Theaters Need to Stop Racially Segregating Their Season
I love it when a local theater company wants to encourage diversity and inclusion with their season. The desire to tell different stories with an array of different types of people is something that should be applauded always. If your theater is doing this with their current or next season, congrats.
However, I also feel that the commitment to diversity should be extended to every show in your season and not stop with the one that would require roles of color.
For instance, I have seen theaters perform a Hairspray or Dreamgirls, but then the rest of the season consists of shows featuring all white leads while the performers of color are relegated to the ensemble or not cast at all. It's ironic, that like in Hairspray with "Negro Day", theaters are basically allowing performers of color to have one show to have the spotlight as opposed to the entire season.
While theaters administrations might not think it, racially dividing their seasons don't encourage or increase diversity. If a theater truly wants to make a commitment to inclusion, that needs to be applied to every show they perform. If you are willing to cast performers of color in shows with roles of color, you also need to consider them for open race roles. By implying to them that they only really have one show to shine in is incredibly offensive.
Also, if you are doing a show like In the Heights or The King and I, it can be extremely unfair to performers of color who aren't that race.
In a nutshell, if you're going to preach that your theater is diverse, back it up and make sure your productions are as inclusive as possible, not just relegating all performers of color to just one show.