The Acting Company

Spring 2021 Community Updates:  Ongoing Commitment to Change

Spring 2021 Community Updates:  Ongoing Commitment to Change

Last summer, the Company committed to fulfilling our duty as a cultural institution to shape the present and future by becoming pro-BIPOC and actively anti-racist. For us, that means living up to ever-evolving standards of Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity, and Justice.  Keeping that evolution in mind, this is an update on how the Company is working to live up to those commitments. 

In shaping those initial commitments and in the process of examining our organization, both past and present, we have been guided by the work of a number of organizations: We See You White American TheaterBroadway Advocacy CoalitionBlack Theatre CoalitionBlack Theatre United, and Black Lives Matter to start.  These are just some of the organizations shouldering the burden of this enormous and inspiring work.  We are grateful to them for leading the community to improve, to grow, and to do the right thing.  

Accountability and transparency are vital to this process and so, if there are questions, recommendations, adjustments, or comments of any sort, please contact us directly. Our email addresses are listed below and on our website: http://theactingcompany.org/about/leadership/

We want to let our community know of some of the steps we have been taking.

Acknowledging Those That Come Before: The colonization of America involved the dislocation, exploitation and mass killings of indigenous peoples, and much of what we have now was built on the labor of many who have been left out of the histories. We need to remember so that we can change.  Here we want to acknowledge those that have come before and the debts that we owe them.  This is something we will make part of all our public work.

The Acting Company and the city of New York is located on Lenapehoking, the unceded traditional territory of the Lenni-Lenape people. We acknowledge debts we owe to the Indigenous peoples who have and still live, work, create, and contribute to communities here in Lenapehoking,

The City of New York, where our offices are located, was built by enslaved Africans during the Colonial Era and beyond. We acknowledge the trauma, pain, and suffering that occurred and will acknowledge the contributions of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color past and present in our home base of New York and in communities where our tours play.

Ongoing Commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Justice:  Our staff and board are currently collaborating with the Raben Group, a national policy firm, to clarify our values and visions, advancing and building systems to nourish and sustain the equitable, inclusive, diverse, and just organization that our community deserves. 

Time and Resources:  Last fall the Company committed to eliminating the “10 out of 12” technical rehearsals and switching to a five-day work week.  As we move toward producing again and plan our upcoming season, we have kept to this new schedule.

Language of Colonization:  The harm to members of our community that is caused by continued use of colonial language has been brought to our attention.  Titles that include words like “Master”, “Chief”, or “Foreman” can evoke negative responses as they are titles founded on systems of oppression.  We are working to decolonize the language the Company uses in both titles and documents.

Casting Announcements:  The Acting Company’s mission has always been devoted to the next generation of actors, with a desire that each new generation represents the full breadth of our culture.  We know that casting announcements, particularly those for classical texts, are often phrased in ways that discourage actors from auditioning because they maintain cultural assumptions on the identity of the character.  We are committed to producing casting announcements that encourage Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to audition for any and every role they feel is appropriate to them.  We will also promote and welcome gender diverse, non-binary, and ability conscious casting.

Diversity On and Off Stage: This means that we will actively seek BIPOC artists to lead artistic projects, that artistic teams should not be racially or culturally homogenous, and that diversity is reflected at every level of production. 

Continued Transparency and Accountability:  Part of this process demands that our actions are visible to our community so that we can be held accountable.  We are in the midst of a full redesign of our website and addressing this transparency is part of that process.  We are working with Isometric Studios to build a site where our community can engage with us directly.  The site will include spaces where these evolving commitments can live in full public view, where we can acknowledge those that have come before as well as those that we are learning from now, where we can gather feedback from our community, and where we can lift up and celebrate members of our community.  We will include the names and bios of current staff, production teams, and acting ensembles.  We want our community to know who we are and what we do.

The Acting Company Staff:

Ian Belknap (He/Him/His), Artistic Director                          

ibelknap@theactingcompany.org

 

Devin Brain (He/Him/His), Associate Artistic Director                      

dbrain@theactingcompany.org

 

Joshua David Robinson (He/Him/His), Artistic Associate 

jdrobinson@theactingcompany.org

 

Pamela Reichen (She/Her/Hers), General Manager                       

preichen@theactingcompany.org

 

Caitlin White (She/Her/Hers), Director of Development                   

cwhite@theactingcompany.org

 

Colin Parrinello (He/Him/His), Development Associate                  

cparrinello@theactingcompany.org

 

Margot Harley (She/Her/Hers), Founder                                     

mharley@theactingcompany.org

General News

Stop Hate

The Acting Company offers unmitigated support to the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. We must stand up against hate crimes, Anti-Asian racism, xenophobia, bigotry, and misogyny as they are an attack on our values. 

We stand in solidarity with the AAPI community, especially among our staff, actors, artists, and collaborators. We have been using the resources below to educate ourselves and offer them as resource to our community.  

Thank you for supporting The Acting Company’s commitment to building a more just, diverse, inclusive, and equitable theater and culture. 

Resources:  

General News

Accountability and our Community

The Acting Company publicly commits to supporting our BIPOC friends and colleagues. Below is a list of immediate actions.  These are first steps that will be followed by comprehensive diversity and anti-racist policies that the staff and board of directors will develop and publish by spring of 2021.  We want to acknowledge the enormous, inspired, and vital work of We See You White American Theater, The Broadway Advocacy Coaltiion, Black Theatre Coalition, Black Lives Matter, and many more.  These commitments are built on the foundation of their work and we want to thank them for helping us to see the path.

We commit to continuing and expanding our policies to increase BIPOC representation at every level of the organization.

     1.  We will continue to put together diverse ensembles and production teams and expand the numbers of BIPOC actors, designers, and technicians employed in each season.

     2.  We will continue to program and commission plays by BIPOC playwrights.

     3.  We will expand our practice of hiring BIPOC directors for both new and classical texts.

     4.  We will increase our efforts to add more BIPOC representatives to our Board of Trustees.

     5.  We will begin naming and acknowledging the specific Indigenous populations who have and do live on the land where our rehearsals and productions take place.  

We commit to devoting resources and time to creating a safe and supportive working environment across all institutional levels.

     1.  We will establish ongoing institutional anti-racism education and training at the board, staff, and production levels.  This will include hiring Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion consultants as well as providing intervention and de-escalation training.

     2.  We commit to altering the standard production schedules to eliminate some of the financial barriers to a career in the arts and better support the health and well-being of our artists.  

The Acting Company is devoted to the creation of powerful works of theater and to the development of the classical actor.  With that mission in mind, our ultimate commitment is to play our part in ensuring that the next generations of classical actors represent the rich cultural and racial diversity of our country, and that the great plays of the past find new life in the voices of the future.  That is the legacy that we were handed by our predecessors at this Company, a legacy that we are committed to honoring even as we expand upon it.  The steps above are the beginning and not the end of that commitment.

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