Statement of Solidarity and Apology
Dear Dramat Community,
We, the Executive Board of the Dramat, are writing in order to reaffirm our original statement of solidarity with the Black community and all others who resist the continued oppression of BIPOC people in this country. We stand with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless others who are victims of police brutality and systemic racism. We stand with LGBTQ+ Black people, acknowledging the specific oppression Black trans people face. Most importantly for our organization, we stand in solidarity with BIPOC artists and fully support and endeavor to be a part of the BIPOC revolution in American theatre. As a part of this support, and as a first step in the long march of healing that the Dramat must undertake in order to be a fully inclusive and anti-racist theatre group, we would like to extend an apology to the current and former BIPOC students of Yale who have suffered due to the Dramat’s actions.
As all of you know, the Dramat is dedicated to its “tradition of fine theatre”, but we have not lived up to this aspiration. The history of theatre and of Yale is inexorably linked with white supremacy and anti-blackness, and instead of actively working to be anti-racist, we have taken actions that have at their worst been discriminatory to our BIPOC members and at best have been complicit in their oppression. We have failed to challenge a culture of theatre written, produced, directed, designed, and performed by the white and wealthy while tokenizing our communities of color. We have failed to open our audition and technical processes to those who are not white and affluent. We have failed to challenge professionals who have not promoted diverse, accessible, race-conscious casting. We have failed to make the Dramat a comfortable, inclusive space for our BIPOC members and have neglected to include people of color on all levels (both students and professionals) of Dramat productions and activities. And, we have pressured BIPOC to bear the responsibility of creating diverse representation in the Dramat while continuing to ignore and exclude communities of color.
We recognize that the Dramat cannot move forward without acknowledging our history of oppression, and we sincerely apologize for the hardship and labor we have imposed upon BIPOC Dramat and Dramat-adjacent folks in our community. Over the past five years we have made significant attempts to select more diverse shows and casts, but even these efforts were often damaging to the BIPOC in our community because we failed to examine our racist roots, the full complexity of the situation, and the true effects of our actions. As a result, we have continued to hurt and fail the people in our community and take full responsibility for this failure. While we were and are in the process of learning how to best uphold anti-racist theatre practices, it is unacceptable that we have caused harm to people in our community as a part of this process. Going forward, we are committed to making anti-racist theatre not just a goal, but the central priority of our organization.
Since these actions clearly have not been in keeping with our tradition of fine theatre, we are reexamining how we define this tradition. For us, fine theatre is: inclusive, accessible, enjoyable, intellectually and artistically stimulating, and continually evolving.
In order to better uphold this tradition, we are also reevaluating our priorities and practices as a producing organization and promise to take the following steps:
We will re-evaluate our hiring practices in order to ensure that inclusivity and accessibility is always a priority for our professionals.
We will re-examine our audition practices and create new audition guidelines and materials that promote inclusivity and sensitivity to people of all identities (racial, gender, and otherwise).
We will re-work the position of outreach coordinator to ensure that the onus of diversity and inclusion is on every member of the Dramat board, not just one individual.
We will ensure that care and kindness are our first priority when engaging with members of our community and selecting activities and productions for the Dramat.
We will dedicate resources to making all Dramat related activities (productions, Associate and Executive boards, and social events) accessible and safe for all members of our community.
We will actively listen to you, and members of the wider theatre community, in order to improve the Dramat and make it truly reflective of our community.
This list is a work in progress. We are dedicated to putting in the time and labor necessary to make the Dramat a truly inclusive, anti-racist space and are still listening and generating ideas to accomplish this goal.
So, we ask you, our community, what can the Dramat do to become an actively anti-racist, inclusive space? If you would like to share your thoughts with the board about how the Dramat has failed in the past or how it can do better in the future, please fill out the form linked below!
We have lots of work to do, so stay tuned for more information!
With love and respect,
The Dramat Executive Board