|Inclusive Excellence Submission for|
the Theater Arts Department
|Inclusive Excellence Report Department of Theatre Arts The Department of Theatre Arts seeks to increase the diversity among students and faculty in the department. Currently our percentage of students of color is about 11%. GLBT students number about 7% and students with disabilities number about 4%. Among faculty, we have 1 faculty member with a physical disability and 1 GLBT faculty member of a total 9.5 faculty and staff. |
The Department of Theatre Arts goals include:
•increasing the diversity of theatre majors and minors
•increasing the diversity of non-major/minors who participate in our productions
•increasing the diversity of non-major/minors who participate in our classes
•continuing to provide play-going experience that reflect, comment upon or question inclusiveness issues in our society and the world
•continue faculty preparation to deal with inclusivity issues in productions and in the classroom
•continue integrating diversity issues across the department's curriculum Inclusivity efforts already in place include:
•Non-traditional casting, as described in our student manual: The department supports the principle of non-traditional casting. Non-traditional casting is the use of ethnic minority actors (African American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, etc.), female actors, and physically challenged actors in roles where race, ethnicity, gender and/or physical capabilities are not absolutely essential to the character's development. This policy means that all students are eligible for all roles, greatly expanding opportunities for actors of diverse populations.
•Diversity embedded in curriculum: Faculty regularly teach plays by playwrights of color or other diverse populations in coursework. For example, the course THA 210 “Foundations of Theatrical Production” uses A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, for teaching play analysis. Since all Theatre majors and minors are required to take this course, all of our students are exposed to the issue of de facto segregation in housing, and to individual responses to that injustice as expressed by characters in the play. In THA 110 “Theatre Appreciation”, faculty regularly include plays such as M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang, Trifles by Susan Glaspell, Los Vendidos by Luis Valdez and others. The department offers THA 351 “World Theatre” every other year. It is a General Education course in the "Becoming World Citizens" category. Students study the culture, historical context such as colonialism and apartheid, and plays of 5-6 countries in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Courses THA 250 and THA 251 (“Theatre Studies I & II) cover theatre history and dramatic literature in the West from the Renaissance through the present day. Those courses include significant amounts of information on diverse U.S. cultures in historical context. For example, students study the advent of women onstage and as playwrights in 17th Century England, the development of minstrel shows in the U.S., the impact of the play Uncle Tom's Cabin, the history of segregation in theatres, and the rise of identity-driven theatre in the 20th Century both before and after the civil rights movement. All theatre majors are required to take THA 250 and 251.
•Artists of color: The department participates regularly in the Scholar/Artist of Color grant program. In 2007, African-American actor Jay Postell Pringle, an Equity actor, completed a residency funded by these grants. He appeared in the production, Inspecting Carol, visited classes, offered workshops and interacted daily with students. In spring 2010, the Department of Theatre Arts hosted Marcie Rendon, another artist of color (see below for details). •Season Selection When choosing a production season, the department attempts to select plays that include diverse elements as much as possible. For example, the 2010 SummerStage production of Rent deals with AIDS, sexual orientation, and race issues; Fall 2010 includes The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, a play that is set in the inner city and requires a diverse cast. New or specific efforts in the 2009-2010 academic year included:
•Recruitment: This past year the department continued recruitment efforts in the eastern portion of Wisconsin where there are more students of color.
•Curriculum: The department developed a new course, THA 130 “Multicultural Plays: Acting the Text.” In this course students study and perform dramatic literature from multiple cultures within American society. Plays are selected from African-American, Asian-American, Native American, Hispanic-American, Lesbian/Gay/Transgendered/Bisexual and other cultures for study. Students research cultural context, analyze the plays, develop basic skills in performance, and prepare and perform scenes from the plays under study, in order to enhance student awareness and exchange ideas about the multi-cultural nature of the U.S., and to present their analysis and interpretation through performance. The course is part of the “Self and Society” General Education component. The course was offered in spring 2010 but did not make adequate registration and was cancelled. It will be offered again in spring 2011 with greatly increased publicity.
•Ongoing preparation by faculty Department Chair Beth Cherne participated in all diversity sessions offered by the Dean of CLS and also completed the "Open Doors" on line workshop offered by the Campus Climate office. She has taken opportunities to share the information with colleagues.
•Artists of Colo:r The department hosted a three day residency by Anishinaabe playwright Marcie Rendon in April 2010. Ms. Rendon visited classes and conducted workshops resulting in a twenty-minute devised theatre piece presented at the "Widening the Circle" Conference, reaching an audience of over 100 K-12 educators from all over the state of Wisconsin. Plans for 2010-2011
•Curriculum: The department will continue elements described above. We will increase publicity for the course THA130 Multicultural Plays, as we believe strongly that it will offer a very effective method for students to comprehend diversity issues.
•Production: The department's season selection will include The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, a play that requires a diverse cast. Associate Professor Mary Leonard will prepare and present a staged reading for the International Human Rights Conference in October.
•Ongoing preparation: Faculty will continue to participate in diversity training as available.
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