Statement on COVID-19 & Black Lives Matter

A warm hello from the Theatre Lunatico core collective; we hope that you are all safe and well.

2020 finds us all in unprecedented times. Just as we were ready to send out an update to you all on our response to the COVID-19 shelter-in-place, we woke to news of George Floyd’s death and the subsequent outrage at yet another black person brutally murdered by police officers.

Since then we have had ongoing discussions within our core company members and with our wider artistic associate community about how we should respond as artists.  We have appreciated the conversations unfolding throughout our wider Bay Area theatre community.

On May 31st, we put out the following statement through social media:

Theatre Lunatico condemns both the overt racism of violent assault and the covert racism of silent complicity. We strive to educate ourselves in how we can be part of the solution, and we work to promote theatre that confronts oppression in all its forms. We stand in solidarity and empathy with our black and brown communities. We demand change now. The world needs all of us – together we accomplish more than divided. Black Lives Matter.

Actions speak louder than words. A statement of support is not enough. Although we have consistently discussed and acted on the need to achieve greater diversity in our company, we have a lot more to do. In our programming we have prioritized stories that represent many aspects of the oppressed experience, addressing racism and misogyny and hate in our work, but we acknowledge that we need to achieve greater cultural diversity in the stories we tell.

We have created a solid body of work at Theatre Lunatico that has successfully shifted women to the centre of all our narratives, providing strong and ground-breaking roles for our female actors and achieving gender parity within our casts and crews. This work will remain essential to who we are as a company; we will additionally strive for greater intersectionality by urgently addressing racial diversity within our company.

We pledge to make constructive changes at Theatre Lunatico to increase our diversity not only within our community of actors, but also within our creative teams, and within the decision-making structures of our company.

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These are the pledges that we are making for the year ahead:

  1. We will increase our core company and create a more racially diverse decision-making panel.
  2. Additionally, we will expand our board of directors, and commit to achieving greater diversity across all branches of our organization.
  3. Just as Theatre Lunatico has worked hard during its lifetime to address gender parity in our productions, we make a similar pledge to achieve greater diversity within our casts and creative teams.
  4. We are in discussions about concrete changes to the way that we program our seasons and will make additional announcements with regard to that soon.
  5. We commit to creating a safe place for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) at our auditions and in our rehearsal and performance space.
  6. We will initiate a more proactive process to support and recruit BIPOC by actively reaching out and/or attending the shows they are in.
  7. We commit to make our one-act play festival—originally scheduled for fall 2020 to offer new and upcoming directors the opportunity to direct short pieces on how artists respond during times of extreme oppression—as a platform to prioritize directors from the BIPOC community. We will stage this festival at the Subterranean as soon as it is safe for us to do so. Meanwhile, we will start to program that festival and hope to begin rehearsals, with some online previews of that work in the coming months.
  8. We commit to holding ourselves accountable to these changes, and we will be assessing our progress over the coming months.

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Some resources are listed below for anyone wanting to get more involved in the movement to address racism.

While we strive to improve our company’s intersectionality, diversity and inclusivity, we are also working to keep La Val’s Subterranean Theater shipshape and ready to relaunch when we get the green light. We are examining what measures are needed to make it a safe and healthy venue for our returning audiences and renters. We received vital Covid-relief grant money from the City of Berkeley to assist with our rent, and our landlord, the owner of La Val’s Pizza, is supporting our efforts to maintain the Subterranean as a venue for the future. Our company could not have made our huge leaps in growth over the last few years without your support, so we thank you for your patience whilst we navigate these very new waters.

The integrity of our operations both at an artistic and organizational level are vital to us. We welcome your feedback. Please reach out to us with your thoughts at: info@theatrelunatico.org

We hope you are safe, healthy, and taking time to care for your creative selves, and we look forward to seeing you as soon as circumstances allow.

With warm regards,
The Lunatico Core Company

Michael Barr, Deborah Cortez, Eileen Fisher, Nash Hascall, Bezachin Jifar, Gideon Jones, Shawn Oda, Lauri Smith, & Tina Taylor

RESOURCES:
We See You, White American Theater — a profound statement by 300 BIPOC artists

#JusticeforAhmaud petition — A petition to fire Georgia prosecutors who held up Ahmaud’s case

#JusticeForBre — A petition to fire officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor

Black Mamas Matter Alliance — an advocacy group for Black maternal health

A useful guide on giving to the right charities

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