full name / name of organization:
Bridges or Fences: Diversity on the American Stage
(A One-Day Symposium Re-engaging the Wilson-Brustein Debates)
Saturday June 24, 2006
Its been a decade since playwright August Wilson's address during the
Theatre Communications Group conference sparked a debate with Robert
Brustein, artistic director of American Repertory Theatre. Engaged from a
podium at Princeton, the debate raged in the pages of American Theatre, and
finally was staged at New York's Town Hall (moderated by activist/actress
Anna Deveare Smith). This debate placed in stark relief the politics of
representation that play out on stages across America, and posed
challenging questions about the possibilities of diversity on American
On June 24, 2006 The Unseam'd Shakespeare Company and the Graduate Students
of the English Department at Carnegie Mellon University will convene a
one-day symposium that addresses the central question of the
What does/can/should diversity look like in performance?
Presented in conjunction with the Unseam'd Shakespeare Company's production
of Othello: Noir, the symposium asks participants to re-engage the
Wilson-Brustein debate or its concerns, welcomes them to engage in a
discussion with artists, artistic directors, and academics from
Pittsburgh's arts community, and invites them to attend a production that
engages these concerns in performance. The day will include the
presentation of papers, “diversity” presentations by Pittsburgh arts
organizations, and conclude with a community conversation among symposium
attendees and the artistic directors from Pittsburgh's professional,
nonprofessional, small and large theatre companies.
The symposium welcomes abstracts (250 words) addressing the following (or
>If American theatre changed in response to the Wilson-Brustein debates,
did it do so in response to or rejection of the positions of Wilson and
>What do performance theory, cultural studies, and theatre scholarship have
to say about the possibilities for diversity on the American stage?
>What is at stake in practices of “color-blind” casting
What is the difference between non-traditional, colorblind and
>How do ideas about audiences and “what they want” shape our decisions
>Do multicultural and colorblind casting engage labor policy issues?
>What authority does the text have when it comes to casting?
>Are their other spaces of representation outside multicultural or
> If theatre is a "liminal space" of possibility, what does the
Wilson-Brustein debate say about the boundaries of liminal spaces?
>How do the above questions change when we are discussing the casting of
theatrical classics from the European tradition?
. . . When we are discussing commercial vs. non-profit, big or small
. . . When we are discussing theatre training?
For information on the debate please go to:
For information about the Unseam'd Shakespeare Co. please go to:
Queries and submissions may be addressed to
Tim Dawson, at Carnegie Mellon University, jtdawson_at_andrew.cmu.edu
Salita Seibert, at Carnegie Mellon University: sseibert_at_andrew.cmu.edu
Proposal Deadline: June 9, 2006
all the best,
Carnegie Mellon University
Department of English
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pa 15213
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or write Jennifer Higginbotham: higginbj_at_english.upenn.edu
Received on Mon May 15 2006 - 12:35:58 EDT