(Photo by Alissa Moore of Michael Rosenberg speaking at 2012 TCG Fall Fourm on Governance: Leading the Charge. As part of TCG’s Diversity & Inclusion Institute, our online curator Jacqueline E. Lawton is interviewing our cohort of participating theatres about their discoveries, challenges and success stories along the way. Institute theatres will be sharing the progress of their action planning at the 2013 TCG Fall Forum on Governance: Investing in Vitality. Click here to learn how you can get involved with TCG’s Diversity & Inclusion Initiative!)
Jacqueline E. Lawton: Why is it important for your organization to take part in the Diversity and Inclusion Institute?
Michael Rosenberg, La Jolla Playhouse: While we continue to make real progress with diversity on our stages, we feel that we must to a better job with hiring a more diverse staff and we must do a much better job of welcoming a greater diversity of Trustees to our Board. We are in the process of creating strategies to accomplish these goals.
JL: What have you learned so far in your process?
LJP: We have learned that to be successful, we must be willing to devote real resources to this process. Money, to be sure – but more importantly, we must be willing to devote time. Time for discussion, researching, soul searching, making mistakes and making progress.
JL: What are some of the challenges you have faced when doing this work?
LJP: Making staff available on a consistent basis is a real challenge. It is very easy to focus on the productions and tasks at hand. Taking departments and teams off-site can take up resources but is proving to be helpful in terms of focusing attention.
JL: What’s at stake for your community, both your internal (staff, board, artists) and external (audience) stake-holders, if you aren’t able to implement an action plan for Diversity and Inclusion?
LJP: We will cease to be relevant to San Diego and we will cease to have an impact on the American Theatre.
Michael S. Rosenberg has served as Managing Director of La Jolla Playhouse since April, 2009. During his four years at the Playhouse, he has worked in partnership with Artistic Director Christopher Ashley to produce 14 world premieres, six Playhouse commissions and the hit musicals Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Hands on a Hardbody and Little Miss Sunshine. He was also instrumental in bringing the Page To Stage workshop of John Leguizamo’s Diary of a Madman to the Playhouse, which transferred to Broadway. Additionally, he fostered the growth of the Playhouse’s award-winning Performance Outreach Program (POP) tour, achieving the most performances at local schools in Playhouse history. Previously, Rosenberg was Co-Founder and Executive Director of Drama Dept., a New York non-profit theatre company, where he produced new works by the likes of Douglas Carter Beane, Warren Leight, Isaac Mizrahi, Paul Rudnick and David and Amy Sedaris. He has been a part of the producing teams for the Broadway productions of Grey Gardens and American Buffalo and the national tour of Little House on the Prairie. He serves on the boards of La Jolla Country Day School and the Theatre Communications Group.
Jacqueline E. Lawton received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener fellow. Her plays include Anna K; Blood-bound and Tongue-tied; Deep Belly Beautiful; The Devil’s Sweet Water; The Hampton Years; Ira Aldridge: Love Brothers Serenade, Mad Breed and Our Man Beverly Snow. She has received commissions from Active Cultures Theater, Discovery Theater, National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of American History, Round House Theatre and Theater J. A 2012 TCG Young Leaders of Color, she has been nominated for the Wendy Wasserstein Prize and a PONY Fellowship from the Lark New Play Development Center. She resides in Washington DC and is a member of Arena Stage’s Playwrights’ Arena. jacquelinelawton.com