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HowlRound Theatre Commons: Essays and Conversations from the First Ten Years (2011-2020)

After celebrating its ten-year anniversary in 2021, HowlRound Theatre Commons announces its first published anthology, featuring essays from each year of the last decade. The anthology celebrates a decade of publishing essays, livestreaming events, and bringing theatre practitioners together to amplify pogressive and disruptive ideas, and exists as a result of the thousands of theatremakers who have shared their collective wisdom through contributions to this commons-based free and open platform. Learn more about it here, and preorder it today!

The Theatre of the Future
Essay

The Theatre of the Future

9 February 2011

In this installment of the series From Scarcity to Abundance: Capturing the Moment for the New Work Sector, Meiyin Wang hypothesizes on the future of theatre and the impact it can have on the world.

A book entitled "The Gift: How the creative spirit transforms the world."
Notes on Generosity in the Theater
Essay

Notes on Generosity in the Theater

10 April 2011

Thoughts on maintaining a sense of abundance and gratitude as a theatre artist.

How Going Local Can Revitalize American Theatre
Essay

How Going Local Can Revitalize American Theatre

24 August 2011

Marshall Botvinick traces the history of theatre’s connection to community and advocates that theatre artists and companies to go local.

Several actors stand and pose wearing colorful tutus, wigs, and makeup as an audience watches.
A Culture of Trust
Essay

A Culture of Trust

22 September 2011

Taylor Mac discusses actor professionalism, and trusting rather than auditioning them.

Confessions of a Serial Intern
Essay

Confessions of a Serial Intern

22 December 2011

Annah Feinberg offers insight on her experiences as an intern.

Portrait of Timothy Douglas.
The Benefits of Slavery
Essay

The Benefits of Slavery

30 January 2012

Timothy Douglas writes about his resignation from Chicago’s Remy Bumppo Theatre Company.

A watercolor art piece in which a blue figure and an orange figure interact with each other.
A New Revolution?
Essay

A New Revolution?

9 February 2012

Jaan Whitehead addresses the revolutionary attitude necessary for artists to reclaim the theatre from the institutions that produce it.

The New Work of Building Civic Practice
Essay

The New Work of Building Civic Practice

9 July 2012

The needs of non-arts organizations, and theatre artists' assets can intersect through Civic Practice. This guide from Michael Rohd offers examples of application and what this work can accomplish.

Two men on a stage look at two people sitting in chairs in front of them.
Rural Theater in a Democracy
Essay

Rural Theater in a Democracy

1 October 2012

Dudley Cocke, the director of Roadside Theater, on Rural Theater, its specific gifts, and the necessity of its inclusion in American Theater.

 

A graph depicting female representation in the Olivier awards.
We Are Not a Mirror
Essay

We Are Not a Mirror

Theatre Must Lead with Women’s Stories

24 April 2013

Lauren Gunderson writes about the failings of theatre to be a lens for society, and the inability to properly represent real life without the voices of women.

My Parents Were Tiger People
Essay

My Parents Were Tiger People

christopher oscar peña chats about writing race with A. Rey Pamatmat

19 May 2013

christopher oscar peña and A. Rey Pamatmat talk about writing race in plays.

A Shrinking Landscape
Essay

A Shrinking Landscape

Theatre Criticism in Chicago Then and Now

2 October 2013

Josh Sobel investigates the relationship between critics and Chicago's theatre community.

I Don’t Want to Talk about Innovation
Essay

I Don’t Want to Talk about Innovation

A Talk about Innovation

26 October 2013

A revised version of Todd London’s address delivered at the National Innovation Summit for Arts + Culture in Denver, October 21, 2013.

Women Directors
Essay

Women Directors

Language Worth Repeating

5 March 2014

Director Jess K. Smith investigates women directors' use of language in theatre and calls for a revolution of women's use of language that is not apologetic, dominating, or rooted in fear.

Queer Narratives in Theater for Young Audiences
Essay

Queer Narratives in Theater for Young Audiences

A Call to Action

25 June 2014

Playwright Gabriel Jason Dean and Director Lindsay Amer discuss "risky plays", queer characters and narratives, and young audiences.

Dispatch from the Youth Theater Festival in Ramallah, Palestine—Part Two
Essay

Dispatch from the Youth Theater Festival in Ramallah, Palestine—Part Two

19 July 2014

In a volatile, war-torn place, things change quickly and recurring issues of conflict, occupation, and survival dominate—all the more reason to have festivals like this and theaters like Ashtar that persist under such circumstances and create transformative experiences.

I’ll Disband My Roving Gang of Thirty Asian Playwrights When You Stop Doing Asian Plays in Yellow Face*
Essay

I’ll Disband My Roving Gang of Thirty Asian Playwrights When You Stop Doing Asian Plays in Yellow Face*

(*Exception: David Henry Hwang’s play Yellow Face)

6 October 2014

In this installment, Mike Lew discusses the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, the fraught practice of yellow face, and what equity for people of color actually looks like.

