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Archive for the ‘Audience Development’ Category

“Self Identification” from Bernardo Mazón

In Administration, Audience Development, Fellowship, Human Resources, Literary, Residency, Shakespeare Dramaturgy Residency, Uncategorized on May 16, 2017 at 5:33 PM

/var/folders/84/dy2qtnz13wddhtx39pw3vr1h0000gn/T/com.apple.iChat/Messages/Transfers/IMG_3700.JPG.jpegMy first sit-down with my supervisor, I tell her, “I want to make a lasting contribution here, what can I do” and she is like, “I know just the thing.” A few more discussions later, and I’m writing a thesis for a research project based on this company’s progression with the equity, diversity, & inclusion movement. I’m setting out to examine how successful the organization has been in terms of hiring and representation onstage/offstage. As I’m crafting this proposal and preparing to share it with jefes here, I step back for a moment and think about the problems I’ll face in collecting data.

Por ejemplo, incomplete records. Sometimes information is archived selectively; we can’t see the whole picture. There’s also tokenism. Quizás we CAN see the whole picture, but there’s no way of knowing if someone was hired based on their merit or for liberal bragging rights. I’m not saying there’s something wrong with the latter, as there is a difference between equity and equality, but the point is that sometimes a step forward is followed by several steps back. It’s common for situations like this to be followed by a long and dreary dryspell of hiring straight, able-bodied white men again—back to the old ways. The greatest obstacle, though, is the following:

Self-identification.

Which is self-explanatory. It’s not enough, no, it’s not right for us to determine a person’s ethnic or gender from their appearance. Furthermore, it’s not like you can do a google search on any given name and see what that person is, because identity is an intimate thing. It ought to be shared, but not necessarily put on display. Therefore, por lo tanto, it’d be unfair (not to mention, crazy wrong) for me to go through a company’s history of hiring and make inferences off their picture. “Are they masculine or are they feminine”, “Their skin is dark, so they’re black”, “Oh, this dude must be Latino, oops, Latinx”, “I can’t see if they’re unable to hear” etc.

Back to my story. Entonces, I have this lump in my throat knowing that my research project is destined for turbulence. When I present my idea to the jefes, I leave out my concerns for fear of sounding too complicated. I neglect my politics in hopes for approval.

Seguramente, the responses are essentially, “Great, except…”. They’re receptive but skeptical. They point out exactly the same ethical difficulties I’d experience, and I’m in quiet awe.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it otra vez: I feel like I’m finally in America. Y eso es porque “self-identification” was not something we knew of in my hometown. Mexican border politics tend to enforce nationalities onto people (and don’t get me started on the Arabic diaspora, for I don’t know enough, but I do feel). The culture I come from doesn’t invite you to decide what you are and how the world ought to see it—let alone celebrate it. And here they are, celebrating it like champions.

Joining the parade, 

Bernardo Mazón
FAIR Literary Resident
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
My pronouns: He/Him/His
American

 

P.S. As a chavalillo, I didn’t like story time at school, because most of the books they chose seemed far-away and unimportant to me. They’d either be about animalitos, fairy tales, or some condescending sh*t talking down to little kids. Every now and then, though, they’d pick books that were about people. And they had a multicultural selection. Pictures of people owning their origins. Those books, those were my favorite thing.

“Familiar Strangers” from Nate John Mark

In Administration, Assistantship, Audience Development, Uncategorized on May 1, 2017 at 6:22 AM

