In response to the killings of countless black Americans like George Floyd and the social justice work and protests of organizations like Black Lives Matter, Chicago Dramatists is offering free classes to BIPOC theater artists, taught by BIPOC theater artists to stand in support of those fighting for justice and the dismantlement of racism and white supremacy. Thus far we have offered two classes offered this Summer: Sister, Soldier, Self-Preserver taught by Tutterow Fellow Kimberly Dixon-Mays and Genre Writing for the Stage: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Horror Plays-in-Progress taught by Resident Playwright Derek McPhatter. All students (accepted via an application process) took the classes free of charge while we make sure to continue to pay all of our instructors.
As well, we are hosting a free White Privilege course this Fall for white artists to better understand, utilize, and integrate the ethics and foundations of this movement. We have received interest and applications from as far away as Australia, and as coastal as California, New York City, and Texas. This promises to be a robust, compelling and productive program — and a way for CD to both commit and support this new wave of American Civil Rights activism, as well as to grow and educate ourselves in the movements requests and needs.
Donations to this would help support teachers salaries, artist fees for readings (actors and directors), and staff time for organizing and promoting.
Please see a description of this year's classes below:
Sister, Soldier, Self-Preserver: Writing through Storms (currently in progress) - A playwright’s choice to write what’s on their mind can feel like choosing between re-living trauma personally, or fulfilling their responsibility as artists. This workshop is designed for Black playwrights who are female, Femme identifying, Non-binary, and/or identify as women to explore strategies for writing, with a balance of both self-care and larger mission. Using plays from the Black female canon and elsewhere as inspiration, participants will be guided through discussions and generative exercises to develop new pages.
Genre Writing for the Stage: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Horror Plays-in-Progress (course completed in July) - Playwright Derek Lee McPhatter leads four workshop sessions focused on play development techniques in a genre context (sci-fi, fantasy, horror). Participants will analyze scenes from fantasy, sci-fi and horror theater scripts. They will participate in several rigorous in-session writing and feedback sessions, and will complete the workshop with a ten-minute play or first ten pages of their new script! The workshop is designed for writers developing a specific original sci-fi/fantasy/horror play or adapting a project in these genre categories. Applicants will be invited to participate after completing a brief survey, with a select number of slots reserved for black writers as part of Chicago Dramatist’s ongoing response to the current moment.
Tackling White Privilege & Supremacy in Theatre (open soon) - The world is changing rapidly and as storytellers who are white, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves so that we create work that doesn't perpetuate white supremacy; and instead work toward creating work that is anti-racist. In this forum, we will hold monthly discussions of books such as White Fragility, How to Be An Antiracist and plays that have changed the landscape in the discussion of race in theatre such as Pass Over. Participate in conversations that will hopefully lead to being a better ally and collaborator with BIPOC artists.