May 31st, 2021

Legacies of Historical Practices

Panelists: Carmen Aguirre, Bea Pizano, Jani Lauzon, Walter Borden, and Kim Rampersad

Moderators: Jamie Robinson and Dante Jemmott

"Unless you go from reactionary to revolutionary you will have these conversations every generation. In my own particular career, I had decided, at a very early time, exactly what path I was going down. And so I can say at this stage in my life, that it has always been a parallel path, my careers: The artistic and the activist."
Screenshot from (Re)Setting the Stage Panel 1 on "Legacies of Casting Practices"
Panel 1 participants: (top row, L to R) Jamie Robinson, Dante Jemmott, Carmen Aguirre; (middle row, L to R) Walter Borden, Jani Lauzon, Beatriz Pizano; (bottom) Kimberley Rampersad. Photo by Marlis Schweitzer.

The first panel examined the historical relationship between casting and representation and focused on discriminative practices both in training institutions and the professional theatre industry. Each panelist offered their personal experience with discrimination in the Canadian theatre industry and spoke about how we can improve the industry as a whole.

The conversation revolved around who holds the power regarding representation in theatre and the urgent need to upend the status quo with leadership changes. This change of leadership will help provide space in theatre institutions for genuine understanding and support for everyone involved.

“[S]uddenly we have a script and we have still maybe a predominantly white group of acting students who are then trying to deal with a beautifully written play by an Indigenous woman who is unpacking racial biases and trauma and there’s a real challenge in terms of unpacking what I’m calling 'cultural intimacy'."
Graphic for (Re)Setting the Stage Panel 1 "Legacies of Historical Practices"
"How do organizations and theatres get that cultural fluency through the whole organization in order to support that kind of work? Because we can have those conversations in rehearsal halls, but if we can’t have them also with administration, if we can’t have them in marketing, if we can’t have them in production, if we can’t have them with volunteers, if we can’t have them with front of house, if we cannot speak this language throughout our whole organization, all we are doing is setting up this beautiful artistic work for harm within the organization, let alone before we share it."