The Human Experience in the Theatre

The Human Experience in the Theatre

In an age so defined by labels, the crises of the world, and when someone’s identity can be a box or a ballroom, it’s easy to get lost in how the world sees you. It’s harder to lose yourself to a character, a script, a show. In the current climate in America, identity is everything, who you are in other’s eyes predetermines how you move through this world, the barriers you have to break, and the doors that swing open when they sense your arrival.

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The Actor and Mental Health

The Actor and Mental Health

The work of the theatre requires us to be vulnerable. It requires us to bare our souls, and to open ourselves up to the collaborative experience we have with our partners. A lot of actors are empathetic people, who can feel and vibe off of the emotions of others. This can also be very draining. It causes us to be somewhat more sensitive, and if we are not treating our mental health with same effort as other things and putting it at the back burner, you’re going to find yourself at a breaking point. And it’s ok to stop and breathe and ask for help in the midst of the chaos!

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How Theatres Can Help End Misgendering in Reviews

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In the past couple of years, thankfully, we’ve started to see more and more theatre that either includes trans, nonbinary and gender non-conforming performers or features their stories. Personally, as someone who has many friends who identify as such, I love that we’re moving in this direction.

Sadly however, not everyone is so supportive. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen multiple critics not only misgender these performers but refuse to correct their reviews once their identity is pointed out. Even worse, some critics are blatantly ignoring performer or character pronouns and just deciding their gender on their own. This needs to stop.

While I certainly hope these critics become more educated on this subject, there are some things that theatres can do to help the process. The first would be listing a performer’s preferred pronouns with their bios in the press materials.

Last year, we published a review where one of our critics referred to a performer as she/her. Later, I received an email from the performer who told me their correct pronouns and we corrected it to them/they. However, looking back at the press materials given to us, there was no indication of the preferred pronouns of the performer.

Very rarely do I see preferred pronouns listed next to bios or included in press materials/programs. If they were, this would definitely clear a lot of these misgendering issues up and not leave critics up to guess or judge what someone’s gender identity might be.

However, if a critic refuses or ignores preferred pronouns(like Tuscon’s Chuck Graham), that’s an entirely different issue and that person shouldn’t be given the privilege of critiquing a productions.

We’re living in an era where it’s more important to be conscious towards someone’s gender identity, it’s something that I take very personally. And because of this, more information is needed. Theatre companies can help and protect their performers by listing perferred pronouns in bios/programs/press materials.

Dear Nominees, Please Boycott Chita Rivera Awards Until Ben Vereen is Removed as Host

Dear Nominees, Please Boycott Chita Rivera Awards Until Ben Vereen is Removed as Host

On May 19th, the Broadway community will gather to present the 2019 Chita Rivera Awards. The mission of the awards is “to promote and recognize dance and choreographic excellence on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in film.” Shows such as Ain’t Too Proud, The Prom and The Cher Show share multiple nominations along with films such as Mary Poppins Returns.

While I would love to celebrate this evening of excellence, I can’t and I won’t. Because hosting the awards is Ben Vereen.

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School District Bans 'Thoroughly Modern Millie' After Protests at High School Performance

School District Bans 'Thoroughly Modern Millie' After Protests at High School Performance

Last weekend, over 40 Chinese-American protesters gathered in front of Huntington High School opposing the school’s performance of the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie. The group stated that the musical is racist against Chinese people. In response, the Long Island school’s Superintendent has announced that the show will never be performed in the district again.

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Casting of 'Kinky Boots' in Australia Reveals Issues with Character Descriptions

Casting of 'Kinky Boots' in Australia Reveals Issues with Character Descriptions

Next month, CLOC Musical Theatre in Victoria, Australia will be performing their production of Kinky Boots. This past week they revealed come of the cast photos. Needless to say, there was some surprise over their choice for Lola/Simon.

The role of Lola/Simon being played by a white actor(Aaron Taylor-Tedford). Given the casting choice, the lyrics for “The Land of Lola” probably have to be changed…

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Trans Designer Femininity, The Double Sword of Expectations

Trans Designer Femininity, The Double Sword of Expectations

I am a Trans Theatre maker; I am a minority in almost every room I walk into. I am a Student, which is facing the odds to get my degree while out. I am a woman Lighting Designer and know it will be a tough climb. But I know, I am a Butch Trans Woman, and I will not change for anyone. I am tough and worked comedy and concerts for five years hearing every imaginable joke about my community, so the skin is as thick as my leather belts. I have been pitted against more sexist clients for events than I can count, my male assistants being spoken to more than me and jokes on crews that abound. I do not complain, but rather point out.

