Sunday, February 07, 2010

Black Playwrights Convening, part two: Isaac Butler reports | Upstaged | Time Out New York:

Well, I’d say the major frustration is that theater is still really fucking racist. This should surprise exactly no one. We all know theater is slow-moving with regard to aesthetics, but it’s slow-moving with regard to other things, too.

So besides the color slot, there’s the “treating the writer like you’re doing them a favor” problem. This is a problem that white writers complain about, too, but it has a particular flavor when a white theater is doing it do a black playwright. Another one is just kind of general disrespect stuff, like artistic directors not coming to meet ‘n’ greets. And then there’s the extra labor demands, where marketing folk expect black playwrights to do the work of marketing their shows to black audiences. But the most interesting frustration articulated had to do with the failure of black theaters to develop into a viable alternative. One former artistic director of a black theater summed it up: She felt that if a play was premiered at her theater, she knew it would never be performed again because white theaters had no respect for black theaters, and other black theaters didn’t want to do work that was on each other’s stages. And then someone who has lived his entire adult life in black theater said that black theaters subsist on the rejected commissions and development opportunities of white theaters. So the ecosystem goes: White theater commissions black playwright, develops their play to death, rejects it, black theater does it, nothing else happens with it.

12:33 AM