Help Plan the Future of Theater

New group holding meetings to create safer, more diverse theaters in Milwaukee. You can participate.

By - Apr 13th, 2021 05:36 pm

Milwaukee Theater Alliance

Be you an actor, backstage person, producer, board member, parent of a young actor, or even a ticket holder you may be interested in participating in the effort by a group of theater folks to create local standards, influenced by The Chicago Theater Standards created in 2017. A document called the Milwaukee Theater Alliance Standards (MTA) has been created, which cites the “past failures” of the local theater community, and the “exclusion and marginalization of BIPOC and LGBYQ+ Persons.”

Jaimelyn Gray. Photo courtesy of The Constructivist Theatre.

Jaimelyn Gray. Photo courtesy of The Constructivist Theatre.

The effort comes after the MeToo movement was pushed to the forefront of the national consciousness after the much-publicized sexual abuse by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests across the nation. But theater is a very specific setting where rehearsals can put performers in a vulnerable position.

“Too often, artists have been afraid to respond to abusive, discriminatory or unsafe practices,” the document notes. “Artist subjected to extreme abuse sometimes leave the craft.”

The MTA’s mission statement says the goal is to create “Spaces free of harassment,” a “Nurturing environment,” a “Common understanding of practices,” and “Peer support through mentorship and collaboration.”

In designing the MTA standards, the producers of the document emphasize that the proclamations are recommendations and there is a lot of room for customizing their suggestions to fit the situation theater companies may face. The hope is to implement ideas that are transparent and inclusive.

Jaimelyn Gray, Artistic Director of The Constructivists theater, is helping lead the effort to create this document. She says the goal is to provide a healthy environment for all of the people in the Milwaukee theater community. “If we have healthy artists we will make better art,” Gray says.

Two public meetings on Zoom have been held to solicit input from all interested people in the broader theater community. Two more are scheduled.

Discussing pages 26-38 of the MTA document: Monday, April 19th from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Discussing pages 39-48: Saturday, April 24th from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

To sign up to receive information about the MTA Milwaukee Theater Standards Open Forums and join the discussion, please fill out this form.

It is suggested that prior to the meeting you read the section being discussed in order to take full advantage of the dialogue.

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