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Stage West Theatre in Fort Worth, Texas.

Black Lives Matter: U.S. Theatres Stand With the Movement for Racial Justice

Dozens of theatres express their solidarity in the grief and anger over anti-Black violence, offer resources, and commit to more equitable paths.

A few months ago, I said publicly that it felt strange to be running a magazine called American Theatre while there was no theatre happening the U.S. for the foreseeable future, due to the pandemic and the lockdown it has required. Now, in the wake of the convulsive national and global response to the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, and a surge of police violence that only continues to vindicate and necessitate further protests against state-sanctioned brutality, it feels even stranger to be thinking and writing about theatre, like a kind of moral category error. How could I possibly be fussing about the theatre when Black folks’ lives hang in the balance?

That question interrogates itself—the assumption being that Black folks’ lives and theatre have nothing to do with each other. All too often, let’s be honest, in this country, and in Western culture more broadly, they have not. Indeed the way the performing arts are too often practiced and covered in the U.S., it’s understandable that many folks think of them as leisure activities for the well-off and the predominantly white.

But art is not a sequestered or special activity, cordoned off from the blood and sweat and everyday struggle of human existence; it is not the exclusive province of an elite. It is made of the stuff of life, by human beings, citizens, and, yes, activists, who show up in every society in history, often at the most divided and fractious times, to variously divert, soothe, reflect, or provoke their fellow humans. The art we make for each other doesn’t take any single prescribed form or require any special setting, let alone comprise any one kind of content. At this moment, the urgent movement to end police brutality and dismantle white supremacy has reached a critical mass, and it has a role for all of us. For artists, that may be on the streets, in the theatre of protest; it may be in creating documentary art, as Anna Deavere Smith did with Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992; it may consist in putting down the usual creative tools for a moment, all the better to turn our energy and talents to immediate material needs and the exigencies of organizing for change in the wider world as well as in our own homes and businesses and communities.

For white artists and administrators (and journalists), this moment demands that we step aside and center the experience and voices of Black people and people of color, and to join them as allies in protest, while talking to our fellow white folks about the pathologies of whiteness—and above all, we must let these belatedly reoriented priorities finally and irrevocably lead us to remake our culture and our economy in terms of equity and justice.

I don’t think theatre can do any of this by itself, of course. But if you don’t think the theatre can or should be part of the change that American society is literally burning for, I don’t know what world you’re living in. The idea that, after the wrenching reality check of 2020, we can all just go back to our playhouses, and to the practice of creating and curating art as a discretionary luxury good, seems more delusional to me now than the most starry-eyed utopian vision. We must not let let this moment of potential for change—for old ways to die and better ones replace them—pass us by.

In the meantime theatre institutions have roles to play, and as protests have continued over the past week, many have come forward with statements of solidarity. On Facebook the director Liesl Tommy began to collect these statements, and we’ve received a number of them in our inbox. We also relied on an extraordinary Google doc created by Marie Cisco, which is tracking the responses of all U.S. theatres (with the help of Victor Vazquez). With the invaluable assistance of managing editor Russ Dembin and senior editor Allison Considine, I thought it would be worthwhile to collect them here. Though some may dismiss these as mere public-relations gestures—and certainly these theatres ought to be held to the commitments they are now enunciating here—but, as Tommy put it in her post, “It comforts and helps us to know who stands in solidarity with us and our pain.”

Note: The following roundup of quotes, which includes only TCG member theatres, will be updated as we receive more.

I close as Pig Iron Theatre’s statement does: In solidarity and in stillness.

Rob Weinert-Kendt

1st Stage

Like so many around the world, I watched the killing of George Floyd with horror and disgust. Like so many, I was heartbroken. I was furious, and I was appalled. I was also painfully aware that it was a killing that fit into a chain that links all the way back to before the founding of this country. I have spent this week hoping and praying that perhaps this is the moment in which our nation finally confronts the centuries old atrocities that are systemic racism and hatred.

In the midst of all these emotions, I am fully aware that I enjoy the privilege of whiteness and that I lead a cultural institution in which the power is held predominately by white leaders. I am aware that the platform I have to speak from, is partially afforded to me by the luxury of being on the dominant side of a racist system.

At the same time I recognize that this platform and microphone can be used for the cause of justice. To all of the Black artists who call 1st Stage home, our microphone is available to you so that your voices can be amplified and your stories can be told. If you would like to share your feelings, your thoughts, your voice with the 1st Stage community please email me and I will make sure that our social media and communications platforms are at your disposal.

For those of us who enjoy privilege and power because of a system based on white supremacy, we must not wait to be spurred into action by others. We must take action now to bring justice and human rights to our entire community

All of us at 1st Stage send our love and our support to those in the pursuit of justice. We stand with you.

Alex Levy, artistic director
1st Stage, Tysons, Va.

1812 Productions

1812 is an all-comedy theatre company, and we have always lived by the credo that “the world needs more comedy.” While I certainly believe that to be true, today the world needs more justice, more compassion, more kindness.

Over the past months of quarantine, I have heard many people say they can’t wait for things to get back to normal. This week I am reminded that what is “normal” for many means living with injustice, and suffering under the conditions of white supremacy and institutional racism. I am also reminded that, whether I want to admit it or not, I am a part of that system.

I believe, as does everyone at 1812, that Black Lives Matter. We share the outrage and grief over the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and the countless others who have been victims of racial violence.

We acknowledge there is work that we have to do to address issues of inequality within our own organization and as members of the larger community. We are committed to working with and listening to the community and continuing to advocate for the dignity of all people through the work that we do. And we are committed to finding our way forward through justice, compassion and kindness.

Jennifer Childs, co-founder, producing artistic director
1812 Productions, Philadelphia

59E59 Theaters

This week we’ve watched the devastating unfolding of incidents of racially motivated violence and discrimination, from the threatening of Christian Cooper in New York City’s Central Park to the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis which sparked protests nationwide.

“The waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States. The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support.” — Barack Obama, June 3

You come to our theatre for exploration and empathy, connection, and community, and so we feel it’s important to acknowledge this moment of deep pain and heartache in our homes and in homes across the country.

Attending the theatre for many of us is cathartic. The stories on our stages serve as a vehicle through which we are able to have difficult conversations with friends and family, to celebrate our differences, and connect through our shared experiences. Now more than ever, we feel the absence of not being able to gather together in person. The staff of 59E59 Theaters met this morning, heavy-hearted, for our daily Zoom check-in and vowed to renew our commitment to listen, support, and educate ourselves. We stand on the shoulders of all the activists and protesters who have come before us in unity against racism. We encourage you, our community, to join us in raising our collective voice once again to acknowledge that we can do better.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” — Maya Angelou

In honor of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many more.

Much love,

59E59 Theaters Team, New York City

ACT Theatre

ACT Theatre joins with those in Minneapolis and across the country in the call for justice in the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the innumerable others who have lost their lives. We stand against the centuries of continued violence being perpetrated against Black lives and communities of color. Civic leaders and white America need to hear, see, and truly listen to the message from protests.

For ACT and the field of regional theatre, we have a lot of work to do in dismantling racism within our own systems. We have made mistakes; as a predominantly white organization we have a long journey and unending work to do. We cannot be neutral or silent along the way.

Specifically to white allies in this effort, please make a difference.

Becky Witmer, managing director
John Langs, artistic director
ACT Theatre, 
Seattle 

Alabama Shakespeare Festival

The mission of ASF begins with the commitment to build community. That action means nothing without stating unequivocally that Black Lives Matter.

Our Black brothers and sisters have endured senseless murders for hundreds of years. We mourn the loss of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and countless others. They should each be alive right now.

Our country’s systems and structures are rife with intentional and inherent racism. We see this firsthand in our healthcare systems and economy as the COVID pandemic disproportionately affects Black communities.

As a theatre, we believe stories matter. Stories have been used to dehumanize, destroy, and humiliate; stories have also been used to empower, empathize, and embolden communities. Too many stories have been left off our stages at ASF. We commit to being better storytellers and citizens. If we are to be a theatre that builds community, we must use our greatest tool of storytelling to effect change.

ASF commits to fighting racism in our institutions (ASF included) and in our community. ASF will not stand nor tolerate racism in any form. We will stand in solidarity with our Black artists, Black staff members, and the Black community. We see you. We hear you. We pledge to build community where you are seen and heard.

Enough is enough.

Alabama Shakespeare Festival
Montgomery, Ala.

Alley Theatre

The Alley is Houston’s theatre, and we stand with the people of Houston, especially with the Black community, during this heartbreaking and challenging time. I’ve always depended on the power of the theatre, the power of dialogue, to understand the human condition and to work through the problems that face us.

I’m reminded of a line from Chisa Hutchinson’s upcoming world premiere Amerikin,  which, in addition to being a beautifully written, deeply empathetic play is also one of the most insightful plays about race I have ever read. In Chisa’s words: “I firmly believe in the power of understanding. To understand something is to know how it works. And once you know how it works, you have the power to disable it.”

I look forward to the time when we can gather in the theatre again. Meanwhile, we will continue to listen to, learn from, and lift you up. We expect to be held accountable for doing better to support people of color onstage, off, and in the community.  We stand with Houston and the entire nation as we find a way to move forward together.

Rob Melrose, artistic director
Alley Theatre, Houston

Alliance Theatre

We are the Alliance Theatre.

Our mission is to expand hearts and minds onstage and offstage.

At this moment, our hearts and minds are expanding in response to the unjust killing of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tony McDade; in addition to the violent racial profiling of countless Black people. How do we adequately respond to four hundred plus years of racism deeply embedded in the fabric of our society?

We need to talk about it with you.

Our theatre is located in Atlanta and stands on the shoulders of both Confederate history and the legacy of the Civil Rights movement.

Racism, hate, prejudice, and white supremacy—that’s us.

Social justice and the fight for equality—that’s us too.

We carry the mantle of a complex history. We are beneficiaries of both white privilege and Black culture. But we have to take a stand against systemic racism.

Our Black artists, patrons, and community partners need more than these words. They need our actions to reflect a consistent commitment to their lives.

This is the work we have been doing and we pledge to continue building on:

  • Instituting a mandatory all staff allyship/bias awareness training, starting this summer.
  • Investing in the development of Black women leaders in the artistic community through the Spelman Leadership program and currently the BOLD Theater Women’s Leadership Circle. In addition we support the early career development of POC through the Kenny Leon internship.
  • Using our award-winning education programming to foreground youth voices in the work of anti-racism and social justice, providing resources for families and educators to discuss racism and inherent bias.
  • Amplifying the voices of Black writers, artists, and Black-led partner organizations.
  • Engaging our patrons and community more deeply in tough, but necessary, dialogue about racism, justice, and allyship through our productions and programming.

But the work is not done. We are working to address the skeletons in our closet, the phantoms lingering around the ghost light of our theatre. The work we must do comes not only in reaction to the moment our country is in now, but as a response to the state our country has always been in. We pledge that as we work to expand the hearts and minds of audiences onstage, we are working to expand our own hearts and minds off-stage so that we can truly be the Alliance that Atlanta deserves.

In Solidarity.

Alliance Theatre
Atlanta

American Conservatory Theater

We want to acknowledge the trauma our country and many of you are experiencing with the continued horrific and unnecessary deaths of Black people.

ACT strives to be a company committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion. We recognize that systemic racism exists and that it needs to be intentionally and diligently unwound and fought against. We believe that Black Lives Matter, and that we are responsible for making space that cultivates empathy, gives voice and serves to empower and change.

Black people make the art we share. Black people are on our staff, sit on our board, attend our performances, teach, study, and train at ACT, and deserve self-determination, to feel safe and to have vigilant support.

We encourage us all to support and learn from the work in the aftermath of the recent killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, Ga., as well as what Christian Cooper this week named as “the underlying current of racism” in our country; please also support Black-led organizations in San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area community. Continue to do your own anti-racism work as well. Take care of yourself and each other.

We can make a positive difference through direct action and care.

We are all hurting in different ways, and we just want you to know we are aware and to encourage all of us to support each other and to be in solidarity with our Black colleagues.

Pam MacKinnon, artistic director
Jennifer Bielstein, executive director
American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco

American Players Theatre

We at American Players Theatre join the cry of those around the country demanding swift justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the many other Black men, women, and children who have senselessly lost their lives in acts of unnecessary violence. We stand against the brutality that has been visited upon people of color and their communities since our country’s inception. We have witnessed the pain, the grief and the exhaustion of the communities of color who have suffered under centuries of oppression.

In our rural, bucolic location, it is easy to feel we are insulated from the evils of racism. We are not. We must do better. Right now. We pledge to work to help dismantle those systems that perpetuate racism in our theater and in our community.

We recognize we have a lot to learn from those voices that have been silenced for too long. We will listen to them, we will amplify them and we will hold them up. And to our audiences, artists and staff of color: We pledge to love you, to support you, to fight for you and to listen as you hold us accountable.

“Dishonor not your eye
By throwing it on any other object,
Till you have heard me in my true complaint,
And given me justice, justice, justice, justice!”
– Isabella, Measure for Measure

American Players Theatre
Spring Green, Wisc.

American Repertory Theater

We stand in solidarity with Black artists, colleagues, and citizens in our community and around the world. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are individual tragedies that point to our collective and enduring failure as a nation. We must reckon with the truth of our nation’s history of violence against Black people and condemn these acts of violence that perpetuate this continued injustice. Black Lives Matter.

The American Repertory Theater is committed to dismantling white supremacist culture in our institution, on our stages, and in our community. We unequivocally oppose any attempts to divide our community through acts of discrimination, omission, and violence. We must use our privilege to fight against institutional racism. We must be accountable.

We stand in solidarity with Black artists, colleagues, and citizens in our community and around the world.

We encourage you to support:

American Repertory Theater
Cambridge, Mass.

 

Statement from American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va.

Amphibian Stage

Black Lives Matter.

We want to leave no room for doubt that we stand with the Black community. Silence is complicity. Our platform gives us a voice denied to so many.

Therefore, here is our pledge to our friends in the Black community.

  1. We will speak up against acts and words of racism and hold individuals and institutions accountable for their actions.
  2. We will do the work within ourselves so that we can put a stop to the institutional racism that is all-pervasive.
  3. We will listen more and talk less when you teach us.
  4. We will employ you, collaborate with you, and help you tell your stories with the dignity and respect deserved.
  5. We will not allow fear and systemic racism to guide our decisions.

We have seen that some are encouraging today (June 2) be a “Blackout Tuesday.” As such, we will not be posting anything additional today but will use this time to investigate our own culpability and create actionable steps in the fight for change. Please do not let this be a break in the conversation. We offer this list of resources to help you in your own efforts toward anti-racism, and remind you it is not the job of Black people to educate, it is our job to seek out the knowledge and learn, so that we can do the work.

We send all our friends love and warmth in these troubled times. Please let us know how we can help you navigate the days ahead. It is our job as artists to make the world a more open, compassionate, giving planet, and we take this opportunity and responsibility very seriously.

We stand with you,

Kathleen, Jay, Clara, Ayesha, Jeff, Evan
Amphibian Stage, Fort Worth, Texas

The Arden Theatre Company

Racism kills. It destroys. It is insidious, blinding us to our own biases. We mourn the loss of innocent Black lives and join with those seeking justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless others.

Theatre can be a voice against racism. As an art form dedicated to bringing people together, theatre allows us to experience other perspectives, challenge long-held assumptions, and reminds us of our shared humanity. The stories we tell can and must lead to greater understanding, empathy and compassion.

It is imperative that the work on our stages and in our classrooms play a role in the critical dialogue and commitment to change that must take place.

We will listen more. We will recognize our mistakes. And we will join with others to work towards a more just future.

Arden Theatre Company
Philadelphia

Arena Stage

It’s a time of introspection. Theatre is an important weapon against hate, misconceptions, and prejudice. It is also a tool for understanding, compassion, and thoughtfulness. We mourn the loss of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor. We mourn for their family and friends. We mourn for the racism in this country and vow to continue telling stories that tell the truth about America.

