Last night, here in Vancouver, there was a large forum called “BECAUSE IT’S 2016: An Open Invitation from the Latino Theatre Community to Discuss Representation.” I took a photo fairly early in the evening, around which time I counted about 115 people present. My phone rang from the building’s buzzer another 14 times. In the end, I’d guess that there were close to 145 people present. This event sprung out of an open letter about the casting of a local production of The Motherfucker with a Hat, which developed a lot of media response, and there is an archival video of the event available to view online for those who’d like to dig in.
At the end of the night, I went home feeling confused. With all this information on the table, what could I do, on a practical basis.
I sent a text message to a good friend, expressing my desire to do something, and together we came up with the following actions, all of which I now publicly promise and ask you to hold me accountable to.
- As a freelance stage manager, I promise that when I’m offered a gig on a show that is written to include culturally diverse characters, I will ask questions of the producers about casting prior to accepting the gig.
- As the general manager of Theatre Terrific, I promise that every Theatre Terrific show I produce will have a minimum of one cast member who identifies as having a physical challenge, mental health challenge, developmental challenge, or learning challenge, and
- As the vice president of the Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards Society, I promise to continue re-examining the ways we ask potential jury members to self identify in order to continue improving the diversity on our juries in regards to age, gender, race & ethnicity, practice, sexuality, and ability.
- As a human being, I promise to be an ally to the marginalized and to be mindful of the areas where I am privileged, especially when entering conversations around visibility, diversity and privilege by educating myself and constantly checking in on my language, assumptions, and the power structures I operate within.
In return, I ask of you – what can you do? What promises can you make?