Seven years ago, I attended the grand re-opening of the newly renovated Arena Stage with my dear friend Shirley Serotsky. We had such fun! Near the end of our visit, we made our way to the Kogod Cradle. I remember walking down the long hallway into the theatre and being immediately struck by its beauty and character. It is a theatre that demands to be taken in fully. As I sat down in the audience, I whispered a short prayer: “Dear Lord and all the muses, please let me have a play presented here one day.”
At last week’s first rehearsal of Intelligence, I stood on the stage of the Kogod Cradle and shared this sweet memory. I could hardly believe I was living this dream come true. At one point, during the design presentation, I leaned over to artistic director Molly Smith and whispered, “They’re talking about my play!” She beamed with such pride and said, “Yes, they are. You’ve worked hard for it.”
Quite simply, it was thrilling to hear the designers speak about the world of the play. While the lights, projections, props, and sound were still coming together, Misha Kachman shared the stunning model of the set and Ivania Stack displayed her gorgeous costumes. While the set transforms from a living room to a boutique to a coffee shop to a detention center to a war-torn city, the costumes teach us about each of the character’s culture, class, career, and personality.
We’re nearing the end of week two and we have a stumble through tomorrow morning. Yes, already! I’m going to skype in and plan to share more of our journey along the way. For now, please enjoy these costume and set renderings for the play.
Costume Designs by Ivania Stack
Set Renderings by Misha Kachman
In just a few weeks, my new play, Intelligence, will make its world premiere at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Under the direction of Daniella Topol (Round House’s Ironbound), Intelligence explores the cost of deception and the consequences of speaking truth to power. Due to popular demand, the production has been extended for one week with eight additional performances and will run February 24-April 9, 2017 in the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle. We found out two weeks before the start of rehearsal!
Here's more about the play:
Inspired by true events, Intelligence is a fictionalized account of a covert operative who, tasked with protecting the national security of the United States post-9/11, is racing to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when the unthinkable happens. With the country at war, her cover is blown and she must navigate a media frenzy, the CIA's search for answers and her diplomat husband's dogged pursuit of the truth.
The production features Tony Award nominee Hannah Yelland (Broadway’s Brief Encounter) as Valerie Plame, Lawrence Redmond (Arena Stage’s All the Way) as her husband Joseph Wilson, Nora Achrati (Forum Theatre’s I Call My Brothers) as Leyla Nazari, Ethan Hova (Woolly Mammoth’s Guards at the Taj) as Dr. Malik Nazari and Aakhu TuahNera Freeman (Arena Stage’s The Great White Hope) as Elaine Matthews.
“What excites me most about Jacqueline Lawton’s new play and Arena’s new Power Plays initiative is that we will explore politics from 1776 to the present day,” shares Artistic Director Molly Smith. “This story of truth and lies amidst great political pressure in 2003 provides a fascinating look at what it means to be an American.”
“I'm honored that Intelligence will receive a world premiere as part of the Power Plays initiative,” says Lawton. “Writing this play has forced me to process the betrayal I felt when the Bush Administration told a series of lies that led to the war in Iraq. This historical fiction is as much a political thriller as it is a clarion call for citizens to hold their leaders accountable. Never before has this message been more urgent than right now, and there is no better place for this play to be presented than at Arena Stage, in the heart of the nation's capital.”
“I am thrilled to direct Intelligence, a fast-paced and emotionally-charged political drama that captures the complexity of one woman's journey to serve her country and her family in uncertain times,” adds Topol. “Arena, with its steadfast commitment to launching political plays of resonance, is the ideal theater to launch this vital and relevant new play. And I am honored to work with such an excellent cast and creative team who will create an innovative and ambitious production.”
Click here to learn more about the play and here to learn more about the Power Plays Initiative.
The USC School of Dramatic Arts announces its second annual Diversity and Inclusion Summit, taking place from Oct. 27-30, 2016. Consisting of a series of interactive workshops, panel discussions and performances, the summit was created to foster community through civic and conscious dialogue around issues of race, gender, culture and identity.