Queering the Room
Essay

Queering the Room

Some Beginning Notions for a Queer Directing Practice

24 October 2014

Director Will Davis shares his experience navigating theatre spaces as a queer person.

Do White Playwrights Think About This?
Essay

Do White Playwrights Think About This?

27 February 2015

Larissa FastHorse explores the issues she deals with as a Native playwright, from finding an agent to what happens when she has to un-Native American a character.

Walking The Awkwardly Heroic Yet Often Depressing Path of Near Impossible Catastrophe Evasion Through Kick-Ass Poetics
Essay

Walking The Awkwardly Heroic Yet Often Depressing Path of Near Impossible Catastrophe Evasion Through Kick-Ass Poetics

24 April 2015

Elizabeth Doud addresses the emergency of climate change and the need for a poetics to shift consciousness.

Our Differences are Our Strengths
Essay

Our Differences are Our Strengths

Neurodiversity in Theatre

2 May 2015

Putting his dichotomies to work, Mickey Rowe explains how his autism helps him to be a better actor.

How a Season Comes Together
Essay

How a Season Comes Together

29 August 2015

ArtsEmerson Artistic Director David Dower shares the process behind programming the company’s 2015/2016 season.

On the Merits of Yellowface
Essay

On the Merits of Yellowface

Why Casting the “Best” Actor for the Role Is Actually Just a Selection of Bias in a Racist System

9 October 2015

Nelson T. Eusebio III addresses the argument that the “best” actor must always be cast in a role, regardless of race.

AD 111
Essay

AD 111

Frosh Bites—Eleventy-One Nuggets for Being a Successful and Ethical Artistic Director​

2 February 2016

February 2 marks forty years since then twenty-two-year-old Mixed Blood Artistic Director Jack Reuler sat down to write the original mission and primary objectives for Mixed Blood. Jack commemorates that founding by presenting a list of qualities and practices for successful and ethical artistic leaders.

Why Hamilton is Not the Revolution You Think it is
Essay

Why Hamilton is Not the Revolution You Think it is

23 February 2016

James McMaster on the politics of Hamilton and the need for a musical theatre revolution.

Why I’m Breaking Up with Aristotle
Essay

Why I’m Breaking Up with Aristotle

22 April 2016

Chantal Bilodeau on writing ourselves out of the pyramid and why she is breaking up with Aristotle.

Double Edge Theatre’s Latin American Cycle Builds Bridges Across Massachusetts
Essay

Double Edge Theatre’s Latin American Cycle Builds Bridges Across Massachusetts

20 October 2016

Josh Platt on Double Edge Theatre’s Latin American Spectacle in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, Cada Luna Azul / Once a Blue Moon in Ashfield, Massachusetts, and the Springfield Spectacle, in Springfield, Massachusetts.

A Call for Equal Support in Theatrical Design
Essay

A Call for Equal Support in Theatrical Design

23 November 2016

Chicago-based costume designer, textile designer, and wardrobe stylist Elsa Hiltner considers the division of labor and allocation of technical support within theatrical design.

One Queen’s Highly Personal/Subjective Reaction to Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music
Essay

One Queen’s Highly Personal/Subjective Reaction to Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music

15 December 2016

CJ Byrd on Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, a “communal, intelligent, erotic, participatory, spectacular performance art concert; a marathon survey dedicated to destroying through exposure the racism, patriarchy, supremacy, and fascism suppressing the fabulosity of all our country’s different beleaguered Others over the years.”

Diversity for Dummies
Essay

Diversity for Dummies

25 March 2017

Ralph B. Peña offers advice to those looking to diversify their theatre companies and productions.

A Collective Call Against Critical Bias
Essay

A Collective Call Against Critical Bias

26 June 2017

A collectively authored essay by leading artists, academics, and theatre advocates about Paula Vogel’s Indecent and Lynn Nottage’s Sweat on Broadway amid a conversation about critical bias toward women playwrights and playwrights of color.

Teenage Girls on Stage
Essay

Teenage Girls on Stage

Young Women Who Do Things

13 October 2017

Following the success of The Wolves, Helen Schultz looks at why are there so few dramas about teenage girls on stage and compiles a short list of plays about teenage girls by women playwrights.

On Minority Artist Development Programs
Essay

On Minority Artist Development Programs

4 December 2017

Asif Majid addresses some of the flaws in minority development programs and suggests some tips for how to improve such programs.

Conscious Casting and Letting Playwrights Lead
Essay

Conscious Casting and Letting Playwrights Lead

14 February 2018

Playwright David Valdes discusses the importance of writing more diverse and intersectional characters, and reflects on the conundrum of “color conscious” casting.

The Ugly Truth About Arts Institutions Led by Women of Color
Essay

The Ugly Truth About Arts Institutions Led by Women of Color

9 May 2018

Founder and executive artistic director of Dallas’s Bishop Arts Theatre Center Teresa Coleman Wash looks at the realities of running a theatre company as a woman of color.

