Why bother? – Why should we try and ‘make it big’ in an industry where white supremacy, class elitism, poor representations of queerness, and general misogyny (among many prejudices) control theatre and keep us in the margins?
Because we cannot make a difference on the periphery of an industry which controls representations of us – an element of how we, and the world, sees us!
We cannot stop fighting for a diverse theatre industry – It is too important. The prejudices in the theatre industry have detrimental effects extending beyond solely hurting the individual who is being discriminated against. For example the general discrimination of women in theatre through, being typecast (often by ethnicity), having a lack of roles, often not having multi-faceted characters, not having the same access to creative leadership (as their fertility is seen as a ‘risk’ to the industry’s gate keepers) promotes the image that women are less valuable and less important than men.
This representation of women, which the theatre industry often produces, is hugely detrimental to the work, progression and, mental health of women. However, the theatre industry, the same as any art industry, is not in a vacuum. People will come and see plays, read about the plays, have classes on the plays, participate in the plays, re-enact the plays, aspire to be the characters in plays, receive workshops on the plays, and act in the plays. All of these people will see the representations of women, and often subconsciously, internalise those representations – as we all do with cultural representations, they are inescapable.
This internalisation of prejudices affects how we see each other. It affects how minorities, the most vulnerable people in society, are thought about. Worst of all – it affects how we see ourselves, the poor representation of minorities perpetuates a vicious cycle where we often believe the stereotypes and lies from the establishment are true.
I am not saying I hate the theatre industry – I love it. What I am saying is the cycle of representation in theatre can simply not continue without a diversified creative leadership team. We cannot have the same demographic directing plays, and thus the representations of us, forever. We need to diversify the creative and representative industries, take a step in ending the two-
dimensional stereotypes which keeps minorities at the margins of society.
So if people tell you that you cannot make it in the arts industry, tell them ‘I will make it, and I will make room for my voice to be heard too’