Bring Your White Friend To Black Theatre Day — Jaz Dorsey — AAPEX

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Bring Your White Friend To Black Theatre Day

As a white male who has spent the past two years working exclusively with black theater companies, my discovery has been that white audiences do not have a connection to black theater and this can only be amended by active outreach. I rounded up about thirty folks to go to the opening of THE BLACKS at Tennessee State University and those guys had a blast. And the Nashville production of HAVING OUR SAY (Collards and Caviar Productions) had an attendance that was about 75% white, but usually I am one of three or four Caucasians in the audience at any given performance in Nashville's black theater productions.

Of course, your average American white theater goer doesn't want anything more thought provoking than HELLO, DOLLY or, to get really edgy, a female production of THE ODD COUPLE. The real problem in this country is that the THEATER is not working within the context of it's most potent voice.

However, given the obstacles faced by African American playwrights when it comes to getting respectable and respected productions of their work in months other than February, I am in awe of any African American writer who chooses to pursue a theatrical career - especially those who chose to write outside the Diaspora. As a white male I am welcome to write about anything from Martin Luther King to Chinese midgets on crack, but if an African American playwright wrote a play about George Washington (or Marie Antoinette) it would cross people's eyes. It's like the only part of "African American" that applies here is "African."

What we need here is is to pick a day nationwide where black theaters offer a two-for-one to anyone who comes with a friend who is not African American.

Jaz Dorsey
The African American Playwrights Exchange
Nashville, Tennessee

No comments:

Post a Comment