Art by Jason Simon

Meet the Token Theatre Friends!

A new video series hoping to bring a POC perspective to the performing arts.

One day last November, StageBuddy theatre critic (and American Theatre contributor) Jose Solís tweeted:

American Theatre senior editor Diep Tran answered the call, and Token Theatre Friends was born.

What is a token theatre friend? It can mean multiple things. It can mean being the token person of color in a play who serves no other purpose than to support the (white) main character (see also: sassy best friend, magical Negro). And it can refer to the experience of being the only person of color in a white theatregoing audience.

It can also mean being the one friend in your social group who loves theatre—the one they turn to for advice on what shows to see or for leads on tickets.

As people who occupy theatre and non-theatre spaces, and POC and white spaces, simultaneously, Jose and Diep consider both definitions of “token” to apply to them. And they want to bring their viewpoints as young people of color (a.k.a. not the typical target demographic for theatre) and enliven the discussion around the art form.

On this and future episodes of this twice monthly web series, Diep and Jose will discuss three shows at three different price points (usually in New York City, because that’s where they’re based), tell you which show is most worth your time and money, interview interesting artists you should know about, and rant and rave about various theatrical topics. All in under 15 minutes. So want to get a dose of theatre as you’re at the gym, or in between scene changes, or on break during tech? Take your Token Theatre Friends with you.

On this inaugural episode, they evaluate the following shows.

He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box by three-time Obie Award winner Adrienne Kennedy, at Theatre for a New Audience through Feb. 11.

Miles for Mary from ensemble company the Mad Ones, directed by Lila Neugebauer (The Wolves), at Playwrights Horizons through Feb. 25.

Draw the Circle by Mashuq Mushtaq Deen, at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater through Feb. 18 (it will also run at InterAct Theatre Company in Philadelphia June 1-24).

They also interview Los Angeles-based playwright Aleshea Harris, who is making her Off-Broadway debut with Is God Is at Soho Rep (playing through March 25). Is God Is was recently named as a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

Subscribe to Token Theatre Friends on YouTube or like American Theatre on Facebook to get notifications about new friendly videos. Have comments, suggestions for segments, shows to plug, or thoughts on how the friends can be even better? Contact the Token Theatre Friends via email or Twitter.

Art by Jason Simon