Arena Stage
Washington, D.C.

Arizona Theatre Company

As an organization dedicated to reflecting, supporting, and championing all of our community, our hearts are breaking this week.

To our African American brothers and sisters, we know that silence is complicity, so want to make it clear:

We see you. We are with you. Your lives matter.

Just this year we were proud to have produced The Royale and “Master Harold”…and the Boys, both dealing with racism. Both encouraging us to ask: What was our role in setting up, or accidentally benefiting from these inequitable systems? Both encouraging the conversation around the most important question: what are we doing now to dismantle them?

There are no easy answers at this point, but we want to make it clear that this type of questioning, this type of investigation, is at the center of the work we do—and in moments when it seems like plays are inadequate, we switch to being a resource for conversation, compassion, but mostly to listening to our community about where they are, and what they need next.

To that point, this week, we will be turning over our social media channels to members of our staff and community this week—to talk about where they are and what they are following.

As always, Arizona Theatre Company invites all to the conversation in this moment.

Arizona Theatre Company
Tucson and Phoenix, Ariz.

Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities

This is a moment.

In this moment, our hearts break for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others.

In this moment, we reflect and ask: Can we call ourselves inclusive if we remain silent about the heinous injustices taking place in front of our very eyes?

The answer resounds clearly. We take this moment to declare our truth as an organization and to raise our voices against racism and white supremacy.

This is a moment of truth. We see you. We stand by you.

“The ultimate measure of a person is not where one stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where one stands in times of challenge and controversy.” –Martin Luther King Jr.

Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
Arvada, Colo.

Aurora Theatre Company

Theatre is a space of shared imagination. A space where stories allow us to relive and reexamine our past, and envision bold new futures. Theatre allows us the opportunity to step outside the boundaries of our own lived experience to gain greater understanding of our shared humanity—to build compassion, empathy, and solidarity.

We cannot stay silent as Black lives are endangered by police violence, and as the virus of so-called white supremacy continues to infect this country. We honor the lives and memory of those who have most recently fallen and speak the names of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.

As cultural institutions, theatres hold great power in whose stories are told, how they are told, by whom and for whom. We’re committed to telling relevant stories that speak to our whole community in the present moment, and the threat to Black lives by so-called white supremacy is inherent to this moment and to the entire American experience. Even as our stages are dark, it is core to Aurora’s mission and our commitment to the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion to elevate Black stories, empower Black artists, and ensure that our Black audience members are safe and welcome in our spaces. We have a responsibility to say unequivocally that Black lives matter, and to keep doing the work of building a more just world.

With this responsibility in mind, we invite our community to join us in the continual process of educating ourselves on white supremacy, racial violence, and systemic racism, and to support organizations locally and nationally that support black communities and causes. Please follow this link to our website for a list of these educational and charitable resources.

Aurora Theatre Company
Berkeley, Calif.

Austin Playhouse

Protests against racism and systemic injustice are underway in cities across the country. These protests have been joined by citizens in countries around the world.

Austin Playhouse stands with our Black colleagues, artists, and audience. We offer unequivocal support to members of our Black community and all those engaged in condemning racism and seeking justice.

We welcome the work to fully understand and dismantle systemic racism within our industry. Austin Playhouse’s mission is to bring Austin artists and audiences together to celebrate the human experience. This mission is only possible when everyone is welcome – when the stories on our stage reflect the heart of our community. Right now we must amplify voices that have too long struggled to be heard.

We are committed to putting this policy into practice and are developing new programming that will center the voices, stories, and truths of Black artists. This will enrich the theatrical experience for all patrons of Austin Playhouse.

We are stronger together.


Austin Playhouse, Texas

Azuka Theatre

The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade were caused by this country’s long history of white supremacy and systematic racism.

We grieve these deaths, and we are outraged by them. Our hearts are with our community, and all those experiencing racial violence. We stand in solidarity with protestors across the country rebelling against inequality and police brutality.

We acknowledge that Azuka Theatre has a responsibility not only to tell inclusive stories, but to strive towards equitable systems for the creation of those stories. We acknowledge that there is much work to be done to counter the racism that pervades so many cultural institutions, ours included. We commit to that work and will share more in the coming weeks.

Today, we simply join the voices raised all over the country in saying: Black Lives Matter.

Kevin Glaccum, producing artistic director
Maura Krause, artistic associate
Mark H. Andrews, co-founder & marketing director
Janelle Kauffman, company manager
Lucas McLean, administrative assistant
Azuka Theatre, Philadelphia

Baltimore Center Stage

Today (May 30) is the day of our end-of-season gala. We are meant to be spending this day celebrating our artists and community. And yet… We are grieving. With our Black staff members, with our Black artists, with our Black audiences, with our young Black students, with our Black-led partner organizations, and with our Black colleagues and theatre leaders across the country.

We see you. We are with you. Your lives matter.

Systems of power and supremacy do not exist solely in egregious acts of violence that make national headlines. They are upheld and reinforced daily. They are strengthened by cultural narratives which are shaped by arts institutions. They are entrenched in the many ways that arts institutions are a driver of displacement. Racism is bolstered by the stories we tell, the inequitable economic structures we adhere to, and the representation (or lack thereof) of Black, Indigenous, and people of color on our stages. Anti-Blackness is sustained by our complacency. It isn’t easy to admit or confront our own unwitting complicity in oppressive systems and hate-filled ideology, but we must; we do.

In solidarity with our Black community in Minneapolis, across the country, and right here in Baltimore, here are our commitments:

  • We commit to working with our self-organized staff Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression group to hold space for healing throughout the coming days, weeks, months.
  • We commit to bystander intervention training for our staff.
  • We commit to amplifying anti-racism resources.
  • We commit to amplifying the hyper-local work of Black-led organizations.
  • We commit to being productively dissatisfied with our own progress, and to working with all our might to help bend the arc of justice ever further.

As we remember uprisings here in Baltimore almost exactly five years ago, we are reminded of our interconnectedness and of the deep necessity of anti-racism and decolonization.

It is our responsibility to constantly examine the ways white supremacy and anti-blackness have insidiously found their way into our stories, into our building, and into our organizational practices. And then, we must do the hard, but critical work of rooting them out for good.

Baltimore Center Stage, Md.

Berkeley Repertory Theatre

We cannot remain silent as, once again, we witness personal and national trauma born of the racism and hatred that has been present in this country for centuries. We honor the lives and memory of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. And we acknowledge the many who have fallen before them.

As a theatre, we believe in the power of storytelling to enlighten, to create empathy, accountability, and change. But at this moment, when our doors are shuttered and we are unable to use our usual tools to tell those stories, we find ourselves reaching out to you directly, with no stages, no metaphors and no artifice. If this can’t be a moment for change in this country, when will that be? Can we make this the moment? This last week’s headlines have brought home with new force that we must all, as individuals and as institutions, step up and be activist on behalf of a better world order.

Johanna Pfaelzer, artistic director
Susie Medak, managing director
Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Calif.

When I started the Black Ensemble Theater in 1976, I was told emphatically by many, many people to change the mission. They felt that a mission to eradicate racism was much too ambitious. Our mission is ambitious, and it is vital to our existence as human beings. If we allow for injustice to continue, we all suffer and will eventually wipe each other out. We are witnessing the effects of institutionalized racism all over the country, and the fires, looting, anger, and self-hatred that has materialized bears witness to the fact that we must destroy institutionalized racism or it will destroy all of us.

For 44 years Black Ensemble Theater has been working diligently toward our mission to eradicate racism and its devastating effects on society. Our mission is even more vital and relevant now than it has ever been before.

Racism is embedded in the American culture. That culture must be changed. Those of us who understand that murder is wrong, racism is wrong, and injustice is wrong must speak out. We cannot be silent. I’m not advocating looting and burning, but I understand it. People are sick and tired of the racist American way and they are screaming for it to stop. I do not condone violence, but I do condone action. Do something or say something, speak out, even if it’s just to a neighbor—let’s spread the word that this murdering of Black people must be stopped. Period! This modern-day lynching must come to an end.

Black Ensemble Theater will do our part. We will continue our work toward eradicating racism, and we hope that you too will do whatever you can to speak out and take action against the inequities that exist in this racist world. No one can afford to sit on the sidelines anymore. To say nothing or do nothing makes you just as guilty as those who are committing the racist crime or spewing the racist rhetoric. To be treated fairly and with dignity is the essence of our human spirit, and we must protect the human spirit—without it, we will not survive.

My final thought is this: The human spirit and need for justice, fairness, and equality will never die, no matter how long you continue to keep your knee embedded in its neck. You cannot kill the human spirit. The human spirit will rebel. It will fight. It will rise up and it will, eventually, win.

Jackie Taylor, founder, CEO, executive director
Black Ensemble Theater, Chicago

Boston Court Pasadena

Black Lives Matter. Boston Court Pasadena stands in solidarity with those around the country seeking justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the countless other human beings we have lost to the pandemic of police brutality and racist violence. As we grieve these lives horrifically taken from us, we also mourn the many Black lives that we have disproportionately lost to the COVID-19 virus.

Transforming a nation takes more than words. It takes action. And in that regard we have failed. Black lives matter and we will fight to build a just, equitable, and inclusive society. Boston Court is committed to being an anti-racist institution, and we will continuously interrogate our practices to live up to this commitment. We will participate in righting the wrongs of the past and dismantling the systemic and structural racism that has stripped Black lives and all communities of color of their assets, opportunities, agency, rights, and their lives. We will listen more, learn more, serve as allies for change, and hold ourselves accountable to the work we need to do and the work we’ve failed to do within our organization, community, and nation to destroy systemic racism and inequality. We will be proactive in combating hate and discrimination wherever it lives, even in ourselves.

To the Black community: We see you, we hear you, we are listening, we stand with you. Your lives matter.

Yours with love,

Boston Court Pasadena, Calif.

Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company

This week, we have once again seen the United States gripped by violent racist acts. For too long, Black Americans have been forced to live in fear, their day-to-day lives clouded by systemic racism at every level of American life. In order for this country to achieve its unrealized promise, in order for each of us to approach our human potential, this must stop.

Here at BETC, we acknowledge that we have much further to go, as an organization and as individuals. But to every Black American we say: We see you, we hear you, we stand with you. Every one of your lives is precious. Every one of your lives matters.

To the white members of the BETC family, we say now is the time to act. Stand up. Speak out. Confront racism wherever you see it: in your communities, in your families, in the mirror.

No words adequately describe the pain of this moment. And the road ahead promises more pain and more anguish as we confront this stain on our nation. But together, with love in our hearts, we can and will find a better way. We must. We have no other choice.

Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
Boulder, Colo.

California Shakespeare Festival

Content warning: Description of systemic and recent instances of violence against black people. 

On Feb. 23rd, Ahmaud Arbery was tracked down and killed by two white men while he was on a jog in Brunswick, Ga. On March 13th, Breona Taylor was killed in her home in Louisville, Ky., by police officers in plain clothes on a “no knock warrant,” who claimed to have mistaken her for a different suspect. Last week George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis by a white police officer using immoral violent force. The statistics around COVID infections tell us that the majority of people dying from the virus are Black, Indigenous, and people of color. With this information, many states are still deciding to open up for business.

Black people are under attack in this country. Not to mention the emotional toll– the stress, the grief, the anxiety, the anger, and the fear (to name a few)– all of this information takes on Black people having to witness, again and again, the replaying of real-time violence on Black bodies.

Though it may be easy to distance ourselves from these instances of violence by saying that it’s happening over there and things are better here in the Bay Area, we at Cal Shakes know that we all can play an active role, at all times, in contributing to a more safe, supportive, and just world for Black people.

As a company striving for equity, diversity, and inclusion, we believe it is our responsibility to respond publicly in this moment in support of Black people. We believe that Black Lives Matter. We care about black people’s safety and ability to thrive. We strive to work against anti-Black racism in our workplace, our audiences, our lives, and our theatre. We know that racism is carried out and supported by institutions and systems all the time and requires consistent, intentional anti-racism to dismantle.

Black people make up members of Cal Shakes’s staff, audiences, community partners, board, artists, and student groups. Black people are our family, and deserve long-term safety, respect, self-determination, resources, and support. 

With this in our minds and hearts, we invite everyone to take direct actions to support the movement work happening around George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, as well as support local black-led organizations and communities.  

Some quick asks:

  • Please consider signing this petition: Color of Change
  • Please do not repost videos of the direct violence out of consideration for Black people in our community. Many have spoken publicly about the re-traumatizing effect these videos have on black people. Instead, please share resources, direct action pathways, and support.
  • Please consider giving your Black employees paid leave during this time.

California Shakespeare Festival
Orinda, Calif.

Cara Mía Theatre

The murders of Black men at the hands of police in the United States must stop. All Americans have seen the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd with their own eyes. We’ve also seen the act of terror inflicted on the 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot in broad daylight. In both cases, the murderers ran free until protesters forced the authorities’ hands. I urge the people of Dallas to pressure our elected leaders, from the president of the United States to Dallas City Council members, to assure us that they will use their power to end police brutality in our communities. Black Lives Matter.

David Lozano, artistic director
Cara Mía Theatre, Dallas

A statement from the Catastrophic Theatre in Houston. Kaisha S. Johnson’s article is here.

Center Theatre Group

Our country, our city, our friends, our colleagues, our fellow Americans are suffering now, as they have been for generations at the hands of systemic racism and inequality. We must all feel outraged by the continued inequality and violence perpetrated by those in positions of authority and privilege, especially toward Black communities.

As a nonprofit theatre, our mission has always been to reflect the community we serve and to harness the power of art to transform society. To the people of color in our community and our country: We see you. We stand with you, we are listening, and like many, we will also always strive to do better. And when we can finally return to our stages, we will ensure you are seen in Los Angeles and your stories are told.

With a heavy but unified heart,

Michael Ritchie, artistic director
Meghan Pressman, managing director
Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles

Chance Theater

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

The recent high-profile acts of violence against Black citizens in this country—including George Floyd, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor—are shining a spotlight on a systemic problem that has existed for far too long and must be addressed. Chance Theater stands in solidarity with our Black artists, patrons, and community, as well as those all over this nation who protest injustice.

Our mission as a theatre has always been to bring our community together, to help us all better understand each other, and to promote new ways of thinking. Now more than ever, we must stand together, insist on empathy, and find new solutions to these old problems.

During this volatile time, we believe that the purpose of speaking out against white supremacy and race-based violence is not to be anti-white, anti-police, or to create a deeper divide between “the left” and “the right.” We speak out to identify our collective illness and responsibility to seek immediate and lasting changes to heal it.

We have a lot of work to do. We promise to do better.

Love and understanding are the only answers to hate. And they carry the most power when we stand united.

#BlackLivesMatter

Oanh Nguyen, executive artistic director
Casey Long, managing director
Erika C. Miller, development director
Bebe Herrera, production manager
Masako Tobaru, technical director
Jeff Hellebrand, house manager

Charleston Stage

I know the tragic events of the past week have brought home to all of us the history we explored together in my play, The Seat of Justice, and just how much work still needs to be done to achieve justice for all. It is tragic that a generation after Briggs vs. Elliott, the seat of justice still waits for many in our nation.

But as Dr. King reminded us: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Obviously there is much work still to be done, as these recent terrible events remind us.

In our own work, the shows we write and produce, as well as in our lives, we must continue to this work. While I am mindful that The Seat of Justice was and is but a small cog in the wheels of justice, I have no doubt that the performers in both productions of this work inched us one step forward.

To that end we have finalized plans to make The Seat of Justice video of the 2014 production available free to schools and other educational institutions. Here’s the link and the password. Please help us share this story once more.

https://vimeo.com/408408886
Password: EDUCATIONSOJ

This is a very small step. But perhaps the way forward will be led by a number of small individual steps. I along with Charleston Stage will work to continue to tell these stories that need to be told.

