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Ethics

Content in this section engages with questions and ideas around moral principles and standards of behavior when making theatre. Start with Adam R. Burnett’s essay “Before Resilience: The Ethics of Theatre Production” or the videos from the convening “Build from Here: The Future of Ensemble Theater with FoolsFURY Theater Company,” which includes conversations about labor ethics, project finance reform, and more.

The Latest

Instead of a Vision: Listening and Dialogue as the Work of a Theatre Director
Essay
Instead of a Vision: Listening and Dialogue as the Work of a Theatre Director
by Charlie Peters
23 August 2021
Internships are Dead. Long Live Internships.
Essay
Internships are Dead. Long Live Internships.
by Ashley Malafronte, Michael DeWhatley
22 July 2021
It is Long Past Time for American Theatres to Boycott Israel
Essay
It is Long Past Time for American Theatres to Boycott Israel
by Fargo Tbakhi
12 July 2021
Person climbing towards a director's chair
Instead of a Vision: Listening and Dialogue as the Work of a Theatre Director
Essay

Instead of a Vision: Listening and Dialogue as the Work of a Theatre Director

23 August 2021

Charlie Peters asks, “What if the role of a director was conceived primarily as one of listening rather than visioning?”

Ashley Malafronte in a black shirt and kakis painting on a stone wall.
Internships are Dead. Long Live Internships.
Essay

Internships are Dead. Long Live Internships.

22 July 2021

Ashley Malafronte and Michael DeWhatley ask: How can future-minded theatres revolutionize their internship programs to create a more diverse, reciprocal, and mutually beneficial set of initiatives?

A Palestinian flag that says, "End Israeli Apartheid! Free Palestine. Boycott-Divest-Sanction. NorCalSocialism.org/SocialistWorker.org."
It is Long Past Time for American Theatres to Boycott Israel
Essay

It is Long Past Time for American Theatres to Boycott Israel

12 July 2021

Fargo Tbakhi argues it is long past time for the American theatre to listen to Palestinian colleagues and to collectively and immediately commit to Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions.

Several half-naked actors with lacrosse sticks. One actor is front and center, wearing a red hat and white underwear, with his hands behind his head. The actresses on his sides are using lacrosse sticks to cover their chests.
The Island of Lost Chorus Boys: Professional Theatre’s Broken Promise to Accept Us in All Our Glorious Queerness
Essay

The Island of Lost Chorus Boys: Professional Theatre’s Broken Promise to Accept Us in All Our Glorious Queerness

8 July 2021

Kieron Cindric talks about how the theatre industry—and, in particular, musical theatre—has continually reinforced a narrow and harmful version of masculinity.

A Black woman with her hair wrapped on the top of her head and her right hand up.
And It Feels Good
Essay

And It Feels Good

The Responsibility of Theatre, and the Imagining of a World Without Oppression

29 June 2021

Dane Figuera Edidi muses on how imagination provides the power to conjure an equitable theatre.

event poster with text for unrehearsed futures episode eleven.
Unrehearsed Futures: (Im)possible Futures
Video

Unrehearsed Futures: (Im)possible Futures

Episode 11: Rehearsing Social Justice at the Margins

Thursday 17 June 2021
South Africa

Unrehearsed Futures: (Im)possible Futures livestreamed on the global, commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv Thursday 17 June 2021 at 12 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 5 p.m. BST (London, UTC +1) / 6 p.m. SAST (Cape Town, UTC +2) / 9:30 p.m. IST (Mumbai, UTC +5:30) / Friday 18 June at 2 a.m. AEST (Hobart, UTC +10).

globe with connecting lines
Festivals for a New Age: Models of Responsiveness, Flexibility and Resistance
Video

Festivals for a New Age: Models of Responsiveness, Flexibility and Resistance

Friday 11 June 2021
United States

The International Presenting Commons (IPC) in partnership with Global Pillow and HowlRound Theatre Commons presents Festivals for a New Age: Models of Responsiveness, Flexibility and Resistance livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Friday 11 June 2021 at 9:30-11:00 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 11:30 a.m. -1:00 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 12:30-2:00 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

Nine actresses in soccer uniforms with most of them doing goofy gestures. Some have orange peels in their mouths.
Maybe There’s More Than Enough: Escaping the Scarcity Mindset in Nonprofit Theatre
Essay

Maybe There’s More Than Enough: Escaping the Scarcity Mindset in Nonprofit Theatre

10 June 2021

Alix Rosenfeld offers suggestions for nonprofits seeking to move out of a scarcity mindset, embrace a spirit of abundance, and build pathways to a more ethical and equitable ecosystem.

Illustration by Silent Fox, inspired by the essay.
When Theatre Will Become Fully Itself: Digital Supratheatre and the Fight for an Inclusive Future
Essay

When Theatre Will Become Fully Itself: Digital Supratheatre and the Fight for an Inclusive Future

Translated by Cecilia Laslo

25 May 2021

Mihaela Drăgan introduces digital supratheatre—a theatre of the future with two underlying principles: technological change and social change.

Two actors, standing behind two other actors, with one hand on their mouths. The actors with their mouths covered have both arms out.
Returning to Theatre with Enthusiastic Consent
Essay

Returning to Theatre with Enthusiastic Consent

11 May 2021

Andrew Pearson uses consent as a framework to discuss retuning to in-person theatre after the pandemic.

