Statement in Support of Black Lives Matter
The Middlebury College Department of Theatre unequivocally asserts that BLACK LIVES MATTER. The 2020 murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade, among many others, are a horrific flashpoint bringing global focus to systemic racism and the state-sanctioned murder of Black people. We embrace the imperative for an intentional and ongoing effort to dismantle institutional racism and hold ourselves accountable in that pursuit.
We thank our students and alumni for stepping forward, in a moment when we did not, to demand this public statement of solidarity and a plan of action that addresses the systemic flaws of our practice. Today we commit to becoming intentional partners in the necessary transformation toward an anti-racist society through our individual and collective actions, pedagogy, and theatre-making.
Theatre, like many artistic disciplines, historically privileges the narratives, bodies, voices, and aesthetics of the dominant culture. As theatre makers and scholars, we have engaged in practices that perpetuate racism by centering whiteness and marginalizing BIPOC experiences. We must challenge our perceptions, re-dedicate our efforts, and bring these practices to an end.
The Department of Theatre is in the early stages of the work to decolonize our curriculum and infuse diversity into our production practices. These efforts have been too few, too individualized, and too easily sidetracked when we met with obstacles. We know we have fallen short, and for this we apologize to our students, and especially to BIPOC students, who have felt our mistakes most painfully.
We now commit ourselves as a united department to discontinue harmful practices and to create work that expresses the fullness of the human experience. (See committments below)
We are eager to do better.
- The BIPOC Project
- “Implicit Bias and Microaggression Awareness” SafeColleges course (needs a valid ID to access)
- “Resources for Racial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” League of Resident Theatres (LORT)
- “Color-Conscious Casting: Three Questions to Ask” by Lavina Jadhwani (21 December 2014)
- “But Do We Have the Actors for That?: Some Principles of Practice for Staging Latinx Plays in a University Theatre Context” by Brian Herrera (March 2017)
- “A Message from TAPS Chair, Dr. Patricia Ybarra” on Coalitional Casting
- “Diversity in the Discipline” The Standing Conference of University Drama Departments (SCUDD)
- “Universities Can And Should Do Much More To Address Systemic Racism” by ’Funmi Olonisakin (12 June 2020) (needs registration to access)
- About the Jubilee
- “What If: The JUBILEE’s Vision of Unity and Action” (24 October 2018)
- The Language of White Supremacy
- Academics for Black Survival and Wellness, a weeklong course on anti-Black racism awareness started 6/19/2020, but other resources and videos on their page available, too.
Statement on Anti-Asian Hate
We stand in solidarity with Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander people and communities. We are alarmed and outraged by the escalation of anti-Asian violence and hate, and denounce anti-Asian prejudice, which has resulted in vandalism, assault, and murder throughout the US. Recent incidents, including attacks against women and the elderly in New York City, the Bay Area, and across the country, are intolerable, and we must join the effort to stop them.
The Middlebury College Department of Theatre stands as an ally to the Consortium of Asian American Theatre Artists, who “are in a constant state of hyper-vigilance to escape further violence as we protect our families, communities, artists, staff, businesses and theatre spaces.” We add our voices to theirs, calling for public officials and national and local leaders to work for solutions to end this and all forms of racist and sexist violence. We are grateful for Middlebury College’s Statement on Violence Against Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander People, particularly for the resources it provides for the Middlebury College community.
- Asian American Performers Action Coalition
- Hate Crimes Targeting Asian Americans Spiked by 150% in Major US Cities
- Covid ‘hate crimes’ against Asian Americans on rise
Our Commitment to Anti-Racism and Decolonization
We now commit ourselves as a united department to examine our practices, to identify and discontinue those that are harmful, and to create work that expresses the fullness of the human experience.
To that end:
- We have created a standing committee dedicated to anti-racism and decolonization, composed of students, staff, and faculty.
- All faculty and staff commit to annual and ongoing Implicit Bias, Equity, and Diversity training, including training particular to our discipline.
- We will examine and revise all syllabi with the intention of decolonizing our curriculum as a department.
- We recognize that our past production seasons have not prioritized BIPOC voices. We will build seasons that feature and elevate BIPOC experiences, playwrights, and actors.
- We will transform our season selection process to include students and the committee dedicated to anti-racism and decolonization.
- We acknowledge that race, gender, ability, and sexuality impact how individuals approach a role and are seen in that role. We will continue to educate ourselves and will adhere to best practices in casting. We commit to anti-racist casting and will continually interrogate and revise our casting processes.
- We will engage in thoughtful dialogue in order to achieve responsible visual representation of our work. Students will be asked for consent before their images can be used in promotional materials.
This list is not exhaustive. The work ahead will require courage, diligence, and above all, ongoing collaboration among faculty, staff, and students.
Robin Foster Cole
Olga Sanchez Saltveit