Abraham Lincoln knew all those years ago that even a great war could not right all the injustices of our nation. He knew that it would be up to the generations still to come to continue this fight. That fight continues.

Lincoln’s words at the end of his 2nd Inaugural Address delivered just a month before his assassination, still hold today.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Perhaps more than anything we take more time to listen to each other as we look for a way forward to in unison build a better world.

Julian Wiles, playwright and founder
Charleston Stage, South Carolina

The Cherry Arts

The Cherry Arts writes to confirm our commitment to prioritizing and amplifying the fight for racial justice, and specifically for the Black community. To this end we have committed to take the following actions:

  • We will postpone our annual fundraiser, the Cherry Blossoms Gala (this year the Pixel Party), from its planned date next weekend, Sunday June 7, to help clear space for these critical conversations around racial justice.
  • We will actively work to further diversify the teams that create the work of the Cherry Arts, including but not limited to staff, board, performers, and off- and backstage design teams.
  • We will commit our social media presence to helping amplify voices of color via regular posts dedicated to education around racial justice.
  • When social distancing protocols permit gathering, we will provide use of the Cherry Artspace, free of charge, to organizations working toward racial justice
  • We will actively engage in ongoing anti-racist learning on a staff and board level. We will conduct active and open conversations about racism and provide resources and training from this point onward to continually show up for racial justice.
  • We will sit in our discomfort and learn from it. As a white-managed organization, we understand that it is not enough to react and respond to current atrocities, but that we must continually contribute and call out the systemic racism that surrounds us.
  • We will be pro-actively anti racist rather than reactively so. We will dig deep to keep learning. We will support Cherry Arts staff, board and artistic community in doing the same. We will collaborate with and challenge fellow white-led arts organizations to commit to their own actionable and sustained anti-racist initiatives and conversations.
  • We will reread this list every week to hold ourselves accountable to these small efforts, to make this effort consistent and sustained, and to add to it over time.
  • We will revise and strengthen this approach on a regular basis.

Samora Pinderhughes’ article, from which the quote above is drawn, can be found here. Our deepest gratitude to Michelle Courtney Berry, Amy Cohen, and Circus Culture for the inspiration of your words and policies. We want to hear your ideas. Email info@thecherry.org to share your feedback.

The Cherry Arts
Ithaca, N.Y.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

“It is a terrible, an inexorable, law that one cannot deny the humanity of another without diminishing one’s own: in the face of one’s victim, one sees oneself.” –James Baldwin

Today, the pain of our nation is great.

We hear your cries for justice.

We bear witness to your sorrow.

And we stand with you.

#BlackLivesMatter

Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Chicago

Children’s Theatre Company

Last Monday evening, George Floyd’s life was taken from him by those who pledged to protect and serve our community. The rage in our city has erupted over the past several days with destruction of many businesses, community organizations, and the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct. The rage and pain continue today.

The killing of George Floyd should never have happened in this community and in this country. Children’s Theatre Company mourns for George Floyd and grieves with the loved ones he left behind, including his 22-year-old and 6-year-old daughters, and 3-year-old granddaughter. We also grieve with our community, as we struggle together to try and make sense of an all-too-common narrative: a Black man dying at the hands of a police officer. Our society must never grow indifferent to this heartbreaking, senseless, and reprehensible loss of life.

CTC is committed to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. We are inspired by the courage and commitment of young people, their hope, their optimism, and their sense of justice and fairness. We know we all have a responsibility to create a world in which all children and all people can live freely and safely, with dignity and respect. Young people are watching us; they are looking to us to see how we respond in this moment. Are we living our values, are we demanding a society that respects all and that includes and honors all? Children should not live in fear of law enforcement or have to worry that each encounter with a police officer could end their lives.

As racism continues to destroy lives and communities, we need to work together to create empathy and systemic change to keep tragedies like this from recurring. This cannot happen again. Too many lives have been lost, too much trust has been broken, too many families torn apart.

Our children, above all others, deserve better.

Sincerely,

Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis

City Theatre

Last Saturday, in Pittsburgh—as in over 75 other cities across the country—people exercised their rights of free assembly to protest the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and far too many other Black Americans who have endured immense injustice because of the color of their skin. This ability to peacefully gather is enshrined in the same First Amendment that provides artists the opportunity to freely create and self-express. We stand in solidarity with all who are working tirelessly to bring real social change to our country and fight racism wherever it exists.

While we are not so naïve nor self-important to believe that the arts can change the world on their own, we are privileged with a platform and a voice that must work to celebrate diverse stories and tell the truths that are often hard and ugly. We are also in the business of empathy and enlightenment; and we have the unique opportunity to provide a lens into lives and experiences that are different from our own. We are committed to serving our community now and in the future with an unwavering dedication to equity, justice, and inclusion. Our hearts break for our artist, staff, and community members of color who continue to face intolerable systemic oppression. We applaud their strength and we share in their fight for a more just world.

And while we are unable right now to throw open our doors to the community due to the ongoing pandemic, City Theatre will again in the future. And when we do, the important work on our stages, inspired by our core values, will amplify those who are insisting on a better America and one where Black Lives Matter.

Many of our staff and artists marched on Saturday or have donated to critical causes leading these efforts and response. They have spoken of their own experiences or supported their colleagues’. We are grateful to the City Theatre family and their role in our Pittsburgh community. As a predominantly white institution, we must serve as allies for change while also acknowledging our own role in contributing to inequities in our society. We must listen more and recognize our mistakes; and be proactive in combating hate and discrimination. If you would like to help or to learn more about the movement unfolding across our country due to the recent tragedies, we are sharing the following resources.

Stay safe; stay strong.

City Theatre
Pittsburgh

The Civilians

The Civilians joins the groundswell of outrage, grief, and demands for change against the systemic violence enacted by police and other institutions against people of color, particularly Black Americans. We condemn violence perpetrated on all oppressed groups, from the unconscionable murder of Black men, women, and children by police to the institutional racism driving mass incarceration, deprivation of health care and basic human needs, and disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards.

We recognize the long destructive history of white supremacy in this country, and we acknowledge how silence, complicity and lack of action enables the perpetuation and escalation of this power structure. We affirm that our organization must do more to be an effective participant in our society’s collective fight for justice, and we must challenge and dismantle any aspect of our work that inhibits the move towards racial and economic equality.

The Civilians
New York City

Statement from Cleveland Play House.

Commonweal Theatre

Part of the Commonweal Theatre’s mission is to enrich the common good through actor-based storytelling. As we witness the realities of injustice, racism, and violence, we are more convinced than ever that the arts are a vital force toward a more compassionate world. We as an organization are committed to finding ways we can help to dismantle the painful racial injustices in the state we proudly call home. #BlackLivesMatter #GeorgeFloyd

Commonweal Theatre
Lanesboro, Minn.

Statement from Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Sheperdsburg, W.Va.

Cornerstone Theater Company

Black Lives Matter.

We call for justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, David McAtee, and the many other lives stolen from our communities.

White supremacy is an insidious evil that permeates the cultural framework of America and we have to work to cleanse ourselves of it daily through action. Through protest. Through voting. Through listening. Through storytelling…and that’s where we come in.

Imagining a world in which breathing is a right, not a privilege, is our work.

Creating that new world is our mission.

We stand together in the streets in protest.

We stand together at the polls to vote.

We stand together fighting for change.

Bruce Lemon Jr., associate artistic director
Michael John Garcés, artistic director
The board, staff, and ensemble of Cornerstone Theater Company, Los Angeles

Court Theatre

We at Court Theatre stand in solidarity with the artists, community members, and our South Side neighbors engaged in the struggle for justice in Chicago and across the country. Black lives, Black stories, and Black voices are essential, because they are the lives, stories, and voices of our nation. As theatremakers, we also recognize our responsibility to amplify stories of oppression in moments of injustice.

Charles Newell, artistic director
Angel Ysaguirre, executive director
Court Theatre, Chicago

Crossroads Theatre Company

For almost 42 years, Crossroads Theatre Company has presented the stories of people who have been surrounded, targeted, and overall impacted by the steady stream of the viruses of heat, racism, prejudice, misogyny, cruelty, and inequality. Unfortunately, the picture of what that looks like is continually on display as we mourn the tragic death of George Floyd, a Black man living in Minnesota who died before our eyes at the hands of someone we should all trust, a police officer. And there’s Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and the list goes on.

Compounding the effects of these viruses is the deadly virus called COVID-19 that inordinately and disproportionally impacts the health of the Black community and communities of color generally.

At the core of Crossroads’ mission is the value of using our stage as a platform to educate and create bridges of understanding between people of all cultural backgrounds. Now more than ever, our unapologetic, honest, and true portrayals of people of color from around the world must continue, however in venues that go beyond the stage. For over four decades, we have used our platform to proudly display the lives, spirits, and voices of the African Diaspora. Generally, theatre is a way to deal with the tough issues in our lives and humanize our experiences for others who whole living in our realm, may not recognize they too are impacted by them.

People are angry. Their anger is raw and real and from a place of deep frustration. How can we process, manage, and address that? One of the ways is to first acknowledge that what is and has been happening is wrong and to pull together to vote for leaders who have an equality agenda at the forefront of their leadership agenda.

At Crossroads, we are blessed for our ability to amplify and reveal the trueness and reality of our world and how we all heal from it. Our productions are guided through the eyes and experiences of theatre professionals who live through struggle and challenge as members of the African Diaspora. Please continue to join us in our quest to tell stories that bring the community at large into the sphere of the Black experience; the joys, pains, trials and tribulations of a people who have incredibly meaningful and powerful stories to share.

During this pandemic and beyond we look forward to continuing to entertain and engage you with more great theatre and other entertaining productions on our new and exciting platform that we will announce soon.

Until then, stay vigilant, and safe.

Thank you for your patience and support.

Anthony P. Carter, president
Crossroads Theatre Company, New Brunswick, N.J.

Dad’s Garage

My name is Jon Carr and I am the artistic director of Dad’s Garage. I am also a Black man. I have stood with my hands on the trunk of my car while being searched because I was driving while Black. I have a mother who lay face down on a gravel road while an officer held a rifle to her head. I have a brother who narrowly escaped an incident with the police because he knocked on the wrong door. Then I heard about the murder of George Floyd. I am angry, I am sad, I am frustrated. But I am not surprised.

Systemic racism has been woven into the fabric of America since day one. The United States of America remains a country steeped in white supremacy, with hundreds of years of history, laws, and policies that have endangered, abused, and disenfranchised Black and brown people while profiting from their suffering. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Manuel Ellis are simply the latest names on a long list of deaths due to police actions. For every death, there are countless more Black and brown people harassed and abused by police officers daily. Many of our Black and brown performers, volunteers, and staff are on that list. So let’s be clear: We are in support of the protesters. We support equality. We support peace and safety for Black and brown people. We demand change from our government, those in power, and ourselves. We oppose abuse, harassment, and silence.

We stand firm in our commitment to help dismantle systemic racism, but we know that this work does not end with a week of protests or a strongly worded statement. We must look inside ourselves—individually and as a community—and lead through action, consistently examining our choices and holding ourselves accountable.

What We Are Doing:
• Creating events and programs designed to support action-oriented organizations. Over the coming days, we’ll be announcing projects designed to raise money for organizations that actively fight social injustice.
• Investing in the development of our Black and brown performers. This includes ensuring they have access to professional development opportunities and financial support to create new work to showcase their perspectives. We will also partner them with industry professionals to help further their careers.
• Training our staff, board, and everyone else within our organization about the importance of anti-racism efforts in our community. This will include reading materials, training/workshops, and digital toolkits aimed at educating everyone within the company about how they can work to end systemic racism.
• Diversity and Inclusivity Scholarships. We have a number of scholarship programs focused on increasing diversity in our improv community. The Diversity and Inclusivity Scholarship is just one of them. This scholarship pays for 100 percent of the costs of our improv classes and supports people’s growth as performers. We have funded dozens of scholarship recipients, many of whom have gone on to join our roster of improv performers, been cast in scripted and improv shows, and become part of the Dad’s Garage family. Because we recruit our performers from our classes system, this will continue to ensure growth in our cast diversity. Information on applying for this scholarship can be found here. The deadline is ongoing.

It’s easy to say “those police officers were racist” when looking at the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Manuel Ellis. It’s much harder to identify micro-aggressions, systemic white supremacy, and the biases existent in ourselves and community. We’re committed to that work.

Here is what you can do:

Education:
• Educate yourself! Take the time to read and learn about systemic racism—resources are more visible than ever. Taking the initiative will help internalize the information vs simply learning a few new phrases.
• Read White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
• Read the Black Lives Matter policy platform
• Check out the Showing Up For Racial Justice website

Support:
• The Partnership for Southern Equity seeks social justice through policies and actions that equitably distribute wealth, resources, and power to ensure opportunity for all.
Campaign Zero works to eliminate police abuse by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability.
• The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and to challenging racial and economic injustice.
• The mission of Black Lives Matter is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on black communities by the states.
Atlanta Solidarity Fund provides support for people who are arrested at protests or otherwise prosecuted for their movement involvement.

Action:
• VOTE! It may seem obvious, but it remains one of our most powerful tools.
• Continue to educate yourself.
• Talk to your family and loved ones. It’s not enough that your elderly relatives are “of another time”—now is the time to speak up.
• Examine yourself. Before we do anything we have had to take a hard look at ourselves and make sure that we are doing everything we can.

I love Dad’s Garage. We are a community that takes care of our people, and that means standing up for every Black and brown person that is suffering.

In solidarity,

Jon Carr and the entire Dad’s Garage family, Atlanta

Dallas Theater Center

Dallas Theater Center staff and community are angry and saddened by the constant, targeted killings of Black men, women, and children in the United States. We mourn with you, and we offer prayers and words of comfort to families and friends of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, and far too many of our African American brothers and sisters killed by unchecked police violence.

Today we stand in solidarity with brown and Black communities systematically disenfranchised and ignored in Dallas and across our nation.

We stand with you against all systems of violence, oppression, and degradation. We stand with you for urgent and necessary changes to eliminate racial and social injustice forever.

At Dallas Theater Center, we are committed to building a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion. We look forward to returning to the stage and seeing your faces in our audience when it is safe to return to the theatre. Together we will mourn and heal, and then celebrate the power of unity and social justice.

Dallas Theater Center

Statement from East West Players, Los Angeles.

Eugene O’Neill Theater Center

National actions have continually dehumanized, abused, and ignored the lives of our fellow humans. Our neighbors, collaborators, students, family members, and friends are impacted daily by these acts of systemic racism, and the work of the Black Lives Matter movement shines a vital light on these acts.

As an institution, we must commit more of our resources to educate and engage our staff and audiences towards building anti-racist, inclusive, and empathetic spaces for all. Specific details of this plan are forthcoming and will be made public.

We pledge to uphold our mission as the launchpad of American theatre; to uplift artists of color and produce stories reflecting the entirety of human experience in American culture. We stand with artists grappling with the anguish, compassion, violence, and unrest occurring in daily life. We believe their experiences and voices are vital to the future of American theatre.

Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Waterford, Conn.

Everyman Theatre

We are grieving the depths of racism in our country and in our own backyard.

The current division in our nation reminds us of the critical role that theatre plays in bringing people together. Theatre is an instrument for empathy and understanding, for hearing voices that challenge our own, for nurturing compassion, and for inspiring change.

We acknowledge our own imperfection, our lack of expertise, and the role complacency takes in amplifying injustice.

We commit to listen.

We commit to continuing our self-examination as an organization.

To our Black family members: You matter. We are with you.

Everyman Theatre
Baltimore

Statement from the Fountain Theatre, Los Angeles.

Geva Theatre Center

At this time of intense turmoil happening both near and far, we are called to manifest and clarify the principles which define us as individuals and as institutions.

