Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
David Geffen School of Drama's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Working Group (EDIWG) supports and promotes the development of a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre community. THE EDIWG has an open membership model and consists of the deans and mix of students, staff, and faculty members. The group holds a two-hour meeting each month, in addition to ongoing work online. Central to the group's process is the formation of smaller action groups, which meet outside of the monthly meeting to work on specific projects. EDIWG meetings are open to all School and Rep community members. In 2018, several rooms on our campus were named in honor of members of the School of Drama and Yale Rep community. In recognition of the work involved, and as a measure of equitability, student members are paid work-study hours for time spent in EDIWG meetings. Meetings are facilitated by associate dean Chantal Rodriguez and a team of co-facilitators from within the group.
As a way of encouraging participation and lowering barriers to attendance, the School has set aside two hours each month during which rehearsals and work calls begin after the EDIWG meeting.
Carmen Morgan is a Lecturer at the School of Drama and the Founder and Director of artEquity. Together with additional facilitators from artEquity, Carmen leads the following annual trainings for faculty, staff, students, and interns.
Beyond Diversity: Practicing Equity and Inclusion
(required for all first-year students, and all benefitted employees)
Manuel Pastor has spoken eloquently on the subject of the “coming America” – a world where demographic shifts and rapidly evolving definitions of identity are unprecedented. Throughout the contemporary world theatre, issues of representation, cultural equity, and artistic freedom are being revealed with greater and greater complexity. What are key literacies and practices for artists and managers in the changing landscape? How might the unique positions of art practitioners be used as points of leverage for social change, in artistic collaborations, cultural institutions, and in communities large and small? This highly interactive seminar provides participants with a functional framework to explore issues of difference, identity, equity, and structural barriers that serve to limit access, and encourage them to assess their past, present, and future. As members of a changing arts community, what is their role? What are the issues? What is their responsibility for social change? And where do they have agency?
Facilitation for Social Change
(Optional training for students, faculty, and staff.)
Paulo Freire asserts that if the "structure does not permit dialogue, the structure must change." This then is the role of the facilitator, to create the conditions for dialogue where they may not already exist. Building on the intensive workshop Beyond Diversity: Practicing Equity and Inclusion, this seminar moves beyond analysis-building to the application of facilitation skills that advance equity and inclusion. A new brand of cultural leader, artist, and manager is being called upon in the arts. Having the ability to facilitate conversations across difference in a climate of change is no longer an option; it is a requisite skill that is in demand. Participants will navigate the politics of language, social location, and identity; explore how to manage complex power dynamics, and create environments conducive for conversations around issues of difference.
“[The EDI Symposia] provide a forum for dialogue and training on diverse topics and remove barriers and provide access for individuals and groups who have traditionally been left out of theater” – YSD/YRT Community Member
The EDI Symposia series is an ongoing effort that welcomes the attendance of all David Geffen School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre (YSD/YRT) community members, to explore topics related to equity, diversity, and inclusion in pedagogy and professional practice. The EDI Symposia series provides opportunities for the cross-pollination of ideas and discourse between YSD/YRT and the greater theater community.
What do you see as the purpose of the EDI Symposia Series?
“To learn from those out there doing the dang thing.” – YSD/ YRT Community Member
The EDI Symposia series aims to inform our community on perspectives and practices in the field to inspire our own practices at YSD/YRT and beyond. Distinguished guest panelists and presenters are curated by a Steering Committee who identify topics of interest and relevance to the YSD/YRT community. The Committee invites individuals with a relationship with, expertise in, and unique perspective on the chosen subject matter to give a presentation or participate in a discussion panel. The Symposia are an opportunity to amplify the identities and perspectives of those who have historically been under-represented, so that we can center their and others’ experiences. Each session includes an opportunity for YSD/YRT community to engage with the guests in a question and answer session.
What do you see as the purpose of the EDI Symposia Series?
“Learning, listening, questioning, engagement, action” – YSD/YRT Community Member
Curated in collaboration with faculty and student representatives from the Steering Committee, Assistant Dean Kelvin Dinkins, Jr. led the first installments of the EDI Symposia series in the August Wilson Lounge at Yale Repertory Theatre. Since this program began in 2018 as part of the School’s EDI initiative, Committee members and topics have shifted annually. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Symposia has been conducted online, allowing for even greater accessibility.