conferenceAs the FAIR Audience Development Assistant much of my work here has been in community outreach. We are working hard to connect and form partnerships especially with communities of color. Most recently we have made have reached out to the Indigenous community by inviting ambassadors and other guests from Oregon Indian Education Association and SOU Native American Studies. What they received from us was an opportunity to see one of our amazing productions, a dinner reception, and a pretty good discount for tickets to “Off the Rails.” We were graciously invited to the OIEA conference at SOU and what I received from them was the ignition of an internal flame. These hungry flames consume my spirit and burn a passionate red and an envious green. I want now more than ever to know where I come from. I want now more than ever to truly know my ancestors and hear their stories. Like many Black people, there are so many lost stories in my ancestry. So much wisdom buried underneath the eternal night in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. And that may not even be totally true. How many of our ancestors were captured right here in North America? How many of our ancestors escaped into the mountains of a small Caribbean Island? I see the similarities within Pan African culture, Latinx culture, and now Indigenous culture and I can’t help but think that we all come from the same sacred womb. Brothers and sisters separated at a young age and made to forget the families they were taken from. The ancient pages of our book are scattered across the earth, hidden conspicuously in caves and cliff walls, in pyramids and ancient stone wonders, we write our story over monuments who’s greatness would baffle its witnesses thousands of years later. My family, my Clan, my tribe is out there somewhere waiting to tell me where my journey began. So to my ancestors, whoever you are, I humbly seek presence and wisdom. I will find you. I will listen.

“Anti-typecasting…the theme for the week” from Roberta Inscho-Cox

In Assistantship, Audience Development, Directing, Literary, Producing, Shakespeare Dramaturgy Residency, Uncategorized on April 14, 2017 at 4:27 PM
April_IVP.jpgOn Tuesday, April 11th, I attended the Informed Volunteer Program (IVP), moderated by Lue Douthit, with members of my FAIR 2017 cohort, JaMeeka and Sam. It was a unique experience, especially since JaMeeka, Sam, and I seemed to be the youngest members of the audience. I had no idea what to expect, but this program has created a running theme for the remainder of my week. 
Lue Douthit (or Dr. D, as I’ve come to know her) introduced the two speakers, Dawn Monique Williams, director of Merry Wives of Windsor, and Martine Kei Green-Rogers, dramaturg of UniSon. Both Dawn and Martine spoke to what is going on in rehearsals (or in UniSon’s case, tech). Martine shared with us the experience the cast had on the first night spacing in the Bowmer, how they spent most of the evening playing with sound and bodies within the space, and also how the addition of the projections added a stunning textural element that is “pearl clutching worthy.” After watching the YouTube music video of “Lets talk about the body,” I was already pumped and excited for UniSon’s opening night, but now that I have a little more information, I’m antsy to experience the magic and power of this show. 
Even though I know what’s going on in Merry Wives of Windsor rehearsals, I loved hearing Dawn speak to “what is going on in rehearsals,” “what was her entry point into Merry Wives,” and “what was her experience with the text work?” I never tire hearing Dawn speak to the world of 80s romantic comedy that this Merry Wives lives in, but I can imagine it to feel very exhausting, as a director, having been asked these same questions over and over again. Already in only two weeks, Dawn has had the Merry Wives show intro, the IVP, and countless personal interactions where she is asked to share her vision and points of entry for this play. It takes great skill to make it sound new and exciting every time. Not to mention the need to be consistent. I admire that, because it’s a skill I’m not accustomed to yet, and one that I would need to practice  in order to make it sound as organic and exciting as Dawn Monique Williams does. 
Towards the end of the program, Dr. D opened the panel up to questions from the audience. I wish I could say I was surprised when someone asked what informed Dawn’s choice to cast a woman as Falstaff, but I wasn’t. But what was really moving, was Dawn’s response: “in the spirit of honoring company, I thought ‘why not’ make a statement in life about the facility an actor has to play cross gender, and also, we don’t need to pass up an actor of K.T.’s skill because of gender. K.T. has generosity, comedic timing, and takes great risks in the rehearsal room. Not to mention, she won’t need to wear a fat suit (pause for audience laughter). And I say that, not to be demeaning, but to emphasize that we need to move away from petite actors playing characters of size.” What were they laughing at? Is the notion of casting an actor who doesn’t require a fat suit, funny? Or was it nervous laughter because they are uncomfortable that it’s a plus-size woman playing this role? Or is it both? Fatphobia is a real and true thing. And even within the world of Merry Wives of Windsor, fat jokes are made at Falstaff’s expense. We also see this to the n’th degree in Henry IV, Part One. It’s something that I know, personally, I’m very sensitive to. I could go on and on and on about the daily noise I experience being a plus-sized female director. But I’m also angry that we are still restricted by “type.” Why do we instill this notion in our actors? Just this week in rehearsal, an actor shared their experience being told to lose weight or they wouldn’t be considered for “these roles anymore.” I’m feeling very activated by this, and I am brainstorming in how I can make anti-type casting even more a vital piece of my personal mission as an artist. Stay tuned… 

