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To the companies who participated in the Ghostlight Project: I’m afraid you’ve already failed.

In the last few weeks, I, like many other actors who will soon graduate from BFA programs across the country, have had my eyes glued to audition postings on Playbill, Backstage, Broadway World—you name it—in the hopes of finding out which plays will be produced on equity stages across the country during the 2017-18 season. You see, I’m young, nimble and ready to just create so I’m also quite open to working anywhere in the country at this moment in my life. Unfortunately, the amount of plays being produced that were written with anyone that looks anything other than white in mind are, once again, slim. Why am I surprised? Well, usually, I would not be. As an artist of color, I have been trained to prepare for a world where I “have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have,” as Olivia Pope’s father so candidly says it on Scandal. That said, when I began to prepare for this year’s audition season, I expected differently because of the American theatre’s response to the election of Donald Trump—the Ghostlight Project.

I have included some context below from Playbill:

“On the eve of the U.S. Presidential Inauguration, artists from coast to coast are taking a stand for continued vigilance, increased advocacy, inclusion, tolerance, and social justice.

More than 500 theatres across the U.S. are taking part in the Ghostlight Project to affirm their commitment to ‘diversity and inclusion’ January 19. The initiative launches on the eve of the U.S. Presidential Inauguration.

At 5:30 PM in each U.S. time zone on Thursday, theatre artists will gather outside their theatres to ‘create a ‘light’ for dark times ahead, and to make, or renew, a pledge to stand for and protect the values of inclusion, participation, and compassion for everyone regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”

Ok. So, there appears to have been some serious miscommunication between some of the leaders of our country’s regional theatres and, well, the world. From the outside, it looks like these leaders were under the impression that taking a stand of solidarity in support of individuals othered for their “race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation,” only required one evening where they stood outside their theaters and held up cute prop candlelights. It seems that they did not see the expectation that they program seasons with actors of color and actors with disabilities in mind. They failed to recognize the expectation that female playwrights receive the same opportunities for production as their male counterparts. They managed to glimpse over the expectation that LGBTQ individuals be accurately represented in stories regarding their sexuality and those not regarding their sexuality.

Either that, or worse: “leaders” in our current theatre community have decided that the comfort of their subscriber base and their perceived ability to gain financially by providing audiences with “art as escapism” is more important than the survival of marginalized groups begging to be humanized in front of audiences across the country.

Regardless of what has lead to the disconnect between what theatre companies said they were fighting for and what they actually do, the reality is that only a month into the commitment made by more than 500 theatre companies in the United States, I am afraid that many are failing.

And all while our president strips these already marginalized Americans of their rights daily.

But that’s cool. At least this “reimagined” production of {insert Rodgers & Hammerstein musical or Miller play} will make the critics happy.

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