Statera Mentorship Chapters Explode Across the U.S.

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by Sarah Greenman

The national launch of Statera Mentorship was announced in October 2018 at Statera’s International Conference in Milwaukee, WI. Since the announcement, regional chapters have exploded across the United States. Last month at Statera’s monthly team meeting, National Mentorship Co-Director Minita Gandhi said, “The response has been astounding.”

Mentorship is at the core of Statera's mission of taking positive action to bring women* into full and equal participation in the arts. Melinda Pfundstein, Statera’s Executive Director, said, “Professional mentorship for women is a positive, proactive, and proven way to counter gender imbalance in the workplace.” And as Nataki Garrett highlighted in her keynote at Statera’s national conference last October, mentor relationships build stronger talent pipelines for open leadership positions in the arts industry.

A flourishing mentor relationship helps both mentor and mentee organize their professional challenges, nurture their creative ideas and activate their personal gifts. StateraArts works to connect women artists interested in moving beyond the very real obstacles that sometimes lie between their goals and their opportunities.

The duration of each mentorship class is 6-months. StateraArts runs the program from January-June and July-December. In addition to one-on-one engagement with a mentor/mentee, each Mentorship Class enjoys a networking mixer with the entire class.

Photo by Antje Kastner

Photo by Antje Kastner

While classes are already underway in Chicago and North Carolina, the newly formed chapters will start their first class of mentorship pairings on July 1, 2019. New chapters include Boston Area, California Central Coast, Ithaca, Los Angeles, Louisville, Milwaukee, New York City, Philadelphia, Rhode Island, San Francisco Bay Area, and Southern Texas. And plans are already in the works for chapters in Alabama, Dallas / Fort Worth, Iowa, Salt Lake, Seattle, Southern Idaho, and Southern Utah.

“Establishing a Statera Mentorship chapter in your community is an incredibly rewarding and exciting endeavor - and you don’t have to re-invent the wheel,” says National Mentorship Co-Director Erika Haaland. StateraArts has created materials and resources that will equip regional coordinators with the tools they'll need to create a lasting and successful program. They’ll have access to organizational systems, email templates, the Statera Mentorship Field Guide, and face-time with Statera’s National Co-Directors.

Siobhan Doherty, the founder of the Los Angeles Chapter said, “It's incredible to feel like you're not building something in a void, but instead have the support of women who have done this before, and are working with you to create change for women in the arts.”

If you’re interested in engaging as a mentor or mentee (or both), please visit www.stateraarts.org/mentorship to select your region and apply. For those who have questions about Statera Mentorship, StateraArts provides an excellent FAQ page on their website: www.stateraarts.org/mentorship-faq. And for those who don’t see their region listed on the map above, National Co-Director Minita Gandhi says, “Join us! You can start a chapter at any time in your community. We’re here to help you do it.”

Lia Mortensen, a 30-year veteran actor in Chicago, went through the program last year. She says she was thrilled to be a mentor and give back to women in the business. "There was nothing like this when I was starting out,” said Mortensen. “Not only has it been an intensely rewarding experience to help my mentee in all areas of Chicago theatre, but I also discovered the wealth of knowledge I have attained over the years and the immense value of it."

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Photos above are all from a 2018 Chicago Chapter mentorship mixer. (Photos by Antje Kastner)


A Love Letter from StateraArts

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HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!


This is a love letter to YOU - our incredible donors and supporters! Whether you donated directly, became a member, participated in Statera Mentorship, attended our conference, wrote for the Statera Blog, volunteered at an event, or supported a program with your time and energy, YOU have contributed to the success of Statera’s work for gender balance in the arts. Thanks to YOU and the support of the entire Statera community, 2018 was the most expansive and exciting year StateraArts has ever had.
 

THANK YOU...
 

...for supporting the national expansion of Statera Mentorship with the launch of 15 new regional chapters (and more coming).


THANK YOU...


...for supporting our third National Conference in Milwaukee! Your contribution allowed us to bring in theatre and film luminaries like Hana Sharif, Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway, Gail Barringer, and Nataki Garrett to give touchstone addresses.


THANK YOU...
 

...for supporting the launch of our free resource directory, which houses a treasure-trove of valuable information for emerging and established artists alike.


THANK YOU...


...for supporting the launch of Statera Membership- a community for anyone interested in advancing their art careers through the lens of intersectional gender-parity.


THANK YOU...


....for supporting the Statera Team (pictured below). Your donations have allowed our organization to transition from an all-volunteer team to one that is supported in the work. It is an exciting time at StateraArts and we owe it all to you!

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THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING OUR MISSION
to take positive action to bring women* 
into full and equal participation in the arts.

Love, 
The StateraArts Team


*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA

Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as non-binary. 

Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, parental status, size, age, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all. 

An Actress Prepares: Tiffany Hobbs Talks About the F-Word

It's Wednesday, which means its time for another installment of “An Actress Prepares” with Tiffany Denise Hobbs! StateraArts uplifts and amplifies women* artists in all genres, but we also recognize our strong theatre roots. Tiffany’s series offers mentorship for early career theatre artists as well as valuable insight for anyone wanting to know more about what it means to be a working actor. Click HERE to view last week’s episode.

Jason Moody Photography

Jason Moody Photography

AN ACTRESS PREPARES: The F Word

by Tiffany Denise Hobbs

Hey Statera! In this episode, I get real personal and talk about "failure" and how it has affected me as a performing artist. And I also talk about one of my favorite quotes: “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of equal or greater benefit.” - Napoleon Hill


Tiffany Hobbs was born and raised in Augusta, GA. Tiffany began dancing at the age of three. In the years following, she discovered a love for theater and music that augmented her passion to be a performing artist. She has trained for over two decades at prestigious liberal and performing arts institutions (UGA, SMU, Yale) and loves every minute of imitating life onstage, on set or in a rehearsal room. A former member of the Brierley Resident Acting Company at the Dallas Theater Center and featured actress at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, some of her favorite roles include Juanita in James Baldwin's Blues for Mister Charlie, Beatrice in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and Tonya in August Wilson's King Hedley II.