Organized by SDA Associate Professor Anita Dashiell-Sparks who also serves as the School’s Diversity Liaison Officer, these events are a catalyst to spark a series of conversations and strategies to cultivate and sustain an artistic, innovative and inclusive environment that reflects the evolving communities of the 21st century. The theme for 2016 is Crossroads – Embracing Race, Class and Gender in Theatre, Television and Film and will be guest facilitated by Jacqueline E. Lawton, playwright, dramaturg, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Advocate. All events are open to the entire USC community.
Schedule of Events
Thursday, October 27
12:00pm-1:30pm Cultural Appropriation and Cultural Capital Workshop - PED 208
This workshop facilitated by Shafiqua Sahmadi from USC Rossier School of Education will define the difference between celebration and exploitation of cultural customs and traditions. Participants will also examine the various forms of capital we collectively have from our diverse backgrounds that enable us to become allies. RSVP for this event.
1:30pm-3:00pm “Having Our Say” – Theatre for Social Change Workshop - PED 206
Jacqueline E. Lawton will facilitate a workshop exploring how art and theatre provide a creative and critical space for dealing with complex issues of diversity and inclusion. RSVP for this event.
3:00pm–5:00pm Performing Gender Workshop - PED 207
An interactive gender-based, workshop exploring the play SEVEN. One of the seven playwrights, Paula Cizmar, will discuss creative process of documentary theatre based on current events. Jacqueline E. Lawton will lead participants in a gender identity activity. RSVP for this event.
Saturday, October 29
10:00am-11:30am Theatre of the Oppressed Workshop - MCC 111
Dr. Brent Blair, Boal scholar-practitioner, will facilitate a workshop in theatre of the oppressed techniques that provoke civic and community engagement surrounding issues of diversity and inclusion. RSVP for this event.
11:30am-1:30pm #Every 28 Hours Project - MCC 111
Join a national collaboration of multicultural theatre artists responding to our Civil Rights Movement. After a community reading of one-minute plays produced by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Jacqueline E. Lawton and Oliver Mayer, will moderate discussion including community leaders/educators, and facilitate a creative writing workshop. RSVP for this event.
2:00pm-3:30pm Staging Diversity Panel - MCC 111
Join artistic directors Jon Lawrence Rivera (Playwright’s Arena), Anthony Abatemarco (Skylight Theatre Company), Gregg Daniel (Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble) and Khanisha Foster (Educational Outreach, Center Theatre Group) for a conversation about play selection, inclusive casting, diversifying audiences and educational/community outreach initiatives. RSVP for this event.
3:30pm-5:00pm Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Workshop - MCC 111
Jacqueline E. Lawton, playwright, dramaturg, and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advocate, will facilitate a workshop/discussion about how to effectively implement strategies and mission-relevant initiatives to enhance the culture of your school, organization, or business. RSVP for this event.
5:00pm-7:00pm Reading of The Hampton Years - MCC 111
USC students and alumni will present a staged reading of The Hampton Years, written by Jacqueline E. Lawton. This reading will be directed by Anita Dashiell-Sparks, Associate Professor of Theatre Practice and SDA Diversity Liaison. RSVP for this event.
Sunday, October 30
10:00am-12:00pm Performing Race and Class - PED 206
Screenings of the groundbreaking series Queen Sugar and Atlanta will illuminate different perspectives about race and class through the genres of drama and comedy. A discussion with Queen Sugar’s Anthony Sparks (writer/producer) and Ayanna Floyd Davis (writer/producer, Empire, Private Practice), moderated by Anita Dashiell-Sparks, will immediately follow the screening. RSVP for this event.
12:00pm–1:00pm Identity Politics and Representation in Mass Media - PED 206
A panel discussion, moderated by David Maquiling from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, examining how multi-cultural actors, writers, producers and directors explore, define, and represent diverse identities and culture on stage and on screen. RSVP for this event.