On Saturday, we shared the following statement via social media, and we want to make sure it reaches all of you, as well.

The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many others, exemplify the deeply systemic and longstanding reality of inequity and dehumanization of Black Americans and people of color in the United States. These tragedies are not new, and they are far from isolated.

Today, we have joined the Greater Rochester Health Foundation in their support and endorsement of a recent declaration by the Rochester Black Agenda Group recognizing racism as a public health crisis. The full declaration may be found here.

We acknowledge that this is a statement we should have made much sooner and that we have a lot of work to do. We are committed to doing better by listening, making changes, and using our role as storytellers to amplify voices that need to be heard. As an institution, we recognize that it is up to us to ensure that our programming, policies, and practices fully embody our values, and that it will require a profound reckoning and long-term work (both as individuals and as a company) to help create a more equitable and just future.

Wishing all of you safety and peace.

Geva Theatre Center
Rochester, N.Y.

Golden Thread Productions

Golden Thread stands in solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters in the struggle for justice and human dignity. We call on our communities and our allies to unequivocally demand justice for George Floyd and his family. For those who are able to financially contribute at this time, here is one resource: https://minnesotafreedomfund.org/

Golden Thread Productions
San Francisco

Goodman Theatre

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

—Langston Hughes

We know the answer; it festers, it stinks, it is rotten. It explodes.

The tragedy of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis is more than gut-wrenching. It has become commonplace. For years now, we have witnessed the appalling violence of racism in images and names in the media. Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Aiyana Jones, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Sandra Bland, and so many more, are all devastating reminders that the Black Lives Matter movement has never been more essential.

Playwrights from Langston Hughes, Amiri Baraka, and James Baldwin; from Antoinette Nwandu and korde arrington tuttle to Jackie Sibblies Drury, and of course the great August Wilson, have produced powerful works of theatre that challenge our audiences to look at racism and the ongoing oppression and deadly force that has plagued the United States since its founding. Slavery and its ugly legacy live on, and these incidents make all too real the works of these most prescient writers.

As an organization whose mission, core values, and art celebrate diverse voices and stories, we seek to build bridges between communities to facilitate understanding and empathy. In these uncertain and unsettling times, we remain steadfast in our commitment to producing works of art that help to connect, challenge and restore.

The boards, artists, and staff of Goodman Theatre stand in solidarity against racism and hate. Our thoughts and hearts are with those who loved Mr. Floyd, and the communities he touched.

Goodman Theatre
Chicago

Guthrie Theater

I am reminded of Shakespeare’s words: “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.” I grieve as our city struggles with the senseless murder of yet another unarmed Black man, even as we continue to grieve the global pandemic that has cost so many lives and destroyed so many dreams.

Starting today the Guthrie will run the words “George Floyd” on one of our rooftop LED signs, and “Nothing can be changed until it is faced” on another. The full line “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced,” was written by the brilliant James Baldwin. We are making this change in acknowledgment and support of our Black community members who are suffering the trauma of continued, relentless, systemic racism. We know and have said before that systemic biases require systemic solutions, and we have a role to play in offering our commitment to the Black community and in taking a stance against such profound injustice.

It is hard (for me at least) not to feel utterly defeated in such a terrible time, but we will remain committed to our values, we will rise in solidarity with those who seek the light of justice, and we will move forward as one community.

Joseph Haj, artistic director
Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis

Hartford Stage

Hartford Stage stands in solidarity with all of those calling for justice and equity in this time of profound pain and deep anger. We honor the lives and mourn the murders of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. So, too, do we add our voices to those who stood on the steps of the Connecticut capital and in cities nationwide this weekend proclaiming: Black Lives Matter.

We pledge to engage in further education and action to dismantle the systems of oppression that infect Hartford Stage, our industry and our beloved city of Hartford.

We are committed to dialogue, reflection, and transformation to combat racial injustices. May the stories on our stage, the voices of our artists, and the ever deepening work in community with our neighbors, students and audiences contribute to the fight against racism in our region and in our country.

Melia Bensussen, artistic director
Cynthia Rider, managing director
Hartford Stage, Hartford, Conn.

Horizon Theatre

The names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, and Ahmaud Arbery have been added to a steadily growing list of brutal police murders. These are members of our community and they are under attack. What is happening now is no less than a systemic violent assault against the Black community, based on a history of institutionalized racism and discriminatory tendencies built into the fabric of our political systems. Enough is enough.

For the past 36 years, we at Horizon Theatre Company have made it our mission to explore and reveal the honest stories of our times, no matter how uncomfortable or controversial. To see what is happening now breaks our hearts. However, we have never run from honest dialogue before and we will not now. We urge our community to stand with the Black lives that are being threatened and do what we can to protect them.

For everyone struggling under the grief of losing another person of color to unnecessary police brutality.

For everyone feeling helpless against the wave of senseless violence that is sweeping through our nation.

For everyone fighting for a fair chance at surviving in a society that that does recognize the pain and of its black members.

We hear you. We believe in you. And we will stand with you.

If you would like to help, please do not repost videos of the direct violence out of consideration for Black people in our community. Many have spoken publicly about the re-traumatizing effect these videos have on black people. Instead, please share the resources and support below:

Donate to Black Lives Matter
Get involved with your local BLM chapter
Support the National Police Accountability Project, which helps people find legal counsel
Donate to one of the bail funds listed in this Google Doc

Horizon Theatre
Atlanta

House Theatre of Chicago

Black Lives Matter.

Last night, company members of the House gathered online to watch an old show together with our supporters and raise some money for our theatre. At the same time, so many of our friends in our city and around the world were doing far more important work.

As a theatre company, we will do all we can to tell stories that promote empathy and fuel the hard work of fighting for positive change. Last night, many of you were doing that work in the streets. We support you and we stand with you to demand justice and an end to racist violence.

Last night, the Chicago Freedom School opened its doors, providing shelter, rejuvenation, and relief to protestors. Today, the artists of the House have been connecting—some from far away, some from their homes, and some from active protests—and we have decided another way we can help is by collectively making donations to the Chicago Freedom School.

Wherever you are, we hope you will join us in supporting the Chicago Freedom School’s mission to catalyze youth-led social change by providing training and education for young people and adult allies. Donate here.

House Theatre of Chicago

Statement from the Huntington Theatre Company, Boston.

Indiana Repertory Theatre

This weekend, Indianapolis joined cities across the country in protest of the loss of Black lives. IRT stands in solidarity with Black artists, colleagues, staff, and citizens in our community and across our nation as we mourn these horrific injustices.
As artists and arts administrators, we acknowledge that this mourning is not new to our country. Institutionally we are working to join like-minded organizations and individuals who are waking up to our roles in maintaining broken systems that support racism. If we remain silent, we are complicit in the racial injustice that plagues our community and nation. We must be accountable to the communities we serve.

Our building sustained damage following a peaceful protest on Saturday evening. Property can be replaced; human life cannot. We will not let this destruction distract us from our work to make Indiana a more equitable, just, and inclusive community.

We are determined to fight the racism that manifests itself inside and outside our walls. To do this, we must acknowledge the hundreds of years of inequity that have brought us to this moment. We make and celebrate an art in which words matter deeply: Let us use our voices in support of equity. We will do so by denouncing racism and continue our journey to be anti-racist in support of the liberation of all people.

Indiana Repertory Theatre, Indianapolis

Kansas City Repertory Theatre

Our hearts are aching with all in Kansas City and across the country who are suffering. For decades we have been a theatre committed to telling stories that reflect, illuminate, interrogate, and celebrate American life. And in this moment we at KCRep stand in solidarity with our community of artists and colleagues in KC and around the country. The injustices and violence the Black community continues to experience must stop.

Join us in not only demanding justice now but work alongside us to understand and overcome the racism and inequity that endangers and disadvantages Black lives in America.

#blacklivesmatter to all of us at KCRep.

Kansas City Repertory Theatre
Kansas City, Mo.

Kitchen Dog Theater

We stand in support and solidarity with our Black company members, local artists, supporters, audiences, and community members. We stand with those who call for justice.

We see you. We hear you. We mourn with you.

Black Lives Matter.

Our work seeks to question the seemingly endless cycle of ignorance and injustice in our society, and we will not be silent until all voices are protected equally.

“When you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on. ” –Thurgood Marshall

Kitchen Dog Theater
Dallas

La Jolla Playhouse

The people of La Jolla Playhouse recognize this moment in our country as the result of prolonged and systemic injustice against Black bodies. We stand in support of our Black communities of artists, staff, patrons, and friends. It will continue to be our mission to provide a safe harbor for artists to tell stories that inspire empathy and create a dialogue toward a more just future.

La Jolla Playhouse
La Jolla, Calif.

Lake Dillon Theatre Company

Our hearts continue to ache as we mourn the lives of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others. This week we observed #blackouttuesday and #theshowmustbepaused to show we stand resolutely behind our artists, artisans, patrons, and community members of color. The Lake Dillon Theatre will continue to be a safe place for artists of color.

Our stages are empty but our hearts are full.

Black Lives Matter!

We see you.

We hear you.

We stand with you.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

Lake Dillon Theatre Company, Silverthorne, Colo.

The Lark

As I look at all that is happening around the country, I am both saddened and inspired. The anguish I feel over the recent murders by police officers is a legacy of pain that runs through the DNA of every Black person living in America. The shadow of white supremacy permeates every area of our lives—and it isn’t a life-generating force. It isn’t the air or the sun or the ocean or the earth, or the stars. It is a dark, erosive, poisonous sickness that is driven by fear, insecurity, scarcity and greed. A stench that lives in my pores and nostrils that persists with every breath I take.

I commend those in our industry that are speaking out, but we all know by now that is not enough. As leaders we know that words are meaningless without a willingness to take real risks. What are we willing to change? What fragility are we willing to confront in ourselves and those we depend on? What commitments are we willing to make? What resources are we willing to sacrifice? What projects and people are we willing to say no to? To say yes to? What position are we going to take?

When I took over the role as executive director, I was excited about the opportunity to create space to address moments like these. A space where the root causes of our societal challenges around tyranny and oppression can be addressed, both in safe spaces and in mixed company, because true healing requires open, honest, complicated dialogue. I look forward to these exchanges in the upcoming year.

This moment, as painful and complicated as it is, is pregnant with possibility. As a theater community there are many uncertainties about the future, but what is clear is the fact that we can and must do more to confront the status quo.

My vision for the Lark is to have a staff and board that reflect the demographics of our artists, and to work strategically and collaboratively to broaden the platforms and impact of our playwrights nationally and internationally. My vision is for the Lark and its playwrights to get through this crisis intact. My vision for our field is that we find ways of furthering equity in our organizations and in our work. Let’s continue sharing resources and modeling practices that work. We need each other more than ever right now to make it through this storm.

Stacy Waring, executive director

The horrifying murder of George Floyd took place in the midst of a global pandemic that was already shining a shameful light on structural racism and injustice in the United States. The state-sanctioned violence against Black Americans as witnessed by the murders of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd, and the absence of accountability is only the tip of the iceberg of our most profound failure as a nation.

In the face of enormous pain and justified rage felt by Black artists and communities, I have been grappling with how to respond.

What does this moment mean to me as a white male founder and leader of a cultural organization that has committed to prioritizing voices and perspectives that have been historically misrepresented and under-resourced by our field? How can the Lark deepen its commitment to supporting Black artists and their communities in disrupting white supremacy culture, now and continuously?

This moment is particularly troubling as I consider the dire challenges and roadblocks that my colleague Stacy Waring—our recently appointed executive director—will likely face as a Black woman charged with leading our organization into the next decade. How can I support her and the extraordinary community I have the privilege to serve?

This is what I know right now: Until the history of the enslavement of Black people and their historical oppression by white people is addressed, there will continue to be state-sanctioned violence against Black people and those who excuse it. We are a country steeped in institutions of oppression that were established on the backs of African and Native people, and the systems that keep these institutions in place to this day have led to George Floyd’s brutal death, and so many others. Black people are dying of COVID-19 disproportionately because we as a nation have not accepted civic responsibility for multigenerational poverty, redlining, and other forms of systemic oppression and intentional racism that have left them with substandard resources.

White supremacy is also rooted in the arts—in the prevalence of white decision makers, how artwork is defined and valued, and the socioeconomic gap between funders and cultural workers. The Lark has not done enough to challenge these and other racist systems. As a leader, I have been too silent, perhaps too frightened. I need to risk more, speak out with authority to disrupt racial injustice, and urge others to do the same.

This is a call to white people in this country to take action, especially artistic and cultural leaders like me who are well positioned to have an impact—by centering Black artists in institutions, encouraging them to write their truths, and promoting conversations about justice, anti-racism, and combating anti-Blackness.

Now, and especially in the years to come, when we have returned to physical space after COVID-19, we have important work to do. We will advocate for greater equity, with a keen focus on centering Black writers and stories of Black lives. We will continue to be a safe space for vital work. We will offer a place for discussions about their stories and the issues they raise. We will advocate for greater levels of access and influence in the industry. With 25 years of social capital, we are uniquely positioned to support Black artists in their work and promote Black cultural workers into decision-making roles. This is what we do, and we will continue to lean into these activities with profound intention, humanity, and all the love we can muster.

John Clinton Eisner, artistic director
The Lark, New York City

Statement from Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven, Conn.

Lookingglass Theatre Company

“We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” — Gwendolyn Brooks

We at Lookingglass believe that Black Lives Matter and stand with Black, brown, Indigenous, and other marginalized communities exploited by hatred, police brutality, and injustice.

We grieve with the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the countless others mourning the loss of loved ones due to systemic racism and inequality.

White silence is violence. White silence is not an option. As we rebuild, we will not be complicit by remaining silent or passive.

We want our work on stage and in our community to play a role in the necessary dialogue and change that need to occur in order to build a more just society.

In Solidarity,

The Lookingglass Ensemble
Lookingglass Theatre Company, Chicago

McCarter Theatre Center

We stand on the side of justice.

We shout #BlackLivesMatter with you.

We fight for our values: equity, anti-racism, and anti-white supremacy.

We acknowledge the work we have still to do and the privileges we hold.

We support, we encourage, we love.

McCarter Theatre Center
Princeton, N.J.

Mildred’s Umbrella Theatre Company

To the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and everyone who has been affected by the loss of these people and others due to racial violence, we stand by you. Black lives matter to us.

The board, staff, and artists associated with Mildred’s Umbrella are united against racism, and we will continue to support our artists and patrons of color by keeping our content diverse and supportive.

Please let us know if there are other ways we can be supportive now, and please take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Jennifer Decker, artistic director
Mildred’s Umbrella Theater Company, Houston

Milwaukee Repertory Theater

We mourn the loss of innocent Black lives and denounce the plague of racism in our world. We stand in solidarity with our Milwaukee community, pledging to continue working arm in arm with our neighbors toward a more equitable and just future for us all.

Milwaukee Repertory Theater

Mixed Blood Theatre

My family has lived in the city of Minneapolis since the 1880s. For decades those five generations were a great source of pride. On the block on which I work (at Mixed Blood) are 5,000 people, most of whom have been Minneapolitans for less than 20 years. Of that I am even more proud. I live a dozen blocks from 38th and Chicago. While not in Minnesota, my cousin Michael Reuler is a proud police officer, and I am proud of him.

So I take the death of George Floyd very personally. Not in my city! Not in my
neighborhood!

We at Mixed Blood are going to prove to the powers-that-be that they were mistaken not to deem the arts, theatre, or Mixed Blood essential in this time of pandemic. We are going to commission artists as truth sayers to use their art to speak their truths. We are going to prod activists to be active and give them the forum to do so. We are going to be voices in the ears of policy makers and service providers to do better. Look for us to be referees of racism, calling foul wherever we see it. Watch us seek appointments on commissions and task forces (including PACC and OPCR) and vote for us when we run for office. And better get there early, because we’re going to pack the courtrooms and hold justice accountable.