Tiffany appeared as Shenzi in the National Tour of The Lion King for two years (2015-2017). On TV, she can be found co-starring in Donald Glover's FX hit, "Atlanta"; Netflix's "Ozark" and "The Haunting of Hill House"; the OWN Network's "Love Is ___"; CBS's "MacGyver," "Bull" and "Code Black"; and in SyFy's "Happy." In 2018, Tiffany joined the Broadway musical, Waitress, spear-headed by Sara Bareilles, Jessie Nelson and Diane Paulus.

More at www.tiffanydenisehobbs.com

Nominations Open April 1 for Visionary Woman Leader Award

Martha Richards receives the inaugural Visionary Woman in Leadership Award at Statera’s 3rd National Conference in Milwaukee, WI. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

Martha Richards receives the inaugural Visionary Woman in Leadership Award at Statera’s 3rd National Conference in Milwaukee, WI. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

Nominations for the 2019 Martha Richards Visionary Woman in Leadership Award open on April 1, 2019! This is your opportunity to amplify and celebrate the work of a Visionary Arts Leader in your community! Everyone is invited to submit their nominations throughout the month of April. The online submission form will be available HERE beginning on April 1st.

ABOUT THE AWARD

This award, established in Martha Richards’ name, is given annually to a visionary woman* who uplifts, amplifies, and advances women in the arts. StateraArts established this award to recognize outstanding leaders and support the work of women and TGNC (Trans / Gender Non-Conforming) arts leaders who are creating pathways for other women leaders.

StateraArts is honored to highlight the extraordinary achievements of women leaders in the arts who provide powerful role models for mentorship and intersectional equity. The award comes with national recognition and a $2,000 prize. Read more about how the award was established:

Statera Establishes the Martha Richards Visionary Woman in Leadership Award

GUIDELINES

Future recipients of the MRVWL Award:

  • Uplift, amplify, and advance women leaders in the arts

  • Actively create pathways to success and advancement for women in the arts

  • Embody Statera’s mission of positive action for women in the arts

  • Uphold the values of intersectional gender equity in their own leadership

SUBMISSION & ANNOUNCEMENT TIMELINE

April 1-30, 2019 - Nominations/Submissions accepted

May 1 - June 31, 2019 - Review Period

July 2019 - Notify recipient and invite them to Statera’s National Conference

October 2019 - Recipient is presented with Award at Statera’s 2019 National Conference in NYC

Martha Richards

Martha Richards

ABOUT MARTHA RICHARDS

Martha Richards spent a 40-year career centering on the voices of women and under-represented artists. When this award was established, Martha had invested twenty-three years as Executive Director of WomenArts, a non-profit Martha founded dedicated to increasing visibility and opportunities for women artists in all genres. Prior to WomanArts, Martha served as Executive Director of Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College and as Managing Director of StageWest. She has received many honors including a 2006 nomination for the prestigious international Montblanc Due La Culture Award for outstanding service to the arts, induction into the BayPath College 21st Century Women Business Leaders Hall of Fame for her work in philanthropy, and recognition as one of three "founding mothers" of the Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts. One of Martha’s greatest and most wide-reaching accomplishments was the creation of SWAN / Support Women Artists Now Day, an international holiday celebrating the power and diversity of women’s creativity. Over its 11-year history, SWAN Day has reached 36 countries with over 1900 events. Martha Richards has changed the landscape for women artists and this award is part of her continued legacy.


*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA

Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as non-binary. 

Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, parental status, size, age, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all. 

Uplift & Amplify: January #SWANSunday Artists

SWAN Day means Support Women Artists Now Day. It is an annual international celebration of women’s creativity and gender parity activism. It happens on the last Saturday in March. But we don’t have to wait. We can support women* artists every week!

Last month, StateraArts launched a campaign designed to AMPLIFY the voices and work of women artists as part of SWAN Day. The goal is to flood social media every Sunday with images, quotes, and work from women artists. Below are some of the incredible artists YOU amplified during the month of January. Who will you amplify this Sunday?

Find out more about SWAN Day HERE.

Luchita Hurtado, visual artist. (Photo by Laure Joliet)

Luchita Hurtado, visual artist. (Photo by Laure Joliet)

ARTIST: Luchita Hurtado

AMPLIFIED BY: Jackie Vanderbeck (Baton Rouge, LA)

“Luchita Hurtado. Dark Years” is on view from Jan. 31 – April 6, 2019, at Hauser & Wirth, 32 East 69th Street, New York, hauserwirth.com.

"Women artists have not had the visibility they should have and we need to protest, systematically, against forgetting — through books and exhibitions.”

Mercy Obukwa - Visual Artist

Mercy Obukwa - Visual Artist

ARTIST: Mercy Obukwa

AMPLIFIED BY: Sophie Dowllar (Kenya)

Mercy is a visual artist from Nairobi, Kenya, specializing in unique high-end luxurious art with a 3-D touch. Sophie says, “I am spoiled of choice whom i want to amplify on social media....But i have to see this piece of art (above) by Mercy Obukwa.”

Tonia Sina - Intimacy Directors International

Tonia Sina - Intimacy Directors International

ARTIST: Tonia Sina

AMPLIFIED BY: Mandy Rausch (Dallas)

Here’s what Mandy had to say about Tonia. “Not only did she lead the charge on choreographing intimacy for the stage, starting Intimacy Directors International and continue its growth, but she fights for her life every day with grace and humor and dignity, AND she’s an advocate for the bully breed with her sweet service dog, Daphne.”

Artwork by Evita Tezeno

Artwork by Evita Tezeno

ARTIST: Evita Tezeno

AMPLIFIED BY: Sarah Greenman (Eastern Oregon)

Sarah writes, “Today I want to shine a light on the incredible work of Evita Tezeno and her stunning collage portraits. Her collages are deeply enriching, joyful, thoughtful, gorgeous pieces of the human soul. I love them - each one.”

