The Murder Con’t.
Someone reminded me of one more example. Diversity sometimes looks like this:
Traditionally white play and traditionally black play performed in rep, each cast performing both. Yes, that was a hit, wasn’t it.
These are all examples of what Diversity looks like but I still don’t know what it means. That’s because it doesn’t mean anything. None of the aforementioned scenarios truly challenge the institutions to do anything other than hire some one who doesn’t look like the rest of them but is equally qualified. And foundations will give you lots and lots of money if you make it so your people don’t all look alike.
So am glad that Diversity is dead. I am not sure why we ever really bought into the concept in the first place—it is an idea that can be readily represented without much injury or obligation from the institution. I propose that we find a new word for the concept that we are really after which I think might be called “inclusion” or “unconventionalism.” Both of these concepts would require theatres to make a commitment beyond hiring a minority person in middle-management. They would be challenged to include diverse backgrounds (race, gender, sexual orientation–the whole gamut) at the executive and governance level. Unconventionalism would encourage theatres to challenge the historical and traditional way that decisions have been made and who they have been made by: white men. Jeffery hit it right on the nose when he said that “not enough people of color are running mainstream theatres.” But I would also say that not enough theatres are run by women–black or white or other.
Ok, so my Chicago people all up in arms because many of you are education/ outreach directors and many of you are black actors who have been cast in traditionally white roles and a couple of you noted that even though Bob Falls doesn’t stay awake at night thinking about the state of black theatre, he hires the people who do—I get it. And it is important that inclusion happens on the stage and in the community and especially in the education programs. But that is not enough. How many of you are in on making decisions that affect the future of the organization? How many of you are being developed for leadership succession? If you had a choice, wouldn’t you rather fulfill the concept instead of represent the idea? And regardless of whether or not you are interested in participating at that level, don’t you deserve to have a choice?
I could go on and on about this but what I really mean to say right now is that diversity is dead not only because of its overuse, but because of the lack of life and breath in the concept. It was dreamed up and born out of our great longing to participate in a more meaningful way and suffocated by the expectation that the word would simply accomplish itself.