The Phillips Collection and the University of Maryland Present International Forum Weekend in Washington
For the 2016 Phillips Collection—University of Maryland International Forum, leaders across disciplines will discuss artistic and curatorial approaches to visual narratives of migration and immigration. How can art tell stories of people on the move? What is the civic role of art and art institutions in raising awareness to promote social change? Participants will discuss the ethical and aesthetical capacities of Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series to bridge the humanities, public policy, and social sciences and inspire societal change and well-being in the context of the 21st-century immigrant experience.
International Forum Weekend in Washington is an annual program hosted by the Phillips, and this year’s programming will facilitate discussion on migration and immigration. Using Lawrence’s series as a lens for dialogue, thought leaders across disciplines will come together to explore similar patterns and themes that exist in today’s political and cultural landscape. Specifically, discussion events will investigate the broader human quest for freedom, equality, and opportunity, which fuels ongoing patterns of migration around the world.
“I am encouraged that this year’s International Forum coincides with the reunion of Jacob Lawrence’s seminal masterwork The Migration Series,” said Director Dorothy Kosinski. “Especially in light of current global challenges, the themes brought up by Lawrence resonate strongly today. Art remains a powerful tool for prompting reflection and dialogue, and I look forward to the Phillips playing a part in hosting that important discussion.”
The event includes two staged readings of short plays written in response to The Migration Series, panel discussions with thought leaders, and a creative response from Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran. Detailed schedule of events is listed below.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
The weekend of events will take place at the Phillips on October 22–23, 2016. Members of the Phillips Collectors Forum are invited to register to attend. Events open for public attendance are listed below and are included with museum admission unless otherwise noted. All details are subject to change.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22
2 pm: Introduction
Dorothy Kosinski, Director, The Phillips Collection
Mary Ann Rankin, Senior Vice President and Provost, University of Maryland
2:15 pm: Staged Readings
Following introductory remarks by Curator Elsa Smithgall, there will be dramatic readings of two 10-minute plays inspired by The Migration Serieswritten by local playwrights and commissioned by the Phillips. Featured playwrights for the afternoon include Jacqueline E. Lawton and Tearrance Chisholm. Following the readings, there will be a brief discussion between Lawton (Artistic Director and Playwright), Derek Goldman (Director), and curator Elsa Smithgall.
3pm: Panel Discussion
Visual Narratives of Migration/Immigration: Participants will use their artistic and curatorial approaches to consider visual narratives of migration and immigration, including broader discussion of what it means to be human, as well as the civic role of art and art institutions in raising awareness to promote social change.
Moderator: Vesela Sretenovic, Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Phillips Collection
Allan deSouza, Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley
Sara Raza, Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, Middle East and North Africa
Stefan Falke, New York-based German artist whose photographs featuring artists on both sides of the Mexico-America border are currently on view at the DC Goethe Institut
Pedro Lasch, Professor of Art, Theory, Visual Studies, Duke University
Daniel Schwarz, LA-based artist whose digital media works examining the contested US-Mexico border is currently on view at the DC Goethe Institut
4:30 pm: Panel Discussion
Connecting Art, Societal Wellness, and Cultural Diplomacy: Participants will discuss the ethical and aesthetical capacities of Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series to bridge the humanities, public policy, and social sciences and inspire societal change and well-being in the context of the 21st-century immigrant experience.
Moderator: Steve Clemons, Washington Editor-at-Large for The Atlantic and Editor of Atlantic Live
Rachel Goldberg, Head of K-12 Initiatives, The Phillips Collection
Julie Greene, Professor of History, University of Maryland Center for Global Migration Studies
Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Shibley Telhani, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, University of Maryland, and Senior Fellow of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, The Brookings Institution
Hoyt Yee, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, US Department of State
5 pm: Creative Response by Azar Nafisi
Azar Nafisi is the critically acclaimed author of Reading Lolita in Tehran and a fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Her book is a New York Times bestseller and has been published in 32 languages.
