Friday, August 15, 2008

Share the Stage Oh My!

There has been a whole mess of talk online and off about the Share the Stage effort. You can find online copy in Facebook or at the Globe and Mail.

Some other discussions have grown up on the message boards in that group and while I was just going to keep a low profile this came up and I came back.

She said: {in part}
Walking around this morning, I thought about a conversation I had with an Upper Middle Class etc..., and mentioned something about Obsidian Theatre as an exciting company and this person reacted strongly to the black only aspect of the company as being racist against whites and all else. I was shocked and very defensive saying "but they've put together a powerful company that allows them to WORK!". Then thinking about it, as fabulous as companies like that are, if we start creating all these group specific splinter companies, then we are adding to the mentality of the public that segregates us. The only way to change that is by integrative casting. And that it not be an issue.

I said: {in part}
Am I right in thinking that your friend was an actor? I find it remarkable that people that don't know shit from shinola have such uninformed opinions.
Actors tend to think that only what is shown on the deck is representative of a theatre. It is a myopic and, quite frankly, offensive view.
A quick run down on what Obsidian does. We hire more non black people in a year than any other company hires black people. In my upcoming production Marjorie Chan directs a play, Richard Lee does Sound Design, Ming Wong is Head of Wardrobe, Rick Banville is PM and Ash Knight is a big volunteer for our Season Launch. One play is by Marcia Johnson and yes she is black and the other is by Wesley Enoch who is an Australian Aboriginal. Have your friend come and check out our office and get the facts instead of half baked opinions before they run their mouth.
As for why splinter groups. Well that is the only way to get money from the councils. Check out the Canada Councils definition of culturally diverse and you will see why things are the way they are.

Some other of my thoughts that came out of that posting thread. 

”I am sure Obsidian gets our fair share of dissing. It's not a problem. We work with a number of theatres who want to create good art regardless of colour. But outside of that community, by that I mean the diverse community, I think that segregation is a valid option. I don't care what Shaw does or what "name your theatre does". I believe in facts and the fact is that no theatrical venue in Canada is run by a culturally diverse theatre company. None. So if you want to get het up and change the world lets change that fact. Lets put our energy towards creating venues for companies that actually do the work. The rest will grow or fail as entropy dictates.

You don't change a company by browning up the stage. You change a company by changing the corporate cultural culture. Until you do that then this is all just about actors getting jobs.”


” It is fine for a white AD to say let them have their theatre and we will have ours. No problem from me at all. The problem comes in about resources aka filthy lucre aka money. I say give us equal funding so that we can have the multiplicity of theatres then that is equal. The argument is not about a black theatre or a gay theatre it is really about many black theatres, many gay or asian or etc etc theatres. None of these communities speak with one voice or language and thus they should all have a shot at defining their art.

I have done my outreach to other theatres and usually what sells is a good production. So first make the art and then worry about the ancillary stuff. If people want to get in touch I am pretty easy to reach.”


"There are a lot of battles to fight. One is not exclusive to the other. So what Obsidian does or does not do will never reflect the needs of everyone. So if you have the big urge to play Hamlet then that is a battle that has to be fought. 

For myself and my vision I would rather spend my time and money on developing new works and artists that create other supremely high standards that black artists can strive for.
Obsidian cannot fix everything. I cannot fix everything. I can work towards fixing issues and art that excites and intrigues my audience, my staff, my board and myself. That's it. That is my art. It is a big vision. It has room for lots of people. But I am not Noah and this isn't an ark.
So if you have a fight worth fighting go forth and do battle. If I can help I will. If not then find others who will.”

Apologies for the length of this. I really need to learn how to do a cut line on this blog. So that is my project for this weekend.

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