Above all, never underestimate the activist artist—we are not just the conscience of this community, but also the spark plugs of remedy. I considered Jerry Haaf, Jamar Clark, Philando Castile, and George Floyd to be my neighbors.

Don’t mar Minneapolis: The artivists of Mixed Blood will hold you accountable.

Jack Reuler, artistic director
Mixed Blood Theatre, Minneapolis

Nashville Repertory Theatre

Nashville Repertory Theatre unequivocally denounces racism and all acts of police brutality. We believe Black lives matter. We will continue to amplify stories of the Black experience, and we commit to protecting and uplifting all communities of color and artists of color in the Nashville Rep family. We acknowledge that we must continue the work to address and confront racism and inequity both in our community and inside our organization. Our community is hurting right now, as are so many communities in this country, and we acknowledge that pain and hurt along  with them. Many of our staff members and associated artists have made contributions to these organizations, and we encourage you to do the same.

Nashville Repertory Theatre

Statement from Native Voices at the Autry, Los Angeles.

New Dramatists

Black Lives Matter. Truth Matters. Justice Matters.

With anguish and rage, the playwrights, staff and board of New Dramatists stand strong with those in Minneapolis, New York, Louisville, and around the country seeking justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, and now David McAtee, and the countless others who have lost their lives and have been victims of state-sanctioned violence. It is our ethical and moral responsibility to demand justice for these deaths and other heinous acts of murder and violence against trans, Black, and brown people, and to actively participate in dismantling the systems of white supremacy, racism, division, and inequity that make this violence commonplace and allow it to go unpunished.

We mourn together the loss of these innocent lives, and our hearts go out to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, David McAtee, among others, and those in our community who are hurting and experiencing this trauma personally.

New Dramatists is committed to being a safe place for all, and in January 2017, as part of the Ghostlight Project, New Dramatists publicly declared its commitment to listening for and manifesting ways to deepen compassion in our organization and to keep expanding our community to represent all lived experiences. The ghost light symbolizes safe harbor for those among us who find themselves targets and victims of hate crimes. Unfortunately, we can’t physically gather to take refuge in our building at this time; however, the ethos remains, and the light symbolizes a belief that through our actions change is possible. And we urgently need greater and more conscious action now.

Our playwrights, staff, and board are engaged in honest examination, assessment, and rigorous discussion about what concrete actions we can take in the context of our current times. This is and will be an ongoing conversation that must be reflected in every aspect of how we function as an organization and as a community.

As we confront, interrogate, and deepen our own practices to intentionally seek out, hold space for, empower, and lift the voices of our playwrights and theatre makers, particularly Black, Indigenous, Asian American, Latinx, Middle Eastern, and LGBTQIA+ current and alumni playwrights and beloved members of our extended community, audience, and colleagues, we encourage all citizens to unite and stand up for justice and civil rights, and to use the power of your voices and imaginations to envision and build a brighter, more humane, equitable, and truly democratic future.

New Dramatists is committed to partnering in these endeavors to facilitate transformative change. It is our responsibility to respond to the pain this is causing in our artistic community and our cities. We recognize that until Black and brown lives are valued and celebrated, not targeted—and centered in times of joy as well as trauma—none can be truly free, and none can be truly equal. The protection of Black lives, Black voices, Black culture and the Black imagination should be a core value of every American theatre.

We must do the continuous work of dismantling white supremacy in acts and systems alike. We must work harder and better to be of service, demonstrate love and heal our society so that all may live free.

New Dramatists, New York City

New 42/New Victory Theater

New 42 stands in solidarity with Black communities in Minneapolis, New York City, and across the country in fighting profound injustices of systemic racism. We stand together with people who are persecuted for the color of their skin because Black Lives Matter. Black Stories Matter.

As the crises of COVID-19 and pervasive anti-Black racism converge to exacerbate Black Americans’ suffering, New 42 commits to the difficult and necessary work of dismantling systems of oppression and anti-Black violence in all of its forms, and joins in the fight for justice, equity and peace.

All of us at New 42 and New Victory
New York City

New Jersey Repertory Company

New Jersey Rep’s mission is based on the importance of amplifying diverse voices. We stand in solidarity with the Black voices within our community and across the nation and will continue to work actively to bring about positive change and promote equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice. We are committed to exploring and addressing long-standing systemic issues that have prevented the full realization of the ideals and principles upon which our country was created. Moving forward, we will continue to listen and learn and promote equality in our creative spaces and in our community. We encourage our supporters to consider donating to the following organizations to further their efforts.

Jacob’s Ladder of Monmouth County
A nonprofit youth development program based in Long Branch consisting of a group of educators, mentors, parents, and volunteers, whose main focus is to educate youth on the importance of community service. Donate here.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Monmouth County
A private nonprofit organization that empowers young people, especially those who need assistance the most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens. Open to children ages 5 1⁄2-18. Main office located in Asbury Park. Donate here.

ACLU
American Civil Liberties Union helps protect the rights and liberties of people across the country. Donate here.

New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch, N.J.

Statement from New Repertory Theatre, Watertown, Mass.

New Stage Theatre

Black Lives Matter.

We are horrified by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and mourn the loss of so many more Black lives. The pain of the last week reminds us how far our country has to go to give every person the freedom to live with dignity and peace. We are mindful of Mississippi’s dark history of racial violence, and that for too many in our Black community, equity and justice remain elusive.

We believe in the importance of words and the healing capacity of shared stories. Our work can inform, enlighten, and inspire. And sometimes, it should be unsettling. We support art that forces audiences to confront its own prejudices and recognize the common humanity that we all share.

  • We will stand in solidarity with our Black artists, Black staff members, and the Black community and stand committed to empowering their voices.
  • As we uphold our mission to produce works selected for their power to illuminate the human condition, we will continue to produce the works of Black playwrights and pledge to produce works that explore racism and foster discussion about continuing inequities.

When New Stage Theatre first opened in 1966, the full houses for the opening season were significant: They represented the city’s first racially integrated theatre audience. Ever since, we have been committed to presenting plays that explore our country’s history of racial injustice and fostering community discussion about how we can build a better society. We will recommit ourselves to these ideals of inclusion, justice, and shared humanity.

It is hard to see now, but the day will come for healing. We look forward to returning to the stage and seeing your faces in our audience when it is safe to return to the theatre. Theatre can bring us closer together. Our hope is New Stage will help foster a more united beloved community.

New Stage Theatre
Jackson, Miss.

New York Theatre Workshop

George Floyd’s murder—along with Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others—is part of a horrendous legacy of state-sanctioned violence and trauma enacted on Black bodies in the United States. This violence is woven into the very fabric of our country with systemic attacks on Black, Indigenous, POC, and LGBTQ members of our society, and we must actively work to end it.

We support and stand with our vibrant and courageous community of Black artists, staff, supporters, audiences, and students who have made New York Theatre Workshop a space where people gather to better understand our world. We support and stand with the protesters demanding justice, and we condemn those who are drawing equivalences between murder and the justified anger of the people. The pain rooted in anti-Blackness permeates every aspect of life in the United States—including our theatrical institutions. Only when all members of our community are truly safe—when their lives and humanity are valued above their artistic contributions—will we experience the community we aspire to be.

In our commitment toward being a fully anti-racist organization, we are taking the following steps:

  • Standing in solidarity with Black people and communities of color, listening to what is needed, and taking action to address injustice.
  • Continuing to question our histories and practices and disrupting patterns that reinforce institutionalized oppressions and inequities. We remain committed to being a space that actively combats racism, bigotry and violence.
  • Examining our inherent missteps and holding ourselves to a standard that does not accept that this work is ever done.
  • Sharing our resources and amplifying the voices of Black and POC artists, activists, and organizations already fighting for justice.
  • Expanding our call to the white people in our community into this process of self-examination to acknowledge their own participation in racism and white supremacy in all its forms and, in turn, to name and interrupt that racism when they encounter it—especially in majority white spaces.
  • Calling on our elected officials to address violence perpetrated by the NYPD against Black bodies and communities of color.

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. Black art matters. To those already doing this work, we thank you for leading the way. We send comfort to those in our community who are experiencing this trauma personally. We will not stay silent.

New York Theatre Workshop, New York City

Statement from A Noise Within, Pasadena, Calif.

Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

It’s Monday (June 8), and yet another exhilarating week of seeing the democratic process in action. The hearty souls who have marched for over two weeks stir the blood and make one once again hopeful about the American dream.

The Odyssey Theatre most emphatically stands in support of this mighty movement. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s terrific to see this burst of new energy promoting racial equality and confronting police violence.

Since we began, the Odyssey has always stood for equal opportunities for all ethnicities and minority groups in terms of both artists and audiences…and we’ll continue to maintain and escalate these efforts. The last couple of weeks have been truly inspirational.Yes, yes, yes, we stand in total solidarity!

Ron Sossi, founder/artistic director
Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, Los Angeles

Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre

The murder of George Floyd was unconscionable and indefensible.

At Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre, we believe in the theatre as a place where we come together to celebrate and share our stories.

We are committed to equity, diversity and inclusion. 

We stand in the community that seeks justice for George Floyd and his family and for all Black Americans who have had their lives affected by racism and white supremacy.

As a professional theatre, OKC REP is a part of both the theatre and the labor movement. At its best, theatre can strengthen empathy and our common humanity, while the labor movement is committed to dignity and equal treatment.

Though our stages are dark right now, we do not stand silent—we stand for liberty, justice and equality for all. 

Donald Jordan, founding artistic director
Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre, Okla.

Statement from the Old Globe, San Diego.

Olney Theatre Center

As we have seen too many times before, words and prayers without action and change only comfort the comfortable. As our country battles the twin plagues of coronavirus and racism, Olney Theatre Center reaffirms its commitment to an anti-racist way of working and acting in the world, and to the unique power it has as an arts institution to speak, change and heal. Follow our Facebook page to learn what actions we’ll be taking. #IfNotNowWhen #BlackLivesMatter

Olney Theatre Center
Olney, Md.

Open Stage

Open Stage takes pride in sharing stories that examine, explore, and celebrate the Black experience. In a community largely made up of people of color, we strive to lift up the voices of our Black brothers and sisters and make sure they are represented on our stage.

The Black community always comes out en masse to support their stories, written by some of the greatest playwrights in history—Ntozake Shange, Lorraine Hansberry, August Wilson. Open Stage owes a large part of its success to the Black community in Harrisburg, and it would be hypocritical for us not to acknowledge that.

And it would be myopic to ignore what is happening in the world around us. Theatre was born from protest, revolution, and progress. Theatre celebrates change, and while holding the mirror up to nature, reveals the darkest parts of our humanity so hopefully we can be inspired to put those changes into action. Through the arts we are asked to think, to feel, to study, and hopefully transform.

We cannot stay silent during this sea change. Black Lives Matter. The Black lives of our artists, our students, and our patrons matter. The Black lives of those in Harrisburg, Pa., around the country, and around the world matter. We as a company will continue to strive to do better, and take action when we are able. Sometimes we may fail, and sometimes we may rise, but our faith in our community will always continue to drive and inspire us.

Black lives matter. Black lives are beautiful and precious and fierce and inspiring, and we must join their fight and lift up their voices. We must make room for them to tell their stories, and listen when they speak.

From our small staff of Open Stage: We love you, we see you, and we celebrate you.

#blacklivesmatter

Open Stage
Harrisburg, Pa.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

#BlackLivesMatter at OSF, and we will not remain silent in the aftermath and ongoing trauma experienced across the country due to the unconscionable murders of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, and countless others in our nation’s history of state-sanctioned violence against Black bodies.

We acknowledge that Black people have suffered too long under the racism in America and stand in solidarity with our Black colleagues—artists, staff, volunteers, patrons, supporters—and all Black communities across the country.

OSF urges anyone not aligned with the movement, especially if you are white, to educate yourself and your communities to become better, make a positive difference, and be accomplices in the fight against systemic racism through direct action and empowering change. We must all work to end white supremacy and police brutality.

I am a Black woman and the sixth artistic director of this 85-year-old institution. I am clear that my appointment did not come without the sacrifice of Black people. It is my responsibility to guarantee that OSF continues to uplift and amplify voices of those that these acts are meant to silence. We believe in the social justice of art-making and the power of the artists we serve. We also stand outside our theatres with those of you in the streets and in your homes working toward a more just future. We see you and thank you.

Let none of us remain silent.

Take care of yourself and each other.

Nataki Garrett, artistic director
Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, Ore.

Orlando Shakes

At Orlando Shakes, we stand against injustice. We condemn systemic racism and brutal acts of violence against Black people. We stand by our Black colleagues, patrons, friends, neighbors, and the entire Black community.

We see you. We hear you. We stand with you.

#BlackLivesMatter

Orlando Shakes
Orlando, Fla.

People’s Light

We at People’s Light are saddened and outraged by the killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless victims of anti-Black racism whose names do not make headlines. Amidst the backdrop of COVID-19 and the massive unemployment that followed, both of which have disproportionately affected Black communities, these homicides are a tipping point—the latest painful indication of the systemic injustice, racial inequity, and anti-Black violence and discrimination deeply ingrained in our history and society.

While we strive toward the ideals of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, we also acknowledge that People’s Light continues to participate in and benefit from larger systems of oppression. We know we must do better.

As a center for community gathering and art-making, we promise to listen, to acknowledge our privilege, to educate ourselves, to foster dialogue and empathy, to seek out and amplify voices of Black theatremakers, and to continue to tell stories that explore our shared humanity.

We recognize that words need action behind them and plan to release a more in-depth statement in the coming days. Right now (June 2), we join #BlackoutTuesday. The People’s Light Box Office and administrative offices will resume remote operations tomorrow. Our staff and artists will use today to pause, read, introspect, mourn, volunteer, and take action in solidarity with our Black colleagues, artists, and community members in the fight against racism.

#TheShowMustBePaused

People’s Light
Malvern, Pa.

Penumbra Theatre

Penumbra Theatre is a Black institution. It has made art by, for, and about Black people for 44 years. We have stayed close to the Black community inside the Hallie Q. Brown Martin Luther King Center, even as the neighborhood around us has gentrified. Everyone is welcome in our space, but we have always been crystal clear about our intention to serve, love, and protect Black community and resource Black artists.

Today the Black community is experiencing a deep and all too familiar pain with the murder of George Floyd. Righteous anger, boundless sadness, and blossoming fear are in our guts, in our throats. All of it is valid in response to such an insane violation of humanity. Today our Black community needs all of the gentleness, resources, protections, and love that can be collectively mustered.

Our babies are waking up to yet another tragedy. Our elders are grieving the return of behaviors they laid their lives on the line to end 50 years ago. We are fatigued by complacency, by the politicization of our hurt, by those who see our wounds and lecture us about how our woundedness inconveniences them. We are tired, but we are not diminished.

As a Black institution that has carried the water of racial equity work in Minnesota for decades, whose artists have given their breath and bodies and blood to the work of building our personal resiliency and deepening our collective humanity, we must be permitted the space to grieve right now. We will take the space that we need to be silent, to weep, to feel our way into what comes next. We have the right not to react but to marshal our reserves. We are mourning.

Give us a moment while we practice deep self-love. Give us a moment while we gather our strength.

There are so many ways that that we can show up for each other, many ways to demand justice, many ways to tend to the wounds that our community members are suffering. All of it is needed. Justice doesn’t come from one person pushing against a system, or one group making noise. It comes from the mighty confluence of many streams all rushing forward to say, enough. No more. Not in our names. Not on our watch. It seems that moment has arrived for Minnesota and the United States of America.

