We, The Department of Theatre, acknowledge that the land on which Southern Connecticut State University is located lies in the traditional territory of the Quinnipiac, Golden Hill Paugussett, and Wappinger peoples. We recognize and honor their stewardship of this land in the past, present, and future.
Golden Hill Paugussett (paw-GUS-it)
Wappinger (WAH-pin-ger) or (WAH-pin-jer)
The Department of Theatre at Southern Connecticut State University and its community of faculty, staff, students, administration, and alumni stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We are dedicated to addressing the systemic racism, anti-Blackness, settler colonialism, Islamophobia, and antisemitism in our country, communities, and professions as well as the dangerously pervasive legacy that white supremacy has engendered.
We are enraged by the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and so many countless innocent Black lives before them. We stand in solidarity with all those who demand justice for every life taken by means of continuing racially motivated anti-Black violence.
As a department we are dedicating ourselves to strengthening our efforts to fight racism and anti-Blackness while engaging in open, honest, and equitable conversations with our community. In collaboration with our students and alumni, the faculty and staff have begun a self-evaluation of our own role in educating the next generation of theatre artists with the goal of altering the course of the theatre industry for the better. In the United States the theatre industry has a long pervasive history of racist, non-inclusive, and inequitable practices and policies that suffuse every aspect of our profession. These include but are not limited to: unequal resources for Black, Pan-Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, and Indigenous playwrights; the production of irresponsible and offensive stories on race and culture; and propagation of the notion of universal whiteness in popular American theatre. We acknowledge and apologize for our complicity in those injustices in the Department of Theatre at Southern Connecticut State University. Those practices are unacceptable, and we promise to actively fight against them at every level while working hard to unlearn our own bigotries and biases. The faculty embraces our students’ call to action and believe working together we can help change the theatre industry starting with measurable actions within our community.
We renounce past industry practices of whitewashed casting and season selection as well as the lack of properly diverse representation in our curricula. We subscribe to the ideals of “Radical Accountability” and look forward to re-forging our curriculum, practices, and policies into an educational experience that is inclusive, promotes anti-racist ideals, condemns white supremacy and supremacism in all its forms, and acts as a platform for the talented BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists in our community.
As our pedagogies, policies, and production practices shift in the coming months, we look forward to collaborating closely with our students and other performing arts entities in the New Haven area to promote positive change in our industry locally and beyond. By updating our curriculum, season planning, policies, and practices we aim to challenge discrimination, the marginalization of minorities, and the history of racial injustice present in our society.
The Individual stories told by voices across all races and cultures enrich our conversations and scholarship through their unique creative expressions. For too long we have erased, ignored, and silenced the stories of communities of color, especially those of Black and Indigenous peoples.
We commit to fostering a creative and inclusive environment wherein members of the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities have equitable representation and a platform to express their own unique stories. Disassembling the pervasive legacy of racism in our culture is difficult. We may falter, as we have been complicit in racism and anti-Blackness in the past. Please hold us accountable moving forward. We invite all members of our community to participate, criticize, provide feedback, and help us all to be actively anti-racist. We promise to listen with respect and humility to criticism and feedback, implement necessary radical changes to the best of our abilities, and do so in a timely manner.
The BIPOC and LGBTQ+ members of our community are invaluable, and it is time to take the measures necessary to reflect that fact.
Now and always,
Black Lives Matter.
The above represents a living document that will evolve as this conversation continues.
Southern Connecticut State University
Department Of Theatre
In addition to collaborating with current students, alumni, administration, faculty and staff, The Department of Theatre is taking the input from the national theatre community quite seriously concerning the development of attainable action items. The living document, BIPOC DEMANDS FOR WHITE AMERICAN THEATRE #weseeyou specifically addresses the needs and demands of Academic and Professional Training Programs, and this document has been used as a key point of reference for creating change in our policies and pedagogies (https://www.weseeyouwat.com/). The action items listed below have been developed with all parties involved as a starting point to change the perspective of storytelling within the theatre arts at our University. This is an ongoing process that will become embedded into our courses, productions, and discourse.
These action items are in no particular order:
- The Department’s process for casting plays will be done with an increased vigilance in regards to color-consciousness so that university productions accurately reflect the broader student community.
- The Department’s process of play selection shall include student input and concerns gathered through a series of forums offered each Fall semester.
- The Department shall commit to including works by BIPOC artists in every season.
- The Department will actively promote that any new FT Faculty lines approved will go to BIPOC candidates.
- The Department will actively promote the hiring of more BIPOC artists to our team of adjunct faculty.
- The Department will actively promote the hiring of more BIPOC artists to our team of University Assistants.
- Individual Faculty members will update all syllabi to include past and present BIPOC artists.
- The Department will actively hire Directors of Color to be included in every production season.
- The Department will establish new production protocols concerning scheduling that will enhance a better work-life balance and promote inclusivity of our working student body.
- The Department will provide regular DEI training specific to the theatrical arts.
- The Department will provide regular Title IX training specific to the theatrical arts.
- The Department will actively hire Intimacy Directors, Fight Choreographers, and Movement coaches whenever a production requires these services.
These are new initiatives to set into motion to aid in the effectiveness of the above Action Items: (in no particular order)
- Create two scholarships specified for BIPOC students.
- Full Tuition & Housing for student’s Freshman & Sophomore Year
- Create an Alumni Mentorship Program where current students can be teamed up with Alumni for guidance and personal connections to the Performing Arts Industries