Theater Studies Statement in Support of Black Lives

Monday, June 29, 2020

The faculty and staff of Theater Studies stand in solidarity with those protesting the country’s systemic racism and anti-Black violence. 

We recognize that theater has historically exploited artists of color and that institutions of theater have marginalized artists and audiences of color. We also acknowledge that theatrical representations and performances have been deployed perniciously to create and perpetuate both explicit and implicit racial hierarchies. At the same time, artists of color have developed powerful theatrical works revealing the mechanisms of racism, and scholars studying race as performance have shown how we can begin to dismantle racist structures. 

Theater is the art of embodied actions, and we in Theater Studies are committed to actions that further these goals of revealing and undoing the systemic racism in our field. 

We must do better.  

The Department of Theater Studies will take the academic year to re-examine our vision and mission—identifying biases and creating a long-term action plan to dismantle systemic ties moving forward. 

We will do better.

Action Plan for 2020-2021 Academic Year

Theater Studies Course Requirement
All courses will require readings and components centering on, inclusive of, and connecting with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Possible examples include in-person or virtual residencies (contingent upon current Duke guidelines for COVID-19); course materials addressing the current historical moment; and collaborations with and connections to the Durham BIPOC artistic communities.  

Department-Focused Evaluation
Our faculty will work with campus DEI experts to discuss and identify how Theater Studies contributes to structural racism, and the department will create a long-term action plan to dismantle those systemic ties moving forward. Goals include: diversifying the faculty, creating new courses, and updating our curriculum and programming. The action plan with its well-defined steps will be completed by May 2021.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Student Representative
The department will create a position for a student representative who will engage with peers to examine the student departmental experience and work with the Chair to promote an inclusive climate for all, as well as work alongside faculty in the development of a long-term departmental plan. 

Fall Mainstage Production
JaMeeka Holloway-Burrell, a leader of Black theater in the Triangle, will direct the mainstage experience: Citizen, An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine.