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What We're Reading: January 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!


A Progressive's Style Guide

"Because language is dynamic, changes with our struggles, and is shaped by criticism and the collective construction of social justice, we are compelled to keep building a collective language that liberates us all."

A grammar and usage style guide, created by Hanna Thomas (SumOfUs.org) and Anna Hirsch (ActivistEditor.com), that aims to harness language in support of cross-sector power building and the recognition of intersectionality.

"How the Myth of the Artistic Genius Excuses the Abuse of Women" by Amanda Hess

"A proclivity for reprehensible acts is built right into the mythos of the artistic genius — a designation rarely extended to women. This is what the historian Martin Jay calls “the aesthetic alibi”: The art excuses the crime."

A New York Times Arts writer points out the Hollywood trend that has conflated the mistreatment of women with art that is edgy or raw, and makes a case for why separating art from the artist is impossible.

"What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?" by Claire Dederer

​"Who is this “we” that’s always turning up in critical writing anyway? We is an escape hatch. We is cheap. We is a way of simultaneously sloughing off personal responsibility and taking on the mantle of easy authority... The real question is this: can I love the art but hate the artist? Can you?"

An essay in The Paris Review questions the ability to objectively consume a piece of art, and whether selfishness is a trait required to be a great artist.

"Hollywood on the Brink" by Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott

"The principal subject of Woody Allen’s work has always been Woody Allen, and his insistence on putting himself into the picture leaves his defenders in the distasteful position of having to choose between denial and apology..."

The New York Times’s chief film critics discuss highs and lows of 2017, including the windfall of sexual assault allegations, and weigh in on the debate of whether art can be considered separately from the people who make it.

"LGBTQ Theatre, Emphasis on the Q" by Zachary Small

"The well-worn melodramatric tropes of gayness simply no longer emanate dramatic tension, younger artists understand...Today’s queer theatre need not be reactionary vis-à-vis an intolerant America—it should instead strike out on its own as a force for political alternatives, resistance, and utopia."

An American Theatre article examines the way millenial theatermakers are redefining a subgenre, making it more relevant to our current cultural context.

Nonprofit AF

"Whenever I have any down time, whenever I try to relax, there is always this subtle but pervasive feeling of guilt, a feeling that I don’t deserve to rest when others are working."

Vu Le, Executive Director of the nonprofit Rainier Valley Corps, started this blog as a way to examine the unique challenges and rewards of working in the nonprofit sector, while infusing them with a bit of humor. The excerpt above comes from Vu's recent post, "How your childhood affects your self-care".

"At the Crossroads of Disability and Theatre at Mixed Blood" by Jack Reuler

"Many theatres have an outreach staff person, a single individual who is supposed to be the conduit of that organization to all marginalized peoples. Too often that person is the organization’s lone person of color..."

A profile of a 41-year old company dedicated to more equitable representation of people with disabilities.

Inside THE JUNGLE

"It is a very dynamic and creative space. Everyone pitches in to solve the problems and everyone’s voice is heard. It is a fiercely collaborative, and in some ways, anarchic process..."

A resource packet provided by Young Vic to contextualize and deepen the learning around their latest production, a play about refugees, and the creative process behind it.

"Agency and Color: A Response to Criticism of ERS’s ‘Measure for Measure’" by Greig Sargeant

"We had a meeting as an ensemble to address the issue of how to be faithful to Shakespeare’s text while taking into consideration the circumstances of casting an actor of color in the role of Claudio in 2017."

A response, published by American Theatre, to a previous AT essay by Maya Phillips, entitled "Black Bodies, White Writers", which was included in last month's "What We're Reading".

Bitchreads: The 30 Most Anticipated Nonfiction Books of 2018

"Immerse yourself in their experiences and those of the people they’ve chronicled, and emerge with more wisdom and understanding."

Essays, memoirs, and other excavating non-fiction, covering everything from border patrol to mental health.

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