Illustration of Black people tearing down barriers.
A Future Built by Us
Essay

A Future Built by Us

An Imagination Exercise with The Movement Theatre Company

25 March 2021

The Movement Theatre Company members David Mendizábal, Deadria Harrington, Eric Lockley, Taylor Reynolds, and Ryan Dobrin share their visioning for a more equitable theatre field.

a colorful illustration
Catalyzing Climate Justice by Divesting from Fossil Fuels
Essay

Catalyzing Climate Justice by Divesting from Fossil Fuels

19 February 2021

Annalisa Dias and Ronee Penoi, on behalf of Groundwater Arts, argue that there cannot be a just arts sector within an unjust world, and that contrary to what people think, arts workers do have the means and the agency to make change. What is needed is a new narrative.

Grass growing out of an old laptop computer.
Streaming in the Just Transition
Essay

Streaming in the Just Transition

A Producer’s Guide to Measuring, Budgeting, and Lowering the Carbon Emissions of Livestreams and Video Conferences

7 January 2021

Vijay Mathew asks, and then offers ideas to approach, the question: "How will the performing arts field contribute to climate justice during the sixth mass extinction?"

a person handing over a ticket
Pay Equity
Essay

Pay Equity

What’s In It For Theatre Companies?

6 January 2021

Elsa Hiltner examines the value of pay equity in the theatre through a fresh lens: how it benefits companies.

graphic hands holding letters B U I L D with title text
Build from Here: The Future of Ensemble Theater with FoolsFURY Theater Company
Video

Build from Here: The Future of Ensemble Theater with FoolsFURY Theater Company

Conversations and workshops about labor ethics and project finance reform, design and technology, education, accessibility, and equity and diversity from story selection and development to casting.

Saturday 12 September and Sunday 13 September 2020
United States

FoolsFURY Theater Company presented its national convening of ensemble theater makers BUILD from Here: The Future of Ensemble Theater livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Saturday 12 September and Sunday 13 September 2020.

two actors onstage
Intimacy Direction in the Time of Physical Distance
Essay

Intimacy Direction in the Time of Physical Distance

25 August 2020

As artists and companies re-examine the failures of their infrastructures and unconscious biases, Emily C. A. Snyder argues that the lessons learned and challenges faced so far within the field of intimacy direction may be of particular value.

an audience
Are Malawi Theatre Groups Underpricing Their Shows to Extinction?
Essay

Are Malawi Theatre Groups Underpricing Their Shows to Extinction?

10 August 2020

Isaac Mafuel shares a recent debate had amongst theatremakers in Malawi about how to best price shows, considering both that low prices are a way of coping with the circumstances of their economy and that art should claim its value.

a large group of actors onstage
Unblurred Lines
Essay

Unblurred Lines

The Role of Consent in Immersive Theatre

8 July 2020

Blair Cadden explores how immersive theatre can adopt BDSM practices—including negotiations, safewords, and aftercare—to create safer experiences for both actors and audience members.

Photo of a white German man pouring whiskey for a Black Nigerian man.
I am Wole, I am Heiner
Essay

I am Wole, I am Heiner

For a Fully Realized Representation of Brown Artists on Stage

27 May 2020

In this last installment of the Beyond the Western Canon series, Sadie Berlin questions how marginalized voices are represented on stage and calls for more experimental work by artists of color on Canadian stages.

a group standing in a circle with glasses raised
You Say You Want a Revolution…
Essay

You Say You Want a Revolution…

National New Play Network's Continuing Commitment to Radical Change

26 January 2020

Nan Barnett, National New Play Network’s executive director, talks about the organization’s twenty-year evolution; the realization that, as a governing body, they were “really, really white”; and their commitment to turning the organization into a replicable model of a diverse and inclusive ecosystem.

an actor onstage
Protect the Body
Essay

Protect the Body

Keeping Daring Depictions of Eating Disorders Safe for Actors and At-Risk Young Adults

26 November 2019

Clare Hennessy discusses the challenges of developing a play that sheds light on eating disorders—depicting them accurately, avoiding triggers—and offers suggestions for other writers in a similar position.

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.

three seated people laughing
“But Does It Pay?”
Essay

“But Does It Pay?”

Internship Culture and Diversity in Theatre Administration

7 November 2019

Brídín Clements talks about the accessibility of educational and professional programs, like internships, in theatre administration.

two actors onstage
Gravity and Responsibility in Film, TV, and Choreography
Essay

Gravity and Responsibility in Film, TV, and Choreography

25 September 2019

Choreographer Malik Nashad Sharpe and film & TV director Liza Johnson talk gravity, abstraction and risk, ethics, and more.

two acting pedagogy textbooks
Whiteness, Patriarchy, and Resistance in Actor Training Texts
Essay

Whiteness, Patriarchy, and Resistance in Actor Training Texts

Reframing Acting Students as Embodied Critical Thinkers

13 August 2019

Amy Steiger reflects on some of the classic acting texts—which are overwhelmingly written by cis white men and use colonialist, binary, and patriarchal language and narratives—and how teachers should be approaching them today.