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What We're Reading: February 2018

What We're Reading
A stack of theater magazines and printed articles with post it notes marking specific pages sits on a wood surface. The most prominent is a book titled "theatre journal" and the cover features a woman singing into a microphone.

As members of an organization that believes in the power of conversation to promote systemic change, the team here at The Lark often circulates, amongst 
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 new, 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!

Valentine's Day Letter to My Body Parts by Lexie Bean

"I wrote three letters to my body parts: one to my leg hair, one to the space between my hips, and another to the baby teeth that now live in my mother's night stand. I only wrote to the pieces of myself that I have tried to detach from while seeking safety."

Last year, Lexie Bean, editor of the upcoming anthology Written on the Body: Letters from Trans and Non-Binary Survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, wrote this piece for Teen Vogue, about learning to love, with varying degrees of success, all the parts of themself.

Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart

"One cannot live with sighted eyes and feeling heart, and not know or react to the miseries which afflict this world."

An "American Masters" documentary film on the life and work of Lorraine Hansberry, featuring the voice of Anika Noni Rose as Lorraine, which explores how the playwright used theater as a means for fighting against the oppression of the Black community. Streaming of this film on the PBS website will expire on February 16, so watch TODAY! Though the page is still worth a visit after that date, with its inclusion of resources like "Lorraine Hansberry's inspirational words on being young, gifted, and black" and "Lorraine Hansberry's inspiration for A Raisin in the Sun."

In Dialogue: Dael Orlandersmith and Mashuq Mushtaq Deen with Diana Oh

"I always think about it like: every night I’m gonna die. In the way of a Tarot card, the death card means things will be irrevocably changed. And your relationship with that audience will never be the same after you perform that piece."

Three theatermakers, whose work premiered at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater this season, discuss the super powers it took to create and perform their one-person-plays.

Why are stories by or about queer women ghettoised as 'lesbian' or 'feminist'? by Jen Silverman

"But here’s the sticky question: why are stories about straight white men seen as “universal”, and all other stories labelled “niche”?"

In an essay for The Independent, playwright Jen Silverman (2016-17 PoNY Fellow at The Lark) questions why women have learned to see themselves in narratives written about men, while their own work is viewed as something to learn from, though not necessarily identify with.

Why So Many Men Hate The Last Jedi But Can't Agree On Why

"I don’t think every human who disliked The Last Jedi is an evil, evil misogynist. I do think that we have so deeply internalized sexist narrative tropes that we see them as 'correct' and 'good filmmaking' while seeing their absence as 'flaws.'"

This Bitter Gertrude blog post examines the shift in the way female characters are treated in the newest Star Wars film, and questions whether popular criticisms of The Last Jedi may be related to audiences' relative unfamiliarity with a non-male-centered lens.

Daughters of African Immigrants Use the Stage to Tell of Two Worlds by Michael Paulson

“When I first started realizing I wanted to tell stories from an African female perspective, I felt pretty lonely out there... I had to be like a mad scientist and have the hypothesis that if I put a multidimensional narrative about an African woman in front of a Western audience, they will enjoy it.”

Michael Paulson of The New York Times, interviews playwrights Ngozi Anyanwu, Jocelyn Bioh, Danai Gurira, and Mfoniso Udofia, on how they explore their identities, and reveal the multiplicity of their experiences to audiences.

Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard

"You can't easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male; you have to change the structure."

Two essays examining how powerful women have been perceived and treated throughout history and classic literature, and questioning why power, even when held by a female, seems to be measured by its proximity to masculinity.

The Empty Space: A Look at How Theaters Have Filled Gaps in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion by Al Heartley & Jocelyn Prince

"Cultivating a diverse staff is a good first step that must be paired with antioppression and EDI training, so that the diversity created has longevity and thrives in a positive environment."

This past, but still relevant, piece for Nonprofit Quarterly's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Project, was written people of color working in the nonprofit theater industry, who reflect on and share some of the Equity , Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) efforts, implemented by various nonprofit regional theaters, that stand out as being genuine, intentional, and effective.

Legacy Leaders of Color Video Project

"Our plays gave voice to those who were, if not voiceless, seldom heard in America."

To honor their legacies of creating opportunities that were (and are) lacking for artists of color, Theatre Communications Group, with MOPED Productions and with support from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, filmed a series of interviews chronicling the stories of founding leaders of theaters of color.