“The Subtle Manifestations of Privilege” from Frank Guzman

In Assistantship, Audience Development, Frank Guzman on July 24, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Privilege often goes unnoticed when you are not looking for it. In my own life, small privileges often fly under the radar whilst my mind is occupied with the analysis of privilege, or lack thereof, in the lives of others. Parking at the top of a hill, while not the ideal spot, is a privilege for a relatively able-bodied individual. It is a privilege for me. Staring out of the office window and sympathizing with the individual dressed as a giant Pita sandwich is a privilege held by my coworkers and I. Before the FAIR forums, I had already taken a metaphorical microscope to my life to examine ways in which I held privilege because of who I am, because of my background. I am an American citizen. I am an able-bodied individual, except for a weak knee and flat feet. I am a student at Stanford University. My family, while not rich, has never starved. I am male. I enjoy the privilege of being a straight man in a heteronormative society. I know all this and more.

What the FAIR forum has done is establish a weekly reminder of what I have and what is missing. My assistantship, this real world setting, is boosted by the privilege of discussing the issues addressed by the FAIR program. It is easy to forget about privilege. It often turns into background noise. Struggle and a lack of something are much harder to ignore. When you have just eaten you do not tend to think about the relative ease with which you often obtain your food. It is when your empty stomach howls at you for sustenance that you think about your food and why, where, when, how it gets to you. In conversation, I find myself watching my words lest verbal evidence of my privilege leak out. That is the wrong approach. Acknowledgement of privilege is not the same as pretending it is not there. What do I do with my privilege? What do I do about the areas of my life where I do not hold privilege? I don’t know. That is what I am still struggling to find out. But I struggle along in good company.

“Why Am I Important To You?” from Frank Guzman

In Assistantship, Audience Development, Frank Guzman on July 10, 2013 at 11:05 AM


Frank Guzman 7.10

I’m supposed to look at you
And invite you to come see
What I work toward.
The bosses want you to buy tickets,

And I want you to buy tickets.

I want to give you an invitation
To the party
To watch your face light up,
When you see what I see.
Except that I won’t see you.

Because I don’t know you.
I’ve never met you,
And yet,
I am you.

So why am I important to you?
Why should you step through
The door
That I help to hold open
When you have 99 problems
And a theater ticket ain’t one?
Changes are coming
Obstacles loom

And you can’t stop,
Not even for a second

Because time is money.
I want both.
I want your time and your money
But I also want more,
Something deeper,
Something in your soul.

As the outside world fades away …Can I tell you a story?
I put my face on you
Because it’s the way that I know how to craft
To craft my persuasive essay.
I know your different iterations.
You are:
My cousin, my neighbor, the stranger
I met at a meeting.
But I can only speak from experience.
I can only tell you that a kid
Needs heroes and dreams,
And sword fights and love stories
And true life tales of our
Forebears who fought the status quo.
All I can do,
Is invite you, me,
To have a seat by my side
And watch

A Brand New Day from Frank Guzman

In Assistantship, Audience Development, Frank Guzman on July 3, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Frank Guzman 7.3

