More or less back on Eastern Standard Time

Thought I’d debrief on a couple things now that I’ve re-settled myself after the AATE conference.

A Few Aha! Moments and the Beautiful People who Led Me to Them

  • On the whole “is-it-okay-to-do-a-Latino (Chicano, West Indian, insert-racial or ethnic identity here) play-when you only have white students” question: Putting aside the obvious opportunities this presents to invite diversity into your school/program/theatre, in the amateur theatre setting children of color are asked to play roles written for white people all the time. Given  the option to bring a play with characters of diverse identities to a greater audience, not having diversity in your ranks is not a valid excuse for depriving such students from the exposure– in fact, it’s more reason it’s needed. (h/t Roxanne Schroeder-Arce)

 

  •  There aren’t nearly enough Asian American TYA plays, particularly with female protagonists that are not stereotyped as “model minority,” etc. (h/t YiRen Tsai)

 

  • Outstanding assessment question for students attending theatre programming: “Did you see yourself onstage?” May all children and youth have the chance to experience art that makes them explain “I see me!” (h/t AATE’s Multiculturalism and Diversity Committee)

 

  • Labeling children with special needs as “high functioning” or “low functioning” is pejorative. (h/t Diane Nutting)

 

  • There has been some great reflection in the field about ethical issues in TYA and arts education recently. The impetus for this reflection has not always been wholly altruistic, but the ethical questions of our field are many and demand attention. (h/t Drew Chappell, Matt Omasta, and the Youth and Professional Theatre Networks)

Question for the World: Have you had any Aha! moments about your work or the field recently? Do tell!

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Conferencing it up Day 2 and 3: Multiculturalism and Diversity

Conference fatigue has set in for me at this point, but I am having a good conference. I especially enjoy being around so many people I greatly admire as artists and as human beings. I have been MOST grateful this conference for the sessions I’ve been able to attend on issues of multiculturalism, diversity, and inclusion– specifically Everybody Plays! Inclusion in the Theatre Arts Classroom (chaired by Diane Nutting, with facilitation by Torrie Dunlap), Scripted: The Representation of People of Color in TYA Dramatic Literature (chaired by YiRen Tsai, with panelists Lorenzo Garcia and Ebony Tucker), and Building a Diverse Theatre Curriculum: Students, Teachers, and the Role of Privilege (chaired by Christina Marin, with Stephen Gundersheim and Jennifer Chapman facilitating). In a related way, the multiculturalism and diversity meetings have been an important part of my experience this year as well. AATE and the fields of theatre and education itself, are imperfect, but the challenge laid down by our mission’s anti-bias philosophy requires diligence and unwavering self-reflection . I SO appreciate colleagues who have asked hard questions in these areas and continue to stand up for issues that matter (here and in the organizations they work for) even when it seemed they were standing alone.

One of the sessions I attended challenged participants to define an action related to multiculturalism and diversity in the field in the next year and one of mine is to increase my familiarity with Latino TYA dramatic literature. I am starting by reading Jose Cruz Gonzalez’ Calabasas Street and Jose Casas’ la ofrenda.

Question for the World: Do you have a favorite play (or several) from the canon of Latino TYA dramatic literature? Share it here and I’ll put it on my to do list to read before next conference!

 

California Girl for the Week – Day 1

I consider this “Day 1” since my first twenty four hours in San Francisco were pretty lame. Exhausted from all the flying I managed to find my hotel,  order pizza, read my San Francisco travel guide book, and sleep for a ridiculous number of hours. This afternoon was a little more impressive.

These first two days here I’m at a hotel just outside the city, necessitating figuring out the complex public transportation system to get anywhere worth going. After a minor mishap finding my way on foot to the BART station nearby, I managed to buy a ticket and get to Union Square. I was delighted to find the conference hotel is directly off of the stop. Quickly registered. I’m pretty much in love with the little pocket guides to the conference they’ve made and getting a bag for “going green” and foregoing a full conference brochure that I can get online anyway is pretty awesome.

I wandered around Union Square for awhile and then checked out a great Farmer’s Market in the United Nations Plaza and looked around the San Francisco Library. I thought it was pretty impressive that they have a whole mini library with audio tapes of books for the blind. I had been told that no trip to San Francisco was complete without a ride on a cable car so I took one out to Fisherman’s Wharf. Annoyingly long lines to get on the cable cars but the experience itself was worth having. I actually liked Fisherman’s Wharf (it reminded me of a lot of “seafaring” historical sites I’ve been to in Connecticut and Massachusetts), although I feel like I don’t know enough about maritime trivia to TRULY appreciate it. Views were lovely but the wind made for a cold soul-crushing wait in line for the cable car back. I hope I’ll have a little more time for sightseeing somewhere this week– kind of want to see the Sculpture Garden at the deYoung Museum and possibly do the bike-across-the-bridge thing, or just relax in Golden Gate Park. But mainly looking forward to geeking out in conference sessions. 🙂

I actually got to go to my first conference event tonight. Today was the AATE Pre-Conference on LGBTQQ Youth Theatre, and the final event of the evening was open to all conference attendees. It was a video showing of a play, Be Still and Know, based on the book The God Box by Alex Sanchez. The issues this play illuminated are so personal to me, I wish more people of faith could see this play and reach out to support young people struggling with them. It warmed my heart to start conference with this very special performance to reflect on.

The downside of being in a cheap hotel outside the city limits is that it’s located in too sketchy an area to be walking around late at night, so I had to spend money on a cab to get back. Luckily, after tomorrow, I’ll be sleeping just a couple of blocks from the conference site. My head is kind of spinning with the many different choices for sessions tomorrow– should be an exciting day!

Question for the World: What’s  YOUR favorite thing to do in San Francisco?

T-7 hours to get on my way!

I’m off to the AATE Conference tomorrow morning, requiring being awake way.too.freaking.early and then arriving with my body thinking it’s far later than it is. Should be an adventure. No I’m not packed yet. I’ll try to blog a little when I get a chance but mostly I’m hoping to soak up the fun!

Question for the World: What’s your most essential don’t-ever-forget-to-pack item for business travel?