Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Off Stage Conversations

Hello Everyone, this is Andie Arthur, Executive Director of the South Florida Theatre League and Artistic Director of Lost Girls Theatre, and I'm here with this week's Off Stage Conversations, where I take a look at conversations happening in the national and international theatre community.

The Untenable Whiteness of Theatre

Clayton Lord presents a stark visual representation on diversity in the industry in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I'd be really fascinated by a similar graph for our location. (Yet another reason for a community database...)

I know I link a lot to discussions on diversity and gender parity (two great interviews touching on those subjects) -- but that graph shows why this conversation is important to be having. Not only is it a moral right to address these issues, but it's vital to our survival.

I think a lot of change can come from just admitting our biases. When I was at the APASO Conference, Leah Cooper (the executive director of the Minnesota Theatre Alliance) said that they had a meeting in the Minneapolis community after she called out the Guthrie for having an all white male season, an artistic director (and I sadly forget who) wanted to start the meeting with everyone introducing themselves, pointing out where they are privileged and where they are biased. For example, if I was joining this conversation, I could say that I'm privileged as a white person and biased in favor of younger people.

And simply by saying that, I'm more aware of my assumptions. And in being aware of my assumptions, I can make better choices and try to overcome my biases and check my privilege when I can.

I think a lot of our overreaching problems (including the scarcity thinking issue) if we spent more time acknowledging our assumptions.

Speaking of Checking With Your Assumptions

"Nonprofit board members grossly overestimate the importance of their own time and talent, and believe personal philanthropy to be the least of their responsibilities in the “time, treasure, talent” continuum."

Back to Abundance Thinking

Last week, I talked a lot about scarcity thinking and how I think it is the biggest problem facing our community. On Friday, Megan Gogerty wrote the Great Release, which is a beautiful post showcasing the shift to abundance thinking. It's playwright specific, because she's writing on her experience as a playwright, but this is the sort of shift that creates more pie. She has a follow up post, addressing many of the comments in the original post.

Critical Questions

Ben Brantley and Charles Isherwood take readers' questions in the New York Times. There's a lot of interesting stuff here, but my favorite bit is Isherwood's take on awards:
We are certainly awash in theater awards these days, and I cannot claim to keep track of how the chips fall from year to year. Even the most esteemed award, which is probably the Pulitzer Prize for drama, has a far from perfect record in terms of selecting plays that, with time, have proven their enduring worth. Laurel-bestowing makes the award-givers and the award-getters feel good, but I’m not sure we should look to awards tallies for measures of true artistic merit. Maybe only history can give that verdict (and, heck, even history probably gets things wrong now and then).
Two Good Thoughts and One Questionable One

Donna Hoke has a new blog series called the Real Inspiration for Playwrights Project, collecting stories of how playwrights get produced, including talking to our own community's Ricky J. Martinez.

Melissa Hillman talks about why you need to hire a fight director for fight scenes. And not only that -- you should bring your fight director into the design process along with your set, costume, lighting, and sound designers.

Mike Lew wonders if theatres would gain more financial stability if they went from having 4 to 6 productions a year to 18. The assumption in the post is that the company has multiple venues, which isn't the case for the majority of South Florida Theatres. While I am a big champion of Never Be Dark, I would prefer a solution similar to Victory Gardens Theater's residency program that I talked about last week. It would provide the increase in volume that he is talking about, while not being a drain on creative energy. But it is an interesting thing to think about, and I love the point that so many plays could really take place on the same NYC apartment set.

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