Here’s a quick reminder that registration is open for theatres that are willing and able to host Town Hall meetings—the third component of our recent Field Conversations. These meetings are a great opportunity for you to participate in fostering dialogue about the relationship between artists and theatre organizations. While the term “Town Hall” may imply a large and elaborate convening, these meetings can be as simple as bringing a handful of people together over tea or they can be larger meetings hosted by several organizations in the same community. At these Town Halls, we hope you will test out some of the ideas we’ve heard in our Round Table discussions with artists and theatres held throughout the country over the last six months, and be a part of a report that we intend to publish this summer. For more information and to sign up, visit the Field Conversations section on our website.
Two of the core values of TCG—activism and global citizenship—were on display last week. In Connecticut, a school and a school board wrestled with issues of censorship, governance, education and the power of language. The superintendent was set to block a production of August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone because he was uncomfortable with some of the language (student performers would have to say the word “nigger,” as written in the script). At the school board meeting last Wednesday, there were strong feelings on all sides. Ultimately, the board decided to allow the production to be presented, which is the best outcome for the students. TCG sent a letter to the superintendent and the school board president that offered to connect the school to some of our Connecticut member theatres and to help make this a teachable moment. James Bundy, TCG board member and Yale Repertory Theatre artistic director, was also able to lend support and affect the course of the discussion. Out of this struggle came an opportunity, with a powerful work of art at the center, to try to unite a community, to allow for a variety of points of view, and ultimately, to give students the opportunity to work on a project of significant artistic and educational merit. For more information, see Frank Rizzo’s blog.
And in recent Updates, I called your attention to the repressive regime in Belarus and the plight of the Belarus Free Theatre—currently in the U.S. for performances at the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival. Since their production ended, it has become clear that these artists will not be able to return home right away. In response, a number of theatres are working to help them stay in the U.S. for a while longer by making room for them in their performance schedules. Here’s an article from the Chicago Tribune, describing how a group of organizations, including the Goodman Theatre, has joined forces to host the company. As a result, they will be performing in Chicago in February. Oskar Eustis and the Public Theater staff have also organized both a fundraiser and a protest. Last Wednesday, 400 theatre practitioners and supporters gathered near the Belarus Mission in New York to protest repression and injustice in that country and to demand the release of prisoners jailed after the Presidential election in December. For coverage of these events, check out this article in the New York Times.
These events are further testament to our theatre community’s ability to take action, inspire dialogue and affect change—on both a local and a global scale.