Race and Representation in American Theatre

Spurred by the controversies over the new adaptation of The Jungle Book that opened in 2014 in Chicago, this series of articles explores who is allowed to tell whose stories onstage.

Photo from Mr. Ricky Calls A Meeting.
Does It Matter that It Was Written by a White Guy?
Essay

Does It Matter that It Was Written by a White Guy?

7 February 2014

Theater artists (and institutions) in the U.S. today constantly grapple with this messy duality: caught between a belief in this idealized vision of infinite potential to explore anything and everything; and the very real world in which everything tells us we cannot cross boundaries, where divisions in class and race are pervasive, where substantive engagement about divisive issues is hard, scary, and infrequent.

Photo from The Mahabharata.
What is Cultural Appropriation
Essay

What is Cultural Appropriation

Revisiting Peter Brook’s Mahabharata

6 February 2014

By allowing only a European/Western perspective to lead the artistic presentation of stories about class, race, and gender, are we continuing to allow those narratives to be appropriated, assimilated, or turned into the universal, etc. to the point of irrelevance? Perhaps in the attempt to distill a story to its essence there is a dilution that takes place at the hands of the dominant culture?

Fears of the Artist Sustain a Dysfunctional System
Essay

Fears of the Artist Sustain a Dysfunctional System

5 February 2014

In this installation, playwright  and artistic dirctor Jamil Khoury reflects on the controversey spurred over the adaptation of The Jungle Book, which opened this summer in Chicago. 

What Makes an Artist Qualified to Tell a Story?
Essay

What Makes an Artist Qualified to Tell a Story?

5 February 2014

To say that someone, anyone, is categorically unable to understand something about the human condition because it isn’t part of their own experience or heredity is ludicrous. It would be the end of art as we know it. And it is as unreasonable to say someone from middle America couldn’t possibly understand the experience of someone from India as it is to say that I, as a contemporary Indian American raised in the States, couldn’t possibly understand and therefore have no right to play the role of Lady Macbeth.

Radical Compassion and the Ethics of Cultural Representation
Essay

Radical Compassion and the Ethics of Cultural Representation

4 February 2014

When the history of intercultural theatre is written, we will always remember the directors that created these works (i.e., Brecht, Barba, Taymor, Ninagawa, Ong), but few can recall the choreographers, dramaturgs, performers, and designers that collaborated with them to make these productions possible.

Writing Towards the Specific
Essay

Writing Towards the Specific

3 February 2014

As an African American woman playwright from a poor, working class, racist, country town in East Texas, I learned early in life that I am part of a community of people whose voices have been silenced, whose image has been exaggerated and misrepresented, and whose legacy has been erased and exploited. White playwrights, male and female, need to understand that they are writing within a legacy of the people responsible for having done those things to people of color. Neither legacy is fair. They come with unshakable, palpable, and visible burdens.

Stomping on Eggshells
Essay

Stomping on Eggshells

An Honest Discussion of Race, Identity, and Intent in the American Theater

2 February 2014

In this installation, Rebecca Stevens offers her persepctive on the controversy spurred over the new adaptation of The Jungle Book, which opened this summer in Chicago.

Bookmark this page

Log in to add a bookmark

Series are collections of content curated around a specific theme. HowlRound works with curators to develop topical pieces meant to spotlight current events and happenings within the commons.