Last week Penumbra virtually gathered a group of artists, healers, and activists in service of building a space of racial healing. We were silent. We sang. We danced. We trumpeted. We cried. We laughed. We spoke raw-throated into the moment. Some of us left to take care of our broken hearts. We made plans. We spoke wishes like secrets into a virtual space and felt ourselves get bigger and stronger as those wishes were caught and amen’d and ashe’d. May it be so. May it be so! We called deep on our intuitive knowing, our creative resiliency, our rich ancestry, our love, and our collective trust. And while that may not be all we can do, it is fundamental to whatever comes next.

In the past Penumbra has been a gathering place in times like these. Because of COVID-19 we cannot hold community in the way that we have historically done. So we are moving forward with deep intention into the virtual space. We are building a place where the work of racial healing can be manifested. It needs many hands.

For white folks who want to help the Black community right now, if you have the energy to act: Step into the space and put your comfort at risk. Stand with us. Stand next to us. Be kinder. Be even more compassionate. Listen better. Dig deeper. Move past fear. Don’t wait for us to tell you what to do but be ready to listen when we offer constructive criticism or advice. We can’t do this alone and we need everyone, everyone, in this fight.

Penumbra stands ready to both initiate and support efforts toward our collective liberation, and we will continue to create spaces where dreaming, building, and witnessing the fruit of our labor can be done. Penumbra will be here. And that, in these times, is revolutionary.

I know that this art is nourishing, life-giving, and sometimes life-saving. In my human experience, I know of no more valiant effort than to create in the face of destruction. And that is what we will do.

We will hold this space, this sacred ground, so that when you need loving, when you need replenishment, when you need a space to dream, you can find it here.

With abiding love,

Sarah Bellamy, artistic director
Penumbra Theatre, Saint Paul, Minn.

Pig Iron Theatre Company

We write to you with armored vehicles rolling through our city, police helicopters hovering overhead, busloads of police racing through the streets, shop windows being shattered, the temperature rising locally, nationally, globally. We write to stand against fascism, police brutality, militarism, racial profiling, resource inequity.

We write to shine a light on the absurdity of our city pouring resources into protecting a statue of a racist mayor and not pouring resources into the communities that are being burned, neglected, profiled and traumatized by constant violent threats and actions.

George Floyd
Ahmaud Arbery
Breonna Taylor
Tony McDade

We say their names, and the names of thousands more, we stand in solidarity with their families and communities and we push back against the culture of violence perpetrated against people of color in our country.

We are a community of experimental artists and the technical and producing staff that make that work possible. We run a school and follow our students’ imaginations into new futures and new forms. What do we do now?

We imagine that most—and we hope all—of the people reading this don’t need any of our guidance to be outraged by the police actions, government inaction, policy vacuums, and sickness in our culture that has allowed this violence against people of color to continue for so very long. We simply wish to recognize and hold space for those among us—in our community and in our country—who are suffering at the hands of those in power.

We want to do more as individuals, and, where we can, as a group. We will continue to advocate for investment in the human sector—the educators, artists and arts organizations, and human services professionals and activists that want to build a future founded on love, curiosity, and the creative impulse.

The staff and board of Pig Iron have donated to the following organizations and we ask you, our community, to consider donating too. Money is not the sole answer but can be the most immediate way to start doing something in these fluid times.

In solidarity and in stillness,

Dan, Quinn, Dito, Maya, Jacob, Megan, J.J., Sarah, John, Adam, and the Pig Iron Board
Philadelphia

Pittsburgh Public Theater

At Pittsburgh Public Theater, we believe in the power of art to transform and connect us, and in our fundamental responsibility to serve our city and region as a true public theater for all people.

We are in a moment of reckoning, when we are all being called to face the persistent racial injustice and violence perpetrated against Black communities in our city and across the country. We stand with our Black colleagues, artists, audiences, and neighbors. We deepen our commitment to creating an organization and a world where you feel safe, seen, and loved. You matter to us. Your stories matter. Your lives matter. Justice matters.

Out of respect during this time of national crisis and grief, we will be postponing our annual gala, which was to take place later this month. We will also be pausing our PlayTime programming and postponing our reading of Bekah Brunstetter’s The Cake. We know many of you were looking forward to these events, as were we, but this is not a time for celebration, it is a time for thoughtful action.

We deeply believe in the work we do and in the way art and artists bring us together to realize a better world. Current events demand that we take some time to reimagine how our role in Pittsburgh’s cultural life can evolve in the months ahead. We feel a deep commitment to remain true to our mission and to our devoted community of artists and audiences, so in the coming weeks, we will be taking a hard look at our own internal practices and what we can do better—to create a place of sincere welcome, to practice equity and justice throughout our organization, and to support our Black artists and audiences.

Thank you for taking this moment with us. We hope you will join the Public in the fight against racism and in lifting up Black voices so we might all listen and stand in solidarity. We look forward to being in your company again and sharing ideas for how we can best serve you and our city in the future.

Truly yours,

Marya Sea Kaminski, artistic director
Lou Castelli, managing director
Pittsburgh Public Theatre

The Play Company

As a theatre dedicated to social justice and active engagement in our community, we share the outrage over the lynchings of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and the murders of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless Black people. While these lynchings look different from those of the past, their motivation is no different, and racist violence is ongoing.

The deep-rooted white supremacy in this country and the systems built on it, including the police, terrorize and oppress Black communities.

As we grieve with the Black members of our community, we acknowledge that anything less than direct action is contributing to the problem. We know that our anti-racist work must be ongoing. As an immediate step, we offer the greatest tool we have to the cause: our platform.

We are suspending all planned online programming until further notice in order to dedicate our platform to amplifying Black activism and sharing Black art; urging our audiences to sign petitions for justice and support anti-racist organizations; and providing resources for education and mental health.

Resources for Anti-Racist Action

To the Black artists and members of our community: We are here to support you, and our inbox remains open to articles and resources that need a signal-boost. Please feel free to reach out to Kate Loewald, founding producer, at kloewald@playco.org, or Rob Bradshaw, managing director, at rbradshaw@playco.org.

America must actively dismantle the racist systems that uphold it. The American theatre cannot be exempt from this work. PlayCo is committed to examining our privilege and undoing our own systemic racism. We implore our industry to do the same, and establish equitable, anti-racist spaces that value Black stories and learn from Black perspectives.

We cannot afford to look away in this critical moment.

In solidarity,

Charlene, Danielle, Jessica, Joey, Kate, Melissa, Renée, and Rob
The Play Company, New York City

Playwrights’ Center

The public murder of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis police department and the subsequent delayed action of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman perpetuates the permissive culture of white supremacy inherently woven into the fabric of our country. George Floyd’s murder is part of the centuries-long lineage of state-sanctioned violence; of trauma enacted on Black bodies in the U.S. To see George Floyd’s death as anything but the systemized dismissal of Black humanity is to deny the truth of this very supremacy.

Every single day the violent underpinnings of white supremacy endanger the well-being of our extraordinary Black artists, Indigenous artists, and all artists of color and their respective communities. Until all of the playwrights and artists we serve are truly safe, until their humanity and lives are truly valued, we acknowledge that we are not fully living into our work as an artist service organization. Therefore, at the Playwrights’ Center:

  • We are calling on our elected officials to demand justice for George Floyd and see that all four officers are charged for their crimes.
  • We stand united with our communities of color and commit to supporting and uplifting voices of color; listening to what is needed, and taking action to address injustice.
  • We call on white people within our community to self-examine and to acknowledge racism and white supremacy in all their implicit and explicit forms—and to make intentional change within communities of friends and family. We implore you to remember that, if you value experiencing great work by Black artists and other artists of color, you must also insist that just, non-violent systems be created and upheld to protect them.
  • We will continue our own work at the Center to more deeply examine where white supremacy, racism, and inequity exist—to both name and actively address it.

Additionally, we’ve started compiling a list of suggested resources to help combat these issues. As this is only a beginning, if you know of spaces, organizations or efforts to add, we welcome your input. Many staff members and artists at the Playwrights’ Center have made contributions to these direct causes of support—if it feels right to you, we invite you to consider doing the same.

Standing in solidarity & action,

The Playwrights’ Center
Minneapolis

Playwrights Horizons

With outrage and great sorrow, Playwrights Horizons mourns the Black lives unjustly lost to state-sanctioned violence. The killing of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis Police Department is yet another glaring example of the systemic racism at work in our country, and of the traumas inflicted against Black Americans throughout our history. So, too, are the murders of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Tony McDade in Florida, and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, among countless others.

As the nation rises up in defiance of these crimes—and the vast structures of oppression which enable them—Playwrights Horizons stands with our Black colleagues, artists, and audiences in the fight against racial injustice in all its forms. Our theatre is not just a building, not just an institution, but a collective of humans, and until every member of our community is able to live safely and equitably valued in the eyes of our country and society, we are deficient. Committed to the American playwright’s voice, and to ensuring that this voice reaches audiences, Playwrights Horizons can fulfill our mission only when all voices are protected equally. Black lives matter.

We recognize that systems of racism and white supremacy are at work not only in the appalling acts of violence that manage to make the headlines; these systems are played out daily in ways that are both egregious and invisible. And they are perpetuated by our cultural institutions and the narratives we uphold. Playwrights Horizons acknowledges our role in creating culture, our responsibility to New York City and the nation, and the privilege we stand to mobilize in service of social justice. In our continued and necessarily imperfect work toward best practices and collective liberation, we are committed to the following:

  • Through our continued programming, and through the creation of new programs, the community of artists and audiences who make up our theater will better reflect the cultural breadth of New York City and our country.
  • Through the stories we tell, we will challenge inherited and accepted notions of identity and history, in the interest of disrupting and dismantling patterns of oppression.
  • By building new relationships with local communities and organizations, we will deepen the impact of new writing in New York City and beyond.
  • We commit to upholding principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in all our practices.
  • We commit to continuing anti-racism training for staff and board, as well as to engaging in constant self-reflection.
  • We will serve as community advocates, amplifying and supporting the work of historically underrepresented and marginalized communities.
  • We will continue to evolve. And as we do, we will engage in an ongoing re-examination of our practices, and our impact, in this urgent and necessary work toward equity.

We offer this growing compilation of resources to support the fight against racial injustice in the United States. Many of these have already been shared by our peer theaters, colleagues, and artists. We’re grateful for the chance to amplify and add to their work.

With love,

Playwrights Horizons
New York City

Portland Center Stage

At Portland Center Stage, we stand up to voice our outrage at the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. We stand against the continued systemic violence, including unjust police brutality, that has terrorized Black Americans for centuries.

As a theatre that centers storytelling from a diverse body of voices, we seek to reimagine and re-envision what’s possible night after night onstage, in pursuit of a more just and equal society. There is so much work to do, and at PCS we are committed to: reaching out to our representatives to demand justice; amplifying voices of color and listening to what is needed; calling on white people to acknowledge and work to dismantle white supremacy in all of its implicit and explicit forms, and to create change within their own communities; and acknowledging and actively addressing the racism embedded within our own institution.

We invite you to join us in this work. Please check out and support our incredible community partner organizations who are working for change right now:

Here is a wonderful list of anti-racism resources for reading and listening, compiled by activists and artists Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein,

All best,

Marissa Wolf, artistic director
Cynthia Fuhrman, managing director
Portland Center Stage, Portland, Ore.

Profile Theatre

At Profile Theatre our hearts are reeling from Black lives that continue to be lost daily at the hands of white supremacists protected by our culture and social infrastructure.

We remain in solidarity with the demonstrations and protests that have risen up in cities where George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and heartbreaking myriad more who have been killed for daring to live free.

Black folks make up members of our staff, our board, our artists, and our community. Their lives matter. Black lives matter. Black hopes, dreams, and fears matter. Black stories matter.

We will continue to amplify Black voices on our stage, in our community partnerships and within our organization. And we commit to the anti-racism work so necessary in our organization, in our field and in our country. In the coming weeks, we will follow up with a statement detailing the specific commitments this work entails for us as an organization.

Profile Theatre
Portland, Ore.

The Public Theater

The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor have demonstrated in horrific fashion the racism upon which our country was built. We mourn the loss of these Black men and women, and are grieved and outraged by their murders. The Public was founded as a theatre by, for, and of the people, yet it has taken us far too long to proclaim the simple truth: Black Lives Matter.

We must stand in solidarity with Black artists, Black staff members, and the Black community. We must do more, much more, to fight the racism that infects every institution in the country, the Public included. We must recognize that the Public itself must change, if we wish to live up to our own ideals. If “We Are One Public,” then the pain and oppression being visited on our Black community must also be our pain.

Out of this crucible we will all either become better or become worse. The Public is determined to be on the side that fights racism and inequality manifested inside and outside of our walls. We will release a fuller statement of accountabilities and actions in the coming days. Words matter, but not as much as actions. Hold us accountable.

The Public Theater
New York City

Quantum Theatre

We are in mourning. For George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and too many Black Americans killed under an unjust system. We condemn these murders, and we condemn the violence inflicted upon peaceful protesters. Black Lives Matter, and we stand in solidarity with the Black community—artists, staff members, board members, and neighbors—who are part of our family and who have suffered so greatly under this country’s systemic and institutionalized racism.

As artists we are storytellers, and we believe in the power of stories to speak truth and to challenge us to empathize with different perspectives. Though our country’s stages are dark, may our artists shine brightly now, and may those of us with the power of a platform make use of it to amplify Black voices.

Here are just a few of those voices, well worth listening to:

In love and solidarity,

Quantum Theatre
Pittsburgh

Rattlestick Playwights Theater

A reminder that the power of theatre is not necessarily what happens in the room. The vital element is what happens afterward. Audience members carry these stories, now existing within their hearts, bodies, and souls, into the outside world. We ask for deep inward reflection. We ask to challenge oneself. For others, we hope these stories can be a means of healing and feeling seen.

So here is theatre. Right here. An excerpt, the final note, of Dael Orlandersmith’s Rattlestick mainstage, Until the Flood. It is a piece which responds to the killing of Michael Brown. And here we are, needing it again. Read it aloud. Let us listen to these words. Let us create conversation with friends and family. Let us reject complicity. And most importantly, let us take action, let us disrupt a system which allows these injustices to continue.

Much love and in solidarity,

Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
New York City

Statement from the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

We are aghast and sickened by the hatred and violence being unleashed against our Black brothers and sisters. As a company, we stand with the Black communities in Chicago and the nation. We stand in solidarity with George Floyd’s family and friends.

We recognize America has systematically weighed down Black people struggling to do right for themselves and their loved ones. We will not stand back and remain silent. Silence is the tool of the oppressors and one of the most powerful cornerstones of injustice. We support those speaking out. We support those taking action. We stand with all who are fighting for racial equality.

In this excruciating moment we urge you to join the Rivendell family in taking action. Here is a list of suggested resources that offer a place to begin in this battle against white supremacy.

Sincerely,

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
Chicago

Round House Theatre

Episode 6 of Homebound, “Sometimes It Snows in April,” was written and is set three weeks ago, when the killing of Ahmaud Arbery was still on every front page in America. Arbery’s death at the hands of two white men while he jogged through a neighborhood outside Brunswick, Ga., weighs heavily on the mind of Craig during the episode.

It is a horrifying truth that Arbery’s death is no longer front-page news. This past week, video emerged of George Floyd’s death after a white Minneapolis police  officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. Our country has erupted in protests demanding an end to systemic racism and police brutality against Black and brown people. Round House stands with the protesters across the nation who are expressing their outrage over the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others at the hands of police officers. We recognize that police brutality and the over-policing of communities of color are only two manifestations of systemic and institutional racism and we condemn such injustices in all forms.

In the midst of the worst health crisis of our lifetimes, when people of color—many of whom serve as essential workers—are being disproportionately hurt by both the pandemic and its economic fallout, it is unconscionable that our fellow Americans are not just overlooked, but murdered in broad daylight by white people in positions of power.

We can and must do better, America.

We know that art, equity, and justice go hand in hand. We support and applaud our vibrant community of Black artists, staff, teachers, supporters, audiences, and students who have made Round House a space where people gather to better understand our world. We are grateful to the artists of color who are working on Homebound in the midst of this crisis.

