‘Minority’ Theatres: To be or not to be?

‘Minority’ Theatres: To be or not to be?

Last Monday (11/9), I posted a link to Culturebot about the NEA’s denial of funding to Women’s Project in NYC.  This topic, along with Marsha Norman’s recent article for American Theatre, “Not There Yet,” has brought gender equality back to the forefront of many people’s minds.  On “Upstaged,” TimeOut New York’s theatre blog, Helen Shaw addressed the implications of the NEA not funding Women’s Project’s Playwrights Lab.

As often is the case these days, the comments Shaw’s piece (“NEA Punts Women’s Project“) evoked proved as interesting as the post itself.  I was particularly taken by the comments that questioned the necessity, the ethics, of a women’s theatre. The same could be asked of all other minority-oriented theatres–black, latino, queer,etc.  The answer to why these types of theatre companies exist is pretty clear–and with particular regard to female-focused ones, even clearer in light of Norman’s article–BECAUSE EQUALITY STILL DOES NOT EXIST.

What is it going to take to safeguard efforts aimed at ending discrimination from the seemingly inevitable and circular accusation of reverse-discrimination?

What do you think, reader, do we still (or did we ever) need ‘minority’ theatres?

Are ‘minority’ theatres guilty of the discrimination from which they seek refuge?

And what of minority-themed festivals?

Hypothetically, in 10 years, if a theatre career is no longer considered a “non-traditional” job for a woman (meaning women make up more than 20% of theatre professionals), will the existence of organizations such as Women’s Theatre Project (ested. 2002) of Ft. Lauderdale or Women’s Project (ested. 1978) of NYC still be justifiable?

Similarly, if/when we can measure significant, statistical progress in the lives of LGBT people, in the way of legislation and social policy, will the existence of, say, Theatre Rhinoceras (ested. 1977) of San Francisco still be justifiable? etc.etc.etc.

Would a women’s-, queer-, black- theatre company be ‘selling out’ or undermining its mission, if it produced a work by someone from a group (minority or majority) other than its own?

2 Responses to “‘Minority’ Theatres: To be or not to be?”
  1. Josh says:

    I say “minority” theater will always be needed, and not so much because of the issue of inequality (though God knows, that is an issue.) Even if full equality is reached, people still want to see their lives and their communities portrayed on stage, no?

  2. nstodard says:

    Absolutely, there will always be a need…Those who disagree, who find fault with the whole premise of minority theatre, need look no further than programming year after year at majority (or non-minority-focused) companies/venues to see why.

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