Admission is free for the Saturday afternoon of events listed above, but reservations are recommended: www.phillipscollection.org/events
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23
4 pm: Sunday Concert featuring Rahim AlHaj
Rahim AlHaj makes his Phillips Music debut in a concert playing the oud, one of the oldest of all string instruments. Born in Baghdad, AlHaj was eventually forced to leave Iraq because of his activism against Saddam Hussein’s regime.
ABOUT THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION
The Phillips Collection, America’s first museum of Modern art, is one of the world’s most distinguished collections of Impressionist and Modern American and European art. Stressing the continuity between art of the past and present, it offers a strikingly original and experimental approach to Modern art by combining works of different nationalities and periods in displays that change frequently. The setting is similarly unconventional, featuring small rooms, a domestic scale, and a personal atmosphere. Artists represented in the collection include Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Claude Monet, Honoré Daumier, Georgia O’Keeffe, Arthur Dove, Mark Rothko, Milton Avery, Jacob Lawrence, and Richard Diebenkorn, among others. The permanent collection has grown to include more than 1,000 photographs, many by American photographers Berenice Abbott, Esther Bubley, and Bruce Davidson, and works by contemporary artists such as Anselm Kiefer, Wolfgang Laib, Whitfield Lovell, and Leo Villareal. The Phillips Collection regularly organizes acclaimed special exhibitions, many of which travel internationally. The Phillips also produces award-winning education programs for K–12 teachers and students, as well as for adults. The University of Maryland Center for Art and Knowledge at The Phillips Collection is the museum’s nexus for academic work, scholarly exchange, and interdisciplinary collaborations. Since 1941, the museum has hosted Sunday Concerts in its wood-paneled Music Room. The Phillips Collection is a private, non-government museum, supported primarily by donations.
ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
The University of Maryland is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 37,000 students, 9,000 faculty and staff, and 250 academic programs. Its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners, 47 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The institution has a $1.8 billion operating budget and secures $550 million annually in external research funding. For more information about the University of Maryland, visit www.umd.edu.
For the past two years, I've been working with The Phillips Collection to bring you a festival of short plays entitled, On Stage with The Migration Series. Serving as Artistic Director, and with the generous support of Elaine Reuben, The Phillips Collection commissioned five 10-minute plays to be presented in conjunction with their upcoming exhibition: People on the Move: Beauty and Struggle in Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series. At long last, I'm honored and delighted to share this news with you!
This fall, the 60-panel masterwork The Migration Series by renowned African American 20th-century artist Jacob Lawrence will be on display at The Phillips Collection in People on the Move: Beauty and Struggle in Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series. A powerful visual epic, The Migration Series (1940–41) documents the historic movement of millions of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North more than a century ago. Reuniting 30 panels owned by the Phillips with 30 panels on loan from the Museum of Modern Art, Lawrence’s complete series will be on display beginning October 8, 2016. This exhibition builds on the museum’s rich and meaningful history with the artist and his work over the course of decades in exhibitions and internationally recognized educational initiatives.
“Since the time Duncan Phillips first acquired the odd-numbered panels of Lawrence’s series in 1942, The Migration Series has remained a cornerstone of our permanent collection and a force in our educational work with international communities,” said Director Dorothy Kosinski. “While Jacob Lawrence’s masterpiece was created more than 70 years ago, it continues to resound powerfully with the global plight of migrants today. I look forward to the Phillips continuing its leadership role in using The Migration Series to stimulate dialogue and reflection on global challenges in the 21st century.”
“In panel 61 of The Migration Series, Lawrence leaves us with the message, ‘And the migrants keep coming,’” said curator Elsa Smithgall. “During a time when record numbers of migrants are uprooting themselves in search of a better life, Lawrence’s timeless tale and its universal themes of struggle and freedom continue to strike a chord not only in our American experience but also in the international experience of migration around the world.”
