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. Last year we offered three courses: Sister, Soldier, Self-Preserver taught by Tutterow Fellow Kimberly Dixon-Mays, Genre Writing for the Stage: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Horror Plays-in-Progress taught by Resident Playwright Derek McPhatter, and Tackling White Privilege and Supremacy in Theatre taught by Jenni Lamb. 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:
Self Work for White Allies (Feb 22 - Apr 05) - These weekly learning sessions share tools created by United to End Racism. These free, open-source tools help people of all different backgrounds recover from the psychological effects of growing up in a white supremacist culture. UER work is done by people of all cultural backgrounds, and it is suggested to do in affinity groups– or groups of people with shared cultural identity. This particular group is for people with whiteness as any part of our identity, who want to take responsibility for ending racism, starting with ourselves.
Telling Your Truth (Mar 04 - Apr 15) - Telling Your Truth brings an immersive online experience that allows writers to experiment with low stakes improvisation exercises and guided peer discussion to unveil high stakes truth to the page. Taught by one of Second City’s best mentors, Dionna Griffin-Irons TYT delves into simple scenic exposition, 4 W’s (Who, What, Where and Why), as writers share their creative voice in a variety of fun, creative risks – impromptu scenes, unforgettable characters, and unapologetic rants from the comfort of their home! Breaking the pattern of solo writing, writers interact and connect in a variety of exercises that fuel memory, truth and spontaneity.
Sister, Soldier, Self-Preserver (Jun 03 - Jul 15) - 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. And the workshop experience – so important to developing new work – can amplify this complexity. These dynamics can feel especially true right now, particularly for underrepresented populations. 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 their own larger artistic 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.