CMU School of Drama

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Diversity for Dummies

HowlRound: The first thing to say about this “Quick Start” manual is that I’m a dummy myself. In all the years I’ve grappled with diversity, the one constant has been recalibration. What was diverse ten years ago is privileged today, and today’s diversity models will become obsolete in the coming years. Historically disenfranchised groups are just now finding their voices after decades, even centuries, of silence. Diversity requires periodic check-ins, assessment, and retuning.


Mark Ivachtchenko said...

A super, super important and relevant article that posts some awesome numbers. The title of this article is a little embarrassing because we sort of need these "guides" to expose just how historically disenfranchised groups are still affected in today's society. A lot of this stuff is relevant to our own locale at CMU because a lot of these numbers ring true in our own population. It's impressive that CMU was even able to produce Ragtime with the number of racial challenges they faced, besides the fact that the cast size was small in general. I think another important pattern here is the fact that white entertainment employees prosper in all fields in terms of population and specifically when it comes to corporate, little to no other races are found being in charge. I can't stress just how important the article's advice to all theater companies, communities, groups, and societies is in terms of reflecting back to the past 10-20 years that you've been active and see what types of demographics you've seen. The first step to racial diversity is taking in these numbers and opening up to all humans.

Delaney Johnson said...

This article was an amazingly well put statement about where theatre stands in diversity. I agree that as a theatre community we actively try to promote inclusion and diversity. However, I believe that at times we fall severely short of being completely inclusive. Personally, I know that there was nothing diverse about the community theatre I worked in during high school. Here at Carnegie Mellon University, I see more and more diversity in our halls, but there are serious strides that still need to be made. The author of this article makes a key point in saying that to truly understand where we stand on diversity, we must look to the leaders of our industry. It is one goal to achieve diversity in performers and technicians, but that is not good enough. What about directors, playwrights, producers and even designers? Our entire theatre community must embrace diversity in all ways to truly achieve our goals as theatre artists.

Angel Zhou said...

“Don’t lump all peoples of color into one category. One ethnic group is not a surrogate for the other. In other words, just because you hired four black actors for the season, you’re not off the hook from hiring performers of other ethnicities.”

This is such an accurate statement. I feel like some people believe diversity is black and white (pun somewhat intended) even though it is not. While I appreciate that theatres are becoming more open-minded to non-white performers and staff, only trying to add African Americans is not completely solving the issue. I think the “Who’s Watching?” section of this article is particularly pertinent. In all of my entrepreneurial courses, we are taught to think of our audience – theatres must do the same. However, if theatres’ audiences are mostly white, it may be possible that they are that way due to the types of shows the theatres put on. I believe that drama-minded people are typically very open-minded. Thus, it would be very easy to put on more diverse productions in order to promote thought and inclusion.