Melissa Maxwell, multi-disciplinary artist. (Photo by James Edward Alexander)

Melissa Maxwell, multi-disciplinary artist. (Photo by James Edward Alexander)

ARTIST: Melissa Maxwell

AMPLIFIED BY: Melinda Pfundstein

Melinda writes, “Lifting up multi-discipline artist: director/actor/advocate and more, Melissa Maxwell on this #SWANsunday. I never see a dragonfly when I don’t think of you.”

Emily Trask and Kitty Balay in “Shakespeare in Love” at PCPA. (Photo by Luis Escobar)

Emily Trask and Kitty Balay in “Shakespeare in Love” at PCPA. (Photo by Luis Escobar)

ARTIST: Emily Trask, Actor and Educator

AMPLIFIED BY: Kitty Balay

Kitty writes, “How lucky I am to have the extraordinary Emily Trask as an acting partner, colleague, and friend! Happy #SWANSunday!”

An Actress Prepares: Tiffany Denise Hobbs

It's Wednesday, which means its time for another installment of “An Actress Prepares” with Tiffany Denise Hobbs! StateraArts uplifts and amplifies women* artists in all genres, but we also recognize our strong theatre roots. Tiffany’s series offers mentorship for early career theatre artists as well as valuable insight for anyone wanting to know more about what it means to be a working actor. Click HERE to view last week’s episode.


AN ACTRESS PREPARES: WHY THEATRE?

by Tiffany Denise Hobbs

Hey there, and welcome back! In this episode, I'll touch briefly on my personal answer to "Why theatre?" And then, I'll dive into how I begin getting into a role. Let’s go!


Tiffany Hobbs was born and raised in Augusta, GA. Tiffany began dancing at the age of three. In the years following, she discovered a love for theater and music that augmented her passion to be a performing artist. She has trained for over two decades at prestigious liberal and performing arts institutions (UGA, SMU, Yale) and loves every minute of imitating life onstage, on set or in a rehearsal room. A former member of the Brierley Resident Acting Company at the Dallas Theater Center and featured actress at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, some of her favorite roles include Juanita in James Baldwin's Blues for Mister Charlie, Beatrice in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and Tonya in August Wilson's King Hedley II.

Tiffany appeared as Shenzi in the National Tour of The Lion King for two years (2015-2017). On TV, she can be found co-starring in Donald Glover's FX hit, "Atlanta"; Netflix's "Ozark" and "The Haunting of Hill House"; the OWN Network's "Love Is ___"; CBS's "MacGyver," "Bull" and "Code Black"; and in SyFy's "Happy." In 2018, Tiffany joined the Broadway musical, Waitress, spear-headed by Sara Bareilles, Jessie Nelson and Diane Paulus.

More at www.tiffanydenisehobbs.com.

Statera Supporting Women in the Arts - an interview with Melinda Pfundstein

StateraConIII in Milwaukee, WI. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

StateraConIII in Milwaukee, WI. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

This interview was originally published by the Utah Theatre Bloggers Association on February 1, 2019.

by Russell Warne 

CEDAR CITY — Making a living in the arts has always been a challenge. But—as in many other fields—women experience challenges in the workplace that men do not have. Rather than talk about the problem, Utah-based actor and director Melinda Pfundstein decided to do something about reducing barriers that women face as they pursue their careers in the arts so she founded StateraArts with the help of USF actor Shelly Gaza. I sat down with Ms. Pfundstein in July to discuss Statera and its mission in more detail.

UTBA: What is the mission of the StateraArts?

Pfundstein: Statera, deriving its name from the Latin word for balance, takes positive action to bring women into full and equal participation in the arts. We work through mentorship, community and coalition building through our national conferences, and by amplifying women’s voices and work through international SWAN Day. We engage with organizations and women ready and hungry to do the work to help balance the landscape in the arts.

UTBA: What does SWAN stand for in International SWAN Day?

Pfundstein: SWAN stands for “Support Women Artists Now.” It was started 11 years ago by WomenArts founder Martha Richards and there have been over 1,900 SWAN Day celebrations in 36 countries around the world.

UTBA: What do you encourage people to do on SWAN Day?

Pfundstein: It is a grassroots movement that encourages communities of artists and arts supporters to gather, uplift, and celebrate women’s work. Some SWAN Day organizers use it as an opportunity to fundraise for arts projects in their communities.

UTBA: That’s interesting. How was Statera founded?

Pfundstein: The organization took shape on my back porch from years and years of the same conversations about the complications of being a woman in the theatre and the arts. There were so many women that we would see come and go and not advance through the organizations we were working in. But we were watching our male friends and peers doing just the opposite and grow in rank and in opportunities in directing and leadership.

UTBA: How long ago was that?

Pfundstein: That was in 2015.

UTBA: So that was your back porch here in Cedar City, Utah.

Pfundstein: That’s right.

UTBA: Wow. One day there will be a historic plaque there says, “On this spot StateraArts was hatched.”

StateraArts’s logo symbolizes balance in the arts.

StateraArts’s logo symbolizes balance in the arts.

Pfundstein: Right. But from there, we have team members and offices in L.A., the Portland area, Seattle, Denver, New York, and Chicago. We’re really spread out over the country.

UTBA: This is really a grassroots network throughout all of the major arts centers in the United States.

Pfundstein: Yes.

UTBA: So, with International SWAN Day, will we one day see Statera offices in other countries?

Pfundstein: That is the hope.

UTBA: You mentioned “complications” for women trying to advance their careers in the arts. What are some of the unique complications that women face?

Pfundstein: From a very personal standpoint, I’m a mother and a wife. So, any time I go off to do a job, that is a factor for me. It’s great in organizations that I have worked with that have child care on the premises or that are supportive of families working for organizations. And in our organizations that mostly do productions from the classical canon, most of the roles available are for men. That means that men then become the loyal favorites, and pathways become built. And these men start to build up through the organization into leadership and directing positions that aren’t readily available for women. And there just aren’t a lot of examples for women to look to who have grown through the ranks into leadership opportunities in theatre. While there are many male allies and men who have done so, it is helpful to see somebody who looks like you in a pathway that makes sense to you.