Decolonizing Creation Processes by Reclaiming Narratives/Reclamando Nuestras Narrativas
Essay

Decolonizing Creation Processes by Reclaiming Narratives/Reclamando Nuestras Narrativas

El Giro Decolonial en el Proceso Creativo

28 May 2018

Robert Goodwin and Mary Kathryn Nagle discuss decolonizing Western theatre, linear narrative structures, the historic silencing of underrepresented voices, Shakespeare, and more.

five performers pose in shadowy light
Flirting with the Taboo at the Cairo Festival for Contemporary & Experimental Theatre
Essay

Flirting with the Taboo at the Cairo Festival for Contemporary & Experimental Theatre

31 October 2018

Egyptian American playwright Adam A. Elsayigh uses the 2018 Cairo Festival for Contemporary & Experimental Theatre as a jumping off point to discuss the state of theatre in the city, censorship, playwriting, and more.

three people performing onstage
How Refugees Are Using Theatre to Welcome Parisians into Their Lives
Essay

How Refugees Are Using Theatre to Welcome Parisians into Their Lives

13 December 2018

verity healey looks at how refugees in Paris are using theatre to create connections, break down barriers, and find community.

a person in front of a colorful angel wings mural
Producing with a Disabled Lens
Essay

Producing with a Disabled Lens

28 May 2019

Claudia Alick talks about growing up as an abled youth and her sudden onset illness as an adult, how areas of inaccessibility in the theatre suddenly became hypervisible to her, “crip time,” and more.

two acting books
#MeToo and the Method
Essay

#MeToo and the Method

13 June 2019

Holly L. Derr looks at the history of the Method, where it deviates from Stanislavsky’s System, and the connection between the Method and the behavior called out by #MeToo.

a lone dancer against a black background
A Manifesto for Staging Gendered Violence
Essay

A Manifesto for Staging Gendered Violence

11 July 2019

Sharanya shares her thoughts on restaging gendered violence, including how the representation of sexual violence has the power to be scripted and also to script, the importance of de-spectacling violence, and more.

an actor onstage
We Have Suffered Enough
Essay

We Have Suffered Enough

The Cost of Performing Trauma for Women of Color

12 September 2019

Melisa Pereyra talks about how suffering goes hand in hand with being a woman of color actor, how trauma is held in the body, and how audiences react when stories lack grief.

lauren e. turner seated at a table
The American Theatre Was Killing Me
Essay

The American Theatre Was Killing Me

Healing from Racialized Trauma in an Art Workspace

18 November 2019

Amelia Parenteau speaks with Lauren E. Turner about racialized trauma in American theatre, Lauren’s experience with it, and healing.

seven people pose for a photo
Parents of Color and the Need For Anti-Racist Theatre Practices
Essay

Parents of Color and the Need For Anti-Racist Theatre Practices

3 December 2019

Nicole Brewer talks about the term “child friendly,” reconstructing the issue of parent support as an issue of race and racism, supporting parent-artists with an anti-racist lens, and more.

two actors onstage
Pandemic Theatre Aesthetic
Essay

Pandemic Theatre Aesthetic

7 April 2020

Jonathan Mandell examines the new theatrical landscape brought on by COVID-19 and discusses the emerging aesthetic—one that is low-tech, low-key, one-on-one, close-up.

an actor onstage
I Am the Damage We Have Done to the Earth
Essay

I Am the Damage We Have Done to the Earth

Intersections of the Climate Crisis and Disability

28 April 2020

Performance artist Hanna Cormick talks about how she uses her body as a metaphor for the damage humans do to the earth, and calls for a more sustainable relationship to our bodies and nature.

kevin dinkins jr and al heartley
We Don’t Want Your Statements, American Theatre
Essay

We Don’t Want Your Statements, American Theatre

or, The Solidarity We Actually Needed

11 June 2020

Al Heartley and Kelvin Dinkins, Jr., Black theatre managers who work in predominantly white American theatres, respond to the recent “solidarity” statements posted by theatres across the country after George Floyd was killed.

three actors onstage
How Liberal Arts Theatre Programs Are Failing Their Students of Color
Essay

How Liberal Arts Theatre Programs Are Failing Their Students of Color

17 June 2020

Miranda Haymon argues that liberal arts theatre programs are failing their students of color and offers four concrete steps that colleges and universities can adopt as they work to rectify this.

madeline sayet holding a paper shakespeare mask
Interrogating the Shakespeare System
Essay

Interrogating the Shakespeare System

31 August 2020

Madeline Sayet argues that promoting Shakespeare as the best writer of all time is a dangerous and white supremacist viewpoint, and she believes it’s time to interrogate the Bard’s placecent as the pinnacle of theatrical achievement.

three people standing outside
Liberating Terror
Essay

Liberating Terror

Clown and Activism

13 November 2020

Sayda Trujillo talks about white supremacy’s prevalence in clown pedagogy and shares how the invincible spirit of the clown has shaped her, “seeping through every tiny crack possible to make itself present to speak, to laugh, to sing, to bounce, to witness, and to encounter.”