In addition to the reunion exhibition, there will be several special events and programs throughout the fall inspired by Lawrence’s masterwork and to commemorate the artist’s legacy. The Phillips will also welcome and facilitate community participation through a variety of forums—including visual art, theater, dance, music, and discussion events. Alongside the exhibition in October, plays commissioned by the Phillips and inspired by Lawrence’s Migration Series will be debuted and read on October 20th and November 3rd. This will include five 10-minute plays written by five local playwrights: Norman Allen, Tearrance Chisholm, Annalisa Dias, Jacqueline E. Lawton, and Laura Shamas. The production team for each play includes Lawton as Artistic Director, Otis Cortez Ramsey-Zöe as Dramaturg, and Derek Goldman as Director.
In the coming weeks, The Phillips Collection will announce additional community events, performances, and programs planned in association with the exhibition. Check back here for more information.
Click here for the full press release.
Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, Panel no. 1: During World War I there was a great migration north by southern African Americans., between 1940 and 1941, Casein tempera on hardboard 12 x 18 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC Acquired 1942 © Estate of Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
This weekend, I'm excited to share my new play, ARDEO, a one act play inspired by research and personal narratives of health practitioners and patients at UNC-CH’s North Carolina’s Jaycee Burn Center. This play explores how patients and doctors communicate with each other; how health practitioners communicate with the public; and how theatre artists can be of service to patients, doctors and the larger public. From the perspective of scientists and medical providers, the involvement of the dramatic arts represents a unique opportunity to appreciate the meaning of one’s work and to gain new insights and perspectives regarding its relevance. Narrative medicine not only serves the public health sector and works to improve the effectiveness of care, but it also offers as a healing tool for patients in recovery.
My interest in narrative medicine began as I watched my mother recover from multiple back surgeries. She worked for many years as a nurse and was injured by a patient. Her entire world was changed by this injury and she is now incapacitated. As I watched her health care team attend to the needs of her body, I longed for them to address her psychological health: how this injury would shift who she is in the world. This aspect of caring for the whole person is something that I see happening at the Burn Center. My hope is that ARDEO encourages other health care practitioners to do the same. If you're in the area, I hope you can join us!
About the Reading
by Jacqueline E. Lawton
Directed by Kathryn Hunter-Williams
Dramaturgy by Jules Odendahl-James
Lighting Design and Consultation by David Navalinsky
Featuring Nikyla Boxley, Tre Dukes, Mariah Guillmette, Devin Kessler, Mekhai Lee, and Hassiem Muhammad
Click here to read more about the play and process.
Saturday, May 14th at 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Reading and post show discussion at UNC-SA (Catawba Theater)
Sunday, May 15th at 3:00pm to 4:30pm.
Reading and post show discussion at UNC-CH (Kenan Theatre)
Reservations are not required.
This project is sponsored by a grant from the Kenan Creative Collaboratory and the support of the UNC Department of Dramatic Art. Click here to learn more.
Rehearsal photos by Christine Rucker
As part of the kick-off event for the 2016 Kennedy Center (KC) American College Theater Festival, a special preview of the EVERY 28 HOURS PLAYS will be performed and livestreamed as part of KC’s Millennium Stage Series. The preview consists of an excerpt of the collection with more than 30 one-minute plays inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, with participation by theater makers and institutions across the nation and showcases the creative outcome of a community outreach residency in Ferguson and St. Louis County, Missouri in the fall of 2015.
Playwrights for this preview feature alumni of the Michael Kanin Playwriting Awards Program (Kirsten Greenidge, Ike Holter, Dominique Morisseau, Jerome A. Parker, Aurin Squire) and Kennedy Center Playwriting Guest Artists (Migdalia Cruz, Kristoffer Diaz, Idris Goodwin, Neil LaBute, Jacqueline E. Lawton, Lisa Loomer, Aaron Posner, Robert Schenkkan, Anu Yadav, and many others, including Colman Domingo, Psalmayene 24, David Henry Hwang, Tarell Alvin MacCraney, Universes, Keith Josef Adkins, Stew, Josh Wilder, and Lynn Nottage). These artists, along with other local, theater making luminaries. give their voices to stories of pain and perseverance in the face of death, rage in the heart of protest, and hope for a future that values black and other marginalized lives.