As a predominantly white theatre, Round House promises to serve as an ally to communities of color. We vow to use our positional power to fulfill our stated organizational value of Theatre for Everyone: to amplify voices that have been historically under-represented and under-resourced by the theatre field and to incorporate anti-racist practices and anti-sexist practices across all aspects of our work.

We pledge to model the America that we can be rather than the America that is sadly visible today.

Round House Theatre
Bethesda, Md.

San Diego Repertory Theatre

We at San Diego REP cannot and will not tolerate the systemic racism that continues to plague our country.

We are crushed by the senseless and tragic deaths of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery—and of the far too many Black lives that have systemically been cut short over centuries, before them.

Our mission has long been to nourish progressive political and social values, and implicit in that is the responsibility to stand up for marginalized communities. We vow to examine and dismantle the structures of racism within theatre, within society, and within the deepest part of our own selves.

We stand in unity with our Black brothers and sisters.

Black Lives Matter.

We ask you to join us in taking action today. Together let us lift our voices and galvanize our collective privilege, creativity and financial capacity—to work relentlessly towards finally delivering the promise of that arc towards justice for all. Once and for all.

Suggested resources as to how you can make an impact:

Black Lives Matter
Black Visions Collective
Reclaim the Block
Campaign Zero
Communities United Against Police Brutality
Unicorn Riot
National Bailout Fund
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Anti Police-Terror Project
Showing Up for Racial Justice
Racial Justice Coalition of San Diego
Activist San Diego

In Solidarity,

Sam Woodhouse, artistic director
Larry Alldredge, managing director
Larry Cousins, president of the board of trustees
And the entire San Diego REP staff and board of trustees
San Diego Repertory Theatre, Calif.

Seattle Children’s Theatre

In the midst of this pandemic, and in the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd, it has become more vital than ever for our society to come to terms with the systemic racism that continues to hold our systems and country. We feel sadness for those who continue to lose their loved ones to injustice, and frustration for the lack of leadership our country shown in a time of need. At SCT we support those speaking up for equal rights and we, alongside their voices, demand change.

SCT recommits to the examination of our internal practices and will continue the difficult work of becoming an anti-racist organization. We do not have all the answers and we know that as an institution we have a long way to go, but in this necessary time we vow to do our part. We will use our privilege and leadership to uphold the voices and stories which continue to be so underrepresented in our field, and to champion more equitable access to programming, while upholding SCT’s values on our stages, behind the curtain, through our classrooms, and as we engage and work in the communities we serve.

It is our responsibility to show up in these conversations that will impact our communities for generations to come. We commit to working toward ensuring that all children see themselves reflected in our work and have access to creative environments where they can learn and grow in community. To all young people—especially those of color—you deserve better.

Seattle Children’s Theatre

Seattle Repertory Theatre

With anguish and deep sorrow, we mourn the lives of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. We have compiled a growing resource list of organizations that are actively engaged in helping to end these acts of violence and the racial injustice in our country. We will continue to update this list and engage our community with action in this urgent and vital work.

Seattle Repertory Theatre

Statement from 7 Stages, Atlanta.

Shakespeare Dallas

We at Shakespeare Dallas stand in solidarity with the fight against systemic racism, white supremacy, and historic oppression of the Black community.

Black Lives Matter.

We would like our patrons and artists to know we are establishing tangible checks and balances for equality, inclusion, and diversity across our company. The words of William Shakespeare paint our imaginations with a vast spectrum of humanity and our reality is and should be no different. Our hope is that those who value his words take to heart the moral of his stories. Stories that challenge our ideas of racism, feminism, LGBTQ+ issues, love, and loyalty. Our mission is accessibility and we honor the immortal bard William Shakespeare in that. It’s all there in the text, in his words. He allows us to connect—not only in the present, but also to our ancestral past and future generations to come.

Stand with us.

The Shakespeare Dallas Team

Shakespeare Theatre Company

For those protesting, STC sees and hears you. We share your passion for justice and for change, and we pray for your safety. For people of color, for the Black members of D.C.’s community, we are with you, and we believe that Black Lives Matter.

“The weight of this sad time we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.”
King Lear, act 5, scene 3

Shakespeare Theatre Company
Washington, D.C.

Signature Theatre

We stand alongside everyone seeking justice for Tony McDade, George Floyd, Nina Pop, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, and too many others in the Black community. Black lives matter. Black lives have always mattered.

We are thinking about how the lives of Black and brown people have long been affected by systemic oppression. On top of that, Black people have disproportionately suffered during the pandemic, and police brutality rages on. Deep-seated racial bias is causing pain, fear, despair, outrage, and frustration for so many people.

Along with our Black artists, staff, friends, and community members, we demand that all Black people not only have the most essential rights to live and to breathe, but also full justice and equality. We want to acknowledge here that white supremacy exists in America and in our field. We will strive to become an anti-racist theatre. We will prioritize a tangible dismantling of all systems of oppression throughout our work, no matter how uncomfortable those conversations.

In our commitment to build a more just, equitable, and anti-racist company, we will match our words with deeds, in conjunction with and inspired by our artists, colleagues, and all those who set an example for us to follow. We will:

  • Uplift Black people and communities of color who are oppressed by white privilege and power by listening, providing support, and taking action. We will center this within our core values and beliefs of access and community building. We must acknowledge that in our country, we live within a framework of power that is not evenly or fairly distributed, and privilege in unequal. We will ask white people to understand white privilege.
  • Acknowledge where we have come up short or have not done enough soon enough, and work to hasten our internal work to create an anti-racist company by consulting with community leaders who can help point out our own unconscious contributions to imbalance and privilege.
  •  Tell stories by, about, and for people from historically underrepresented communities, to appropriately honor the diversity of experiences that enrich our country.

We encourage you to support these causes, memorial funds, and direct funds for direct:

We have compiled a list, which is by no means comprehensive, of resources and organizations that have been shared with us, which you can view on our website. We encourage you to do your own research for resources that would be valuable for your individual journey and local community.

Signature Theatre
New York City

South Coast Repertory

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

South Coast Repertory stands with the Black community and all those grieving for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the many, many others who have suffered the perpetual injustice in our society. We are saddened and outraged, and as a theatre we commit ourselves to exploring the urgent human and social issues of our time. No one person is free until we are all free.

South Coast Repertory
Costa Mesa, Calif.

SpeakEasy Stage

This past weekend has been one of many powerful, and often conflicting, emotions. Grief for those in our community who are suffering. Pride for the thousands of protesters who marched to Boston Common for justice for Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, and countless other victims of police violence. Outrage at the lack of change in our country to protect Black people. Equal measures of great hope and deep despair.

SpeakEasy Stage stands in solidarity with this weekend’s protesters and the Black Lives Matter movement. We also recognize that it will take more than messages of support and hopeful wishes to see real change.

We are proud of the work we have done, on stage and off, to fight for equity and justice in Boston. But we acknowledge that we must do better. And we will. We are committed to improving the way that we operate as a company so that we can be better advocates for change in our community. Our mission compels us to create conversations through our productions—our art inspires our activism. Therefore, we pledge to better use our platform to magnify the work of artists of color, to take action as community advocates outside of our theatre doors, and to amplify the voices of all oppressed populations.

Words matter, but actions matter even more. We will hold ourselves accountable, and if you feel we are falling short or have suggestions on better ways to engage and support, we are always here to listen. As we evolve as an organization, we will continue to learn from the artists and activists in our community. If you wish to be part of this conversation, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly at pauldaigneault [at] speakeasystage.com.

In the meantime, we have canceled our programs for this week, including our Season 30 Spotlight and Play Discussion Club to help keep the focus on the important community conversations happening now. We will announce new dates for these events in the next week.

I will be in touch again soon to continue these important conversations.
In solidarity,

Paul Daigneault, producing artistic director
SpeakEasy Stage, Boston

Stage West Theatre

We are outraged. We are filled with sorrow. All of us at Stage West wish to express our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and those who have been victims of our nation’s systematic oppression of and violence towards people of color. Whether it be the countless microaggressions people of color encounter on a daily basis, or the very real fear that they could be the next to lose their lives, it must be acknowledged and understood that we are all responsible for the solution, for creating a world that values inclusion, diversity, and equality.

Here at Stage West, we are committed to programming that celebrates all stories from our varied human existence. Within that, we will continue to lift up the voices and stories of Black lives and of others who are regularly suppressed. Not only do we wish to better reflect the amazing diversity of our community but to also encourage the broadening of our community’s perspectives.

There is no place in our world for racism and anti-Blackness of any kind. As an organization, we are heartbroken by the continuous pain and inequality that is inflicted upon Black Lives. To our Black friends, artists, students, staffers, and colleagues:

We hear you.

We see you.

Your lives matter.

We stand with you in solidarity.

We will continue to remember George Floyd, Atatiana Jefferson, Botham Jean, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other Black lives. It is past time to stand together—in peace—to ensure their lives were not lost in vain. Things. Must. Change. Until Black Lives Matter, no lives matter.

If you are able, here are some organizations that are accepting donations towards this fight:

Black Visions Collective
Reclaim the Block
Campaign Zero
Communities United Against Police Brutality
Black Lives Matter
NAACP Legal Defense Fund
American Civil Liberties Union

Team Stage West, Forth Worth, Texas

Stageworks

8 minutes and 46 seconds.

If you are reading this, take out your phone and set a timer for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Then sit there until the alarm goes off.

Better yet, if you are reading this, take out your phone and set a timer for 8 minutes and 46 seconds—then hold your breath until the alarm goes off.

Being Black in America should not be a death sentence.

As a white woman in America I can never know—I can never viscerally understand—what it means to be Black in this country. I will never need to sit my son down and talk about what to do if he is stopped by the police. I will never fear the police in the way that so many in communities around this country do—in the way that so many of my friends do.

Over the past several days—months—years, I have seen the anguish on my friends’ faces. I have seen the fear on my friends’ faces. I have seen the anger on my friends’ faces. I have seen the hopelessness on my friends’ faces.

As anguished, afraid, angry, and hopeless as I feel in this moment, I can never fully grasp the depth and breadth of the sorrow and terror experienced by so many people whom I love and who suffer under the scourge of racism.

As an ally to communities of color, Stageworks Theatre and I, as its leader, stand with those who work toward social justice. We stand with those who peacefully protest against injustice. We stand with those who are angry as hell.

My friends, we stand with you, we stand beside you and we stand ready to to work with you.

#GeorgeFloyd #AhmaudAubrey #BreonnaTaylor #EricGarner #MichaelBrown #TooManyLives Lost

#BlackLivesMatter

Karla Hartley, producing artistic director
Stageworks Theatre, Tampa, Fla.

Steep Theatre Company

We stand in solidarity with those raising their voices in sadness and outrage over the senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubrey, and the countless other lives cut short by systemic racism. As an ensemble of artists, we know that our voices are louder together, and we join in the calls for justice and substantive change to a system that devalues and endangers the lives and voices of Black members of our community.

Being a community—especially one that strives to be an inclusive, equitable, and just community—requires work. Ongoing, constant, difficult work. This work will not be finished in our lifetime, but failing to act now will ensure that the work is never done. Theatre helps us to see and understand the world from different perspectives. As theatremakers, administrators, and supporters, we cannot let an unjust system continue to eat holes in the fabric of our culture. #BlackLivesMatter

Steep Theatre Company
Chicago

Steppenwolf Theatre Company 

At Steppenwolf Theatre we believe in the power of community and communion through storytelling. We believe every voice must be heard and valued for a healthy society to function.

As artists and theatremakers we are currently inhibited by our inability to gather audiences and community to process, to grieve, to rise up against generations of oppression and dysfunction but we will not be silent.

Every day we are watching the senseless murders of Black people in our country—the illegal and immoral silencing of our fellow citizens.

Every life lost to this ongoing, soulless racism reduces us all.

We denounce these despicable acts and commit ourselves to being a voice of action both in our community and nationwide. Our organization is currently compiling a list of resources so that members of our Steppenwolf community can do their part in fighting this injustice.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Chicago

St. Louis Black Repertory

“An injury to one is an injury to all!” – Sarafina!

The Black Rep stands in solidarity with our brothers and sister protesting the violence against Black lives. #blacklivesmatter

St. Louis Black Repertory

Synetic Theater

Synetic Theater has been taking time to reflect on how we can thoughtfully address the current events in our country and the chronic systemic racism that caused them to happen, and to figure out how to respond collectively in both words and action. But silence is complicity, and we cannot stay silent any longer.

We support the Black Lives Matter movement and mourn the loss of countless Black lives to police brutality and systemic racism that has plagued this country for the last 400 years. We also recognize that as a theatre we should use our platform to tell stories that represent diverse communities, magnify underrepresented voices, and expand the worldview of our audiences.

As an organization founded by immigrants fleeing state-sponsored violence, resisting the status quo and paving a new path forward is in our DNA—as is being a home for an internationally diverse staff and company of artists.

However, the work does not end here. We know we can do better in the areas of diversity, inclusion, and social justice in our organizational culture and our programmatic work, particularly for historically oppressed American minorities. We vow to be better and more vigilant in this regard, and that work continues in earnest now.

Today and for the foreseeable future, we will take breaks from our regularly scheduled work to further reflect internally, listen to each other and our constituencies, and take anti-racist/anti-oppressive action to make our organization and the communities we live in and serve safe for all.

In the meantime, we encourage everyone to find their own way to help now, such as:

1. Self-educate about racism and your social location.
2. Sign petitions.
3. Donate to the organizations such as Minnesota Freedom Fund, Black Visions Collective, and Black Lives Matter DC.
4. Protest.
5. Offer safe rides home to protesters.
6. Support your neighbors and invest in your neighborhoods through mutual aid organizations.
7. Call your representatives.
8. Vote.

Synetic Theatre
Arlington, Va.

Syracuse Stage

We stand in solidarity with those who protest today for justice. We condemn racism. We are horrified by the murder of George Floyd and the cycle of violence perpetrated against Black Americans. We stand with our neighbors in Syracuse who gather in the hope of a better tomorrow.

As an institution, we acknowledge that we need to listen, to learn, to be more effective allies in this cause. In this moment in time, we must use our power as storytellers to shift the narrative, we must lead by example to combat racism. We must lift up the many voices in our community. We will do better.

#GeorgeFloyd #BlackLivesMatter

Jill Anderson, managing director
Robert Hupp, artistic director
Syracuse Stage, New York

Theatre Horizon

We stand in solidarity with protestors who are making their righteous pain and rage heard across the country. We know that artists, primarily artists of color, are putting their bodies on the line. Their voices are vital in the fight for justice, and they are exhausted and angry. The fact that they continue to create and build empathy is awe inspiring. If you have available resources, consider giving to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, who is working on the frontlines to get protestors out of jail, or the Penumbra Theatre Company, which always has and always will amplify Black voices and strengthen the Black community in Saint Paul.

Theatre Horizon
Norristown, Pa.

Theater J

As the nation’s pre-eminent Jewish theatre company, Theater J stands for the rights of the oppressed, of immigrants, and of those whose lives and freedom are threatened. Black lives matter, and police brutality against Black and brown people in this country must end. In this moment, we lift up the work of our sister program inside of the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center: The Morris Cafritz Center for Social Responsibility. The Cafritz Center organizes high-impact and social justice programs that address unmet needs and the systemic issues that create inequality in our region. In seeking to make our city a more just, inclusive, and livable place, the Cafritz Center provides a way for the Jewish community to connect to our most sacred mandate of repairing the world. We strive to learn from their work, and to ensure that our programming and our actions reflect our values, now and in the future.

Theater J
Washington, D.C.

