BWW Blog: Broadway Shutdown, and What We Can Learn Moving Forward
Broadway. For many of us, Broadway is a place where the dazzling lights of the city meet one of the largest professional theater venues in the world. It is associated with memories and joyous moments in time. From seeing the show you've always wanted to see, to meeting your favorite actor at the stage door, Broadway is an all encompassing experience for many of us. However, the same industry that we know and love is also part of a larger conversation that our country is partaking in.
Representation. A word that is powerful in speech and action. Representation is impactful. As we know, Broadway shows have been shut down until 2021. While it seems to be a long while off, and many of us are sad, these next seven months are going to be crucial to making a change on the Broadway stage. It is time to start putting people in shows who represent the younger audiences who watch the shows, feeling represented in some way by a show or characters in the show. I urge you to think back on a show that impacted you as a person, and what characters you resonated with. Chances are, we all have at least one character, if not one show as a whole. It is so cathartic when someone sees a character that deeply represents themselves onstage. It makes them feel seen, visible and valued, when perhaps they don't have that experience elsewhere.
As creators and tellers of many stories, we cannot lose sight of how powerful representation is. Now more than ever, it is time that we reflect as a industry on the actions of ourselves and those before us. It is important to be accountable, take action and speak out and speak up for what's right. We cannot allow ourselves to regress. It is our duty to make sure stories are told in the most authentic way we know how. It is time to make way for a new generation of artists. We need more works on Broadway created and produced by Black authors, actors and directors. We need more inclusion of Black trans*/nb/gnc actors. It is up to us moving forward about how we want to define the future of theater.
Using these next seven months, we must re-evaluate how we approach casting new shows, funding new works by Black writers, and making the Broadway stage a place where you can go to see a story/piece of theatre with characters that offer representation at it's best, and fullest capacity. For representation is truly one of the greatest gifts one can share with an audience.
In closing, the word change must start with every single one of us in the theater community. It is our job to reflect on our actions and recognize the privileges we as white/white passing people are afforded. Take time to look into yourself and see what you need to change (no one is perfect) so that you can help be apart of facilitating a new wave of theater. And lastly, but most importantly, Black lives matter. Let us listen to our Black brothers and sisters to our fullest capacity, and carry on into the future brighter, and better than ever before.