Diversity is dead.

The Murder

with one comment

I should have picked a more profound theme for this blog, don’t you think?  The theme was much more serious only a few moments ago—black and red—which perfectly signified death or hell or the equivalent.  To me at least.   But this blog is not a canvas, I just want to tell you that Diversity is dead.  And if it starts to resurrect, we should kill it.   Pardon the analogy. 

I was at the TCG (Theatre Communications Group) National Conference in Baltimore, MD last week.  I was there because TCG has developed a program that invests in the professional development of emerging leaders who are non-white.  We are called the “Young Leaders of Color.”  Wow, that was harder to write than I thought it would be–we are working on the name.

In various breakout sessions, the words:  diversity, colorblind, diversity and diversity were nearly murdered.  They were used over and over and over again in reference to audience development and leadership and new work and ticket sales and season planning.  I am even guilty of using the word.   On the very last day of the conference, I realized that I didn’t even know what the word meant.  And I thought, alas, Diversity is dead.   

Actually, I think I stopped knowing what it meant a while ago.  But I still knew what it looked like.  It looked like this:

Staff :

Executive Director, Artistic Director, Marketing Director, Director of Audience Services, Board Officers:  White.

Education / Outreach Director: Non-White

-or-

09/10 Season:

  • Tom Stoppard
  • Adaptation of dead white author
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Black Play
  • Sarah Ruhl

-or-

Shakespeare play:

-White actor as White character

-White actor as White character

-(Insert Black actor here) as White character

-White actor as White Character

-(Insert Black actor there) as White Character

…..I’m missing a few.  Before I go on, are there any other prevalent descriptions of diversity in the theatre that I am missing?

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Written by micacole

June 8, 2009 at 10:07 am

One Response

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  1. Excellent points, and a well-conceived algorithm of how theater seasons are constructed.

    Perhaps words like “diversity” and “multi-ethnic/cultural/racial” are hiding what’s really at the heart of the matter: not enough people of color running mainstream theaters.

    @calindrome posted a stunning article last month about the dearth of female playwrights being produced in NYC (and everywhere really). There are simply fewer females running theaters that aren’t labeled “women’s theater” in some way.

    The same happens with people of different races. We label and marginalize this work and give it a single slot each season(I can hear discussions now: “but what’s our black play this year?”), but don’t have the vast “diversity” (so to speak) at the decision-making levels (not just Educ. Dir.)

    jeffrey

    June 10, 2009 at 12:06 am


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