I was there.  If you have questions about what was going on in the room, ask me here.  I get the feeling that while the use of Twitter to share some quotes was great, 140 characters can’t possible sum up moments that took twenty minutes to build.  We met for more than twelve hours — probably more like sixteen — so I can’t cover it all, but I’ll do my best to allay some fears.  I’m sure this conversation is going on elsewhere too, but I’m just here to help.

UPDATE: there seems to be lots of confusion about just what this all was.  The Arena Stage website has a ton of information, so we should all be starting there.

*This wasn’t just a conversation about ethnic diversity, but the panelists were indeed a diverse group.  In fact, I’d say there were more people of color than not, and theaters of many sizes were represented, as were artists, administrators, and educators.  And here, from Facebook, is the list (I recommend Googling everyone if you still question the diversity):

Aaron Jafferis, Aditi Brennan Kapil, Carlenne Lacosta, Claudia Alick, Debora Cardona-DePeahul, Deborah Cullinan, Desiree Urquhart, Dr. Scott E. Walters, Jennifer Nelson, Kamilah Forbes, Karen Zacarias, Kristoffer Diaz, Lydia R. Diamond, Mark Russell, Morgan Jenness, Peter Brosius, Robert Levi, Sandra Gibson, Shishir Kurup, Sixto Wagan, Taylor Mac

*The conversation is just the beginning of several conversations that Arena is holding regarding the state of the industry as they prepare to move into their new space.  They’re laying great groundwork to help meet the needs of the theater community as they move forward, instead of just creating a huge building with no regard for the needs of the field.

*As to why people didn’t know about it or weren’t invited: there’s only so much that can be done on that front.  These conversations go on all the time, and it’s impossible for everyone in the theater to be a part of all of them.  Arena really should be commended for reaching out via Twitter and blog, attempting to open up the conversation virtually.

I’ll be back with more…

UPDATE: Yes, we did talk about the male/female production gap.  And the person of color/white folk production gap.  The folks in the room were all well-versed in those conversations.  As a result, we talked about those things only in so far as they related to the conversations we were having, which were on some kind of search for next steps: how to bring this conversation to institutions, how to prepare artists to have this conversation, how to increase overall visibility, how to stress that the OVERALL CONCEPT of diversity is the vital thing here.

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