Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
We talk a lot about arts organizations need to represent their community, and that often means incorporating minority voices in the non-for-profit sector. This occurs both on the artistic programming and on the management side – I know for one the organization that I work for at my fellowship is really taking steps to hire and include women of color on staff and on the Board.
As a young playwright, I also saw a lot of effort being made to produce and develop new work by voices that are often ignored or unheard in the American theater. It’s become very common to have a development program specifically designed to create opportunities that wouldn’t exist otherwise in order to create stories for and about those minority groups.
A young Korean American playwright has turned that trend upside down with a new play called Straight White Men, which seems to be sort of a satire of the whole system. The main character even works at a non-profit!
I think it’s kind of great. Not because it’s a play about Straight White Men, because honestly who cares, the entire English canon is that. But because a theater is taking a risk on a young playwright who writes outside of her group and pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable. And more importantly who gets to determine what is acceptable. Young is Korean, but she writes about the African American experience, the Asian American, the everything experience. It’s risky, because audiences historically don’t respond great to work that is written by a minority playwright that isn’t explicitly about that minority playwrights background. But that’s what makes it so interesting.
What do you all think?