As artists, it is our duty to reflect our truths through our words, images, music, and movements. However, for many artists, those truths reveal the putrid, racist backbone propping up the American theatre. For far too long the institution of theatre has gone out of its way not only to deny Black artists their truths but to rewrite those truths so as to cater to its predominantly white audience base. We love to pretend that our theatre community is a glimmering example of tolerance, when in reality it continues to prove that we only allow art to be subjective if its artist is White.
The Eccentric Bear Theater Co. is calling on ALL theatres across the United States to take a clear and vocal stand against institutionalized racism both inside our country and inside our own organizations. We cannot claim to be community leaders if we do not stand with our communities in solidarity when they call on us to do so. We have spent years padding our mission statements with words like “inclusion” and “diversity”; now is the time to prove their worth.
Too often the theatre world seems to forget the revolutionary history of its own medium. We pander to the tastes and egos of a select few we refuse to offend. But now is not the time to fear controversy – not when the “controversial” thing is so clearly the right thing. Black lives, Black artists, Black stories are not controversial except to those who do not value them. We must decide whether to stand up for millions of Black lives or for a few White feelings. Either way, our values become painfully clear.
The world is listening.