The EVERY 28 HOURS PLAYS continues this important human and civil rights conversation in a political season where the evolution of our policies, practices and mind-sets are at stake. This event aims to serve as an important reminder of how theater arts can meld with activism and enact real change. To have these plays, followed by a conversation led by Thembi Duncan of Young Playwrights’ Theater, presented in front of students making their entry into the field of the performing arts and in the nation’s capital is one important goal for the producers and artistic collaborators involved in the project.
The culminating effect of The Every 28 Hours Plays as already performed in St. Louis, San Francisco and Providence, R.I., is a relentless one. Once the plays start rolling out they do not quit - with a new play, idea, tone and view-point taking hold every minute and building on one another; even Nikole Salter’s haunting finale piece doesn’t shake off easily. By the plays’ end an audience has been taken through a rollercoaster of emotions that raises consciousness and correctly hones in on the gravity of this issue.
An acting company of 30 will present the work, drawn from leading actors from the professional DC theater community, including Tonya Beckman, Frank Britton, J.J. Johnson, Joy Jones, Christopher Lane, Jeff Kirkman, Manu Kumasi, Fatima Quander, and Justin Weaks, as well as students and alumni from Howard University, University of Maryland, Catholic University of America.
Click here to read the full press release and learn more. Watch online with us APRIL 12 at 6pm (EST). RSVP via our facebook event and the livestream can be viewed here.
On Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 8pm and Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 2pm, Mirror Stage will present a staged reading of The Hampton Years at the Ethnic Cultural Theatre. Under the direction of Artistic Director Suzanne M. Cohen, the cast features Elena Flory-Barnes, Ron Hippe, Corey Spruill, Jon Stutzman, and Ayo Tushinde.
Set in the 1940s in Virginia, The Hampton Years follows the development of African-American artists John Biggers and Samella Lewis in a still segregated society under the tutelage of Jewish painter and educator Viktor Lowenfeld, who fled Austria in 1939. Named curator of the distinguished collection of Black African Art in 1945, Lowenfeld’s passion, determination and talents introduced African-American Art to the United States. The Hampton Years celebrates how together, these passionate and brilliant artists rose above all that was standing in their way to create beautiful, poignant, and lasting works of art.
Mirror Stage’s innovative Feed Your Mind series of staged readings examines topical issues from different perspectives. Presented without costumes or sets, the emphasis on the text encourages audiences to create their own imagined world inhabited by the play's characters. Following every performance, a moderated discussion with the audience and artists explores the issues raised in more depth. The Hampton Years examines African-American art, segregation, African American and Jewish relations, art history and art education.
Admission is $15; $10 for students and seniors. Every performance has 10 Pay-What-You-Can rush tickets ($1 minimum) for purchase.
Free parking is available in University of Washington’s lot W12, located at just south of the Ethnic Cultural Theater on Brooklyn Ave NE. Click here to learn more.
About Mirror Stage
Mirror Stage reflects the diversity of our community onstage in high-quality, progressive, thought-provoking productions that play it smart without always playing it safe. We nurture unique artistic voices while providing opportunities for newly-emerging artists to work alongside more seasoned professionals. With the goal of increasing empathy and tolerance, Mirror Stage opens doors to new ways of seeing and thinking—entertaining while enlightening, and bringing us to a place of common understanding.
Reading Backwards and Forwards: Women-identified theater artists statistics in the Triangle, NC, 2012-2015.
In anticipation of this evening's Women's Theatre Festival Interest Meeting, artist/scholar Jules Odendahl-James has recapped the past few seasons of number crunching. She began this work for the July 2012 DASH gathering at the ArtsCenter, where she was invited to take part in a roundtable discussion that addressed gender equity in the Triangle theatre community. She is mindful to note that this data is not definitive. For instance, she does not yet have season information for HBCUs in the Triangle such as Shaw, St. Augustine and NCCU. These particular absences highlight the important role that university theaters play in these numbers and opens interesting questions for discussion about whether the interest in and work for women theater artists and artists of color extends in positive and life/art sustaining ways from the academy into the professional world.
