The event was a conversation called “What’s RACE Got To Do With It?,” produced by the group The Color of NOW and hosted by Third Rail Repertory Theatre, which shares the Imago space. Part performance, part talk show and part back-and-forth with the audience, it included a monologue to an unborn child – a child who, given the state of the world and its racial volatility, would remain unborn, an idea derailed – by actor Joseph Gibson, and a little music from Ben Graves, and a long conversation about the nitty gritty of race in America and Oregon in particular with the actor, director, and activist Kevin Jones, artistic director of the August Wilson Red Door Project, an organization whose ambitious goal is to “change the racial ecology of Portland through the arts.” It’s a tall order, given the ratcheting of racial tensions across the nation and much of the rest of the world in recent times.
First came Boston Creates, now comes Futurecity Massachusetts, a joint project of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Boston Foundation that seeks to place arts and culture at the heart of redevelopment and revitalization efforts in the state’s three largest cities. The partnership, which is working with consultant Mark Davy’s London-based Futurecity, will focus on real estate projects in Boston’s Fenway Cultural District, the Springfield Central Cultural District, and Worcester’s Salisbury Cultural District.
You don’t see Leonardo DiCaprio, Sandra Bullock, and Tom Cruise painting their faces to win roles, but this color-changing gambit has practically become required of black dramatic actors who want to appear in big-budget movies. Of our A-list movie stars, the only white one regularly tinting her skin is Jennifer Lawrence, who signed a three-film contract to play Mystique in the X-Men films well before she was an Oscar-winning superstar, and whose latest go-round in the role is her least blue yet. Fox was savvy to put Lawrence’s famous white face front and center for X-Men: Apocalypse, since they now know it’s a face that sells movie tickets and magazines. So, too, could Lupita Nyong’o’s, yet since her Oscar win, no white director has cast her in a live-action role that lets her live in her own black skin.
Do research the organization you’re applying to: You will be asked how your skills and experience are a good fit. You will sound a lot more impressive if you can say things like “I saw in your last blog post that you have a challenge with blah blah. I have experience working with blah blah, etc.”
We recently kicked off the newest iteration of C1 PlayLab, and in the coming months, we’ll be using some of our time during our PlayLab Master Classes to discuss big ideas and current issues that are relevant to working playwrights. This month we are exploring the themes of Character and Identity — here are a few pieces of writing that will serve as a springboard for our conversation during this month’s PlayLab session.
A. Rey Pamatmat is our PlayLab guest this month, and this conversation is a great one to get us thinking about how one’s personal identity and experience can impact a play, as well as what it means to craft characters from a variety of backgrounds:
People need to be okay with labels evolving and redefining themselves. I also wish plays were experienced on their own. The context of the writer’s identity is totally exciting…afterward. Let that add to the conversation, not be it.
In these two posts, playwrights Kia Corthron, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, Kristoffer Diaz, Marcus Gardley, and several others all offer their thoughts on the ethics of writing characters from a different racial or ethnic identity than one’s self.
Are we ethically entitled to write outside of our own ethnicity (however we define any of those loaded terms)? If we do, are there any ground rules? Are we obligated to educate ourselves (even minimally) about a culture before assuming the authority to give voice to characters of that culture? Or is any such suggestion a hindrance to the creative process, at worst tantamount to censorship?
The brainchild of the London-based Nigerian poet and playwright Inua Ellams, the Midnight Run is now in its 10th year and has been replicated in 4 other cities. In this anniversary year, groups of 30 or more people gathered at theatres in South, North, East, and West London (the Albany, the Roundhouse, the Almeida, and the Bush). Each group was populated with a facilitator and several artists. The facilitators’ jobs were to map out a journey through their assigned sections of London. Artists, who were part of our group, gave workshops along the way. Participants experienced parks, churchyards, secret pathways, and businesses they wouldn’t have otherwise seen—or seen in this manner. Rory Bowens, an assistant studio manager at NTS (Nuts to Soup radio), conducted interviews and captured sounds. A story was broadcast at midnight. Meanwhile, Katie Garrett filmed the experience. Honoring UNESCO’s International Year of Light, 50 percent of the proceeds went to provide sustainable lighting to a women’s center in Senegal.
