(Photo of students in Alliance Theatre’s Education program.
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.)
JACQUELINE LAWTON: Why is it important for your organization to take part in the Diversity and Inclusion Institute?
Christopher Moses, The Alliance Theatre: mission is shared theatre for diverse audiences. While our art, education, and audience all reflect this beautifully, our staff remains pretty lily white. In a city as diverse as Atlanta, our organization needs to better reflect this diversity.
JL: What have you learned so far in your process?
AT: We still need a diversity plan.
JL: What are some of the challenges you have faced when doing this work?
AT: Transitioning the organization from believer to ally; Integrating the development of this plan into the day to day responsibilities of an already over-extended staff; Gaining buy-in from the entire staff that this is a priority and demands time and attention.
JL: What surprised you about where your organization is in the process?
AT: Given that our mission is so beautifully woven into the fabric of what we produce, it’s surprising that we haven’t yet launched an action plan for diversifying our staff.
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?
AT: We take very seriously the notion of creating an inclusive space where our entire community is welcome at the table to engage in difficult conversation. If our staff and board leadership doesn’t reflect this same diversity, we run the risk of no longer being relevant or no longer being truly responsive to the needs of our community.
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