Black Lives Matter
Shakespeare Theatre Company is saddened and angered by the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, only the most recent of a never-ending list of names of known and unknown Black American lives lost too soon, due to pervasive, relentless racism, and unchecked police brutality.
For those protesting, STC sees and hears you. We share your passion for justice and for change, and we pray for your safety. Your dedication inspires us to do more.
We stand in solidarity with those protesting for Black Lives Matter, for justice, for equality, and for civil rights. We recognize that we have not done enough to show our support before this moment. You show us that we must do better. We are listening in the hopes of learning, so that STC can do more and be better for our communities. We continue to educate ourselves, to build on our work in this moment, and to desire to become a better and more inclusive theatre.
Yours, in solidarity,
Simon Godwin and Chris Jennings
Update, August 27: Anti-Racist Statement
At Shakespeare Theatre Company we want our stages to reflect the world we live in. We want to actively support our communities and nurture and protect all who work with us. We acknowledge we have work to do in creating an equitable, diverse, and inclusive environment.
While our stages are closed due to COVID-19, we are doing the critical work of reshaping our theatre.
Three years ago we began to evaluate our company and its practices through the lens of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). We are embarking on a path to develop and intensify these efforts.
Currently, we are drafting internally shared EDI and anti-racist policies, and sharing them with our staff, board, and EDI committee to create an open dialogue. Future public announcements will include the creation of new initiatives within the community to support BIPOC artists and organizations.
Over the next several months, we are committed to making positive changes, including the following:
November: Values statement; advancing our Anti-Racist Action Plan and EDI policies to better serve and support our staff and employees
December: Announcement of new community and BIPOC support initiatives
Ongoing: Regular EDI Committee meetings; launching mandatory EDI and Anti-Racist staff training
We seek to be transparent during this process and will be updating our patrons and the community at large as we forge ahead in these efforts.
Update, June 8: #OpenYourLobby
On Saturday, June 6 and Sunday, June 7, STC opened the Michael R. Klein Theatre at the Lansburgh to protesters, offering water, snacks, bathrooms, WiFi, charging stations, first aid, and A/C in the collaborative spirit of #OpenYourLobby, a national movement of theatres opening their lobbies to protesters.
That same weekend, STC was approached by colleagues at Design Foundry who were collaborating with the Denver Smith Foundation to promote social change through community arts, activism, and education. Their artists transformed the plywood covering the windows at Sidney Harman Hall into a beautiful mural in support of their #CRE8CHANGE initiative–seen in the photograph above. STC is currently looking into additional opportunities to support this movement.
We encourage everyone to consider the following resources when thinking about how they can participate in supporting Black Lives Matter.
Campaigns and petitions:
- Black Lives Matter: 2020 Campaign – Holds politicians and candidates accountable on issues affecting Black and underserved communities
- Color of Change: Active Petitions and Campaigns – The nation’s largest online racial justice organization, helps people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us
- NAACP: We Are Done Dying Campaign – NAACP’s coalition fighting against COVID-19 and police brutality
Local Initiatives and Resources:
- Black Lives Matter DC – D.C. chapter of the Black Lives Matter Movement
- East Of The River Mutual Aid Fund – A grassroots, community focused and led ecosystem for neighbors East of the River in Wards 7 and 8 who suffer from housing and food insecurity
- “Talking About Race” – National Museum of African American History & Culture’s web portal that provides tools and resources for talking about race and identity
- “How to Support the Black Community in DC Right Now” – Thrillist offers a helpful guide from nonprofits and community organizations to restaurants and bookstores
Opportunities to Learn More:
- “1619” – The New York Times’ podcast series on how slavery has transformed America, connecting past and present through the oldest form of storytelling
- “All That Glisters Is Not Gold” – An NPR discussion about Shakespeare, racism, and xenophobia with high school students and scholar Ayanna Thompson
- “Anti-racist Shakespeare” – Shakespeare’s Globe scholar Farah Karim-Cooper examines the racial meanings behind the language of light/dark and white/black used in Shakespeare’s England