Last week, the news of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the trial for killing Trayvon Martin resulted in widespread shock and confusion about how our system could fail to deliver justice for this young person. It elicited questions on what the verdict says about our laws, the continuing racial tension in our country, and the suspicion, profiling and disrespect still regularly experienced by young black males. Within our theatre community, people raised questions about how we respond as artists: can we bring this polarized conversation into deeper reflection, action and change?
I was moved by one such response, spearheaded by Niegel Smith (a director and TCG New Generations Future Leader), Todd Shalom and Ben Weber. Last week, they organized an open meeting of concerned artists and citizens to create an artistic response: a living sculpture in midtown New York. This performance response will take place at 9:30pm tomorrow, Tuesday July 23. Learn more here and here, and if you plan to attend, bring at least one hoodie.
From urban performance intervention to the classics al fresco: last week I attended A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Marcus Garvey Park, presented by The Classical Theatre of Harlem. In addition to being beautifully acted and staged with African, American, and Caribbean design influences, it was attended by one of the most culturally and age diverse audiences I’ve been part of in a long time. Later this summer, I look forward to visiting our friends at the American Players Theatre, “a classical theatre in the woods of Wisconsin.” There’s silence, beauty and power in the merging of nature and the stage, whether in the heart of the city or way out in the woods.
Finally, I want to alert you that the application deadlines for Leadership U[niversity] grants are rapidly approaching. Continuing Ed applications for mid-career to veteran professionals are due August 1, Noon ET; and One-on-One applications for early-career leaders are due August 12, Noon ET. Opportunities for professional development remain critically important for theatre leaders, especially in a time when our troubled world needs creative and diverse leadership.