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Unpacking POC in Theatre… Part 2!

Unpacking my thoughts… that’s what this blog is about, right?

I recently just came across an article called “Why ‘Diversity is Encouraged’ Is Not Enough” on HowlRound that echoes a lot of the points that I was making in my previous blog post, “Let’s Get Specific,” that I would like to revisit and be in dialogue with. Many times, I have internally felt a variety of feelings towards casting of shows and the writing of characters, and lately I have been working on unpacking my thoughts in an effective way.

I appreciated how this article touched on specificity and the laziness of using diversity so broadly (that to feels exploitative of “diverse” voices to me). I think this article encourages curiosity and challenges playwrights to really get specific and investigative about stories that are not their own. I also appreciated how the article showed how very open descriptions of characters doesn’t give enough of a view into the world of these characters in the world of the play. I know for me, sometimes when I encounter a character list that isn’t very descriptive I’m kind of like um…………

As a non-white theatre artist, I would prefer if a playwright was upfront and wrote white, rather than leaving the description up in the air. If the character you wrote is white, then that character is white. State it. Make it clear. There are plays that I have read before where the race isn’t stated, but the role still feels like it was subconsciously written as white. POC shouldn’t be expected to bend to roles, more writers should bend to telling the stories of POC. The expectation to represent POC voices shouldn’t be solely the job of POC playwrights. That’s not fair.

The discussion around representing POC voices in theatre is always something I am deeply passionate about. Grappling with my frustration on lack of representation of POC, and the broadness that is attributed to POC experiences is difficult for me to articulate, and I still very unsure on how to talk about it (as I’m sure I will be struggling with for a while!!!)

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