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EXCLUSIVE: Another step is being taken in Broadway’s efforts to confront its own systemic racism: Broadway & Beyond, founded by stage and production managers of Hadestown, Frozen and Aladdin, has scheduled its first event to encourage and support young or aspiring stage managers of color.
Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon (A Soldier’s Play, American Son) will introduce a panel discussion and Q&A with professionals from Broadway, national tours, and regional theaters across the country as Broadway & Beyond’s kick-off virtual event, set for Thursday, Dec. 17. The panel will feature production supervisors, stage managers and general managers representing organizations including Disney Theatrical Productions, Bespoke Theatricals, Foresight Theatrical, RCI Theatricals, Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre, St. Louis’ Muny, Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre, among others.
The new organization – its full title is Broadway & Beyond: Access For Stage Managers Of Color – was founded by Lisa Dawn Cave, production supervisor for Disney’s Frozen; Beverly Jenkins, production stage manager, Hadestown; and Jimmie Lee Smith, stage manager with Disney Theatrical Group, Aladdin. In a statement, the founders said, in part, “We want to give BIPOC stage managers direct access to the people who are responsible for filling stage management positions, to eliminate the phrase ‘I don’t know where to find them’ from the hiring process and create necessary opportunity pathways for a group of folks who are woefully underrepresented on production teams around the country.”
More specifically, Broadway & Beyond will organize networking and educational opportunities where aspiring and current stage managers of color can learn from industry insiders and leaders, with the goal of starting, maintaining, or advancing careers in the arts and theatre. In addition to the Dec. 17 panel, subsequent events are planned for this spring and summer.
“The theater industry is a beautiful community to be a part of, and one we are grateful to have forged success and meaningful relationships in,” said Cave, Jenkins and Smith. “But we recognize the many challenges that face aspiring theater-makers, especially from within BIPOC communities, to making inroads to the small group of decision-makers who produce theater and build out production teams.”
Attendance to the Dec. 17 panel is free, but applicants must register online no later than Dec. 13. Participation is capped at 75. Panelists will be provided with the resumes of all confirmed participants in advance of the event and will engage directly with attendees in small break-out groups.