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LISTEN: Stephanie Ybarra Talks About Racism in the Theatre Industry, and How She Works to Combat it

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LISTEN: Stephanie Ybarra Talks About Racism in the Theatre Industry, and How She Works to Combat it

Stephanie Ybarra, who currently serves as artistic director at Baltimore Center Stage and is also a co-founder of Artists Anti-Racism Coalition, recently was a guest on Variety's Stagecraft podcast, which she talked about racism in the theatre industry.

"There are so many ways that we as theater consumers and theater makers are just completely, unknowingly indoctrinated into a set of behaviors and beliefs and practices," said Ybarra.

She said that people don't think twice about how the practices within a theatre can contribute to a certain hierarchy.

"One of the more insidious ways that white supremacy specifically shows up in our theater practices is this idea of: Sit quietly, 'politely,' in the dark, and mind your manners while the work of art is being performed before you, and do not disturb it," she said. "There's hierarchy built into that behavior system."

Ybarra went on to talk about how she tackles inequalities in workspaces she is a part of.

"One of the first places I look when it comes to anti-racism, [in terms of] where systemic inequities might be operating: Usually, if you look at a budget, you will find inequities," she said.

Listen to the full episode below:

Stephanie Ybarra is an artistic producer with nearly 20 years of experience at theaters across the United States and was appointed the Artistic Director of Baltimore Center Stage in 2018. Previously, she was on the senior leadership team at The Public Theater as Director of Special Artistic Projects where she lead the Mobile Shakespeare Unit and Public Forum. In addition to The Public, Stephanie served as curator and casting director of Crossing Borders Latinx Festival at Two River Theater, and as the Producer's Lab Liaison for WP Theater.

Stephanie's career began her home state of Texas, where she worked with Dallas Theater Center and Dallas Children's Theater. She then fled to cooler climes, spending time with Citizen Schools, a national after-school program based in Boston, Two River Theater and Yale Repertory Theatre. Stephanie made her NYC producing debut with the original production of Tarell Alvin McCraney's "The Brothers Size," for which she received the inaugural Producer's Chair Award from the Foundry Theatre. She went on to serve as the first Producing Director for Playwrights Realm and Producing Artistic Director for The Cherry Lane Theatre's Mentor Project, where shepherded new work by playwrights and directors alike. Stephanie also co-founded the Artists' Anti-Racism Coalition, a grassroots effort to help the Off-Broadway community dismantle systems of exclusion and oppression.

Stephanie is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Josephine Abady Award in producing from New York's League of Professional Theatre Women, and the Congressional Award for Achievement in Excellence from Zara Aina, an international nonprofit dedicated to community-engaged artmaking. In 2015, she was the recipient of TCG's Continuing Education Grant, which took her to Peru to research socio-political theater. Stephanie is a graduate of Baylor University (BFA) and Yale School of Drama (MFA).

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