August Wilson Revival Raises Diversity Issues - Page 3 of 3
Arts and Culture

August Wilson Revival Raises Diversity Issues

For black directors, the Joe Turner situation has illuminatedan ongoing problem in theater and has begun what seems to be a serious discussion to address the matter. “The wonderful thing that has happened with this controversy is that it has caused a lot of people—mostly black directors—to call and write me, and I’ve invited them all to come and meet with me,” says Andre Bishop, executive director at Lincoln Center Theater.  I feel that Lincoln Center Theater is beginning—much too late but nonetheless—to have a dialogue with a lot a directors whom we haven’t worked with and that it will yield, in time, more opportunities than we’ve provided before.”
In recognizing black directors’ desire for work beyond the black experience, Bishop argues, “A major theater such as this one needs to do a sterling production by an African American director of something completely different than an African American play; that will lead the way just as my hope is that with Bart directing Joe Turner some people, who feel that a white director can’t direct August Wilson, will change their minds.”

Echoing Bishop, Sher, who in addition to his post at Lincoln Center Theater, also serves as the artistic director at Seattle’s Intiman Theater, emphasizes the role that people at the top of the theater chain can play in creating a broader range of opportunities for black directors. “I run a theater and we’ve done lots of African American work but I’ve also hired African American directors to do non-African American work,” says Sher. “You can’t solve all of the problems at once, but it’s important for theaters to develop long-term relationships with individual directors to give them opportunities.  I think this will start to happen all over where there will be African American directors doing the Chekovs, the Shakespeares and the August Wilsons.”