Statement on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility at Midsommer Fight
As the Duke notes in As You Like It, “sweet are the uses of adversity, which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head.” In the face of a pandemic that limits our ability to produce, we have been given this precious jewel of time to engage deeply in ongoing, challenging, necessary discussions about equity.
Largely inspired by the surge of #BlackLivesMatter protests in the early summer, this awareness and action—not only at Midsommer Flight but across the entire theatre community—is sorely needed and long overdue. There is exciting and vital work to do.
We must interrogate our relationship with the white, male playwright at the center of our work.
While we still believe fervently in the beauty, humanity, and accessibility potential of Shakespeare’s language and stories, we must also acknowledge that BIPOC, LGBTQ, and disabled or differently-abled artists have historically been barred outright from this work, or at the very least discouraged from believing that Shakespeare is for them.
Our primary exploration in the coming months and years will be how to bridge the gap between our belief that Shakespeare can be for everyone, and our actions in how we produce the plays. This will include concrete steps like examining racist and sexist language in the scripts, hiring a more diverse line up of directors and designers to tell these stories, and reaching further west and south in the city with our programming. It will also require less tangible processes of creative experimentation and discovery to find new ways to tell old stories.
Formation of the IDEA Committee
To tackle these issues and many more across administration, production, and community-building, in August 2020 the company convened the first meeting of a new Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) Committee composed of six ensemble members.
This web page will be a space for public accountability, both for the committee and the company at large. We will update this space at least quarterly with the committee’s ongoing work and resulting organizational changes at Midsommer Flight.
By the end of December 2020, the committee will have invested time and resources to, and/or completed, the following:
- conducting research and planning for Ensemble, Staff, and Board anti-racism training opportunities in 2021;
- researching and preparing grant opportunities in late 2020 and early 2021 to fund these training initiatives;
- reviewing the We See You White American Theatre demands as they relate to our policies and practices, and planning action to address these issues;
- seeking connection and developing partnerships with Native American organizations in Chicago;
- codifying a police communication policy with an emphasis on artist safety, as well as working with precincts in the neighborhoods in which we perform;
- implementing a voter education initiative on social media from October 1 – November 3, 2020
- coordinating to support other community organizations through the December holiday fundraising season
- developing a list of issues, challenges, projects, and action items for the committee to continue to address. This list is open to review and input from the full Board and Ensemble, and will continue to grow and evolve.