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.