Monday, June 29, 2020

Monday, June 22, 2020

Weekly Margin 2020, W25: No thoughts, just the list

Streaming Theater-Related Content I Watched

Theater Developments

  • The first annual Antonyo Awards were held June 19.
  • Sarah Bellamy wrote a compelling piece for The Paris Review called "Performing Whiteness."
  • The Flea Theater has finally agreed to pay all its artists.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Weekly Margin 2020, W24: Black Lives Fucking Matter

The last weekend of May and first week of June saw global protests flaring up for Black Lives Matter, as people around the world took to the streets against centuries police brutality and systemic racism. Those protests continue and the fight rages on, even as police come to protests and assault peaceful protestors, medics, legal observers, and journalists. I support these protests and unequivocally condemn police brutality. Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery are only a recent three in an infuriatingly long and storied list of Black people being murdered by law enforcement or by citizens who fancy themselves qualified to police Black bodies. More Black people are being killed by police even as these protests go on. To say Black Lives Matter is the bare fucking minimum. The time for justice is long overdue.

American Civil Liberties Union
A list of funds for supporting Black people, especially those in the queer community. This document also includes bail funds and tips for staying safe while protesting.
A working document on how to be a better anti-racism ally (reading resources and action plans).

Additionally, theater and film artists of color, inspired by the protests, are speaking out about rampant discrimination they've experienced on Broadway, in Hollywood, and beyond, and are asking that we all take advantage of the pause given us by the pandemic to see a more inclusive, more actively anti-racist way forward. Here are a few of their stories:

  • Writer/performer Griffin Matthews shared the story of bringing his musical Witness Uganda (renamed Invisible Thread when produced at 2nd Stage).
  • Performer Cooper Howell shared his experience playing Prince Hans in Frozen at the Hyperion.
  • Performer Bryn Carter shared an open letter she wrote to The Flea Theater about their treatment of her while she was a Bat.
  • Performer Billy Porter shared his experiences and a call to action.
  • Performer Krysta Gonzales shares her letter to the Groundlings about their policies.
  • Playbill reposted Tonya Pinkins's 2015 story of her departure from CSC's Mother Courage and Her Children.
  • David Oyelowo recounted when Selma was punished by The Academy for calling attention to the murder of Eric Garner.
There is also a petition demanding a commitment from American theater to do better. And there is a crowdsourced document of anti-racist theater resources.

I know I haven't always done right. I've had blinders up and not even realized they were there. I am trying to be better.

I didn't watch any theater during the first week of June, but I am slowly returning to watching some things. List below the cut:

Monday, June 1, 2020

Weekly Margin 2020, W22: A Fallen Fighter

I almost didn't post any of this. It all seems so meaningless, and everything feels so hopeless. The Black Lives Matter movement has been fighting for six years, a fight that has been treading the same infuriating ground for a century longer than that with the simple plea from Black people: stop killing us. Recognize that we are human. Recognize that we matter.

And they're still getting killed. They're still getting murdered, treated with mistrust, given no dignity, no way to safely exist in the world. Lynchings are alive and well and flourishing in the U.S.

So who cares what theater I saw this past week. I honestly don't. I wrote it down, out of habit only. Right now I feel so hopeless about so many things. But because this past week Larry Kramer died, someone who continued to fight when everyone tried to shout him down, who fought for decades, I want to at least say this:

Last week we lost Larry Kramer, a titan of queer writing and activism. He stoked his rage in the inferno of the AIDS crisis, lived with HIV for decades, and survived liver disease and a transplant. He lived longer than statistics said he should have. He lived so long that I expected him to live forever, fueled by his anger at humanity's failings, a twin flame with his belief that there is that within us which can do better, which should do better, which must do better.

He wrote The Normal Heart after he was kicked out of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, an organization he helped found. It is a howling cry of anger, an extended wail of grief. It is also, if you pay attention, a demonstration that even at your most helpless and scared, you can try to do something. Raul Esparza pointed out during the 2004 Off-Broadway revival in which he starred, that it plays now like a Greek tragedy, the audience and players knowing now what none of the characters knew in the play: the name of the disease, the scope and danger of it, and that it still cuts a swath through underprivileged communities. When the play was again revived in 2011, this time on Broadway, Larry Kramer stood by the door, handing out flyers to exiting patrons, reminding them that the events of the play are true, that nearly every character depicted in The Normal Heart is now dead, and that the so far unwinnable fight against the ravages of AIDS continues. He handed out these flyers because he was still fighting, because he had never stopped fighting.

We didn't deserve a man like Larry Kramer, but he fought for us anyway. We didn't deserve him, but we can try to earn him.