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What We're Reading: December 2019

What We're Reading
Scattered newspapers and magazines rest on a wood surface.

As members of an organization that believes in the power of conversation to promote systemic change, the team here at The Lark often circulates, among ourselves, anecdotes and emails about materials we've read lately that have moved us. In accordance with our commitment to the amplification of necessary voices that reflect the world we live in, this monthly post compiles some of the media we have been tuned in to, to share with our wider community. We know these are only a sampling of all the insightful work out there, so if we missed anything that had an impact on you this month, we encourage you to share in the comments section!

Chay Yew's Facebook Post

"...I constantly told myself that I cannot fail as one of the few artistic leaders of color. If I fail, every theatre will say, 'See? We had a diversity hire and it didn’t work out.' The thought of failure leading to doors closed to future leaders of color gave me a stronger fighting spirit... I also recall being called an 'outsider' (and still do) by the local press and colleagues for years. I never knew what I had experienced as a gay Asian immigrant during high school recess would pay off: 'No one is asking me to sit at their table. And I’m not going to sit at theirs. I’m sitting in mine. And those who want to eat with me are all welcome.'"

A farewell to Victory Gardens Theater as Chay Yew steps down as Artistic Director!

There Wasn’t a Bechdel Test for Trans Representation, So I Made One

by Kiley May

"Yes, perhaps the seven-point criteria is a bit much, but it matches and is in direct response to the many oft-repeated characterizations I’m tired of seeing. The May Test is intended to be stringent in the hopes that it inspires & produces more original, authentic, positive representations of transgender people."

A list of criteria that includes points such as "a transgender character is portrayed by a transgender actor" and "a transgender character has a trans identity not used as a joke or “surprise reveal” gag.

The American Theatre Was Killing Me

An interview with Lauren E. Turner by Amelia Parenteau

"One of the characteristics of white supremacy is that there’s only one right way to do things. The idea that one person is right and holds all the artistic vision for the entire company is also how you get to the point where you’re creating an oppressive work environment and a work culture that can be traumatic."

Lauren E. Turner talks about her experience of racialized trauma while working at a theater company in New Orleans, and how the healing process from that experience led her to launch her own theater company, No Dream Deferred, which will have its first season this fall. 

by Michael Paulson

"The study calculates that theaters aside from Broadway are responsible for $584 million in direct annual economic output, and estimates $1.3 billion in 'direct, indirect and induced benefits.'

'Traditionally people have viewed this as a niche sector, but we found it’s a significant contributor to the creative sector in New York City, and also a significant economic driver,' said Anne del Castillo, the commissioner of the city agency."

Fun Fact: Playwrights' Week 2019's own Shayan Lotfi served as an economist on this study. What can't he do!?

How To Avoid “Inspiration Porn”

by Andrew Pulrang​​

"...the 'positive' messages of Inspiration Porn stories, videos, and memes rely on an underlying assumption that disability is by default tragic. If disability isn’t terrible, then depictions of brave, cheerful, accomplished disabled people wouldn’t be particularly uplifting. This distorts our understanding of what disability actually is, in ways that reinforce rather than dismantle negative stereotypes."

Examining the disconnect between the intent and the impact of many stories told about the Disabled experience.

A White Woman Interrupted A "Slave Play" Q&A To Call Its Black Playwright Racist

by Brianna Sacks

"Her angry reaction, and her attempts to justify why she was marginalized and shouldn't be blamed for racism, Sydney said, aptly tied into the characters and scenes the audience had just watched on stage."

Fellow audience members captured the response on video, which was soon widely shared on social media.

What I've Learned in the Last Decade as a Journalist

by Diep Tran

"When I was first hired at American Theatre, I thought arts journalism was two things: reviewing shows and interviewing celebrities. But as I’ve grown in my career, I realized that it has become something else for me: Journalism is an act of service."

Diep and her work at American Theatre have been a constant source of inspiration and insight for us Larkees. As she departs from her position at the magazine to become the features editor at, we'll be keeping an eye out for her bylines wherever she goes! Thank you Diep!