Anti-racist theater

November 7, 2021—I recently had the opportunity to watch a virtual dialogue amongst a group of theatre professionals discussing what it means to be an “anti-racist theatremaker.”

Sponsored by New York City’s Playwrights Realm, the panelists were asked to tackle the question, What Does Anti-Racist Producing Look Like? The dialogue was livestreamed via the Howlround TV, the peer-produced network of Howlround Theatre Commons, and posted on YouTube.

Hope Chávez of the Long Wharf Theatre moderated the panel, which included Shaminda Amarakoon of the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale; Denzel Faison of the National Black Theatre; Sam Morreale of Play Writers’ Festival, and Mei Ann Teo, who is a theater and film director. You can watch their discussion at this link or read the transcript here.

I believe the readers of Arts & Culture Connections will find the discussion important food for thought. Not only did the panelists explain and reframe the role of the producer, they also unpacked the conception of what it means to be an anti-racist theater.

I appreciated the scope and breadth of the panelists’ experience. They were diverse in every way—identity, ethnicity, race, gender, lifestyle, sexual orientation and geography, as well as diverse in the type of theater they have produced. This demonstrated to me how critical it is to bring to the table as many voices as possible; how important it is to both listen to and honor the value of those voices.

This panel discussion also reaffirmed the importance of amplifying their ability to utilize a values-centric approach to producing a show. It was refreshing that this was not a New York-centered dialogue—the geographic diversity allowed us to see the broader scope of issues that exist when attempting to foster an antiracist theater.

Another important aspect was the time they spent discussing budgeting, which is critical for both transparency and accountability.

As always, I would like to know what you think. I invite you to share your thoughts and comments about what it means to be an “antiracist theatremaker.”

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