Wish list: artists of colour

Anosh Irani, The Arts Club, race

Anosh Irani’s The Men in White will be the only script in the Arts Club’s upcoming season written by a person of colour—although Tomson Highway’s (Post) Mistress will be on tour, and Kevin Loring is working on a commission.

Let’s help the Arts Club out. Seriously.

The company announced its 2016/2017 season this week, and artistic director Bill Millerd has been receiving criticism for including only one writer of colour in his core season, and no directors of colour. Anosh Irani’s The Men in White is the sole play not written by a white person.

So let’s help out the Arts Club—and other theatrical programmers—by creating a wish list of artists whose work we’d like to see more of.

I’ll start things off. Tetsuo Shigematsu’s Empire of the Sonwas one of the best shows of the current season. The Cultch is bringing it back for a remount next year. Do not miss it. The script is beautifully written and fantastically well conceived physically. I’d love to see more from this guy.

The Arts Club produced Hiro Kanagawa’s Stanley Park a while ago. And Kanagawa’s Indian Arm, which Rumble mounted last spring, is a stylistically sophisticated, emotionally wrenching, and politically relevant reworking of Henrik Ibsen’s Little Eyolf.  Indian Arm has the kind of scale that could work on one of the Arts Club’s stages. 2018?

Kevin Loring’s Where the Blood Mixes premiered in 2009 to rave reviews and a downpour of awards. Loring is currently working on a commission for the Arts Club. Yes! This wish is already in the process of being granted.

Who are your choices for writers? How about directors? Post your faves in the comments section of my blog or on my Facebook page.

And let’s not forget: race isn’t the only consideration artistic directors have to deal with when considering inclusion, and, on other fronts, Millerd and his company deserve credit. Almost all of the directors are local, which is terrific. A quarter of the scripts are written by local playwrights. Yes! And there are some strong female artists in key positions: the list of directors includes Sarah Rodgers, Kim Collier, Rachel Ditor, Valerie Easton (twice), and Chelsea Haberlin.

Let’s take practical steps to work towards more racial and cultural inclusion on our stages. Let’s also celebrate the support and inclusion that’s happening.

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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