The importance of teaching diversity, representation, and inclusion
So today I wanted to talk about the importance of teaching theater in schools, and why we should all be required to take theater classes from a young age. Right now in Florida, for those of you who do not know, they are trying to pass a bill that will not allow the topics of diversity and inclusion to be taught in the classroom. As a theater teacher this bill would create a big problem for me because I honestly do not believe there is a way to teach theater without teaching about diversity, representation, and inclusion.
So, before I go any further, I will ask you what I ask my students. When you look around at the people surrounding you, do you all look the same? Unless, you are looking in a mirror at yourself, the answer is no, we do not all look the same. So why can we not celebrate each others differences and talk about it?
Theater is all about immersing yourself in someone else's story and hopefully taking away something from the experience. Being an actor is all about finding similarities between you and the character so that you can connect more deeply with that person. Or if the character is different from you explore a day in the life of someone else and learn from them.
So why does theater education matter? What can theater teach us? Number one and probably the biggest thing in my opinion is that it teaches us to have empathy and sympathy with others, it broadens our world view t see a different narrative for our own and is used to sometimes question our own values and believes. Number 2two theater is all about collaboration, everyone must work together, whether you like each other or not, for the same common goal. Everyone's opinions and creativity just be heard and you learn to work together as a group to get the best possible outcome. Number three, theater teaches us to listen. As an actor your job is to listen, be present, and respond. I think most people need to learn to listen better, so that we can fully grasp what the other person is saying, and have a thoughtful conversation, instead of being phone zombies. Number four, theater teaches us to respect one another. If the stage manager or the director give you a time call you say “Thank you 5” or whatever they said. Basically showing that you respect that person and that you heard them. And number five and the thing in question currently in our state, diversity and inclusion. In the textbook I teach in there is a whole chapter on global theater and diversity. The chapter goes into Latino theater, Native American theater, LGBTQ theater, Feminist theater, Asian theater, Black theater, ad so much more. Theater is a universal language, we as humans want to express ourselves and theater allows us that. Though theater looks a little different for each country and culture, it is all about the same thing and that is human beings and our emotions.
If you cut us all open do we not all bleed blood? We have to stop being so scared of the other, and instead welcome learning about something new. People do not know what they don't know.
But our world is a big one, and it is not going to stop here, things are going backwards, and we are entering a scary time. I honestly believe that if the Universe, G-d, Allah, whomever wanted us all to be the same, why would they make us so different?
Diversity is a beautiful thing, the world would be a boring place if we all thought and looked the same. So I implore you all to go out and see theater, get comfortable in the uncomfortable, but we have to do something. Because not talking about the issues, or not paying attention, or turning a blind eye is only going to do one thing, it’s going to take away our rights.
Please do not let that happen. Theater is a safe place for so many people who have felt like the outsider their whole life. We are a bunch of colorful weirdos who celebrate each others differences.
So let’s keep talking bout taboo topics because it eliminates their power.
Here are some of my favorite videos I get to show my students that I wouldn’t be able to show if this bill passes. I encourage you all to watch them with an open mind and heart, and I hope you take something away from them.
Love always your Cycle Half,