Common Sense Doesn’t Matter Either: The “Woke” Acting Profession Is Betraying Audiences And Dooming Itself (Part 2: Give My Demands To Broadway…)

Upon careful consideration, I think this clip is the fairest representation of what black theater activists on Broadway are advocating:

In Part I of this series, we discussed the dead-end strategy recently pursued by the performing woke of imposing one-way limitations on which actors could portray what roles. Across the full range of group grievance activism, everyone is rushing to try to exploit and capitalize upon the George Floyd Freakout, perhaps recognizing that the present state of self-flagellation and submissiveness by white decision-makers, governments, businesses and other institutions won’t last forever. In their haste, many groups—in this I would include the “resistance,” Democrats and the news media among others—are metaphorically cutting their own throats. This is especially true of the theater community.

A coalition of theater artists called “We See You, White American Theater” has posted online a 29-page set of demands that if adopted, the New York Times opines, “would amount to a sweeping restructuring of the theater ecosystem in America.”

Wrong, Bias Breath! If adopted, the demands would kill commercial live theater, and it is more than half dead already, though most theater community members are in denial.

The list reminded me of the bad old days of the 1960s, when student anarchists, protesting the war in Vietnam, would take over university buildings and then, thinking that they had the upper hand, would submit a list of demands including the Moon and the kitchen sink, many of which had nothing to do with the war at all.  This list of demands makes those look reasonable, one reason being that simply reading the 29 pages of arrogant woke-speak is a task few will have the patience to undertake.

I’ll just focus on some highlights. (By the way, you need to know that BIPOC means “Black, Indigenous and People of Color”):

  • “We demand the naming and acknowledgement of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tribal land and its Native peoples who have lived, currently live, and will live on the land where any theatre activity happens.”

I hate to keep having to break it to these naifs, but theater is just not that important to most people, particularly those in power. “We have to rename Indianapolis to have theater here? OK—we won’t have any theater then! Problem solved!”

This one is worth repeating in full:

We demand that theatres create a safe and anti-racist environment for BIPOC producers, board members, leaders, staff and artists working on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and in the Regions.

—Ongoing mandatory EDI and Anti-Racism Training must be implemented for executive leadership, boards and staff. A dedicated EDI presence should be made available for allshows, and a budget line item should be provided for regular EDI work at the organizational

—Quarterly Anti-Racism Training must be provided to full-time staff, part-time staff, contract creative hires, contract workers in costume shops, contract workers in scene shops, stage management hires, and production crew hires at the expense of the institution. Training must include bystander intervention, de-escalation, and conflict resolution training to provide the necessary tools to address racism and harm when it happens. It should be held quarterly to ensure artists and contract workers can be reached at whatever stages they are at in their professional

—Intimacy coaches and fight directors must have mandatory BIPOC

—Prioritize hiring contract workers who have gone through EDI, Anti-Racism and BIPOC

—-Hold a weekly 90 minute EDI/anti-racist check-in that is open to anyone and everyone who has attended Anti-Racism Training to allow for this work to continue.

—Develop intervention and disruption protocols for harmful moments (i.e. racist audience members).

—Require creative teams to undergo Anti-Racism Workshops at the beginning of each rehearsal or tech process and ensure accountability with signed statements

Suuuuure. Theater is hard work, actors often have second jobs, and any time not devoted to getting the show up undermines the production while increasing expense. As a former theater executive, I rolled my eyes so hard when I read this that I nearly had to catch them in a cup.

  • If you hire a BIPOC artist to direct and reimagine an existing work created by white artists, we demand that you demand from the creators’ estates free interpretive rein over the piece on behalf of the BIPOC artist. The BIPOC artist ought not be expected to advocate for the freedom to reinterpret, adapt and reimagine work by white people.

This one moved me to hearty laughter. You can “demand” all you want: writers and their estates own the works. Just because your director demands that he be allowed to stage “Oklahoma!” as if it takes place in Zimbabwe doesn’t mean the rights-holders are going to say, “Ok!” They won’t. Trust me on this. They will tell the theater that it can’t produce the show.

Here’s another one rich in unintended humor…

  • We demand that you prioritize the cultural care and feeding of BIPOC artists.

—Provide therapists or counselors on site for the duration of a rehearsal process and production run when producing/programming content that deals with racialized experiences, and most especially racialized trauma. These therapists and/or counselors should also have experienced Anti-Racism

Therapists! Broadway tickets are already so expensive almost no African-Americans can afford them (or choose to)…heck, almost no whites can afford them either. Yet on every one of the 29 pages are one or ten added expenses that will not do a thing to make the productions better while adding mightily to the red ink.

More expense:

  • Provide theatre personnel (including ushers, front of house, concessions, etc.) with Anti-Racist, Implicit Bias, Anti-Oppression and Bystander Training.

The people in these jobs are difficult to recruit already. Ushers are usually volunteers. Do the people who wrote down this nonsense actually work in the theater? That’s hard to believe. One of the later demands involves theaters using BIPOC consultants, and this document looks as if it was prepared by some, and only skimmed by the activists promoting it.

I think I’m going to stop with this head-exploding “demand,” and I’m only on page 4:

We demand to be valued for our worth as artists, not just for how we racially or ethnically identify.

The entire document makes it crystal clear that racial identity trumps all else in this Brave New  Theater World being imagined—Black, Indigenous and People of Color should make up “the majority of writers, directors and designers onstage for the foreseeable future;” the demands include virtual quotas for BIPOC performers—and yet it has the gall to “demand” that artists employed on the basis of racial and ethnic identity should be valued based on merit.

