Every other week, the editors of American Theatre curate a free-ranging discussion about the lively arts in our Offscript podcast.
We have a very special episode of Offscript for you this time. As part of our 20th anniversary commemoration of August Wilson’s seminal manifesto, “The Ground on Which I Stand,” we have been granted the rights to let you hear from the man himself, in a 10-minute excerpt from his 1996 speech at the TCG conference that year. That is followed by a lively intergenerational dialogue between Lou Bellamy of Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, Minn., and Jonathan McCrory of the National Black Theatre in New York City. In their responses to Wilson’s speech, they highlight the continuing relevance and urgency of his call for the American theatre to give greater priority to support for black theatres and theatres of color as opposed to simply diversifying large, predominantly white institutions. It’s a thorny debate that rages up to our #BlackLivesMatter present, and it is precisely the debate that Wilson wanted us to have—though it’s pretty safe to say he would have hoped we’d gotten further toward resolving it by now.