Why do you consider the EDI Symposium you attended valuable?
“Because it reflects who I am.” – YSD/YRT Community Member
Symposia History 2018–2020
May 12th, 2020 | Zoom | 2:30 – 4:00 PM
In this symposium, Professor Petra Kuppers presented a talk about disability culture dramaturgy entitled, “Crip Dramaturgies: The Asylum Project.” The Asylum Project is a workshop series Professor Kuppers developed as artistic director of The Olimpias, a disability performance artists’ collective. She discussed her recent work and the ways that disability culture practices offer a field for experimental performance methods and opportunities.
Petra Kuppers (she/her) (University of Michigan) is a disability culture activist, a community performance artist, and Artistic Director of The Olimpias, an international disability culture collective. She is author of award-winning books on disability culture, community performance, medical performance, and the poetics of somatic engagement. Her most recent academic books are Theatre and Disability (2017), and Disability Arts and Culture: Methods and Approaches (2019). Her new poetry/performance book, Gut Botany, appeared in March 2020. She lives in Ypsilanti, where she co-creates Turtle Disco, a somatic writing space. She is currently a fellow at the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan.
April 24th, 2020 | Zoom | 2:30 – 4:00pm
The COVID-19 crisis has already had an unprecedented impact on the performing arts and will continue to reshape our industry in unknown ways in the months to come. As we adjust to distance learning and isolating in our homes, we must also consider the ways this epidemic has transformed our understanding of accessibility needs, organizational priorities, and the push towards more inclusive practices.
Jennifer Bielstein (she/her) joined American Conservatory Theater as Executive Director in September 2018. She serves on the board of Theatre Forward, is a member of the International Women’s Forum, and is president of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), having previously served as LORT’s vice president; chair of its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee; and as secretary. Bielstein was managing director of the Guthrie Theater and Actors Theatre of Louisville, and executive director of Writers Theatre. Bielstein has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MBA from Bellarmine University.
Adrian Budhu (he/him) joined Theatre Communications Group as its Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer in 2016. He spent five years at The Theater Offensive (TTO), an LGBTQ not-for-profit arts organization in Boston. His other work experience includes GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project, XAMOnline.com, Metro Boston Newspaper, and John Hancock Financial. Adrian has won numerous awards for his leadership and activism. His prior affiliations include: the Boston Cultural Change Network, the Boston Creates Leadership Council, TCG's Board of Directors, and Point Foundation's National Board of Directors. Budhu holds a BS in management studies from Boston University.
Carmen Morgan (she/her) is the founder and executive director of artEquity. For over ten years, she has worked with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival on structural and organizational equity. She serves as the consultant for Theatre Communications Group’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and programming. For the past fifteen years, Carmen directed Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations (LDIR). Carmen was the Associate Regional Director for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). Carmen is a founding member of the California Chapter of the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME), a former Human Services Commissioner, and is currently on the Board of Directors for Black Women for Wellness. She is on the faculty of David Geffen School of Drama.
Dr. Monica White Ndounou (she/her) is Associate Professor of Theater, affiliate faculty in African and African American Studies and Film and Media Studies and Sony Music Fellow (2017-2018) at Dartmouth College. She is the founding, Executive Director of The CRAFT Institute. She is also the Vice President of Advocacy for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and immediate Past President of the Black Theatre Association. She is an actor, freelance director, and member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. She is the award-winning author of Shaping the Future of African American Film: Color- Coded Economics and the Story Behind the Numbers and Acting Your Color: The Craft, Power and Paradox of Acting for Black Americans 1950s to the present.
March 27th, 2020 | Zoom | 2:30 – 4:00pm
According to Nicole, Conscientious Theatre Training (CTT) is, “dedicated to equitable anti-racist representation in all areas of theatre through disrupting harmful erasure present in traditional theatre training through purposeful inclusion of marginalized groups’ contributions to the cannon of theatre, fusing together cultural competency, self-care practices, and anti-racist theory to create an embodied experience where participants learn to utilize their sphere of power to disrupt white supremacy culture.”