Here’s more from here recap:
The numbers mix together LORT professional, independent professional, community and educational theaters (including some student-run companies with long-running constituencies), and one-off productions by a group that forms to stage just one show with those companies which have staffs/buildings/long histories in the Triangle.
I follow a pretty strict geographical demarcation for “Triangle” theater, including only those productions/companies operating in Cary, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill & Carrboro.
Even in the digital information age, it remains difficult to discern the artistic staff for shows (even after the shows are running). I would strongly urge theater companies/producers to put that information front and center as soon as it’s known and to make sure subsequent publicity maintains those details as things shift to archival status so these kind of statistics are easier to collect and dissect over the arc of time.
Over the three seasons examined (12-13, 13-14, 14-15) and given the limitations of a one-woman statistics operation, numbers have remained relatively consistent for women directors and playwrights in the Triangle.
Depending how one:
Then one sees that:
What these trends/tendencies mean is a question too big for this post but one very much worth considering and discussing further as demographics change across the Triangle, the state of NC, and the US as a whole. And as we consider how theater as a profession and a discipline understands its past, grapples with its present, and maps its future.
BREAKDOWN of 2014-15 season
14-15 statistics are pulled from production materials when/where made available in advance of a show’s production. With Devra Thomas's help this year, I’ve made some attempt to go back and ‘pick up’ shows that were announced late, mid-season, last minute.
Of 126 total productions tallied from July 31, 2014 to July 31, 2015.
Of 126, 11 shows had writing & direction by women (8.3%). I counted three instances where both the director and writer of a production were women-identified artists of color.
This tally EXCLUDES the 2015 10X10 Festival at ArtsCenter Stage, which itself had 70% representation of women directors (2 of 7 which were women of color) and a 20% representation of women playwrights (those two plays were directed by women).
Only 8.3% of the total number of productions had women directors and writers. As in previous years, this means a healthy number of shows directed by women are shows written by women.
The 14-15 stats do not include children’s theater programming as that tends to skew historically in favor of women writers/adaptors and directors. It does not count women choreographers or musical directors for musicals. None of these numbers breaks down the representation of women directors in terms of local or out-of-town professional hired in by companies.
I'll admit a less than consistent approach to staged readings. This year I included full-length readings under the formal umbrella of The Process Series and those where there’s been advance promotion and a run of more than one night; however, I’ve excluded short play festivals.
BREAKDOWN of 2012-13 season
Compiled in July of 2012 when 94 shows had been announced:
BREAKDOWN of 2013-14 season
Compiled in May of 2014, a total of 107 productions dating from August 1 2013 to July 31, 2014. Additionally, I started to separate out children’s theater production from the overall tally and started to note the number of staged readings separate from fully staged productions.
Of those 107 productions:
Of those 107 productions:
Additionally, in 2012, the Ladies of Triangle Theatre (LoTT) discussed the state of theater for ladies working in the Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill areas of North Carolina. It was livestreamed and archived on HowlRound. The panel discussion addressed women's positive and challenging experiences working in Triangle area theater. Participants hoped to shine a light on artistic directors who get it right and who need our support, and we wish to provide a path for those who need our wisdom and help. From this initial conversation, they wanted local artistic directors to examine how they choose their seasons and who they hire as actors, directors, playwrights, designers, and technicians for ultimately achieving a 50/50 balance of theater professionals. Click here to watch.
About Jules Odendahl-James
Jules Odendahl-James is an artist/scholar who has been making theater in the Triangle for over a decade. This season she has been the director of An Experiment with an Air Pump (Duke Theater Studies), the dramaturg for We Are Proud to Present a Presentation (Playmakers Repertory Company) and Brownsville Song (b-side for Tray) (Manbites Dog). She serves as the Research Director and interim-curator for Ladies of the Triangle Theatre and Vice-President of the Southeast Region for Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. Jules is also an Associate Artistic Director at Manbites Dog Theater and an adjunct faculty at Duke University in the Department of Theater Studies in addition to her work as the Program Director for Humanities Advising.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!