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Should Movement to end "Redface" Cancel Production of "Trumpet in the Land"?

Should Movement to end "Redface" Cancel Production of "Trumpet in the Land"?

There is no doubt that there has been renewed awareness in 2019 that the use of “blackface” is wrong. We’ve seen many a public figure being brought down by donning it in the past. I am happy that we’ve gotten to the point where we' generally accept it as wrong. Other instances of “brownface” and “yellowface” have also been properly called out as well.

However, one term is slower to receive the right amount of attention - redface. For decades, we’ve seen modern society gloss over usage of redface in pop culture, entertainment and professional sports. While there has been some progress, it’s been slow.

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U.K. 'The Color Purple' star: 'I do not believe homosexuality is right'

U.K. 'The Color Purple' star: 'I do not believe homosexuality is right'

An actress set to star in a revival of The Color Purple is under fire today for anti-LGBTQA+ comments she made on social media in the past.

Actress, Seyi Omooba post a lengthy statement on her Facebook page in 2014 which included, “I do not believe you can be born gay and i do not believe homosexuality is right, though the law of this land has made it legal doesn’t mean its [sic] right.”

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Dear Community Theatres, Stop Racially Segregating Your Seasons

Dear Community Theatres, Stop Racially Segregating Your Seasons

A couple of years ago, I got into it with a president of a local community theatre. I had started to notice that their six show season always consisted of five shows with either all-white casts or leads with one show being predominantly diverse with Black, Asian or Latinx roles. For example, their year would be Legally Blonde, Death of a Salesman, The Sound of Music, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Hairspray/In the Heights/The King and I.

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What it's Like Being the "Big Girl" in Theatre

What it's Like Being the "Big Girl" in Theatre

I know everyone has had their struggles in theatre. Even if you are the most talented, stunningly fit, and beautiful person on this earth, let's face it - none of us are perfect. I want to tell you my personal struggle. I’m writing this because I want to face reality and also, I know I’m not alone.

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Looking at Tokenism on Broadway

Looking at Tokenism on Broadway

Hopefully at this point, we all agree that minorities are underrepresented in media. People of color deserve to be represented. However, this very public and debated issue of minority casting has created a whole new controversy of its own: tokenism. Tokenism defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “actions that are the ​resul​t ​of pretendin​g to give advantag​e to those group​s in society who are often treated ​​unfairly​, in order to give the ​appearance​ of fairness​.”

This implies that people of color are being written/cast with intent of creating a safe appearance of diversity. Of course, this means that more characters are being created for people of color in entertainment, but not out of respect for their abilities or talents, but simply for their superficial value to the media. 

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"The Goin' is Great" is a Dance Short We Should All Watch

"The Goin' is Great" is a Dance Short We Should All Watch

I recently stumbled upon a short dance film that seemed to keep popping up on my Facebook feed. I finally watched the short and was overcome with a strange juxtaposition of anxiety and tranquility. These are two emotions that don’t often pair together, and I certainly wasn’t expecting them when I clicked on the two-and-a-half-minute dance clip. But the short showed so much more than just some beautiful choreography.

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A New Character Shoe is Celebratrating Diversity with One Giant Step

A New Character Shoe is Celebratrating Diversity with One Giant Step

In early June, LaDuca Shoes launched their new “cinnamon shoe,” a darker shade of their signature, sought-after character heels—a staple of Broadway performers, Radio City Rockettes, Knicks City Dancers, and celebrities like Laverne Cox and Katy Perry.  Black and beige were the previous “standard” shades for character shoes.  Dancers of color either settled for these two stock colors or painted their shoes to better match their skin tones.  Finally, the dancewear industry is starting to change their ways. 

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A Los Angeles Theatre Announced Their Cast for "Little Shop" and the Internet is not having it

A Los Angeles Theatre Announced Their Cast for "Little Shop" and the Internet is not having it

Yesterday, a Los Angeles county based theatre company announced their cast for their upcoming production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”

While the Mogran-Wixson Theatre didn’t say which actors were playing which roles, let’s just say the cast lacks what you would usually see in most productions of the show.

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I Am Sick of Predators in High School Drama Clubs

I Am Sick of Predators in High School Drama Clubs

I wish I could look back at my high school theatre program and have fond memories, and reminisce about the first time I was coached in a scene, or sung for my whole school. For a few months after graduating, I could. But as I am currently writing this, I don’t feel fond towards my high school theatre program anymore. I get a feeling of dread when I remember that my theatre teacher was found to be engaging in sexual miscounduct with one of his students.

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