Diversity takes center stage on Broadway

of strange loopwon Best Musical at the Tony Awards in June, and the protagonist belted out what could be described as a manifesto of the transformation taking place on Broadway.

“Blackness, queerness, a choir full of black queer face portrait portraits and black queer voices fighting back to fill this all-white space of sishet,” says queer character Usher. sang, the show’s black man focused on his doubts about writing a musical about himself.

This year Tonys marks a milestone. Broadway’s first season is back since the pandemic forced his historic year-and-a-half-long closure. It was far from a full season. Some shows started midway, others closed early, and there were regular cancellations due to COVID-19. By May, ticket sales were down 54% compared to their pre-pandemic record highs.

But while the recovery hasn’t been smooth, there was something to celebrate: a diverse line-up of new productions.

It is part of a transformation driven by actors, producers and industry leaders seeking more representation in a traditionally white-dominated industry.

Watch | Broadway Comeback Is All About New Voices.

Broadway comeback led by a diverse cast

The Broadway stage has shown more diversity since it reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing fresh perspectives to favorites like the death of a salesman and new stories to tell.

Tony Award winner Ron Simmons, one of Broadway’s few black producers, says the pandemic is a long-awaited catalyst for change.

“This has changed in a year,” he said.

“Overwhelmed” is also how Simmons describes how he feels when three shows open after the pandemic. thoughts of people of color, For colored girls When Ain’t Too Proud.

“I realized that all three of my shows about blacks and browns could be on Broadway at the same time,” he said. So it says a lot about what’s going on on Broadway right now.”

portrait of man looking at camera
Tony Award-winning Ron Simmons, one of Broadway’s few black producers, was shot in New York. After the pandemic, he opened his three shows—Thoughts of Colored Guys, For Colored Girls, and Ain’t Too Proud. (Jason Burles/CBC)

lack of diversity

The Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC) has been compiling visibility reports for over a decade.

Their latest study, which looked at the 2018-2019 season, found that nearly 60% of roles on the New York City stage were played by white actors. So are the owners. These findings are consistent with previous studies.

Actor and playwright Christine Toy Johnson, co-founder of AAPAC, says she’s happy with the progress diversity has made in the industry’s resurgence, but says change in her community has been slow to materialize. rice field.

“There are new considerations about whose story is being told, by whom and how,” she said.

Watch | Broadway producer Ron Simmons says he hopes diversity isn’t a one-off.

Tony Award Winner Ron Simmons Says Broadway’s Future Is Diverse

Ron Simmons, one of Broadway’s few black producers, launched three shows simultaneously about blacks and browns after the pandemic. He says this is the future of Broadway.

Last summer, Black Theater United, formed by Broadway’s leading black artists, unveiled a blueprint for greater equity and diversity in the industry. Dubbed Broadway’s New Deal, it was signed by industry-leading powerhouse brokers to name theaters for black artists, commit to hiring from underrepresented groups, and “never assemble an all-white creative” to producers. It outlines the reforms, including the pledge to Regardless of the show’s subject matter, the team will be in production again. “

Broadway veteran Alison Tucker, one of the founding members of Black Theater United, said the New Deal had an impact, but the work was just beginning.

“I think everyone who signed the deal understands, this is a long game, this is a journey, and there are no immediate results.”

A new chapter in Broadway history

New Show Coming This Fall – The Iconic Arthur Miller Play death salesman’s But it has been reimagined to examine the American Dream through the lens of a black Roman family living in a white world.

Broadway legend and Tony Award winner André De Shields plays the main character, Ben Roman.

Broadway legend and Tony Award winner Andre De Shields was filmed in New York City. He plays the main character in a reimagined version of the iconic play “Death of a Salesman.” (Jason Burles/CBC)

De Shields said, “I know my audience will respond because what’s missing from the American Dream right now is the idea of ​​accessibility.” , meaning that anyone can claim it.”

He sees this new chapter in Broadway’s history as an opportunity to deliver powerful messages through the voices of artists who have hitherto been out of the spotlight.

“We are all in this together. If one of us is chained, none of us can be seen,” he said.

Also, to open in the fall KPOP, which is all about the Korean pop music phenomenon. The cast is mostly Asian, and the story and music are original.

“We are more excited than ever to share this story with the world,” said show composer Helen Park.

Park says a big part of her excitement is expanding the very limited roles that Asians have had on Broadway. accounts for less than 10% of

“I think it’s hard to find stories that don’t center around trauma or war or depressing old stuff. I think it’s really special that we have original material,” she said. Told.

woman smiling at the camera
Broadway show KPOP composer Helen Park filmed in New York. She says she’s thrilled to expand the roles Asians have played on Broadway. (Jason Burles/CBC)

attract a diverse audience

The Broadway League, which compiles audience statistics, found that theater audiences are traditionally middle-aged white women. He said he was sure there would be a pioneering audience.

“If you really want to make sure you’re still here in 10, 20, 30 years from now, there’s money left on the table by not bringing that kind of demographic into this theater, so that diversity must come true,” he said.

Outside the Lyceum Theater strange loop Fan Elizabeth Adams said she was inspired to go to a show that reflected her story.

About seeing more diversity on stage, she said.

Another theater buff, Robert Bennett, said he was looking forward to seeing it. kite runnera play based on a book written by Afghan-American novelist Khaled Hosseini.

“You can find out who you are,” he said.

“Give me a chance to speak my mind.”

Simmons said he was hopeful about the changes on stage, but more needs to be done across the industry to bring diversity at every level, from theater owners to show promoters. He added that there is

From Black Theater United’s New Deal to the Tony Award for Excellence given to AAPAC this year, there are signs that a leadership shift is happening on Broadway. But those at the forefront warn against complacency when celebrating a season of victories.

Nandiata Shenoy, a member of the AAPAC Steering Committee, said, “I think the conversation about diversity often centers around blacks and whites, and others who crave and crave to be represented as well. There are also many groups of

Watch | “We are the ones who are hungry for dreams,” says André De Shields.

Broadway Legend Andre De Shields Talks Industry Revival

Broadway legend and Tony Award winner Andre De Shields says it’s the most “dream-hungry” people who can help revive Broadway after the pandemic.

Black Theater United’s Tucker said she hopes for similar expansion. It adds that it is an original idea to allow expansion to other parts of New York City.

“Yes, we have taken a step forward and tied our arms. We will continue to expand these connections,” she said.

De Shields believes Broadway’s revival will depend on the diverse voices expanding the stage.

“If those of us who are already in charge and who are already at the top can’t prevent this moratorium on Broadway, who can? It’s because I’m a person who has a dream.”

“Give us a chance to speak our minds. Give us a chance to share what is important to our souls.”

Diversity takes center stage on Broadway

Source link Diversity takes center stage on Broadway

Related Articles

Back to top button