Seattle, casting a non-African-American actor as Othello. Read the The Stranger‘s article here.
This response to The Stranger’s article, written by Seattle actor J Reese, highlights the “implicit assumptions” and “White Fragility” that is inherit in both the Seattle theatre community and the theatre community around the country.
NEA: Looking Forward, Theater Edition
In this blog post, playwright Jacqueline E. Lawton interviews many women who work in theaters across America (including Director of New Work at c1 Ilana Brownstein and c1 artist Aditi Brennan Kapil) on where they see “opportunities for growth/unexplored challenges/gaps to be filled in your arts discipline.” Read the responses here.
Playbill.com: Sundance Playwrights Sound Off on Female Emergence, Blacklisting and Advocacy Group The Kilroys
This playbill.com article features playwrights Annie Baker (C1 artist: The Flick, The Aliens), Sheila Callaghan, and Dominique Morisseau talking about gender parity, race, and class on America’s stages. Read the article here.
Rounding Up #TheSummit
On Feb 17, 2014, Peter Marks of The Washington Post hosted an event called The Summit — it was a public conversation with several of D.C.’s leading artistic directors. As Peter noted in an article for The Washington Post, “Several months ago, Molly Smith, artistic director of Arena Stage, approached me with an intriguing offer: organizing and moderating a series of discussions, with theater people and topics of my choosing, onstage before an audience at her theater.” It was the first of three planned public fora — the others are scheduled for March 24 (focusing on actors), and April 28 (playwrights and directors). The event with Artistic Directors was not livestreamed, but it was live-tweeted by several attendees, chief among them Elissa Goetschius, artistic director of Baltimore’s Strand Theater. It’s probably fair to say that no one involved expected the event to blow up twitter as it did that evening, nor to spark a renewal of the national conversation on gender parity and representation on American stages.
In an effort to capture the vast amount of conversation that evening on twitter, and to bank Elissa’s excellent live-tweet reportage, I created a Storify (a kind of twitter narrative) of the tweets using the hashtag #TheSummit, which you can find HERE.
There was a tidal wave of response to #TheSummit, and I’m using this space to attempt to catalogue it for future reference. If I’ve missed an article of note, please let me know in the comments section.
• Elissa Goetschius wrote a narrative account of The Summit for 2AMT: “Climbing #TheSummit”
• DC Theatre Scene’s account, by Brett Steven Ableman
• Brett Steven Abelman continued on the subject via his personal blog: “Season Programming and Personal Agency”
• MD Theatre Guide: “Through Lines: The Summit Part 1 — The State of Washington Theatre”
• Christine Evans: “Cumulative Advantage and Women Playwrights”
• WE EXIST, an open-source list of female playwrights, initiated as a response comments at The Summit that women playwrights weren’t “in the pipeline” that runs to major stages for production.
• Holly Derr for HowlRound.com: “The Myth of the American Theatre Pipeline”
• It was already in the works when The Summit happened, but Boston playwright Patrick Gabridge’s count of the Boston area theatre season (looking at gender and ethnic diversity for playwrights and directors) was well timed for this conversation. It’s in three parts: Part 1 (large and mid-sized theatres) — Part 2 (small/fringe scene & overall numbers) — Part 3 (New England theatre).
• This one preceded The Summit by about 2 weeks, but is topically related: Ms Magazine’s “Binders Full of Women and People of Color Playwrights”
UPDATE 3/17/14: Here are some additional, pertinent articles. Thanks to everyone for the links.
• Chicago Tribune: “In Chicago, Plays by Women, Bucking the National Trend”
• Philadelphia’s genre-defying performance group Swim Pony also took on #TheSummit
• Some context for Pat Gabridge’s Boston count (linked above) — here’s a count I did for Boston’s 2012-13 Season.
• Mike Lew was prompted by #TheSummit to address how “Arts Education Won’t Save Us From Boring Inaccessible Theatre.” And in case you missed it at the time, Mike also wrote wisely on gender parity in the theatre, back in June, 2013.
• Rick Davis on HowlRound: “Plays by Women: One Theater’s Story”
And for those who follow our C1 Intersection blog, you’ll have encountered these next two articles before — they touch on #TheSummit, and deserve a 2nd mention:
• Playwright Gwydion Suilebhan asks what we might mean when we say “gender parity.” And, here’s his count of DC theatre seasons regarding racial and gender diversity.
• Patrick Gabridge took on the topic of “Creating a Diverse World: Choices, Opportunity, and Trade-Offs for Playwrights and Theaters”
• Joel Brown in The Boston Globe framed the issues of The Summit in terms of Boston theatre: “Spotlight Shines of Area Theater’s Diversity Gap”
• BOSTON THEATRE TOWN HALL MEETING ON DEFINING GENDER PARITY: SATURDAY APRIL 27, 11A, AT BOSTON PLAYWRIGHTS’ THEATRE. Rsvp at the link.
— Ilana M. Brownstein, Director of New Work at Company One & Founding Dramaturg at Playwrights’ Commons
Thoroughly Modern Millie Controversy at Local High School
This Boston Globe by Ellen Ishkanian article talks about the controversy surrounding Newton North High School’s production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Read the article to find out how students, parents, and administration responded to the outcry regarding the show’s racial stereotypes of Asian Americans.
In this Boston Globe article by Don Aucoin, he highlights the issues surrounding producing plays that come from “problematic source material, as in the case of Thoroughly Modern Millie, and says that one of the underlying issues is that older plays haven’t caught up to our increasing diversity. He also highlights our production of Neighbors by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins for using stereotypes to show the racial assumptions we still make in today’s world. Read the article here.
This column from the Boston Globe talks about high schools feeling fearful of producing certain plays due to content. Read the column here.
In this editorial also from the Boston Globe, the writer talks about how producing controversial plays can prove educational to students. Read the opinion piece here.
TCG Circle: Bag & Baggage is Unique
This article by Scott Palmer, artistic director of Bag&Baggage in Hillsboro, OR, talks about how their recent grant from Met Life/TCG’s A-Ha Program: Think It, Do It, enabled them to connect with communities unaccustomed to theatre. They discovered how the language they use to talk about their company is hitting their rural neighbors to the west in addition to other discoveries they’ve made in their research. Read the article here.
Star Tribune: A Moment of Unprecedented Diversity on Twin Cities Stages
This Star Tribune article details how theatre companies in the twin cities have addressed concerns regarding diversity in their current season’s programming. Read the article here.