fbpx Announcing the HowlRound Challenge Convenings | HowlRound Theatre Commons

Announcing the HowlRound Challenge Convenings

In April 2017 we announced an open call for convening proposals as part of the HowlRound Challenge, a new initiative to incubate ideas and seed action to make a better theatre and a better world. We’re interested in moving from rhetoric to action, and seeking innovative ways to have real-world impact on our current political and cultural climate.

aerial view of large group sitting in a circle
The 2013 Latinx Theatre Commons National convening at Emerson College, Boston.

Though we have produced over twenty convenings to date, this was the first time we issued an open call for ideas and honestly had no idea how many proposals to expect. In the end we received forty-three proposals, which we whittled down to eight finalists, of which we selected four. We were wildly inspired and impressed by the proposal pool, and wish we could have accepted so many more than we were able. In hopes that others may marshal resources to make these conversations happen, and—more importantly—that people in the field with similar interests may connect and share knowledge, here is the list of proposed convening topics, descriptions, their proposers, and contact information.

We are proud today to announce the four selected proposals, each of which will convene at Emerson College in Boston over the next two years. The topics of each represent issues and values which HowlRound has been invested in for years, and we look forward to deepening our commitment to make change in these areas.

Committee for the Jubilee: Planning for a Nation-Wide Festival
This December 2017 convening, proposed by Rachel Grossman, Aditi Brennan Kapil, and Kirk Lynn, will establish a foundation of operations for the Jubilee, a nation-wide festival in 2020/21 celebrating and supporting the work of traditionally marginalized voices intended to change the statistics regarding who gets produced in theaters in the United States. Kirk shares, “Every year the statistics are damning; the American Theatre produces a disproportionate number of plays by white men. The Jubilee will change the statistics in a single year by celebrating those underserved writers and stories in a national producing party. This convening is the beginning of the party.” For more information on the organizers, go here.

HowlRound published the Jubilee's first call to action in October 2015, and has since published a follow-up from the committee and multiple responses from the community.  

Theatre in the Age of Climate Change
This June 2018 convening, proposed by Chantal Bilodeau, Elizabeth Doud, and Roberta Levitow, will bring together leading artists and practitioners working at the intersection of climate change and the arts. “Climate change is happening all around us,” say Chantal Bilodeau. “Recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and West Coast forest fires, are powerful reminders that we need to activate responses on all fronts—and fast. In the US and around the globe, theatre artists are working to address this issue, but too often in isolation. This rare convening will bring together some of the leading practitioners in this field, so we can begin to join forces, amplify our collective voices, and create lasting impact.” For more information on the organizers, go here.

Since April 2015, HowlRound published six installments of the Theatre in the Age of Climate Change journal series.

Strengthening Our Circle: Creating National Space for Native American Performance
This October 2018 convening, proposed by Indigenous Direction (Ty Defoe and Larissa FastHorse), Murielle Borst-Tarrant (Director of Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective), New Native Theatre (Rhiana Yazzie), and Rosy Simas, will bring together the Native American performing arts community to share and learn from each other, and strategize ways to bring more awareness to the broader population of Native performing artists in the US including Hawai’i and Alaska. “By bringing together Native American artists, we hope to create a support network that offers positive growth to them and the fields they can impact,” says Rhiana Yazzie. For more information on the organizers, go here.

In February 2015, HowlRound published a Native Voices journal series, and we have continued to feature journal content from and about Indigenous artists.

Deaf Theatre Action Planning Session
This March 2019 convening, proposed by Tyrone Giordano, Rachel Grossman, DJ Kurs, and Ethan Sinnott, will gather Deaf theatre producers and administrators from across the country to develop a future-focused, action-oriented plan for creating a national network and training-to-production "pipelines" that foster the long-term education and advancement of all Deaf theatre artists. Tyrone Giordano shares, “We are excited to get to work on the broad and finer points of devising and implementing concrete steps that artists and allies can take to ensure not only the survival but the flourishing of Deaf theatre. Deaf theatre in America has historically been the source of inspiration and the wellspring of Deaf arts everywhere in the world. The health and fate of Deaf people and American Sign Language is inextricably intertwined with that of Deaf arts, and we aim to strengthen the infrastructure that will enable Deaf theatremakers to take up roles in artistic leadership and stewardship.” For more information on the organizers, go here.

In addition to our April 2016 journal series on Deaf theatre, we have been working to make our HowlRound TV platform more accessible by having as many events as possible live captioned, closed captioned, and/or ASL interpreted.

To find out more about past HowlRound convenings, go here.

Bookmark this page

Log in to add a bookmark


Add Comment

The article is just the start of the conversation—we want to know what you think about this subject, too! HowlRound is a space for knowledge-sharing, and we welcome spirited, thoughtful, and on-topic dialogue. Find our full comments policy here

Newest First

"The topics of each represent issues and values which HowlRound has been invested in for years... 'Every year the statistics are damning; the American Theatre produces a disproportionate number of plays by white men...'"

Who decides how many plays are "disproportionate"? Or that the reasons for this alleged disproportionality deserve damnation (rather than being for more innocent reasons)?

First-order logic suggests that the plays produced (in general; over the course of time) are what audiences (those who actually pay!) want, regardless of what others think they should want.

I don't understand how the proposed discrimination against white males by the Jubilee is even legal. Is it? (Has anyone consulted an attorney?)

In any case, even if it is legal I can see the whole Jubilee backfire; that is, the majority of audiences who like the current system decide to simply boycott the entire seasons of those theaters that participate in the Jubilee.

Now THAT would be damning.

This may sound crazy, but why don't you join us? I would love to talk to you about how to address the issue that 8 out of 10 plays produced in the US are by men. Even just to hear more from you about why you think that's not disproportionate. I'm interested.

I do think it's disproportionate and damning. And I want to do my part to create more access for everybody. Not to deny access to anyone, but just let more people find their way to production. But I would love to talk and see if there is a way to bring you along.

It's entirely voluntary and legal. I have talked to lawyers. But I haven't talked to you. Let me know if you want to talk to me.

Subscribe to HowlRound

Sign up for our daily, weekly, or quarterly emails so you never miss the latest theatre conversations.

Sign me up

Supporting HowlRound

We fundraise to keep all our programs free and open and to pay our contributors. Thank you to all who make our work possible!

Donate today