The main problem with the “preserving ART” argument is that racism and racist caricatures had one cultural context in the Victorian (or Elizabethan, or Classical, or what you will) era, and have completely different contexts now. Fighting to preserve a racist work as written most often vandalizes that work’s original intent. The racist symbol was created to convey a meaning it can no longer convey. Yellowface can no longer convey the meaning Gilbert originally intended when writing The Mikado because that meaning has been superceded by a modern understanding of yellowface’s inherent racism. Even if you believe the yellowface in The Mikado means “Victorians are racist; isn’t that funny?” it can never mean that to an audience in 2015 because yellowface is read as racist in and of itself, and stomping your feet and insisting that Gilbert’s intent was completely different does exactly nothing to change that.
National statistics show that 65% of people avoid disabled people because they don’t know how to act around them, while 67% say they feel uncomfortable when talking to a disabled person. A survey by Scope and Mumsnet also found that four in 10 parents said their disabled child rarely or never had the opportunity to socialise with non-disabled children.
This project has been designed to bring disabled and non-disabled students together to create friendships and a shared understanding. Not all communication is verbal – which the creative arts are a great way to show. By encouraging these young people to work together, listen to one another and explore communication through sound, music, art and movement, we’re breaking down some of those social barriers and strengthening bonds between disabled and non-disabled people.
After a decade of writing about the art form he loves, critic J. Kelly Nestruck found himself in a moment of crisis. Theatre, it seemed, had grown elitist and out of touch with the country it was supposed to entertain. To renew his faith, he went back to where it all began: high school. But can a group of teens enduring their own struggles prove that theatre is still worth fighting for?
Capitalism is in transition. It’s pulling away from its previous industrial model to a new one based on creativity and knowledge. In place of the natural resources and large-scale industries that powered the economies of previous centuries, economic growth today turns on knowledge, innovation, and talent. In a new report released Wednesday, my Martin Prosperity Institute colleagues Charlotta Mellander and Karen King and I evaluate 139 nations worldwide on their ability to compete and prosper in this new, creativity-powered knowledge economy.
The Every Single Word series urges people to question why movies with such universal themes so frequently feature white protagonists. Marron wants the audience to come up with their own conclusions about the lack of diversity in Hollywood after watching the clips. “I present these cuts without comment and without embellishment,” he said. “As the volume of videos keeps getting bigger, a pattern will emerge. When you lay out patterns in front of people, they speak much louder than any megaphone rant.”
“People use creativity to make sense of all of this. They use the arts to express these deep emotions of sorrow and pain and loss,” Zommer said. “The arts can do that. They can help us heal.” From designers and dancers in Charleston’s tight-knit creative community to musicians who live hundreds of miles away, artists have addressed the killings. Their work…shows how art helps us survive and strengthen amid tragedy.
Racism is not a mental illness. Unlike actual mental illnesses, it is taught and instilled. Mental illness was not the state policy of South Carolina, or any state for that matter, for hundreds of years — racism was. Assuming actions grounded in racial biases are irrational not only neutralizes their impact, it also paints the perpetrator as a victim.
For many people, barriers like classism, racism, and xenophobia mean they don’t have the right look, language, or position of privilege to earn income with their culturally specific tools – and yet oftentimes, white people can turn those same culturally specific tools into profit, thereby hurting the community they’re borrowing from.
Lisa Kron’s acceptance speech for winning Best Book (Fun Home), which was frustratingly not aired on the live telecast, spoke to the variety in this year’s Broadway season. Her fantastic speech is below and well worth watching:
Campaigns by civil rights groups like the NAACP to integrate public pools often turned very, very ugly. “Groups for and against segregation threw rocks and tomatoes at one another, swung bats and fists, and even stabbed and shot at each other,” Wiltse wrote. Even after Brown v. Board of Education ostensibly desegregated America’s schools in 1955, a federal judge sided with Baltimore’s pro-segregation argument that pools “were more sensitive than schools.” (That decision was later overturned.)
When the group of white and black integrationists refused to leave the motel’s pool, this man dived in and cleared them out. All were arrested. Horace Cort/AP
The program, which was also put in place this school year at Ethical Culture, Fieldston’s other elementary school, would boost self-esteem and a sense of belonging among minority kids while combating the racism, subtle or otherwise, that can permeate historically white environments. It would foster interracial empathy by encouraging children to recognize differences without disrespect while teaching kids strategies, and the language, for navigating racial conflict.
As a matter of fact, the casting process of Hir has led to some big changes on Backstage.com. When we originally posted the casting notice, we were able to be specific in the text of the role description that actors auditioning for the role of Max be trans, but there was no way to categorize the role as transgender for the purpose of search; the role and profile search options on Backstage were limited to male and female options. Contacted by Playwrights Horizons, Backstage took the necessary steps to keep pace with the times.