Friday, March 16, 2012

Own up to your cultural diversity

Contributed by Guest Blogger of the Week, Kevin R. Free.

Hey, all. Today, on its Broadway Power list, Backstage reminded us that most of the power on Broadway is held by white guys. No surprise there, but I spent a few moments feeling disheartened and powerless.

Then I remembered having a discussion with one of those white guys on that list about how people of color don't have a "theatre-going lifestyle," so there's really no use marketing to them.

Then I was pissed off.   

Then I went to brunch.*


  1. There are folks who cannot afford full-price Broadway tickets. Many of those folks don't even know what indie theatre is.
  2. People of color don't chomp at the bit to attend theatre, because they are rarely represented onstage in theme or in person.
  3. There are folks who like theatre, but don't have regular access to it; or they don't even know yet that they like it.
  4. There are folks who love indie theatre, but don't attend theatre created by the unfamiliar (the others, as I discussed earlier this week).

All of the people listed above are a part of our community. We just have to figure out how to reach them/us/you. How do we do that? Christopher Burris and Derek Lee McPhatter offered ways to stay on top of it on this blog. Pun Bandhu has started the conversation about the inclusion of Asian artists in New York theatre. Kelley Nicole Girod blogged about her struggle with her multiracial identity, and now I'm adding my voice to the chorus.  

Perhaps it is time for the indie theatre community to own up to its own cultural diversity. To rejoice in - or, at least, raise a glass to - our differences, and ask each other for help when we want to reach our colleagues who are "other." We, the indie theatre artists, have power. We can reach more people, make more art, change more lives, and inspire more change than the dudes (and one lady) listed in Backstage today.  We've done it separately, in silos, but we can do it as a group, too. And I think we should.

My sister,  who's not a theatre person, once said to me, about my 17-year (really) quest to become a principal actor in a Broadway show: "But you don't really want that, do you? You make your own stuff. There's more power in that."

Indeed. Let's use our power for good.

*I had brunch with a white guy who makes indie theatre regularly. We both ate eggs, but they were prepared differently.

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