Nicole Brewer (she/her) is an actor, director, educator, and passionate advocate for anti-racist theatre. Nicole has spent the last five years refining and practicing an inclusive method of theatre training and practices which she calls Conscientious Theatre Training (CTT). Nicole is invited all over the US to teach and speak about CTT and facilitate anti-racist theatre (ART) workshops. In 2019, she launched reportracisttheatre.com as a tool for reporting racism when it occurs in theatre. Nicole earned her M.F.A. in Acting from Northern Illinois University and her B.F.A. from Howard University.
December 18th, 2019 | August Wilson Lounge, Yale Repertory Theatre | 2:30 – 4:00pm
Our first EDI symposium of the 2019-20 academic year was a conversation on Asian and Asian American representation in the American theater. The exciting array of panelists included actors, directors, and producers who are working to combat stereotypes and increase performance opportunities for Asian and Asian American artists. Through the course of this discussion, the panelists addressed the state of the field and how they are making the American theatre more inclusive through their activism and artistry.
Pun Bandhu (he/him) is an award-winning actor and producer. He has worked on Broadway; Off Broadway with Primary Stages, The Public Theater, and Playwrights Horizons, among others; regionally at The McCarter Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and the Denver Theatre Center; guest-starred on TV series including Gotham, Blue Bloods, Blindspots, Orange is the New Black and Law and Order, and can be seen in films including Michael Clayton, Burn After Reading, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and The Report. He is a founding member of the Asian American Performers Action Coalition (www.aapacnyc.org). He currently serves on the Advisory Board for the school.
Nelson T. Eusebio, III (he/him) is a freelance director, producer, and award-winning filmmaker. He is the former artistic director of Leviathan Lab and co-founded Creative Destruction. He has directed and developed work at theaters throughout the country and been a resident artist at Ensemble Studio Theatre, Target Margin Theatre Institute, and Mabou Mines. He is a member of the SDC, LCT Directors Lab, and the Rhodopi International Theatre Collective. Nelson was a recipient of the 2009-11 NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Directors, and the Phil Killian Directing Fellowship at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He is a participant in the SPARK Leadership program. Training: B.A. in Drama from UC Irvine and an M.F.A. in Directing from the David Geffen School of Drama. He is a former U.S. Marine.
Mia Katigbak (she/her) is the Artistic Producing Director and co-founder of the award-winning New York City-based NAATCO (National Asian American Theatre Co.). She is TCG’s 2017 Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellow for Distinguished Achievement. Other awards include a 2019 Special Drama Desk Award, the Actors Equity Foundation’s St. Clair Bayfield Award; the Otto René Castillo Award; NY Innovative Theater Award; the Lilly Award; an Obie; the Lucille Lortel and the Lee Reynolds Awards; the Actors Equity’s Rosetta LeNoire Award; and the New Dramatists’ Charles Bowden Actor Award. She is a founding director of CAATA. She holds a B.A. from Barnard College and an MA from Columbia University.
Aneesha Kudtarkar (she/her) is a New York-based theatre director and graduate of David Geffen School of Drama. She is a trained Bharatanatyam dancer who uses her background in dance to create compositionally driven pieces of theatre that often center around underrepresented communities. Aneesha was a Drama League Director's Project Fellow in 2015, and the recipient of the Kauffman Memorial Prize at Yale. Recent projects include [Veil Widow Conspiracy] (National Asian American Theatre Company); LOCUSTS, Trouble in Mind (David Geffen School of Drama); and The Purple Flower (Yale Cabaret). Upcoming projects include Men on Boats (Southern Methodist University) and The Who and The What (TheaterWorks Hartford).
May 7, 2019 | August Wilson Lounge, Yale Repertory Theatre | 12:30 – 2:00pm
Invited panelists discussed the history and current practices regarding gender in the American theater and highlighted the shifts needed to live in a more gender inclusive world. The panel featured representatives from across theatrical disciplines to spark an interdisciplinary discussion on how we can shift culture so that people across the gender spectrum may thrive.
