No Oscar? No Problem: Washington’s Theatre Community Tackles the City’s Diversity Issue

No Oscar? No Problem:

Washington’s Theatre Community Tackles the City’s Diversity Issue

While debates over white privilege and cultural diversity loom drearily over this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, local artists and tastemakers have long debated similar issues, namely the glaring racial and gender disparities that are prevalent throughout Washington’s theatre community. At the behest of playwright, Jacqueline Lawton, critic, Nelson Pressley and others, venues like Arena Stage and Forum Theatre have maintained an open dialogue with their creative peers and have taken steps to rectify the aforementioned absences. Both companies, in fact, have hosted applicable town hall discussions. Likewise, pro-am companies such as Flying V Theatre, The Welders and Essential Theatre consistently produce works by women and writers of color and cast actors of varied ethnic backgrounds. And of course grassroots favorites including the Capital Fringe Festival most successfully showcase the plays of damn near any artist with the drive and ambition to stage an original work. If ever a home for minorities and eccentrics exists, it is with Capital Fringe.

Still, we’ve a long way to go and a long road ahead. Most local professional theatres feel an obligation to produce works by industry giants such as Arthur Miller, Anton Chekov and David Mamet rather than gamble on the likes of lesser known (agent-less) playwrights despite their fresher, more modern take on culture and society. But I’m here to celebrate the baby steps that have been taken and to encourage you to do the same. Is Washington’s theatre scene diverse enough? Hell no! However, we aren’t a desert. Patrons seeking variety do have options.

Here are just a few of this season’s standouts:

Seven Local Plays That Champion Diversity

1. Round House Theatre – Bethesda, MD
Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 &3)
Written by Suzan-Lori Parks
January 27th – February 28th, 2016

2. Arena Stage – Washington, DC
Sweat
Written by Lynn Nottage
February 2nd – February 21st, 2016

3. Woolly Mammoth Theatre – Washington, DC
Guards at the Taj
Written by Rajiv Joseph
February 1st – February 28th, 2016

4. THEARC – Washington, DC
Black Angels over Tuskegee
Written by Landon Gray
February 25th – February 26th, 2016

5. Atlas Theatre – Washington, DC
Girls! Girls? Girls.
Written by Marjuan Candy
February 27th – February 28th, 2016
(Part of the Intersections Festival)

6. Atlas Theatre – Washington, DC

Produced By Mosaic Theater Company of DC
I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Quest for Peace
Written by Shay Pitovksy
January 23rd – February 14th, 2016

7. GALA Hispanic Theatre – Washington, DC
Senorita y Madame: The Secret War of Elizabeth Arden & Helena Rubinstein
Written by Gustavo Ott
February 4th – February 28th, 2016

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