UTBA: It’s one thing to say, “Oh, I’ve heard my wife talk about these challenges,” or, “I’ve heard my co-worker about these challenges.” But it’s different to have a mentor to say, “Here is how I found these solutions.”

Pfundstein: Absolutely. Statera is about positive action and finding solutions. We like to work on the tactics that are working and to magnify them.

UTBA: You mentioned that the roles in the classical canon are disproportionately male, and here we are at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Shakespeare‘s most famous play, Hamlet, has two female characters. You directed a play this year, the Merchant of Venice, that has three named female characters. Tell me about how, given this issue, how you handled that to make this play more career-friendly for your female performers.

Pfundstein: With Shakespeare, in particular, we already go to the theater and suspend our disbelief about so many things: that a cardboard thing is a tree, or a piece of wood is a house or a village. But also there is a tradition of men playing women’s roles. So, this is not so much of a stress. It’s just about asking smart questions about what lens we can look through to think more creatively about themes based in human experience. I think that’s something that we do every time come to these plays. This time it happened to be a marginalization lens that I looked through.

Lisa Wolpe as Shylock in the 2018 Utah Shakespeare Festival production of  The Merchant of Venice . (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival 2018.)

Lisa Wolpe as Shylock in the 2018 Utah Shakespeare Festival production of The Merchant of Venice. (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival 2018.)

UTBA: You cast four women into five roles that were written for men. Why did you cast those particular women?

Pfundstein: I cast those particular women because of their artistry. When The Merchant of Venice came to my plate, the first person I thought of was Lisa Wolpe because I heard her speak those words a year ago, and it haunted me. The casting grew from there, and they were the best people for the roles.

UTBA: That’s quite an endorsement for those performers. Beyond this particular production, what success stories do you have for Statera?

Pfundstein: Recent success stories that resonate for me are about individual artists who bring a new show to the national conference. Out of that, they then book performances at theaters across the country. There are also stories of people engaging with mentors and being shepherded through their pathway in the arts. It’s about connecting with women and male allies all over the country and internationally.

UTBA: Are there women who have been offered directorial positions because of Statera’s work?

Pfundstein: Absolutely. We’re connecting people and having conversations about the work and new ways of thinking. Those relationships automatically blossom the same way that they do for our male allies. We’re just seeing it more frequently now.

UTBA: Are there some jobs and positions that are more representative of women than others? Or is it more consistent across the board where you see the same level of representation in different positions?

Pfundstein: The American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and the Wellesley Centers for Women put out a study a couple of years ago about women in leadership in the theatre. You can get some statistics from there. But right now we are in the midst of the biggest turnover of leadership in the American theatre ever. So, right now this is on so many people’s tongues because we’re talking about what we can do to ensure that the work stays relevant in the future. So much of that has to do with making sure we get more diverse voices in leadership positions. That hasn’t been the case previously.

Melinda Pfundstein

Melinda Pfundstein

UTBA: It sounds like you started your work at the perfect time, right before you start getting this massive turnover in leadership. It sounds like you having this conversation going about getting women in directorial positions and artistic directing positions, those positions are really starting to open up for various reasons anyway. Now seems like the perfect chance to give female candidates a shot. Am I understanding that correctly?

Pfundstein: You are. I offer that it we have had the perfect chance to give female and diverse candidates a shot. We have simply been stuck in old, outdated habits and systems, but now we know better, and it is time to do better.

UTBA: That’s interesting. For yourself, you mentioned that you had particular challenges for yourself in your career. What changes have you seen in the industry over the course of your career in addressing this issue?

Natasha Harris (left) as Bianca and Melinda Pfundstein as Katherine in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2015 production of The Taming of the Shrew. (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival 2015.)

Pfundstein: The first thing is that this is on the tongues of the industry. The whole industry is talking about how to make this a more diverse landscape. Just that it’s a conversation piece at so many organizations is totally different than it was when I was starting. And women are starting to step into these positions: women, women of color. They’re stepping into these positions of leadership, and that makes it better for all of us. There also more opportunities now. I also have more examples now—and perhaps it’s because of this work where I’m connecting to them now—but more examples of women who have taken a pathway that makes sense to me in growing and progressing in the industry.

UTBA: Besides the conversation actually happening, what is the #1 difference for a female artist starting her career now compared to 20 years ago?

Pfundstein: We have Statera. There is opportunity for mentorship, free resources, a place to convene once a year to connect to other artists who are interested in this conversation, and a growing community of makers and advocates forwarding the work. Organizations are implementing equity, diversity, and inclusion programs that are more than just lip service now. Where once these peripheral programs were created to check boxes, now companies are implementing them into their day-to-day operations. That is making a huge difference. They’re acting as examples for other organizations who want to broaden their teams and diversify the voices in their organization.

UTBA: It reminds me of a panel at a conference of the American Theatre Critics Association that I went to in 2015 where female playwrights talked about a real change in moving their work from being at women’s-only festivals or being produced as the one play per year written by a women in a company’s season to being an integral part of the season at theatre companies. Do you see a similar movement happening in acting roles, directing positions and design jobs, where there is an effort to make a large number of women part of the creative teams?

Pfundstein: Yes. More organizations are moving beyond the tokenism of adding women or people of color in and instead doing the hard and important work of implementing the value of doing art by and for more people into their missions. I believe that these organizations will thrive and those that do not will become irrelevant and struggle.

UTBA: What can patrons do? Most of UTBA’s readers are not artists.

Pfundstein: Women buy 70% of the tickets in the arts. They ought to see themselves represented in the art they buy. Simply buy tickets that support art done by and for more people. Contact your arts organizations and say, “I really love this and want more of this.” That feedback for organizations is great.

UTBA: I appreciate you giving me the time to talk about this. Is there anything else I should know about Statera or its work?

Pfundstein: Statera is not just about giving artists opportunities. It’s about allowing the arts to reflect back a picture of all our audience members, and not just a certain type. All audience members deserve to see representations of themselves because the arts inspire us to consider what could be. This work makes the arts landscape better for all of us.

