STATEMENT FROM DEI COMMITTEE CHAIR
CHRISTINE TOY JOHNSON

Christine Toy Johnson

In 2017, I proposed that the Guild form a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee as an official extension of core principles that were already in action. I saw that the committee’s work could not only take the opportunity to publicly express the Dramatists Guild’s commitment to these issues, both within our membership and within the entertainment industry at large, but to also focus and organize our goals and ensuing actions pertaining to creating theatre that was reflective and respectful of the entirety of our population.

After meeting with various members across the country in a set of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion centered Town Halls, I learned that many people had similar questions and concerns. We created 'The Dramatists Guild presents Talkback', the Guild’s first podcast, with the goal of illuminating various artists’ perspectives and experiences surrounding the prevalent issues raised, such as cultural appropriation vs. appreciation, writing outside one’s lived experience, access to the “pipeline” and much more. Working with Boom Integrated as a co-producer, we recorded Season One with the umbrella theme “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” during the summer of 2019 and launched in October of that year on the Broadway Podcast Network(details are below on how to listen). We recorded Season Two, whose umbrella theme is “Access”, in the midst of the pandemic from our home studios during the summer of 2020 and will launch those episodes beginning on October 19, 2020.  It has been invigorating and inspiring to talk with so many insightful theatre artists about their experiences navigating the uncomfortable territory surrounding issues of systemic racism that we are finally in a national conversation about, as well as ageism, ableism and so many areas where universal access and inclusion have been missing in our industry.

Moving forward, the committee continues to brainstorm ways to help our membership understand these issues more fully and robustly; to give us tools to write authentically and inclusively, certainly – but also to ensure that we’re doing it without inflicting harm and that we’re continuing to foster other difficult, often unspoken conversations. My ultimate goal is always to help create more and more space for all of us to fully flourish as the artists that we can be, one day absent of the weightplaced on us by systemic bias and assumptions. To me, working towards equal rights in the theatre means working towards the day when those in marginalized communities can stand side by side those who have historically been accepted more widely into our society without prejudice,and create a more complete and authentic American landscape of storytelling, together. Thank you for joining us as our work continues.

We’ve seen the stats. We’ve read the think pieces. Now we’re ready to TALKBACK.

TALKBACK is the podcast for every dramatist or theatre fan who wants, but maybe hasn’t seen, the inclusiveness we all imagined. TALKBACK entertains frank conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion. We ask the tough questions, and don’t have all the answers, but dig into dialogue that’s vital and messy and real. Join host Christine Toy Johnson and her industry colleagues from the pulse of the American theatre on TALKBACK.

The premiere season of TALKBACK features guests including Mandy Gonzalez, Larissa FastHorse, Mashuq Mushtaq Deen, Diep Tran, Anita Hollander, David Henry Hwang, Kia Corthron, Todd London, Pun Bandhu, Porsche McGovern, Kristoffer Diaz, Chisa Hutchinson, Rachel Chavkin, Lynn Marie Rosenberg, Charlayne Woodard, Lydia Diamond, Garlia Cornelia Jones, Caitlin Baird, Leah Nanako Winkler, Theresa Rebeck, and Jose Solis.

This six episode podcast series is brought to you by the Dramatists Guild of America, co-produced by the DG's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and BOOM Integrated, and distributed by Broadway Podcast Network.

Since its inception in 1912, THE DRAMATISTS GUILD OF AMERICA has been the professional association for playwrights, librettists, lyricists and composers writing for the American stage.  With over 7,000 members around the world, The Guild is guided by a governing council of writers who each give their time, interest and support to advance the rights of dramatists everywhere, including the right for dramatists to own and control their own copyrighted work.  The Guild’s advocacy, programs, events, publications and other services provide dramatists with the resources, the community and the support they require to protect their property, their livelihoods, and their unique voices in the American Theatre.

Broadway Podcast Network is all about creating an engaging, immersive, user-friendly experience where theatre stories of all kinds can be easily found, shared, and enjoyed. A mix of new, exciting original programming alongside podcasts you already know and love, the Broadway Podcast Network is building the perfect daily digital destination with partnership with tremendously talented content creators, all-star hosts, producers, writers, industry leaders, and storytellers of all kinds. With a vast range of theatre-related programming, Broadway Podcast Network podcasts offer something for everyone, including behind-the-curtain access to the creative process, advice on everything from how to break into the business to how to audition, magical theatre history, candid interviews with your favorite stars, and so much more. Broadway Podcast Network's audience includes theatre professionals and industry leaders, theatre students, up-and-coming artists, and theatre fans from all over the world.

Boom Integrated is the newest venture from leading audiobook producer John Marshall Media. Boom has 30+ years of award-winning audio experience (GRAMMY, Webby, Audie), plus all the excitement that comes with building something innovative and relevant to today’s market. Their New York City-based team blends expert sound design and production with creative strategy and marketing smarts. Boom creates podcasts and smart speaker experiences that amplify business goals, pique interest, and inspire engagement.

For more information, please contact Amy VonMacek at 212-398-9366 or avonmacek@dramatistsguild.com.