America’s right-wing press has chosen a surprising new target in a culture war against everything deemed “woke”. An outreach night for black theater fans at Canada’s National Center for the Arts.
Fox News and the New York Post are among the media south of the border. Released sensational report on NAC’s plans to host so-called Blackout Nights God. Black American playwright Aleshay Harris’ stylized revenge play is presented in an award-winning production at Ottawa’s Center for the Performing Arts. Received rave reviews Toronto last year.
Here are some headline examples to get you in the mood for the general mood. Canadian theaters spark backlash over plans to host plays aimed at black-only audiences: ‘cultural apartheid’.
What’s totally strange about this for those who follow theaters is that Blackout Nights is a phenomenon that began on Broadway in 2019, earning a Tony Award nomination for Jeremy O. Harris. slave play. Since then, they have been replicated outside of New York in cities such as Los Angeles and Boston, without notable controversy, and received very thoughtful coverage in outlets such as The New York Times and LA Times.
American artist and producer who came up with the concept write it like this: “Deliberately creating an environment where dark audiences can experience and discuss events free from the white eye in performing arts, film, sports and cultural settings.”
Black audiences and artists in the United States were interviewed about what it was like to attend these performances of plays written by Black people – how different scenes were performed and received, or About lack of behavioral coercion (or lack of fear), for example, influence from others in the audience influences things.
This is the atmosphere that must be cultivated in mainstream theaters, as blacks typically make up only a small portion of that audience, whether on Broadway or NAC.
So why does the New York Post think a concept that originated in New York is being implemented in Ottawa four years later?
Last week Quillet editor Jonathan Kay, former editor of Walrus magazine, tweeted a NAC blog post written by publicist Sean Fitzpatrick. God isBlackout Night. One night of the two-week run is designed to “welcome a select audience of All Blacks to experience and enjoy a performance at the Babs Aspel Theater,” it explains.
Kay’s take on this was that federally funded arts institutions now offer “racist shows”. This view was amplified by fellow Canadian and controversial guru Jordan Peterson. He tweeted: @Canada NAC. very. “
From there, things took off in a way that anyone who has ever been on the internet should know.
A spate of blackout nights of NAC’s sudden critics claim they violate human rights.
The American founders of Concept have published FAQs online for those who want to follow in their footsteps and make sure the event is legal. So was Blackout Night. God is It was held in Toronto last spring.
In response to media inquiries last week, the NAC made it clear that no one would turn away from Blackout Nights either. However, in the face of calls, emails and social media comments, the company released an official statement that “everyone is welcome at all of NAC’s shows”, echoing that in a post on its website.
Toronto has had blackout nights intermittently since 2020. I had no idea it could spark controversy, just as I never thought about seniors-only hours at grocery stores or women-only swimming hours at public pools. I guess.
Therefore, NAC cannot be blamed for not anticipating blowback. However, this is also an opportunity for a large and growing team of communication strategists to reflect. Do you sometimes prioritize publicizing your progressive initiative to more people than reaching out directly to your target community?
How can Canadian theaters that want to plan future blackout nights (or perhaps performances for other minorities) avoid being obsessed with the internet in the future? It’s worth noting that it was an invite-only event. Seats were filled through a wide range of activities, including distributing tickets to black student groups.
Theater opening nights are often invitation-only, and individual performances can be purchased by companies or reserved for student groups. This is something that Canadian theater companies might want to consider going forward, along with the disclaimer that no one is turning away. Other performances to choose from.
Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is not difficult. Anne-Marie Macdonald, for example, did so all along in his 1996 novel. Fall on Your Needsrecently re-read to review stage adaptation.
In one chapter, Ginger, a black truck driver living in Cape Breton in the early 20th century, is in New York waiting for a shipment of dresses and has a transformative experience listening to a jazz trio in Harlem.
It’s a shame that attempts to lift that weight came under attack, but the future of theater in this country will require all sorts of strategies to be tried and tested to widen its audience.
What’s opening this week across Canada
Push International Performing Arts Festival is now entering its final week at various venues in Vancouver.For my final programming choices, scroll to the bottom of my characteristics Regarding the recent restructuring.
A little red warrior and his lawyer. Kevin Rowling’s irreverent look at indigenous issues runs Jan. 31-Feb. 19 at the Calgary Theater. Marsha Lederman revisited the show At the Belfry Theater in Victoria last spring.
The RoyaleA punchy play inspired by the life of the first black heavyweight world champion, runs February 4-19 at Edmonton’s Citadel Theater. Enjoyed it This is something completely different, directed by great actor and up-and-coming director Andre Sills.
between the wok and the potAmanda Lynn’s new production about Asian identity and cultural appropriation involving traditional hotpot cooking on stage runs at the Theater Center through February 12th. Since resuming face-to-face performances last year, we have continued to perform well. See if this continues.
what i know to be truea family drama by Australian playwright Andrew Bovell (when the rain stops) will premiere in Canada as part of the Off-Mervish season, courtesy of Company Theater. The Stratford Festival will feature Tom McCamus and Sheena McKenna in this production, which runs from February 1-19 at his CAA Theater. Check out next week’s Globe and Mail review.
YamaSimon Stone’s acclaimed adaptation of Federico García Lorca’s play will run this week at Toronto’s Colliery Theater, which has moved to a new location after a fire. It is the directorial debut of Diana Bentley and the stage debut of Sarah Gadon. From February 5th he will be held until the 26th. Check out The Globe and Mail review next week.
Due to my absence from work, I will be taking a break from this newsletter for the next few weeks. See you at the end of February.