This week I was able to do more with my assigned project in one day than I have been capable of doing in the 2.5 weeks that I’ve been here. This is not to say that you can view my work just yet. I have much further to go and a whole lot of expertise to cultivate before I will really be proud of exhibiting potential changes to my department’s website. Under the tutelage of my boss, Freda Casillas, and the folks who have been kind enough to teach me about website editing, my knowledge base has been growing in leaps and bounds. I now know a great deal about the work of the Audience Development department and my ability to help present its public face has been strengthened through meetings, copious note taking and sheer trial and error. Still, I am an amateur and each new accomplishment, i.e. discovery about a button’s function, is like a fascinating, shiny bauble. When I say I was able to do more today, I mean that I have taken several steps forward in terms of my confidence and editing prowess but goals remain and are not yet met. The work I am doing is humbling. Every small accomplishment is a reminder that teamwork and preparation are crucial elements of any success story. Just throw in a dash of dogged determination and voila! Progress.

What Not to Wear from Regina Morones

In Audience Development, Internship, Regina Morones on June 27, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Regina Morones 6.27This week, I had a great time exploring the OSF Costume Rental Shop with Evelyn Carr and Michael Leon from the hair and wig department. We were given a tour of their vast array of costumes and accessories. They have costumes that range from Roman to modern as well as an extensive selection of Medieval and Renaissance period costumes. These costumes are highly sought after by theatre companies and film studios throughout the US. Recently, various costumes from OSF’s Costume Rentals were featured in Game of Desks, a Game of Thrones spoof on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Saturday Night Live also uses costumes from the rental shop for many of their sketches. I was excited to learn that OSF costumes have been worn by many celebrities.

Regina Morones 6.27b

To my surprise, after our tour we were invited to try on any costume we liked! Each one of us picked out the most elaborate costume we could find and accessorized with an elaborate headdress of our choice. It was so much fun to not only try on a costume but also take on the personality that each costume brought out in us. These elaborate costumes definitely brought out our silly, playful and royal sensibilities. If you want to get an up-close look of the amazing artistry that goes into costumes for the festival, I recommend visiting Emily at the OSF Costume Rentals Shop.

Audience Development from Frank Guzman

In Assistantship, Audience Development, Frank Guzman on June 26, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Frank Guzman 6.26

In my own experience, the rhetoric about Latinos often centers on negative stories concerning institutionalized racism, the need for better education and more opportunities. At OSF, the discussion about internal, company diversity is ongoing but my work within the Audience Development department has a decidedly positive spin to it. The work that we do is intended to show new audiences of color the value of the plays that OSF puts on. It doesn’t end there; we at Audience Development also contribute to scholarship funds for people of color and we are dedicated sponsors of community events with a cultural focus. The difference that I appreciate is the sense that we are not fighting a losing battle. Yes, we are facing an interesting challenge by marketing to groups that are not historically proven supporters of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival but by doing so we are embracing the need to change the perception of American communities. Oregon is not homogenous and as demographics continue to shift the need for a more diverse marketing strategy will persist. OSF productions offer a community building block, a shared point of interest for people with wildly different backgrounds, and I am happy that I get to be a part of the team that makes that possible.

It Started witn a Bang! from Regina Morones

In Audience Development, Internship, Regina Morones on June 19, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Regina Morones 6.19

My first day as a FAIR intern kicked off at the weekly FAIR Forum. It kind of felt like the first day at school—a mixture of excitement and anticipation to meet other fellow participants. I had a great time getting to know everyone over a delicious breakfast spread of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, biscuits and even chocolate cake! I found out later that this is not the usual weekly FAIR Forum. It was a special FAIR Forum to say goodbye to several of the directing fellows and interns that were leaving in the next couple of days.

Although it was great meeting them, I wish I had more time to hang out and get to know them better before they leave. Overall, the highlight of the day for me was meeting Carmen Morgan, OSF’s diversity and inclusion consultant, who talked to the group about her work with OSF building internal diversity and inclusive capacity as well as the many obstacles faced by people of color in the theatre industry. This really hit home for me because as a women of color pursuing acting in theatre as a career I have faced racism on many different levels. In order for change to happen we have to be comfortable being uncomfortable and initiate these conversations that expose the racial inequalities and biases prevalent among the theatre community.

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