Dear Canadian Colleagues: Hello. It is a Thursday morning in Oakland. It’s California and it’s raining, which means no one knows how to drive or take...
A diverse ecology is a more resilient one. Conversely, when humans have impacted an ecology, reducing diversity to represent only a handful of varieties of species, the ecology becomes increasingly vulnerable to disease, natural disaster, and ecological imbalances that can lead to extinction or over-population. Evolution undoubtedly benefits from the sharing of diverse skills, at the biological level.
The elders in our community who have worked for decades to address inequity for artists of colour will testify to slight improvements, but there is still work to be done and other communities to include. Part of that work is gathering the collective wisdom of our elders - and the wider community – so that new initiatives can build upon that knowledge, rather than consistently rehash it.
A diversity of key creative personnel on a production brings a breadth of cultural knowledge. We are trained just like our White peers, and can not only render complex interpretations of works by playwrights of European descent, but many of us also have one foot planted in our own culture (or the culture of our parents), which can mean that the lens through which we perceive the world is larger.
I’m asking that protocols be collectively defined and become a means to challenge the structures of privilege and normativity. After all, ‘diversity’, as its been enacted, is often just enriching what we already do with what we can access, while ‘inclusion’ maintains a power structure of the us-versus-them: “I will include you.” Seen this way, it’s imperative that diversity and inclusion become more than a numbers game where we do things like hire more different looking people.
My own White Girl-ness of maintaining my place and not raising doubts held me back from doing my fucking job. Because when I read the subscriber’s complaint letter, I had intense artistic shame, thinking, “I could have prevented this.” Rather than partnering with my AD in a moment of doubt, I wound up partnering with him on a crisis of perception (which is much worse).
I began reaching out to fellow Latino artists and researching the history of my ancestors. All this led to finally feeling as though I had earned the right to call myself a Latino. So when the issue surrounding the casting of The Motherfucker with the Hat presented itself I felt it was time to stand my ground and add my voice to the fray.
Currently in its twelfth year, the site has logged over 1.2 million visitors and archived more than 600 reviews, 95% of them written by me. My approach to reviewing has not changed very much whether live on air for radio, in print for a newspaper, or online for my own site. The only real difference in reviewing for my own website is that I can write as much as I want and use words I couldn’t use on CBC or in the paper.
All of this indicates to me that the TTCAs are in a tight spot. Despite the genuine hope for change to come from membership, change SEEMS to be controlled by the hiring practices of a media industry struggling just as much as theatre to achieve gender equity. But to do nothing is to continue our annual ritual each June of the tweets and blog posts challenging the merit of a series of awards determined exclusively through the male gaze.
The local papers covered the hell out of the shows – but the reporters had no idea how to write a review. After complaining about this for a few years, I decided instead to look at my role in the equation. So, we hired a critic from Toronto to spend a weekend conducting a workshop for local writers.