Link Roundup! – 9/4/15
This New York Times story on Oregon Shakespeare Festival highlights their new work program and diversity initiatives:
As for diversifying the audience and drawing in more minorities, progress has been made, but it’s a slow process. At some shows I have seen, like Ms. Nottage’s “Sweat,” I couldn’t help but notice that the people onstage were far more ethnically diverse than those in the audience.
“I know that the largest diversity comes from our student audiences,” Mr. Rauch said, while admitting that the theater has a ways to go in terms of reaching out to ethnically diverse audiences. To that end, he and other members of the staff created an Audience Development Manifesto in 2010 meant to address the problem. This document noted that at the time minorities — aside from students — represented just 10 percent of the festival’s audiences; since then it has moved up to 16 percent. It was in 2013 that the company made its website bilingual.
This Guardian post looks at the rise in visibility and training of artists with disabilities in the UK, and ways to continue making theatre accessible:
I want disabled artists to be able to make work that matters to them and connects with an audience, however that audience is defined. I want to see personal stories, work that addresses the experiences of being disabled, and work that’s just anything a disabled artist wants to make. I want to see very divergent points of view – from those who want to celebrate being different and move away from any sense of disability, to those who absolutely identify as disabled.
I would like to suggest a view that draws on the paradox of Schrödinger’s cat, where something can appear to be both itself and its opposite. Sometimes disability arts might need to be seen as a single entity – a movement rich in diversity. At other times it might need separating out, for example when delving into the aesthetics of the work of some learning disabled artists, where the discourse might need to develop differently than that which has already evolved around work made by some artists with physical and/or sensory disabilities.
For all the dramaturgs and panel moderators out there, this Nonprofit with Balls blog post about successful panel moderation is useful:
Provoke reactions and discussion. You have a bunch of (hopefully) brilliant experts with a (hopefully) diverse set of viewpoints. It is a boring waste of time and opportunity if they don’t interact with one another. Panelists tend to be too polite (unless they read my Tips for not sucking as panelists, in which case they should be getting into fist-fights with one another), so you must force them to interact. You can do this tactfully by summarizing and asking for counter-opinions, e.g., “John: Susan said that parental engagement is THE key factor in student achievement. You had mentioned earlier that you were a terrible student. I think Susan may have insulted your mother. How do you respond to that?”
This interview with theatre artist Tlaloc Rivas has a lot of great thoughts about representation on stage:
What are challenges we still face as a community?
I think we’re still figuring out those challenges, even within our own artistic circles. I can speak to what the Latina/o Theatre Commons has accomplished: leading laterally and circumventing dependency on any one institution; promoting, instead, collaboration across the many. There are still many who believe in the “one-leader” or “top-down” model – which still has a capitalistic and scarcity mindset (ie. if an artist of color gets an opportunity it means someone else from the dominant culture lost out). On the flip side there are still people of color (whom I consider colleagues) who are unwilling or unable to send the ladder back down once they’ve reached a certain level of success. They seem to believe that they will be pulled back down, when in fact, they have been held up by the very community that helped them get there. These mindsets are toxic. You have to embrace humility and charity – leaving the doors you’ve passed through open for others to follow.