Theatre Latté Da

It is with humility that Theater Latté Da joins the chorus of those speaking out against the murder of George Floyd and the long history of racism, discrimination, and violence against our Black citizens, artists, and friends. We speak with humility because we recognize that we as a predominantly white organization benefit from that position of privilege and in turn contribute to the systemic racism bringing us here today. We speak with humility because we know how much more work we must do to become a more equitable and inclusive organization, and we are committed to doing that work.

In this spirit, we raise our voices loudly and stand tall in solidarity. We stand in solidarity with the Black community demanding justice for George Floyd. We stand in solidarity with the thousands of protesters who are demanding change now. We stand in solidarity with the passionate, brilliant artists of color in our community who have been doing the hard work for a long time.

We are including here a robust list of Black-led arts organizations in the Twin Cities. We need to hear their voices now more than ever. We honor their work and their wisdom. Please support them today and down the long road ahead.

Theatre Latté Da, Minneapolis

Theater Mu

Our mission is and will always be to amplify the voices left unheard. Part of that means knowing when to stand aside and let others speak. As we close out Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we cannot in good conscience continue with our planned weekend events knowing the hurt happening here at home. For that reason, we are postponing our Mu-tini Hour, PlayFest, and Family Explorations program to a later date. We stand in strong solidarity with protestors, organizers, and activists seeking justice for George Floyd and other victims of racial violence.
For those reeling in the civil unrest and want to join Mu in the fight for justice, there are many ways to stay civically engaged. We encourage you to take the following actions:

• Call and/or email Minnesota decision-makers to demand justice.
• Text “FLOYD” to 55156 in support of Color of Change’s demand that the officers who killed #GeorgeFloyd are charged with murder.
• Sign Change.Org’s “Justice for George Floyd” petition.
• Donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund.
• Share with your friends.
• Uplift local BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) organizations.
• Check-in and listen to your Black friends and peers.

As we come to the end of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we must reflect upon the intertwined history of Asian and Black Americans. George Floyd’s death is a continuation of the long history of criminalization, dehumanization, and oppression of Black lives in this country. Asian American communities may not always understand this history, but we inherited its legacy. We have benefited from Black freedom struggles that paved the way for our own fights for freedom.

Throughout history, there have been attempts to pit Asian and Black communities against each other, a tactic that focuses our pain and hurt on one another, and away from systems of white supremacy. These efforts distract us from the real solution of building cross-racial solidarity to root out racist oppression.

We emphatically call on our Asian communities to center George Floyd’s life and continue to amplify the demands from his family and community for justice.
Please stay healthy, stay safe, and stay engaged.

The Theater Mu Family
St. Paul, Minn.

TheatreSquared

TheatreSquared was founded with a vision to create work that transcends differences, reminds of us of our common humanity, and inspires us to do better as people and as a people.

Through our words, our actions, and our work, we reject violence and senseless discrimination, grieve with those who experience the pain of oppression, and support those who shine a light on injustice.

We raise our voice in support of change because we can and must do better.

TheatreSquared
Fayetteville, Ark.

Theatre Three, Dallas.

Trinity Repertory Company

We wish to acknowledge the trauma our country and many of our artists, staff, students, volunteers, audiences, and community partners are experiencing. At Trinity Repertory Company, Black lives matter. We commit to struggle together for equity, diversity, and inclusion. We stand in solidarity with and alongside those who are committed to fighting racism, oppression, and hate. Most specifically, to our friends, colleagues, and partners of color: We see you, we love you, and your lives matter.

Trinity Repertory Company
Providence, R.I.

Undermain Theatre 

We support and stand with our vibrant and courageous community of Black artists, writers, actors, supporters, audiences, and volunteers who have participated in making Undermain Theatre a space where people meet to try and understand our world and elevate our humanity. We support and stand with those who call for justice. The pain of this situation permeates our lives and our work. Only when all members of our community are truly respected and protected will we be the community we aspire to be in our collective consciousness.

We join our colleagues at DGDG, Second Thought Theatre, Theatre Three, and other arts and cultural organizations across the country in repeating:

We see you.

We hear you.

We mourn with you.

Black Lives Matter

Undermain Theatre
Dallas

Vineyard Theatre

We at the Vineyard are anguished, outraged, and heartbroken by the ongoing racism and racist violence against Black people in our country. We join with all those in America seeking justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many other Black lives continuously lost and continuously affected by systemic racist violence. We stand with protesters across the nation to voice our anger and to demand what our democracy promises us: that all of us are created equal. That Black Lives Matter.

We live in a country shaped by racist systems which perpetuate injustice every day against Black people. It is the responsibility of all of us to name and dismantle racist systems, and to work for social justice, as individuals, as artists, and as institutions. Theatre is an act of coming together to look at ourselves, to listen to voices different from our own, to reaffirm our shared humanity, to collaborate to make something bigger than the sum of its parts. As theatre artists, we must act in every way we can to create change within our own company, our community, and our country.

Now, and in the days, months, and years to come, we affirm the Vineyard’s commitment to empowering the voices and centering the stories of artists of color, doing the ongoing work of self-examination, and working toward change and justice. We stand in passionate solidarity with and for our Black colleagues, staff, artists, students, friends, and community members. We believe strongly, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., that “No one is free until we are all free.” Enough is enough.

Vineyard Theatre
New York City

The VORTEX

Across Austin and the rest of our country, protesters are rising up to demand justice and an end to police brutality specifically towards Black communities and Black bodies. This is a pivotal moment in American history, and we demand change now. #BlackLivesMatter

While our theatre remains shuttered, we stand in solidarity with these efforts across the country. In order to offer support and attention to Black lives, we will not be offering our regularly scheduled virtual programming this week. Instead, we will offer daily highlights and donation opportunities for different nonprofits and grassroots organizations who are doing the extremely difficult and necessary work on the ground to keep these communities healthy, fed, heard, and mobilized.

Embracing diverse communities and elevating inclusive discourse to create action in this shifting age is vital to the core of The VORTEX mission. Our core values break past the walls of the theatre. We honor and support everyone who is showing up, standing up, speaking up, and donating.

“Over the years, The VORTEX has built a reputation in fearless and bold art.
Now, in 2020, we are simultaneously dealing with two viruses—COVID19 and the cause of the uprisings against systemic racism, both of which have disproportionately affected and killed Black lives and bodies. As a Black queer man and artist, I feel and experience the direct effects of racism and systemic oppression every single day. Now is the time to take action. No longer can you remain silent observers from the sidelines. So, as we begin Pride Month and Black folks around the country continue to fight for our basic human right to live equally and wholly, I take my stand and fight with my folks. We are fighting to escort ourselves through the door of true equity, and the VORTEX is here to help break down that 400 year old door. So, remain healthy. Remain safe. And let’s keep fighting and pressing forward. #SayTheirNames because #BlackLivesMatter”

–Jeremy Rashad Brown, board president

“We honor the space needed for reflection, grief, and rage through this critical time of upheaval. May this moment and the important times ahead lead to justice and the dismantling of racist systems of oppression that dominate our society.”

— Bonnie Cullum, producing artistic director

The VORTEX
Austin

WAM Theatre

In this moment of pain and tragedy, all of us at WAM reaffirm our work in intersectional feminism. We know addressing one spoke of oppression means addressing them all.

We stand in solidarity with all our Black colleagues and with Black communities across the country as we mourn and honor those whose breath was taken from them: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, James Scurlock, and all those whose lives have been taken by anti-Blackness and police brutality.

We celebrate and bear witness to all the Black artists and community members who are in our WAMily. We know you are exhausted. We see you. We hear you. We are here for you. Your lives matter. Black Lives Matter. We will be sharing information in the coming weeks about how our WAMily can directly contribute to you and the organizations you value and support.

We see the pain and the injustice, and we recommit to our personal and professional work in doing what’s necessary towards dismantling the systems of oppression inherent in white supremacy culture and taking action towards a culture of empathy, equity, and belonging.

In Solidarity,

The WAM Theatre Team and Board
Lenox, Mass.

Waterwell

Waterwell stands in resolute solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and everyone across New York City, the United States, and the world who are protesting the ongoing, state-sanctioned, anti-Black violence that led to the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and many other Black people in the U.S. and around the world.

We recognize this is a historic peak in the ongoing fight against white supremacy, racial capitalism and anti-Black biases, ideologies, and narratives that have systematically and systemically disempowered Black people for hundreds of years. We believe this moment of collective action can and should change each one of us, our city, and our nation in historic ways. But this transformation is not inevitable nor guaranteed. We recognize the urgency and stakes of this demand for transformative change in our public safety and legal systems.

As a theatre and arts education company, this urgency can and should radically affect and change us. It is cause for us to change how we create theatre, how we teach, how we run a nonprofit, how we partner with organizations outside the theatre, how we interact with the Department of Education and funders. We will not underestimate the depth and complexity of the questions involved. We know this will require us to pursue intentional, structural shifts to dismantle racism and white supremacy within our own organization and the larger theatre industry. We recognize that structural racism also affects Indigenous, Latinx, MENA, Asian, disabled, and LGBTQIA Americans, along with immigrants who have all too often been denied their human rights when interacting with our nation’s court system and enforcement agencies.

The leadership of our organization is currently shared by three white people who work closely with Waterwell’s Iranian-born co-founder/board chair. Because of this white staff leadership, we recognize that we have a particular responsibility to identify and change our institutional practices that are informed by and uphold a culture of white supremacy. Our work now is to build habits, practices, and budgets that ensure that disproportionate access to and control over resources do not remain in the hands of white people.

Waterwell is starting to more explicitly identify ways we have failed to combat white supremacy in our organization. Read the full account of Waterwell’s current internal action steps, or this snapshot:

  • Interrogate our leadership structure and hiring practices;
  • Steadily and transparently increase what we pay people;
  • Decolonize the theatre curriculum for training programs we run at NYC’s Professional Performing Arts School;
  • Pay for and require anti-racist training for staff, teachers and board members;
  • Lead opt-in conversations with staff, teachers, and artists to listen to their experience working at Waterwell and suggestions/needs they’d like to see addressed.

Here are some materials for education and opportunities for actions we have found useful. For the full list, click here.

As the leaders of the company, we take responsibility for the writing in this statement, including any flaws. We sincerely appreciate feedback from Black, POC, and white members of our community who read this before releasing it publicly.

This statement and conversation is the beginning, not the end, of our action. Accountability for these commitments is extremely important, and we will achieve it through evolving practices of transparent reporting, evaluation from within and without our community, and by taking responsibility for these goals as leaders (if we cannot do that, we should not have our jobs!). We will listen to your vision, ideas, and feedback about how Waterwell can be most effective in the interdependent causes of justice and healing in the United States.

Signed,

Lee Sunday Evans, artistic director
Adam J. Frank, managing director
Heather Lanza, director of education and artistic director, Waterwell Drama Program
Waterwell, New York City

Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum

Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum stands in solidarity with all people fighting against racism and anti-Blackness, and fighting for racial justice. We stand in witness to the righteous anger and despair brought on by the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many Black lives lost to state-sanctioned violence that preceded theirs.

But standing in silent witness is not enough. We each must do more. We are committed to creating a safe space to bring people together to listen and learn from each other’s stories and journeys.

We strive to connect with open hearts and minds to not only understand the world we live in and to embrace our shared humanity, but to effect change.

Black Lives Matter.

Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum
Topanga, Calif.

Wilma Theater

The murder of George Floyd and countless other Black people is the result of a long and deadly tradition of institutional racism and anti-Blackness.

We recognize that, as a theatre, we help shape the stories that form our national narrative. We recognize that, at many moments in our history, we have been complicit in maintaining racist systems and practices.

We stand in this moment aware of our shortcomings in dismantling those systems. The protests in response to this murder all over the country are good work that must be done if we are to move towards being a more equitable, inclusive and free country.

The Wilma Theater stands in solidarity with those who have lost loved ones to racial violence and with those seeking a freer society through protest, outrage and art. Our community is grieving with you. Our community is outraged with you. We are holding space for you.​ And we commit to dismantling racist systems in the narratives we produce moving forwards.

To take action and show your support, we encourage donations to Philadelphia Community Bail Fund and our neighbors and partners Broad Street Ministry.

Blanka Zizka, artistic director
Yury Urnov, co-artistic director
James Ijames, co-artistic director
Morgan Green, co-artistic director
Leigh Goldenberg, managing director
Wilma Theater, Philadelphia

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Over the past few days, a lack of justice for the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many Black lives to list has led to powerful demonstrations across the United States demanding that Black Lives Matter.

Woolly Mammoth proudly stands united with communities of color, especially Black people, during this moment of unrest and uprising. We hear your pleas for justice, your cries of pain, and your calls for action. We will listen, we will use our position to fight for you and, most importantly we will love and support you. We share in your grief and we share in your desire for radical change.

In our work to be an anti-racist organization, Woolly makes the following commitments: 

  • To uplift and amplify the voices of Black leaders, artists, and activists
  • To take action by dismantling white supremacy and systems of oppression in our organization and in our culture
  • To continually educate ourselves on how we can combat racism locally and nationally
  • To move towards our values of equity and inclusion with unrelenting determination
  • To call on white friends and colleagues to examine they ways they can display genuine ally-ship in this moment, and in the rest of their lives
  • To provide and care for our Black family members including staff, audiences, and artists

In the spirit of that first commitment, here is a link to the brilliant playwright Aleshea Harris’ “What to Send Up on Your Own.” She has used her art to processes the disease of anti-Blackness and shine a light on our country’s systemic racism. We invite you to partake in this ritual response in the wake of tragedy, and share it with those in your life who may also need it. We hope that you are remaining safe physically and find the support you need emotionally during this time.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Washington, D.C.

WP Theater

We are heartsick and angry over the continued senseless murder of unarmed Black people and the devastation of Black communities by COVID-19. We are grieving with our Black artists, colleagues, and communities here and across the country. Black lives matter. Black folks, we are with you; you matter, your lives matter.

WP is giving love to the voices of Black women, trans and gender-nonconforming people, and the organizations that are fighting to end white supremacist culture. We want to broadcast these voices loudly, to take action against injustice in our communities, and to name the places where inequity and bias exists within WP, and to address it. We commit to action within our community to make change.

WP Theater
New York City

Writers Theatre

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
― James Baldwin

Writers Theatre stands as an anti-racist organization in love, peace, and unity in this vital call for justice in a time of immeasurable injustice. We believe that words have the power to make change, and more than ever now is the time to make our collective voices heard as we strongly denounce racism, hate, discrimination, violence, and any violation of basic human, equal, and just rights.

The killing of George Floyd exposes the systemic racism still so prevalent in our country, and it is our collective responsibility to seek immediate and lasting change. That begins not only by speaking out, but by listening. We vow to do both. To our friends, colleagues, artists, staff, audiences, and communities of color: We hear you and we see you. Today and for all the tomorrows to come, we stand with you.

#blacklivesmatter

Writers Theatre
Glencoe, Ill.

Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre

In this time of anguish and righteous anger, Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre stand in solidarity with our beloved Black colleagues and friends, teachers, students, alumni, artists, audiences, and fellow citizens in New Haven and around the world.

We grieve the unconscionable losses of life and liberty we have witnessed, including the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among countless others. We see and acknowledge the pain of Black people in the United States through four centuries of oppression.

We are outraged by ongoing, state-sanctioned violence against Black people, and by the official posture of the executive branch of our federal government to incite still more racist violence. We also recognize that racism and white supremacy are often perpetuated and supported by institutions.

In alignment with our core values, we bolster our commitment to interrogating our assumptions and work; to dismantling racism and white supremacy in our own school and theater; and to making YSD/YRT safe and equitable places for our Black colleagues—and all of our colleagues of color—to thrive in life and art.

Drama is action: In the wider world, as in the theatre, the actions we must take are to believe and lift up the lived experiences of Black people, and to mobilize our privilege in service of justice for them.

The School and the Rep invite your partnership in this work and welcome your candor in holding us accountable.

Sincerely yours,

James Bundy, dean/artistic director
Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, Conn.

Statement from Zach Theatre, Austin.

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