The social tumult in America during recent months has been wrenching and difficult. We are outraged by the ongoing, state-sanctioned violence and disenfranchisement of marginalized communities across this country. We stand in solidarity with our BIPOC colleagues and friends, teachers, students, alumni, artists, audiences, and fellow citizens in Chapel Hill and around the world.
We also recognize that racism and white supremacy are often perpetuated and supported by colleges and universities. As such, we remain committed to interrogating our curriculum, programs, and pedagogies; to dismantling racism, bigotry, and white supremacy in our own department and theaters; and to making the Department of Dramatic Art a safe, inclusive, and equitable place for our faculty, staff, and students of color.
This time has been revelatory and instructive for the world of theatre, for its artists, for its scholars, and thus, this Department of Dramatic Art. Through extended discussions with faculty, with peers in applied practice, and most importantly, with our students, current and graduated, we have arrived at the curricular imperative of revising our approach to the study of dramatic art.
Immediate Action Steps:
- We began antiracist training with the Equity Paradigm in October 2020. We have committed to two years of training, knowing that at the end of those two years, we will have to determine the next steps and not believe we are done with the work.
- We will include reflections on antiracist practices as well as access, equity, diversity and inclusion practices into student evaluations for every faculty member in the Department of Dramatic Art, beginning immediately.
- We have expanded our AEDI committee substantially to include more student, staff, and faculty representatives from the Department of Dramatic Art. The committee has been and will continue to meet on a regular basis to determine how it can best be responsive to the needs of the entire Center for Dramatic Art.
- We will continue to actively curate a widely varied antiracism and AEDI resource page on our websites available to all staff, faculty, students, and audiences.
Undergraduate Major/Minor curricular changes:
- DRAM 120–By the end of the 2020-2021 academic year, each section of DRAM 120 Play Analysis will adopt a list of plays that is at least 50% written by women and BIPOC playwrights.
- DRAM 281, 282—Starting in Fall 2020, each section of these courses will find ways of incorporating plays by BIPOC and women playwrights into a portion of the courses as currently taught through various strategies.
Action Steps over the next few years:
- We will create a new 200-level course required for majors (DRAM 220 Theatre Histories) that will follow in sequence after DRAM 120. This course will not privilege one geographical region, culture, or dramatic art over another, but will introduce students to a wide range of theatre histories and cultures which can be studied in greater depth later in the major. This course has been proposed this fall to the Administrative Boards for approval.
- While we have always sought to expand our curricular offerings to include non-Western sources, we are now placing those theatre histories and cultures at the forefront of the study of theatre, rather than relegating them to the status of electives. Once the Administrative Boards approve our proposal the Theatre History/Dramatic Literature sequence of the major will allow students who have taken both DRAM 120 and DRAM 220 to choose two additional required courses from different theatre histories, e.g., African, African-American, Asian, Latin American, U.S. Latino/a/x/e, Western European/North American. An expanded course list that includes courses in the Departments of African, African-American and Diasporic Studies, and Asian Studies, will be courses eligible to count towards the major.
Kenan Theatre Company:
Being the undergraduate production branch of the Department of Dramatic Art, the Kenan Theatre Company is aligned with the goals and priorities of the Department. We are committed to keeping Access, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the forefront of our work.
- Having a diverse representation of students as a part of the season selection committee.
- Seek parity across the season in chosen playwrights as well as directors.
- Assure that there are roles each season that represent the UNC student population
- Engage with student groups and departments across campus in order to –
- Include a diverse representation of students in production and board roles
- Help provide context for discussions around plays
We understand that this is a beginning and will continue striving to incorporate more diverse voices.
Costume Production and Costume Department commits to:
- Using BIPOC experts when bringing people in for workshops, virtual field trips, and panel discussions as much as possible. This will require doing a better job of networking. We will continue to search for and highlight BIPOC experts in our field.
- We are committed to recruiting as broadly diverse a faculty as possible, particularly in regards to BIPOC candidates.
- Encouraging more BIPOC to apply as students. We will reach out to undergraduate costume production programs at traditionally black colleges to encourage their graduates to apply. We will foster good relationships with undergraduate costume educators so BIPOC know that the program exists and is welcoming.
- Helping PlayMakers find BIPOC costume designers. We will work harder to network with heads of graduate design programs to identify talented recent graduates. Conversations have begun about creating a residency program
- Reworking the Period Patternmaking series of classes (Menswear, 14th-18th Centuries, Victorian and 20th Century) to be less Euro-centric. For the moment, that means using images that are more diverse for homework assignments. Eventually, the classes need to be completely restructured with a more global approach.
Technical Production Graduate Program and Technical Production:
- We are committed to expanding our graduate program recruiting to more institutions that represent BIPOC communities with intention of diversifying our program.
- Seeking and suggesting to administration BIPOC scenic designers we would like to work with.
- Broadening job posting locations to include more BIPOC communities in order to facilitate a more diverse applicant pool.
- Working with the UNC Graduate school to provide better funding opportunities for international students. We would like to offer 3 years of funding options for international students who do not qualify for the current standing in-state tuition protocols.
The Professional Actor Training Program (PATP) is committed to the following changes:
- Developing a more diverse and inclusive curriculum to guide both classroom instruction and production
- Centering the creative work of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color theater-makers in the Ground Floor season planning and production
- Searching for opportunities to create more equitable work/life balance within the unique PlayMakers/PATP training model
Universities are rather lumbering beasts and do not turn on a dime. Some of the changes that we are proposing will need to be approved by not only the Department of Dramatic Art faculty, but by the Administrative Boards of the College of Arts and Sciences as well, and there are only a couple of times a year when we are allowed to put changes before those committees. I hope this helps you to understand why this process can appear to be slow.
Thank you for taking the time to read our Accountability Statement. As theatre is a live art form, this is a living document. We invite you to check in with us throughout the year to learn more about where we are in the process and what we are planning. We look forward to hearing from you and working with you.