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After attending the 2011 Theatre Communication Group conference this summer in Los Angeles, Teatro Luna and Urban Theatre Company were inspired to bring together the theatre companies in Chicago that are dedicated in mission to serving our various diverse audiences and artists for a series of meetings with an end goal of seeing if the development of a Theatre of Color Leadership Council is of interest or need here in Chicago. It is our personal sentiment that there is a need, but we want to hear if others share our feelings. Before we get ahead of ourselves though, we wanted to have one initial meeting to gauge the interest.
Teatro Luna (TL) and Urban Theatre Company (UTC) are uniting in hopes of bringing a community-building process to Chicago Theatres of Color since we feel that although each of us have done great work in cultivating our individual audiences and communities– we have not all had the chance to build community amongst each other as a collective group of non-profit organizations dedicated to creating social change in our communities in Chicago and beyond through our art. Our goal in seeing if a council is of interest is not to create separation or more divisions between us and other members of the League of Chicago theatres (or those not at all associated with the league), but rather about creating a space for sharing knowledge, mentor-ship– as many of us have new leadership in the ranks, past experiences, resources, problems, and solutions.
We want to create a space for a deeper exploration of activism, diversity, and community outreach among theatres of color, or theatres dedicated to audiences of color. During the multi-generational leaders of color meeting, I was personally shocked when many of us from Chicago only barely recognized each other– and couldn’t comment on the recent work or future work of our organizations. There is opportunity here to strengthen our relationships and in turn leverage our resources. The first step of this endeavor is to try to get as many of us as possible in the same room. And so, TL and UTC are contacting theatre companies who have demonstrated a committed initiative to producing quality diverse work by and for voices and bodies that have historically been ignored and humbly requesting your participation in at least this one meeting. This meeting will be moderated by Richard Perez, a local director, actor, and long-time advocate of theatre as a tool for community-building. We specifically chose someone who is not on staff of any of the theatres attending as to prevent single agenda’s from overtaking the space. This is not about any one theatre company, but rather, it is about building a community
It is our hope that The Theatre of Color Leadership Council would be an outlet for different theatres to share what struggles they have faced and what tactics were used as a solution. More importantly were we to have a council it would be a place to come together and create solutions that might not be possible singularly in our own individual organizations. It is important to state that our goal in this initial meeting is to first and foremost: a) confirm whether or not the need is shared by organizations other than ours and b) to discuss what kind of model would be an appropriate one for this council. We are not tied to any one model, title, or plan. We want to build that together. What we are prepared to do is provide the space and some funding for this to kick-off, if we all agree there is a shared desire to do so.
We know that this collaboration has the potential to strengthen the representation of multiculturalism in theatre in Chicago. We are proposing that the meeting with all Chicago theatres who’s mission is to empower these voices December 10th at 3 pm. We are looking for all leadership staff that is available, to attend at a location TBA.
Thank you in advance for your time, we look forward to speaking about this exciting opportunity. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions, thoughts, advice, or concerns. Richard Perez will be following up with each of you to discuss your thoughts and help us shape the agenda. Below is a list of the companies we are initially contacting. We are sure that some people who should be in attendance are not on this list, (be assured this is an oversight and not intentional) and we ask you to share this information with us so we can invite them with enough time they will be able to attend! If you believe you should have been sent an invitation, please contact our Executive Director Immediately at: alexmeda(at)teatroluna(dot)org
Please mark your calendar…
The Theatre of Color Leadership Council
Saturday, December 10th, 3:00 PM
Teatro Luna and Urban Theatre Company have so far invited the following theatres:
Albany Park Theatre Project
Black Ensemble Theatre
ETA Creative Arts Foundation
Free Street Theater
Harlem Theatre Company
Rasaka Theatre Company
Voice in the City
By Sindy Castro
Hosting the Latina/o Commons Satellite Conversation at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, IL with Teatro Luna on November 2nd was enlightening and eye opening, but also reassuring. It was wonderful to see a group of younger Latinos in one room together. Some in the mid of their careers and others just starting out, Chicagoans having just graduated or others transplanted here from their homes to continue their dreams. I mention “younger” Latinos because I feel like our veteranos were already at the larger convening and I couldn’t help but thinking how interesting it was that there were two groups of Latino artists having similar conversations in TWO different cities, but also asking myself, “where do these two groups come together?”
How do we bridge the gap from those established Latino artists and those of us just starting out? Or those of us just graduating? Myself, having gone to a public university where I was rarely exposed to Latino theatre history, craved and appreciated that ONE class I had while getting my undergraduate degree. Three years out of school, I still crave to learn more. But where do I go? How do I access this information? This is something most of us face when graduating from
college, but I feel is multiplied by a theatre community where the Latino point of view is the minority. How do I access 1) the theatre community and 2) my role as a Latina/o in the theatre community? Where do I fit in? I feel like we could have all shouted at the end of our Saturday session, “I want to learn!”
One of our older artists said something to the effect that he hopes that the younger generation doesn’t stay with their open hands in front of them waiting for a handout and create those opportunities for themselves. I agree with this! Wholeheartedly, I agree that we need to make opportunities for ourselves. We can’t go through life waiting for things to change. We need to create that change. We need to take ownership for our futures.
But how? We need guidance. We need to learn from those who came before us. We need to learn how they got to where they are now. We need mentorship. This word I believe was mentioned a lot in the larger convening and it was something that also kept coming up in our smaller meeting. Mentorship. Theatre leaders and theatre makers get to where they are by having been mentored by someone they admire. Why are we not doing more of this in our community?
The next steps to these convenings, in my opinion, is creating opportunities for further development. Creating the space for younger artists to learn from the leaders of our community. Mentor us on auditioning. Mentor us as playwrights and help us define what it means to be a Latina/o playwright. Mentor us on business. Mentor us on applying for grants. Mentor us on where we can access this mentorship.
To quote one of participants at our Satellite event, “When I succeed, everyone in this room succeeds. When I fail, everyone else will be there to help.” How can we as Latina/o identified organizations in Chicago come together to teach each other and help us all grow together? How can we learn from our current leaders in the Chicago theatre community?
We are a younger generation of theatre enthusiasts. Capture our energy. We want to learn! We want to be mentored! Teach us!
To gain some insight into the Chicago satellite conversation, visit: https://storify.com/SindyICastro/howlround-satellite-conversation-chicago.html