In last year’s analysis of the racial parity in my work, I analyzed the most recent twelve plays I’d written, developed, and had produced. In doing so, I asked the following questions:
- From whose perspective is the story told?
- Who directed the first production (or led the first workshop)?
- What is the racial breakdown of the characters I’ve written?
I’ve added one new play to the list since last year, and I’ve had one new workshop of one of the first dozen plays, so the numbers haven’t changed terribly much… but I think it’s important to keep revisiting these questions, even when it feels hard, because discrimination and prejudice aren’t going to end without diligence and fearless attention.
So… question #1. Of the thirteen plays now covered by this analysis, seven are told from what’s clearly a white perspective: one more than at this time last year. Five are ensemble stories with multiple perspectives, and one story’s clearly told from an African American perspective. I’m still pretty happy with this answer. I think.
Question #2 is where things start to get ugly… but a little less ugly this year than last. I have finally worked with a director of color (on a recent workshop of my play THE BUTCHER), and though I still have a long way to go to get more balance here, I’m glad I was able to make some movement this year.
With regard to question #3: last year, I noted that I’d written 49 white characters, 7 African American characters, and 3 Arab American characters. The new play I’ve been working on this year was written for 6 white characters, so the numbers are now 55 white, 10 people of color. (Yes, several of the roles could be cast differently, but I thought it was important to be honest about what I was imagining when I wrote.) If I write a new full-length in the coming year, maybe I can tilt that balance a bit. I know I’d like to.