Becca Blackwell (they/them) is a New York City-based trans actor, performer, and writer. Existing between genders, and preferring the pronoun "they," Blackwell works collaboratively with playwrights and directors to expand our sense of personhood and the body through performance. Some of their collaborations have been with Young Jean Lee, Half Straddle, Jennifer Miller's Circus Amok, Richard Maxwell, Erin Markey, Sharon Hayes, Theater of the Two Headed Calf and Lisa D'Amour. Film/TV includes: High Maintenance, Marriage Story, Shameless, Deadman's Barstool, and Jack in the Box. Becca is a recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Artist Award.
Joey Reyes (they/them) is a queer, Latinx, Two Spirit, grandchild of a Mexican immigrant, born and raised in Southern California. They have resided in Brooklyn, New York, since late 2017, working as a producer, director, and facilitator. Joey has worked in administrative and artistic capacities with Cornerstone Theater Company, American Conservatory Theater, Faultline Theater, Cleveland Playhouse, The Public Theater, Chautauqua Theater Company, and MCC Theater. Current roles include: Producing Assistant for The Sol Project and Finance Associate at Ensemble Studio Theatre. B.A. in Theater Arts and Business Administration minor from Azusa Pacific University and Oxford University.
February 22, 2019 | August Wilson Lounge, Yale Repertory Theatre | 2:00 – 3:30pm
The Panel on Disability and Design brought together professionals with a diverse array of theatrical experiences working with artists with disabilities. The conversation included topics such as the history of theater and disability, current trends and practices affecting disabled artists, and how neurotypical collaborators can be better allies for the disabled community.
Talleri A. McRae (she/her) is a theatre artist, educator, disability scholar, and inclusion/access specialist with Cerebral Palsy. Over the last 10 years, she has partnered with theaters, artists, and educators in California, Washington D.C., Texas, Alaska, Kentucky, and Illinois. During graduate school, she researched how casting choices apply to perceptions of theatre and disability with young people. Now, as an independent contractor working regionally, nationally, and internationally, Talleri McRae believes that access and innovation go hand in hand. Whether crafting a performance or bringing arts to the classroom, including people of all abilities can be a wildly creative act.
Mickey Rowe (he/him) is visually impaired and was the first autistic actor to play Christopher Boone in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. He is completing his MFA in Artistic Leadership. Mickey has worked with Syracuse Stage, Indiana Repertory Theatre, the Seattle Opera, SCT, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Book-It Repertory Theatre, The Ashland New Plays Festival, Oregon Shakespeare Festival Midnight Projects, The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. He is a juggler, stilt walker, unicyclist, hat manipulator, acrobat, and more.
November 12, 2018 | August Wilson Lounge, Yale Repertory Theatre | 2:00 – 3:30pm
How do we hold a mirror up to Life? What Lives do we reflect? How do we reflect the World on and offstage?
Brian Eugenio Herrera (he/him) is a writer, teacher and scholar presently based in New Jersey, but forever rooted in New Mexico. He is author of Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth-Century U.S. Popular Performance (Michigan, 2015), which was awarded the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. Brian is also the Inaugural Resident Scholar for The Sol Project. He is Associate Professor of Theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, where he is also affiliated with the Programs in Gender and Sexuality Studies, American Studies and Latino Studies.
Tara Rubin (she/her) is a casting director in New York City. Her Broadway credits include The Band's Visit, Dear Evan Hansen, Indecent, Phantom of the Opera, School of Rock, and King Kong. She is very proud to have been the casting director at Yale Rep for the past fifteen years. Tara graduated from Boston University, serves on the board of the Casting Society of America, and is a trustee of the Noel Coward Foundation.
Victor Vazquez (he/him) serves as Casting Director/Line Producer and member of the artistic team at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. Previous employment includes positions at Center Theatre Group, The Pasadena Playhouse, Cornerstone Theatre Company, and DAQRI. A recipient of fellowships from PEN America and LAMBDA Literary as an Emerging LGBT Writer, he is a Masters candidate at the University of Oxford, and holds two bachelor’s degrees from UC Irvine’s undergraduate creative writing emphasis program and in drama (directing honors). Victor is the son of Mexican immigrants. Spanish is his native language. Originally from Los Angeles, he now lives in Washington, D.C.
EDI Symposium Series Steering Committee
Kelvin Dinkins, Jr.
Eugenio Saenz Flores