Thursday, October 6, 2016

Theater for the Whole Community

Theater isn't just for entertainment.  It's also a mirror we hold up to ourselves.  It helps us see ourselves as others see us, with all the beauty, inspiration, and the flaws that define our humanity.  Theater inspires us, informs us, and in some cases, shocks us out of our comfort zone.  

That said, though, theater often focuses on a white male content written for a white male audience.  

Bringing more women and minorities into theater production and performance is not just an idea.  It's a small movement gaining momentum in the Colorado Springs theater community.   It started recently with a Town Hall meeting on the subject, and the followup plan is now coming into focus.

Small group brainstorming on obstacles.
How do you get theater types motivated to make difficult structural changes?  For starters, you might bring people together in a comfortable social setting.  That's exactly what happened on Wednesday, October 5.  Meeting at the Gold Camp Brewery, theater professionals brainstormed the possibilities for moving the needle on diversity.

Small group discussions focused on three basic issues:  obstacles to diversity, why diversity matters, and whether theater is relevant to the community in general.  

Obstacles range from the obvious (money) to the practical (child care conflicts).  Diversity matters for many reasons, but particularly because audiences must be able to relate to characters and stories.  Colorado Springs theater is relevant to most of the community, but not to all of it.

Changing our focus...
Bringing about change is difficult, and usually incremental.  Strategies for the near future may include community outreach for partnerships and initiatives with local Artistic Directors. There was also some discussion on establishing a diversity awards program for local companies.

This is the beginning.  Change is coming, but there is still a lot of work ahead.  There will be more meetings down the road, and more opportunities for your input.  You can bring your kids, so no child care is required.  And as a bonus, they will get to see how you were part of a change that will benefit them some day.

If you are interested in diversity in local theater but couldn't attend this meeting, don't despair.  You can email me at with your ideas.  I will pass them on to the group.  I'll also post information about future meetings here on Theater Colorado Springs. 

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