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May 21, 2010

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Adam

Beautiful. I agree with every f*ckin' word.

Jaime

I agree with you about the playing field having been tilted in white males favor in the theater, but I really think you have to take different generations into account.

At least when we're talking about playwrights under 40 (and certainly under 35), there's a lot of female playwrights being produced.

African Americans? Latino Americans? Asian Americans? Less so. But is that a consequence of artistic director's decisions or larger societal forces? In general I think artistic directors are eager to produce minority voices. I could certainly be wrong about that. I mean artistic directors are generally not Rand Paul.

Also, I would agree more with your argument about quality vs diversity, if you framed it differently. I don't think we should have diversity for the sake of diversity. Call me a Qualityist! I think we should be searching for diverse voices because we want the best quality. And because of our long history of racism (which continues today) we need to take special care to seek out those voices. Does that make sense?

Karl Miller

I don't have anything to add about diversity in theatre.

But Rand Paul made me write this:

http://tundratastic.blogspot.com/2010/05/political-capital-civil-rights-in.html

99

Jaime- that does make sense! Perfect sense! And I agree. I don't mean that ALL artistic directors are blindly Rand Pauls or that quality should ever be sacrificed. But I do think it's worth checking in to ask ourselves about how we define quality and whether we're using the idea of quality to remain closed off to diverse voices. I agree that it is changing, slowly, but there are a lot of entrenched forces that are resistant to expanding the playing field.

The Rand Pauls, to me, are the people who say, "I'm only interested in looking for plays of quality" and then consistently and regularly wind up with fairly realistic plays by white men that are largely about white men. What does that say about your idea of quality?

RVCBard

But I do think it's worth checking in to ask ourselves about how we define quality and whether we're using the idea of quality to remain closed off to diverse voices.

Indeed.

I'm going against the grain here to say that more important than quality (as if there could ever be a consensus on that) is distinction, differentiation, divergence. The nebulous concept of quality, especially as handed down from assumed authorities, all too often reduces a layered and lived experience of to a checklist of traits a script must have to be considered "worthy" of being produced. There is little room for happy accidents or deliberately fucking with convention in ways that the people who espouse those conventions recognize (let alone respect). As a result, experimentation or creativity in form, structure, content, or whatever is stifled in its cradle because so many people know so much yet can imagine so little.

It's like you're playing on the beach and someone comes over to tell you that you're building your sand castle wrong when you're actually trying to build a sand space station.

Ian Thal

"I do genuinely believe that Dr. Paul is not a white supremacist."

Depends what you mean, by "white supremacist."

It's pretty well documented in a series of articles by James Kirchick et al. in The New Republic that his father, Ron Paul, has had a long history of actively seeking the support of white supremacists, and endorsed many of their racial ideas in his newsletters.

http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/angry-white-man?id=e2f15397-a3c7-4720-ac15-4532a7da84ca

Obviously, we mustn't assume that Rand Paul is an ideological clone of his father, but their shared libertarian-absolutism in which property-rights trumps equal-protection is of concern.

The point is that whatever his own personal feelings about race, Rand Paul knowingly supports the existence a privatized property-rights based form of Jim Crow, one that would have kept in place a restrictive covenant that would have prevented my parents from purchasing the house in which they raised me, and, for that matter, inviting either J. Holtham or Isaac Butler over for dinner.

So, I really don't care about the distinction as to whether either Drs. Paul are white supremacists, or are just tolerant folks who think white supremacists should be allowed to do their own thing to the rest of us.

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