So when we're talking about intracompany diversity, and specifically about institutions, it's worth making sure we're all talking about the same thing. Diversity is a huge subject, and there's so many sub-categories that we could both be using the word and mean different things.
On one level, there's simply diversity of work. A phrase that came up a lot in the convening was "follow the work" the idea being that if you dedicate yourself to doing a diverse body of work, many of the other diversity issues resolve themselves. This viewpoint was largely espoused by people who run venues that present extremely busy, curated seasons (although they weren't there, for new yorkers, places like hERE and Dixon Place). This is an approach that makes sense for those kinds of venues.
But does a "follow the work" approach make sense for more traditional theaters? I'm not entirely sure. I'd love for theaters to do work that reflects a wider stylistic background... but honestly, I'm not sold on the idea that if all the large institutions suddenly started programming like Under the Radar, their problems would be fixed. (By the way, in case you think I'm straw manning, pretty much everyone from an experimental background at the TCG conference this year said something to that effect to me. It's an attitude as naive as it stylistically chauvinist. I'm glad that there's Under the Radar, PS 122 and their ilk, I'd love for there to be more money and audience flowing to that kind of work, but theater's a big tent, it needn't be exclusive of other more traditionally defined plays.)
So anyway, yes, that's one kind of diversity... Diversity of Work.
Another has to do with Diversity of People. And even then we might not all be talking about the same thing. There are five categories, broadly, that we could be discussing: Audience, Writers, Admin Staffing and Creative Teams and Casts. And the tricky thing is... working on more inclusion on any one of these issues generally entails working on all of them, and you could focus on one of them and nothing might change. You could do a season by all white playwrights with all white casts but have all of-color creative teams of directors and designers aaaand... almost nothing would probably change about your theater. On the other hand, there are plenty of classical theaters around the country that have largely white admin staffs and creative teams and do exclusively white authors but have very diverse casts, because classical theater seems to be the only area of theater where people are willing to do non-traditional casting anymore.
And let's not even get started on how many different kinds of people could qualify as diversity of people! You got racial diversity, gender diversity, class diversity, background diversity... hell, someone even challenged me at the convening on my lack of interest in political diversity when is aid i jsut don't give a shit about having republicans represented in the theatre! (and the person challenging me was a differently abled lesbian of color!)
Anyway, alls I'm saying is that diversity is a really huge topic, and I'm looking forward to breaking it down and getting more specific here on the blog and elsewhere.
What about you, dear reader? What do you mean when you use the word in regards to theater?