Samuel French, Playbill and HowlRound are partnering to present #IdentityWeek, a four-day panel event, September 27 – 30, exploring racial, cultural, sexual, and gender identity in the theatre. This year’s event was created in response to the issues of identity, inclusion, and representation onstage being at the forefront of our industry’s collective conversation. Through these panels, Samuel French, Playbill and HowlRound hope to provide a safe, respectful space where artists, activists, and members of the industry can come together for discussion, debate and more. This marks Samuel French’s third year of partnering with HowlRound for panel events, and the first collaboration with Playbill.
All panels will be held at the Vineyard Theatre in Union Square, NYC. They are open to the general public and will be live-tweeted by Samuel French (@MrSamuelFrench), as well as live-streamed by HowlRound. Follow Playbill for additional media leading up to the event. A companion series of essays can be found on HowlRound throughout the week as well. Reservations are encouraged, but not required. All panels have accessible seating and will be signed by ASL interpreters. To RSVP, click here.
To date, the following #IdentityWeek panel discussions and participants include**:
Playwrights & Their Identity
Tuesday, September 27 from 6:30-7:30pm
Should a playwright write for their identity? Are playwrights sought out by specific theaters because of their ethnicity or cultural background? Partly inspired by Damon Chua’s article, Asian Playwrights and Asian Characters: What’s the Deal?, this panel will focus on the impact and influence of a playwright’s perceived identity on their writing and within our theatre community. Panelists include playwrights Damon Chaua, Lydia R. Diamond, A. Rey Pamatmat and Kimber Lee. Moderator: Pippin Parker, Director of The School of Drama, The New School.
Onstage & Off: The State of Transgender Artists
Wednesday, September 28 from 6:30-7:30pm
This panel narrows in on the experience of transgender artists, discussing their opportunities and challenges within the theatre industry as well as how our community can better include and support their work. Panelists include playwright Azure D. Osborne-Lee and performers Bianca Leigh, Pooya Mohseni and MJ Rodriguez. Moderated by Adam Hetrick (Editor in Chief, Playbill.com).
Access & Activism in Theatre
Thursday, September 29 from 6:30-7:30pm
This conversation will focus on the progress and challenges in the theatre community around access and inclusion for artists, administrators and audience members. Topics may include advances in onstage representation of characters and performers of all abilities, the politics of casting an actor to play a character with a disability if that actor doesn’t have the same disability, and more. Panelists include Phil Dallmann (Manager of TDF Accessibility Programs), Laura Kirk (Director of Audience Services for Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre), Christine Bruno (Disability Advocate for Inclusion in the Arts) and Alexandria Wailes (representing Deaf West). Moderated by Emilya Cachapero (Director of Artistic Programs and International Theatre Institute for TCG).
A Celebration of Pioneering Artists
Friday, September 30 from 6:30-7:30pm
This evening will serve as a retrospective and celebration of the work that our industry has already accomplished. Artists who have achieved ground-breaking work in theatre will join together to discuss their journeys, challenges, victories, and advice for aspiring artists in their field. Panelists include Larry Kramer (The Normal Heart), Dr. Ntozake Shange (For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow Is Enuf) and Joi Gresham (Executive Director of the Lorraine Hansberry Estate). Moderator: Christian Parker, Chair, Head of Dramaturgy Concentartion, Columbia University School of the Arts
(** #IdentityWeek panel discussions and participants are subject to change.)
“Samuel French is a stand for artistic integrity,” says Bruce Lazarus, Executive Director, Samuel French. “We are proud to provide a space to discuss the theatre artist’s role in this global shift of identity consciousness.”
Details about #IdentityWeek,and previous Samuel French and HowlRound events – #RightsWeek, which focused on intellectual property or artists, and #MusicalsWeek, which featured discussions about the creation of and representation in musicals – can be found at www.Playbill.com/IdentityWeek.
Samuel French is the world’s leading publisher and licensor of plays and musicals. The company’s catalog features some of the most acclaimed work ever written for the stage and titles by writers at the forefront of contemporary drama. Samuel French is proud to have served as a leader in theatrical publishing and licensing for over 180 years and is committed to the future by championing for playwrights, innovating the industry, and celebrating all those who make theatre around the world.
HowlRound is a knowledge commons by and for the theatre community made up of an online journal, a livestreaming TV channel, an interactive data map, and more. It’s a place for theatremakers to share feedback, learning, expertise, and vision. Anyone can participate in our open platforms, for free.
Since its inception in 1884, Playbill has become synonymous with the legitimate theatre and is an internationally known trademark and symbol of the arts. Playbill Magazine, which can be found in theatres and classical arts venues throughout the country, proudly serves every Broadway house as well as the country’s most prestigious fine arts institutions, including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. In 2016 Playbill presses will roll out 3.5 million programs monthly for nearly 100 theatres in 23 cities. Playbill.com was established in 1994, and has since grown to become the leading source of theatre information on the web and has expanded to a suite of online offerings including PlaybillEDU, PLAYBILLder, Playbill Travel and more. Visit Playbill.com for more information.
Vineyard Theatre is one of America’s preeminent homes for the creation of new plays and musicals. Notable premieres include Kander and Ebb’s The Scottsboro Boys, Nicky Silver’s The Lyons, Paula Vogel’s How I Learned to Drive, Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, Becky Mode’s Fully Committed, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Wig Out!, and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Gloria. Works premiered at The Vineyard have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes, three Tony Awards, and numerous other New York theatre awards. Vineyard Theatre is proud to be the recipient of special Obie, Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel awards for Sustained Excellence. www.vineyardtheatre.org