Undo. Re-learn. Center community.
With gratitude to We See You White American Theatre and to our Brown/ Trinity Rep alumni who began this conversation with us several years ago, we acknowledge the labor that artists, administrators, and students who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color have undergone in the call for dismantling the structures of white supremacy that exist in theatrical institutions and training programs in this country. The demands issued by weseeyou this summer were an act of tremendous generosity, and we regard them as such. We acknowledge and uplift in particular the voices of our alumni in this ongoing work.
We acknowledge the deep civil unrest in this moment of global pandemic, and in particular the ongoing anti-Black racism that has been laid bare in our country, our communities, our families. That we were offered the gift of weseeyou’s demands in this time is extraordinary.
Brown/ Trinity acknowledges explicitly that we ourselves operate within a culture dominated by structures of discrimination, and that doing so has caused harm in our community- in particular, to our BIPOC students and faculty members. Brown/ Trinity commits without equivocation to continue to develop a program centered in anti-racist policies and practices, and to foster and sustain a culture that values community, social justice, and equity. We believe these are essential components of our- of any- professional training program.
We re-commit to ongoing inter-community and public transparency and accountability in our anti-racist work. In that spirit, we communicate our ongoing commitments and actions below:
This fall, a committee of Brown/ Trinity faculty, staff, and students are undertaking a review and revision of our departmental Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan. Our examination will include but not be limited to continuing to develop and deepen our analysis and policies for curricular development, hiring and retention, admissions practices, and ongoing training. The revised plan will be presented to the community for a reading and comment period, and feedback will be incorporated into the plan before its submission to the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity for review and approval. Once approved, the plan will be made available on our departmental website. Updated progress reports on the goals in this action plan will be made available on our website each semester.
We commit to continuing to deepen our own learning as a community, building on the work our faculty, staff, and students have done in recent years to increase our cultural competency. Trainings this summer and fall include Nicole Brewer’s Anti-Racist Theater: A Foundational Course, developing each participant’s personal anti-racist theater pedagogy. First-year students are now onboarded with work around identity, privilege, power, and intersectionality with Brown’s Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, and the Office has also developed and will lead an all-community workshop centered on communication, harm reduction, and harm repair. And we have the privilege of an all-community workshop beginning some work with us on Indigenous theater practices- a noticeable lack in our curriculum. We will as always continue to source desires for continued trainings from our community.
We continue our yearly valued partnership with Brown’s Department of Africana Studies/ Rites and Reason Theatre. This year’s partnership will include a virtual production of a play by one of our third-year MFA students.
We assert our belief that an ongoing deep conversation with its community is a vital part of what makes a vibrant artistic organization. Brown/ Trinity Rep will continue to partner with local programs and organizations such as Rhode Island Latino Arts, The Manton Avenue Project, and Trinity Rep’s America Too to create opportunities for students to make work with our Rhode Island community outside of our studios and performance spaces.
Brown/ Trinity continues to offer its matriculating actors and directors full tuition scholarships as well as full health and dental insurance. Directors are provided with full funding through teaching assistantships, and actors with demonstrated financial need are offered need-based partial living stipends. In addition, Brown has made additional technical support available to its students during this time of hybrid learning; emergency funding is also available to all graduate students through the Graduate School.
Brown/ Trinity asserts that Affinity and Aspiring Ally spaces empower the individual and collective voices in our community, and are a component of a healthy community that is central to our organizational mission. We will continue to provide ongoing structural support for all Affinity/ Ally spaces requested by our students.
We affirm and recognize that the industry we have learned to operate within has created a scarcity mentality in which the artist’s health is prioritized last, or not at all. We commit in this time of pause to take the time to slow down, to re-examine and re-connect with the essentials of our practices, curriculum, and production- deepening the learning rather than continuing to widen the expanse of what we require of ourselves and of each other. This investigation will be critical as we re-imagine the structure and necessary components of our training program, vitally empowering artists who will continue to meaningfully impact the future of our field and the communities in which they live and work.
We offer the above with gratitude, humility, and great and abiding hope for our work together.