UTBA: I see it as common sense. The more people who see the arts as being relevant to their lives, the more people will come to the defense of the arts when funding is in danger. It makes sense from the patron’s perspective, from the producer’s perspective, for the artists, and everyone. It makes sense to have more voices and a broader pool of support.


To learn more about the StateraArts, visit stateraarts.orgTo help further Statera’s mission, make a donation at stateraarts.org/donate.

Statera Welcomes New Team Members

Thanks to our incredible community, 2018 was the most expansive and exciting year Statera has ever had. We fostered the national expansion of Statera Mentorship with the launch of 12 new regional chapters (and more coming). We hosted our third National Conference in Milwaukee, with touchstone addresses from theatre and film luminaries like Hana Sharif, Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway, Gail Barringer, and Nataki Garrett. We launched our free resource directory, which houses a treasure-trove of valuable information for emerging and established artists alike. And this January, Statera launched Statera Membership - a community for anyone interested in advancing their art careers through the lens of intersectional gender-parity. If it sounds like we’re tooting our own horn, we are! Its an exciting time and we owe it all to you! Thank you for supporting our mission.

We also want you to be the first to know that the Statera Team expanded in January. Please join us in welcoming our newest StateraArts team members!


Vanessa DeSilvio

Vanessa DeSilvio

VANESSA DESILVIO (She/Her/Hers)

Vanessa DeSilvio joins StateraArts as part of our Ambassador team. She is a Dallas-based stage, commercial, and television actor and voice over artist. She speaks fluent Spanish as she was raised in a Venezuelan household and strongly identifies with being Latinx. She holds an MFA in Acting from Southern Methodist University, and has taught introduction to acting and speech and diction classes at SMU, University of North Texas, and KD Conservatory.

Statera Ambassadors are artist-activists with big ideas! They are Statera's creative brain trust. You will find our Ambassadors authoring posts on the Statera Blog, presenting at StateraCon, engaging as regional Mentorship Coordinators, and consulting on the development of Statera programming.


TRACY LIZ MILLER (She/Her/Hers)

Tracy Liz Miller has joined the Statera team as Co-Chair of our National Conference in NYC. Tracy is the Co-founding Producing Artistic Director of The Bridge Initiative: Women in Theatre, previously Associate Producer Vermont Shakespeare Company. Tracy is proud to be teaching the next generation of theatre artists as Director of the Theatre Arts at Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Chandler, Arizona. This past summer, Tracy was a recipient of a professional development grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts along with an Emerging Director Scholarship from the Celebration Barn in Maine to attend their 11-day Devising Intensive. BFA Musical Theatre Performance Western Michigan University, MFA Acting Alabama Shakespeare Festival / U of A.

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Chris Sanders

Chris Sanders

CHRIS SANDERS (She/Her/They/Them)

We’re thrilled that Chris has joined StateraArts as an Ambassador. Chris is a singer, actor, educator, entrepreneur and teaches Theatre courses at UTD, in Richardson, TX. They are also a spokesperson for Susan G. Koman, and an Independent Consultant with Arbonne International.

Chris is also thrilled to have taken on the role of being the Head of Music Ministry with Activate Church. Activate is a place of Christian worship, geared towards entrepreneurs, based in Dallas, TX. Chris earned their BA in Theatre from Kean University and her MFA in Acting from Southern Methodist University.


NANCY SLITZ (She/Her/Hers)

Last month, Statera also welcomed Nancy Slitz as Chair of the StateraArts Advisory Board. Nancy has been a long-time supporter of the organization and has attended Statera’s conferences as both a presenter and a participant. Other board members include Sam White, Martha Richards, and Marti Gobel.

Nancy most recently served as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Her career began in education, but quickly expanded to positions with IBM, Hammer Art Galleries in New York, and an executive search company where she placed lawyers in many of the prestigious Manhattan law firms. She helmed her own executive search firm, Slitz Search and has years of business experience and has been certified as a CPC: Professional Corporate/Small Business Coach. Nancy specializes in working with arts organizations.  We are honored that Nancy is joining Statera as Chair of the Advisory Board.

Nancy Slitz, Chair of the StateraArts Advisory Board

Nancy Slitz, Chair of the StateraArts Advisory Board


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EVANGELINE STOTT (She/Her/Hers)

Evangeline Stott is joining Statera as an Operations Assistant and is also working on SWAN Day coordination. Evangeline is an actor, painter, musician, and community builder. She obtained her BFA in Classical Acting from Southern Utah University and completed an acting fellowship with the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

An Arizona desert rat with an East Coast heart, Evangeline moved to NYC after college where she has immersed herself in the devised theatre community while performing in productions at Columbia University and August Corps.

Her paintings are both a direct expression of her lust for life and an exploration of empathy. They have been showcased and sold in Utah, Nevada, and New York.


JENNIFER TUTTLE (She/Her/Hers)

Jennifer Tuttle is working with StateraArts as the National Conference Co-Chair and liaison with City College of New York (CCNY) where StateraConIV will be hosted.

Jennifer is a theatre artist and educator. As a director, her recent projects include: Immigration Stories for Culture Project’s Women Center Stage, An Incident at Peniel at Crossways Theatre, Much Ado Para Nada at Shakespeare in Detroit, and Macbeth at the City College of New York.

As an assistant professor at CCNY she teaches Acting, Directing, and Voice. She received her MFA in Theatre/Acting from the Hilberry Theatre at Wayne State University, and her Certification as a Teacher of the Michael Chekhov Technique from the Great Lakes Michael Chekhov Consortium, where she is an Associate Teacher. Jennifer has been a professional actor and director for over 20 years and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity.

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An Actress Prepares: Tiffany Denise Hobbs

Get excited because Tiffany Denise Hobbs and StateraArts are partnering to bring you a weekly series called “An Actress Prepares”. StateraArts uplifts and amplifies women* artists in all genres, but we also recognize our strong theatre roots. Tiffany’s series offers mentorship for early career theatre artists as well as valuable insight for anyone wanting to know more about what it means to be a working actor. Tiffany is currently on Broadway in Waitress the Musical and she is also working with StateraArts as a Statera Ambassador.


