BWW Blog: Brynn Bonne - Accessibility In Professional Theatre
Theatre is one of the most magical and inspirational things from the creation of the classic "Show Boat" to the modern and groundbreaking "Hamilton" or "Dear Evan Hansen", but there are so many other groundbreaking places and people changing the world of theatre. One thing that has defiantly changed in the professional theatre business is not just the incorporation of rap lyrics and computerized graphics, but the opportunities and people promoting more accessible and accepting theatre for all.
Two of the major markets of the world- Toronto and New York City have defiantly provided the professional theatre scene with opportunities to accept and embrace their talents and differences regardless of race, gender, sexuality etc. There are many theatre companies and people who are really trying to promote theatre accessibility in the professional industries of New York City and Toronto, who deserve to have light shined upon them and the work that they do.
First of all, one thing that has just come into play are specific theatre companies for inner city children, the LGBT+ community and anyone who wants a space to create without judgment and the boundaries that mainstream theatre provides. Two specific companies are Buddies In Bad Times Theatre located in Toronto, Canada and Honest Accomplice Theatre located in New York City, New York. Both are non for profit theatre companies that provide programs and Productions for people who identify as LGBT+, to self create and perform in shows that you wouldn't see otherwise.
Buddies In Bad Times led by artistic director Evalyn Perry, has many projects and initiatives such as the Youth And Elders Project; a mandate bringing in LGBT+ youth and older adults together, and the Emerging Creators Unit; a program where artists can self create their own theatre to be performed at the Rhubarb Festival. They also have a partnership with Nightwood Theatre; A Professional Theatre Company in Toronto to perform on the Buddies MainStage. "Buddies In Bad Times is one of the only companies that lets people of the LGBT+ community create work that you wouldn't see otherwise". - Quotes an Emerging Creators Unit Participant.
Honest Accomplice Theatre created by Maggie Keenan-Bolger and Rachel Sullivan, produces many productions, that specifically focus on Transgender and Women's issues in New York City. Their main project is the Trans Literacy Project to perform theatre specifically targeted towards Transgender People and Other members of the LGBT+ community. They have had many events and kick starters involving members of the Broadway community to raise money and promote their company. Their Productions also tend to go against social mainstream to produce cutting edge theatre promoting acceptance to women and LGBT+ community.
However there are many people out there who really are taking action in promoting acceptance in the professional theatre world. One individual however can reach many people and share his message to be in-heritably and unapologetically yourself; Playbill's Tyler Mount.
Tyler Mount took this message and advice and is spreading it all throughout New York, Toronto and all over the world by creating a digital blog for theatre fans.
"Professional theatre, and specifically Broadway is not accessible to most people specifically financially, and since we are in this new digital age, you can bring thousands of people to anyone with little effort, so that kid living in a small town can be accepted and see the theatre we can bring to them through digitalization" Tyler quotes. Tyler Mount is the creator and start of Playbill's The Tyler Mount Vlog where he brings Broadway personalities on to share advice and play Broadway related games. He is bringing people the celebrities they love who they maybe wouldn't get a chance to see otherwise. "By having this vlog, I can help foster and develop future generations to see more theatre and start growing a love and passion for it, which is so rewarding" He adds. While Tyler is very successful in making theatre more accessible financially in his own way, he is also promoting a lot of diversity acceptance in the work he does. Tyler always looks to have diversity and and positive messages in his work and really highlights it in every episode. He is a huge sponsor for people who may be struggling to find their place in theatre, as he provides a piece of work with inspiration and hope to make them feel welcome and valued.
"I'm always asking myself if what I'm producing is positive, but when I get the doubts out of the way, my vision can become more clear and I can produce the most positive work I can". Tyler states, and this is advice that everyone who wants to get more active in promoting accessibility in professional theatre can use to create positive work themselves.