Friday, December 2, 2016

HOLAwave: We Came, We Saw, We Protested... Now What?

[HOLAwave represents a series of guest blogs by industry insiders giving informative and educational tidbits for the Latino performer. They can range from acting and auditioning advice, tech tips, legal advice, marketing, producing tips, and so on. Get caught up in the wave– the HOLAwave.]

We Came, We Saw, We Protested... Now What?

A scene from the Marriott Theatre
production of Evita.
So, it has been eight months since Evita at the Marriott Theatre and four months since In The Heights at Porchlight Music Theatre [both in the Chicago, Illinois area]. These controversies have faded from much of the public consciousness. We got mad, we got defensive, we shouted about it for a few weeks, and then we went on about our lives.

My question is: What are you doing today to promote diversity in our field?

A rehearsal photo from the
Porchlight Music Theatre
production of In The Heights.
One of the things we fell back on, on every side of each controversy, was that we all would love for there to be better representation on our stages. What have you done to make it happen? These examples of Whitewashing were not singularly horrific events, they were part of systemic issues; and, much like we've learned through our current presidential situation, systemic issues must be continually wrestled with, fought against, and reassessed to fight again. They can't just be tackled controversy by controversy. So what are you doing to take the next step and then the next step?

And this is not an "ask Bear what I should be doing" post. It's not a post where I look at your list and absolve you of past sins. I am not the arbiter of true diversity. It is an opportunity to look at where we are now vs. where you think we should be and think of the steps you can take, individually and institutionally, to help get us there. If you've been resting on a step you took four or eight months ago, what's your next one?

Are you teaching young people the theatrical arts who might not otherwise have access?

Are you pushing your ensembles on their uniformity? Are you pushing again?

Are you asking the theatres you work at about their equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) initiatives?

Are you looking at seasons and vocally patronizing theatres based on the diverse work they are putting forward?

Are you supporting artists working towards diversity?

Are you creating spaces to promote diversity?

Are you joining and cultivating organizations that are working towards EDI?

Are you making a rule for yourself that you can't attend theatres that only feature the works of White men?

Are you amplifying the voices of theatres and individuals you believe to be telling diverse stories?

Are you challenging organizations that seem to be resting on their laurels on their continued EDI commitment?

Are you pushing your organization to participate in EDI trainings?

Are you looking at the work in which you participate and reevaluating your place within it from an EDI lens?

Are you refusing to work at theatres who aren't explicitly pushing EDI?

Are you making yourself listen when a voice tells you they have been offended or wronged?

These are just a small fraction of actions that some people are taking. What are you doing? What are you going to do next?

Bear Bellinger is a Black actor, writer, and general trouble maker performing out of Chicago, Illinois. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter, or on Medium for more talk of theatre, inclusion, diversity, and the overall struggles and successes of life.

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