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Introduction: An Actress Prepares

by Tiffany Denise Hobbs

Hello Statera! Many people have been asking me about my career - the why’s, the how’s, the if’s, etc. So I decided to create a vlog in which I share my process and the intimate details on how I do what I do. And I love what I do! I enjoy helping others and I’m excited to share my understanding of working in this business. Don’t mistake this for an attempt at a perfect guide - it’s just imperfect ol’ me sharing my personal journey (the good, the bad and the ugly) and what little nuggets of insight and inspiration I have gathered along the way. If you are in any way curious about an actor’s life, this is for you.

Tiffany will be back next Wednesday to talk about “why theatre”. She’ll also share about how she first approaches a role. But if you want more, feel free to binge watch “An Actress Prepares” on Tiffany’s YouTube channel. You can also find her on Instagram.


Tiffany Hobbs was born and raised in Augusta, GA. Tiffany began dancing at the age of three. In the years following, she discovered a love for theater and music that augmented her passion to be a performing artist. She has trained for over two decades at prestigious liberal and performing arts institutions (UGA, SMU, Yale) and loves every minute of imitating life onstage, on set or in a rehearsal room. A former member of the Brierley Resident Acting Company at the Dallas Theater Center and featured actress at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, some of her favorite roles include Juanita in James Baldwin's Blues for Mister Charlie, Beatrice in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and Tonya in August Wilson's King Hedley II.

Tiffany appeared as Shenzi in the National Tour of The Lion King for two years (2015-2017). On TV, she can be found co-starring in Donald Glover's FX hit, "Atlanta"; Netflix's "Ozark" and "The Haunting of Hill House"; the OWN Network's "Love Is ___"; CBS's "MacGyver," "Bull" and "Code Black"; and in SyFy's "Happy." In 2018, Tiffany joined the Broadway musical, Waitress, spear-headed by Sara Bareilles, Jessie Nelson and Diane Paulus.

More at www.tiffanydenisehobbs.com.

Why Can’t I Be Both?

On October 6, 2018, Sage Martin and Maggie Rogers presented a breakout session called “Fat Discrimination and its Impact on the American Theatre” at Statera’s National Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. StateraArts is proud to publish a text version of their session below.

Sage Martin (left) and Maggie Rogers (right) speaking at Statera’s National Conference in Milwaukee. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

Sage Martin (left) and Maggie Rogers (right) speaking at Statera’s National Conference in Milwaukee. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

Fat discrimination and its impact on the American theatre.

By Sage Martin & Maggie Rogers

America hates fat people, specifically fat womxn and femmes. Our rampant diet-crazed culture equates self worth with waist size. Commercials celebrate post-diet bodies like prizes, magazines promise ways to lose 30 lbs in 30 days, and even Instagram touts some secret tea that will flatten your tummy. If you aren’t getting hefty servings of body-shame from the media, chances are you are being force-fed the same rhetoric by friends and family via grandmothers talking about the newest fad diet they are trying, friends asking which dress makes them look less fat, and mothers stressing over getting their “good” figure back. This inherited hate has been passed down for so many generations that we waste no time passing it on and teaching children there is always a better way to have a body. So what happens when your body is your business? Your livelihood?

Theatre has long considered itself to be the includer of the excluded - home of the underdog, and a mirror to society. It’s an industry dedicated to telling stories from endless perspectives and all walks of life. We seek out what is often overlooked and shine a spotlight on it.

In a world made rigid by race, class, and nationality, theatre is often our great escape and equalizer. In an industry so fiercely dedicated to inclusion and diversity, why are we still adhering to poisonous social conformities regarding fatness?

“Fat” can be, and often is, an inflammatory term to people who grew up fat or are currently living as fat. It has a derogatory and hurtful past for many. The use of the word “fat” can trigger an immediate impulse to retort back quickly that you are not. This stems from a centuries old stereotype that fat is culturally synonymous with unhealthy, unintelligent, and unattractive.

The Word Fat:

  • It is subjective. There are no guidelines for what “fat” means. Someone who wears a 32 may not see someone wearing a 22 as fat, and both of them may not consider someone wearing a 12 to be fat. This is an ongoing discussion in the fat community. For the purposes of this article, fat will be qualified as anyone who must shop in “plus-size stores” to find clothes and accessories to fit themselves.

  • It is not an emotion. All of us have finished a meal with family or friends and then heard someone utter the dreaded “Yuck, I ate too much. I feel so fat.” When someone says this they mean to say they feel bloated or uncomfortable. You cannot “feel fat”. Using the word “fat” to describe eating too much or feeling full is not only incorrect, but an unimaginative use of the English language.

  • It is not an identity, it is a experience and a state of existence. A body has fat and carries it, it is something you gain and lose. Thin people cannot understand the world as a fat person simply because they wish to, it is something lived. Non-fat people claiming the word “fat” as a temporary identity is harmful to fat people who exist in a state of fatness constantly.

(Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

(Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

Before delving into fat prejudice in the American theatre, one must understand how this discrimination manifests itself in the general public and daily life by viewing it from a micro and macro level. It is worth noting that aggressions do not have to fall at the feet of fat people. A fat person does not have to be present for fatphobia to be damaging. If you hear someone speaking negatively about a fat person’s physicality, say something. Even if they are not there, it is still an aggression and not correcting the behavior makes you complicit. Silence does nothing, for anyone.

Micro Level Fat Aggressions, Everyday Life

  • People constantly shifting in seats on public transit to display how little room they have by sitting next to a fat body.

  • Statements that acknowledge size as something to overcome or hide via clothing and accessories. “You dress well for your size.”

  • Comments that put beauty and weight at odds. “You’re not fat. You are beautiful”.

  • Repetitive “compliments” that highlight body parts that are easily separated from fatness. “You have such a pretty face.”

