The Tough Nut: Regional Theatre

The other day I was struck by a point Lydia Diamond brought up in our conversation with Charles Hugland and Bevin O’gara around Luck of the Irish. She pointed out that most female playwright’s work travel the regional theatre route before they make it to broadway, excluding Suzan Lori-Parks, who has had work go directly to broadway. Although this wasn’t a revelatory thought, it was the starting point that ignited my rage and frustration concerning the gender inequalities in theatre. I specifically thought about Kirsten Greenidge in this context.

Here is Kirsten Greenidge, a prolific playwright, who is being produced for the first time by the Huntington Theatre Company– where she was playwriting fellow!! I know that there are many factors, including timing, that prevented Kristen’s work from being produced there sooner. None-the-less, I still find it unsettling that a theatre company who was deeply invested in cultivating an artist’s voice, could still have a difficult time producing that artist’s work. I understand that the regional theatre is a tough nut to crack, but the reality of that, compounded by me reading plenty of articles that discussed the lack of women’s voice in theatre made my head reel.

Somewhere amidst the head reeling I realized that while I am a strong advocate for diversity (of all sorts) in the theatre, I am not the one who needs convincing. Rather it’s the people who have the most power who need convincing. Unfortunately those in power tend to be white-heterosexual-men, and until they understand the necessity of diversity there will continue to be a lack of color in the arts.

What I enjoy most about theatre is that it can reflect the world, and re-imagine it into something powerfully beautiful. It is not only up to me to be a champion for diversity, but you, my classmates to acknowledge its importance. We’re lucky to have Ilana, a forward thinker, who challenges us to engage with that that is foreign. That forward thinking is something that I we can’t lose touch with after graduation.

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