22 thoughts on “Common Sense Doesn’t Matter Either: The “Woke” Acting Profession Is Betraying Audiences And Dooming Itself (Part 2: Give My Demands To Broadway…)

  1. As utterly unworkable as all of this is, and it should be called out for being that, I will not be surprised if theaters and theater producers stay stone silent about it lest they be branded as heretics. Perhaps someone or some organization with stature in the theater world will be brave enough to stand before their torches and pitchforks, but the rest will wait to see what happens to that person/theater before they stand or join the lemmings.

    • “I will not be surprised if theaters and theater producers stay stone silent about it lest they be branded as heretics. ”

      That might be the right thing to do. I was thinking about this recently; How I’d deal with accusations of racism at various levels, because of course they’re coming, and it’s better to be prepared. From a PR perspective, there’s just no winning; If you apologize, you had something to apologize for, even if you really didn’t, and that can hurt your brand. It used to be that corporate apologies were cheap, easy steps to smooth out the bumps, and help with customer reconciliation, but now they just create more and piss everyone off. If you defend yourself, you’re immediately put on a spectrum with both poles in the negative. Depending on the severity, silence probably makes the fewest ripples until it gets to a point you have to respond.

      I’ll take these situations as they come up, but the longer I can go without making any type of public announcement, the better, at least in my mind.

  2. “This one moved me to hearty laughter. You can “demand” all you want: writers and their estates own the works. Just because your director demands that he be allowed to stage “Oklahoma!” as if it takes place in Zimbabwe doesn’t mean the rights-holders are going to say, “Ok!” They won’t. Trust me on this. They will tell the theater that it can’t produce the show.”

    That’s exactly what will happen. Then…this is what will happen after that:

    The owners of “Oklahoma” will be targeted as racist for not allowing BIPOC-involved creative teams to appropriate the work and substantively alter it. If the owners don’t have the spine to undergo this relentless attack on social media and in the news media itself, they will only be the first to cave in. Once one owner capitulates to the character assassination of being called racist, others will, too. Once the reinterpreted works are permitted, it’s just a short step to cutting dialogue and plot points that the woke do not approve of. You can say bye-bye to unaltered works faster than you can bid farewell to the Fortinbras subplot of most performances of “Hamlet”.

    • Interesting point. The rights holders will still get paid even if the script is screwed up. So, they’ll just say, “Why fight it? A production is a production. In this environment, why fight it? We’ll take the money. Have fun!”

    • Trust me—playwrights and their estates don’t care. They can call them any name they like—they don’t care. Now, public domain is another matter entirely. But if, say, Samuel beckett’s estate allows a complete abortion of “Waiting for Godot, ” it harms the property, and people lose money. On this one (as well as many of the others), the Woke are beating tyheir heads against a brick wall.

      Kind of fun to watch!

      • I suppose non-playwright rights holders are a pretty obscure, invisible group. So they probably have the option of just saying “no.” I doubt a goofed up production of any important play would do any damage whatsoever to the play itself, just the producers. Might even be fun to give these dopes enough rope to hang themselves.

        • As is BLM, this theater group is basically a separatist movement. What they’re militating for is discreet, all black theater houses and productions.

          • On third thought, Jack, why would playwrights and rights holders do anything corporations and universities have uniformly failed to do, with such glee? No one is swimming against the tide.

              • This one is easy:
                “We demand to be valued for our worth as artists, not just for how we racially or ethnically identify.”

                Fine. I racially and ethnically identify as a BIPOC. For the right role, at least. Black face is no longer a problem, nor is the everlasting problem of not having enough actors of a specific race to do a show. You just have to Dolezal your way around it, and you can do Ragtime, West Side Story, Mockingbird, Show boat…

          • If that’s the case, I wish them much luck. There have been all-black theater companies in the past. How many of ’em got rich?

  3. This is just awful writing.

    —Intimacy coaches and fight directors must have mandatory BIPOC

    How do these individuals “have BIPOC”? Are you trying to express that there be mandatory hiring BIPOC hiring quotas for these positions? Because right now it sounds like you’re either trying to bring back chattel slavery, or get somebody laid.

    —Prioritize hiring contract workers who have gone through EDI, Anti-Racism and BIPOC

    Perhaps they meant to say “BIPOC, and workers who have been through EDI and Anti-Racism training?” Because as written it looks like they’re demanding you hire pre-digested people.

    • They want full time minders appointed for every person involved in a production. This will require a black person to be assigned to follow each non-white person around to make sure they are non-racist in thought and deed with every breath or step they take, every thought they have, ever word they speak. This will be a problem insofar as I doubt there are enough black people to have one for every white person in the entire country.

      • “This will be a problem insofar as I doubt there are enough black people to have one for every white person in the entire country.”

        C’mon OB, I sense opportunity; if nothing more, feral grifters with few other prospects are opportunistic.

        Expect the numbers of those identifying as BIPOC (ala Rachel Dolezal, Shaun Talcum X King, et al) to explode…

  4. ‘Bystander training’ ??

    We need training in how to be a bystander? I think…..mmmmmmm…….I think I already know how.

    Oh, and what exactly is EDI? Perhaps we need the annotated edition of this screed, with footnotes. Maybe a side-by-side rendering, one column is Woke speak, and the other column is English (English as she is spoke, that is).

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