  • Small public spaces that do not take into account a person of size: tables screwed into the ground at restaurants, narrow seating at venues, AIRPLANE BATHROOMS.

Macro Level Fat Aggressions, Everyday Life

  • Strangers calling people fat to their face.

  • Others commenting on a fat person’s food choices, how often they eat, and how much they consume.

  • Doctors unwilling to listen to medical needs without blaming symptoms on weight.

  • Jobs that do not have uniforms in plus sizes or up charges for sizes beyond a large.

These micro and macro aggressions are very common in America. Knowledge of how fat bodies are treated in day-to-day life is paramount for understanding and and describing how fat bodies are treated in theatre.

Micro Level Fat Aggressions, Theatre

  • Costume designers making comments on the difficulty of finding clothing in plus sizes… even if it is framed as a joke.

  • Choreographers and dressers commenting on how someone’s body is “different” in any capacity. This has the potential to unearth previous trauma, make the performer feel like a burden, or create a feeling of unsafety.

  • People being surprised by fat people’s movement abilities. Dance and movement instructors often voice when a fat person is moving just as well as everyone else. This is usually an attempt to compliment or encourage but it is often demeaning. Fat people don’t need extra praise for moving well.

  • People assuming someone who is fat will be auditioning/called in for a supporting role. Many people struggle with fat bodies depicting the stories of romantic, powerful, or fragile characters.

Macro Level Fat Aggressions, Theatre

  • Programs, colleges, and apprenticeships denying admittance due to size or basing admittance on an agreement to lose weight.

  • Instructors assuming you lack the physical abilities of the rest of the cast/class. This is similar to the micro aggression of people being surprised fat people can move. But instead of showing surprise, the instructor/casting team does not invite fat people to movement portions of auditions or classes, assuming they aren’t physically fit.

  • “Type casting”

Type-Casting

It is hard to believe in the foundations of type casting when the person assigning types has traditionally been an older, white, cisgendered man. If the institution is ever questioned, an immediate response is “this is how it has always been.” There is no disputing some actors are more skilled at specific facets of acting; comedic timing, dramatic pauses, larger than life intimidation or warmth. However, it does seem like more than a coincidence that the majority of fat womxn are commonly cast as matronly or funny characters and never the love interest. Is this because society rarely views fat womxn as sexy or desirable? Is it because fat children grow up using humor as a defense, making it easier for fat adults to lean into comedy? Do we use tropes about fatness to protect the beauty binary of thin is good and fat is bad? Regardless of the origin, the reality is that fat bodies are typically used as the punchline or the non-sexual supportive character.

Everything put on stage has meaning from the color of a pocket square, to a cross downstage. Theatre is a deep study of semiotics. By putting a fat body onstage, a story is already being told. Romeo and Juliet is a story of love in spite of family rules. Romeo and Fat Juliet becomes a story of love despite her size. It is the same script but now the story has changed due to the audiences preconceived notions of what they have been told about fat people. No words are changed but by altering the expected looks of this classic love story, the entire way we view the piece is impacted.

At what age do we stop owning our bodies? The general public may answer sometime around high school, when puberty hit, or even never. For performers, it can be dangerously early. Child actors, dancers starting in kindergarten, singers joining elementary choirs all become aware of their bodies the moment they begin classes. Their craft demands body awareness and consciousness of how you look to others from a stage. This artistic concern for the correct body language in a play, breath support in a song, or arm placement at the barre can quickly become a weight for these kids outside of the rehearsal room. The underlying theme that children pick up on is that the art demands a certain look which you must meet or you will be replaced. How young is too young to dedicate your body to storytelling? How old should you be when you first begin altering the way you look for directors and casting departments?

(Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

(Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

As easy as it may be to say do what you want with your own body, that unfortunately isn’t a practical answer in the theatre world for many people. Knowing that our current audience and state of storytelling prefers thin figures on stage, dieting and auditioning can be far more daunting for fat individuals. If you diet enough to lose weight but not be thin thin, then have you removed yourself from the chubby best friend and mom roles? Is it even worth it to diet at all if you cant lose all your “excess weight”? Is it a waste of time to go to an audition for Juliet as a size 16?

It feels like an endless cycle: casting directors don’t see fat bodies as leads so fat people don’t audition for leads resulting in, you guessed it, a lack of representation on stage. As body positivity and fat acceptance becomes more and more talked about in society, we must assume it will hit casting departments one day… but we’ve spent decades telling fat people they are only good enough for the lead roles written specifically for their body type. Can we really blame them for not wanting to waste their time in audition rooms they know they are too big for? There can only be one Tracy Turnblad per season but even though we don’t know what Elphaba looks like beyond being green, we know she isn’t fat.

It is time to be honest and call it like we see it. Theatermakers must start asking questions. Ask why a company passed on auditioning or casting fat actors. Break type casting in your classrooms by asking your students to perform pieces outside their comfort zone. Challenge casting directors to bring in fat actors to be auditioned for lead roles that have nothing to do with weight. Talk to directors about why they had no people of size in their cast. Request playwrights use character descriptions to describe who the character is instead of what they look like in stories where physicality is not integral to the story.

We are not going anywhere and it is time we are given the room we deserve, and need. Our society is made up of fat people who are powerful CEOs, confident leaders, sexual beings, vulnerable partners, capable womxn, and active members of the industry. There is no reason fat people cannot play these roles on stage. Speak up. Ask questions. The industry won’t change itself. It starts with us.


About the Authors

Sage Martin is an actor and writer from Kentucky who obtained her degree in Acting from Paul McCartney's Institute of Performing Arts in Liverpool, England. While there, she performed All's Well That Ends Well at the Sam Wanamaker Festival (The Globe, London) and devised a performance based art installation on the US foster care system (Liverpool). She moved to Los Angeles after graduation where she wrote and starred in “The Trials and Errors of Suzette Le’Ago and The Downstairs Neighbor (or Half Magic)” that has played at film festivals in 6 countries, won 2 awards, and showed at drive-in movie theaters around Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee. In 2017, she wrote “Such a Pretty Face” and workshopped at it Theater Schmeater (Seattle), where it will be playing in Spring of 2019. Sage is currently learning stained glass work in between acting and writing.

