Link Roundup! – 3/6/15
An essay about August Wilson is up at The New Republic, as well as a link to the PBS American Masters documentary August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand, which aired recently to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Wilson’s death.
The economic hardship and systemic racism suffered by African Americans were hardly the only subjects Wilson tackled. Seven Guitars deals with black manhood. In King Hedley II, set in the 1990s, actors, such as future Oscar nominee Viola Davis, powerfully brought women’s reproductive choice into an African American arena. Wilson also delved into the paranormal in The Piano Lesson and Gem of the Ocean. In that way, the playwright perhaps helped us see aspects of our lives even we tried to erase.
At The Guardian, Maddy Costa writes about the need for theatres to be less uptight about the behaviors and disruptions of their audiences, and examines how theatre culture could change if “relaxed” performances weren’t just one-off events:
A vital question was raised at the event: what might the theatre landscape look like if it were more relaxed, not occasionally, but all the time? Last summer, a Theatre Charter was proposed, detailing expected behaviour for the benefit of occasional theatregoers: no rustling sweet wrappers, no mobile phones, definitely no eating McDonald’s. How much more inviting might theatres feel if they didn’t just reject the snobbery embedded in such a charter, but offered a different manifesto, in which it was clear that all people – whatever their backgrounds, ages, physical or mental abilities – were welcome to see any performance, any day they wanted, together?
The Stranger recently featured a story about Seven Ways to Get There, a new play at ACT in Seattle that was conceptualized by a local CEO named Dwayne Clarke, who fully funded the project to guarantee its production. Melissa Hillman’s response to the article, an open letter to Clarke, is also very worth reading.
In New York City, the de Blasio administration just announced plans for a major study that looks into the diversity of boards, staffs, and audiences of the city’s many cultural organizations. It remains to be seen what changes or initiatives might result from such a study, but it’s an important and exciting undertaking for such a large cultural hub. The New York Times has more on the plan:
But the commissioner said the city had no intention of instituting quotas or determining future financial support for arts groups based on their success in achieving diversity. (Only organizations that seek city financing will be surveyed, and their participation will be required.) The city’s consultant on the survey will provide the city only with data on overall trends, not the findings for particular institutions, he said.
“We’re not looking to be punitive,” Mr. Finkelpearl said. “We don’t want a moment when a list gets published that says, ‘Here are the least and most diverse organizations.’ The administration is committed to diversity as a general goal. We want to know by sector — what can we learn from how people develop audiences and staffs and boards, highlighting the positive, sharing best practices.”