On Race, Ethnicity, & Casting
Our goal with this event is for company members, readers and viewers to experience an authentic sense of belonging and enjoy a wide diversity of stories.
When I began creating the menu of scripts for this marathon, I intentionally chose to include non-white playwrights, stories and characters. Knowing the history of Davis, CA and Acme Theatre Company, I anticipate that our readers for this marathon would be a mix of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) readers and white readers, with white readers being a significant majority.
As this is a reading and not a performance, we understand and embrace that our characters’ gender, ethnicity, and other identities will frequently not align with our own. However, when a script includes characters of color - or neurodivergent characters, or gender non-conforming characters - we will offer any readers who share those identities the option to read those roles. Following this check-in, each group will assign roles using the random system.
During this marathon you may witness white readers reading for BIPOC characters. In performance, this type of erasure is not acceptable. Within the context of these community readings, our practice of reading these stories may also be harmful and triggering.
We are now realizing that the way for Acme to reduce the likelihood that this harm occurs in the future is to work with BIPOC community members & community groups in the script selection & reader sign-up process.
As a predominantly white institution, Acme Theatre Company has perpetuated, and all-too-often continues to perpetuate, a centering on whiteness. As an educational space that is committed to justice and inclusivity, Acme Theatre Company has a responsibility to train young theatre-makers to take individual and collective action to dismantle oppressive systems.
Acme Theatre has ongoing work to do. I welcome your critiques of this event.
Thank you for reading!
~ Emily Henderson, Artistic Director