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BLACK THEATRE SYMPOSIUM SUPPLIES A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR DIVERSITY

By Joe Duffy and Jordan Stovka, Writer's Bloc

Photo courtesy of Joe Duffy, Writer's Bloc

At The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center this past Saturday, the relationship between race and theatre was the topic of discussion.

Audience members probed questions of stereotypes, societal pressures and diversity, while bringing suppressed feelings to the surface.

The third annual Black Theatre Symposium, hosted by the University of Maryland School of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies, provided a healthy environment for attendees to embrace their race and culture while pursuing theatre, a profession notorious for a deliberate lack of diversity.

The event encouraged discussion with the aid of knowledgeable, empathetic mentors and peers.

As attendees filed into the Clarice in the morning., they were welcomed to the Gildenhorn Recital Hall with a presentation from Johnetta Boone, a stylist and designer in film, television, commercial and photography. She has over 20 years of experience, and was a student at the Duke Ellington School of the Performing Arts, as well as the Fashion Institute of Technology.

After the kick-off, the rest of the day consisted of three Break Out sessions, as well as a Chat ‘N Chew catered lunch featuring a panel discussing diversity in production. The symposium concluded with Ghetto Symphony, a performance that brought the life of black urban youth in Baltimore to the stage.

The air in the room was heavy with silence except for the occasional sound of soft footsteps, forceful outbreath and the faint scrawling of pens on paper. The palpability of thoughts, however, made a distinct presence in the room.

At noon, the Black Theatre Symposium featured a workshop titled “Racial Battle Fatigue,” a segment where individuals were encouraged to write freely without borders, censorship or restrictions, answering prompts such as:

I am a soldier in the racial battle because I …I am so weary of having to …I must fight on because I …

Workshop leader, Caleen Sinnette Jennings, encouraged writers to rise between each prompt, walk around, breathe and stretch to reset their brains before proceeding to the next question.

Read more here.

Date of Publication: 
4/3/16