Maggie Rogers is a Seattle based director, dramaturg, and fat activist who proudly hails from Louisville, Kentucky. She is the Literary Manager and Resident Dramaturg at Washington Ensemble Theatre, a company member with The Horse in Motion, and the Resident Dramaturg for Cherdonna Shinatra's compnay, Donna. Before moving to Seattle to complete the Literary Apprenticeship at Seattle Repertory Theatre, she obtained her degree in directing from Columbia College Chicago and graduated as the class Valedictorian of 2014. 

StateraCon 2019 is Coming to New York City

StateraArts announces New York City as location of next national conference!
 

Join us for Statera's 4th National Conference in New York City from October 25-27, 2019. Meet with theatre professionals from all over the country for three days of networking, socializing, experience-sharing, theatre-going and more! The Statera conference is all about intersectional gender balance. While StateraArts' mission is to take positive action to bring women* into full and equal participation in the Arts, StateraCon is geared toward theatre artists, educators, and administrators. 

Statera is proud to partner this year with City College of New York and the Department of Theatre and Speech (CCNY). StateraConIV will take place on their beautiful campus in Hamilton Heights overlooking Harlem. Since its founding in 1847, CCNY has been true to its legacy of access, opportunity, and transformation. CCNY is as diverse, dynamic, and boldly visionary as the city itself. 

Why are we meeting in NYC?


NYC has a rich and globally recognized arts and culture scene and is home to some of our nation's most legendary theaters. The theme for StateraConIV is Coalition Building. After hosting three highly successful conferences in the regional theatre hubs of Cedar City, Denver, and Milwaukee, Statera has strategically chosen to meet in New York City as a way of engaging partner organizations and facilitating collective action. Plus, who doesn’t want to spend a fabulous weekend in the Big Apple with industry leaders, creatives, and theatre-professionals from all walks and disciplines?

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Speakers from StateraConIII in Milwaukee (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill). Above Left to right: Christine Jugueta, Jessica Renae, and Nataki Garrett. Below left to right: Torie Wiggins, Sage Martin, Maggie Rogers, and Kevin Kantor.

When does registration open? 


Early Bird Registration ($250) opens on April 1st. General Registration ($300) begins on May 1st. Statera Members receive the early bird rate as long as registration is open. Registration includes access to all Statera Conference programming. This includes keynote addresses, plenaries, workshops, breakout sessions, panel discussions, admission to organized social gatherings, a conference swag bag, and communal meals when noted. We will again be offering Student Registration for $150. 

StateraCon is open to everyone. We invite and welcome all gender identities, all races and ethnicities, all religions and creeds, countries of origin, all immigrants and refugees, all abilities and disabilities, and all sexual orientations. Everyone is welcome here.

What else do I need to know?


Touchstone speakers will be announced in the coming months and presenters will be announced in June and July. Interested in presenting a session? StateraArts will be accepting submissions from April 1-30, 2019. Presenters will be notified May 15-30, 2019. For more information about proposals, visit www.stateraarts.org/proposals.

This year, Statera is excited to offer a limited number of travel and registration grants. That application process will be announced soon. To be notified about conference grants, please subscribe to the Statera Newsletter.

For more information about Statera's 2019 Conference, please visit www.stateraarts.org/conference.


*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA

Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as nonbinary. 

Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all. 

#SWANsunday Campaign for Women Artists

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SWAN Day is an annual international celebration of women’s creativity and gender parity activism. It happens on the last Saturday in March. But we don’t have to wait. We can support women* artists every week!

StateraArts has launched a campaign designed to AMPLIFY the voices and work of women artists as part of SWAN Day. The goal is to flood social media every Sunday with images, quotes, and work from women artists.

Want to get involved in this powerful social action? It’s easy! UPLIFT and AMPLIFY a woman artist using the hashtag #SWANsunday. Post about them and their work. Pick a new artist every Sunday.

There are lots of ways to Support Women Artists Now! Learn more at www.stateraarts.org/swan-day.


*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA

Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as nonbinary. 

Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all. 

10 Questions with Playwright Thelma Virata de Castro

International Support Women Artists Now/SWAN Day is fast approaching and the SWAN Day Calendar is filling up with some incredible events. One of these events is The Fire In Me by San Diego-based playwright Thelma Virata de Castro. This week, Statera’s Director of Operations Sarah Greenman, also a playwright, caught up with Thelma to learn more about her writing process, deadlines, puzzles, and the creation of The Fire In Me.

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Sarah Greenman: I always like to hear how playwrights become playwrights. How did you become a writer?

Thelma Virata de Castro: I’ve always been involved with stories and make-believe, which led me to theatre. I took drama in junior high and acted in Shakespearean plays in high school. I didn’t major in theatre in college because I thought English Literature was more practical. (Ha, ha, ha!) But in my last quarter I took a playwriting class and the form just clicked for me. I love dialogue and hearing the voices in my head. It’s such fun to have actors perform your work.

 SG: When you have an idea for a play, how do you proceed? Do you research, take notes, plunge right in? 

 TVD: I do a lot of percolating before I write. I brainstorm ideas and write a scene outline in a notebook or journal. I love when a play requires research because it’s a great way to delay writing. Writing the play in script form on the computer is the biggest leap for me and involves the most procrastinating. For my interview based projects, I interview someone and look for the kernel that will translate into a play.

 SG: Tell us about your writing routine? How do you schedule yourself? Or are you like me - a loose stop-and-go writer? 

TVD: The image that comes to mind is my cat being dragged into the carrier to go to the vet. The idea stage is great! I’m napping in the sun, stretching. I’m at one with the universe. Then when it’s time to face the deadline I have to throw myself in the carrier backward with my nails scratching against the plastic. I don’t yowl but it’s a struggle. I’ve submitted a play at 11:59 PM when the deadline was 12:00 AM. I set my own deadlines for my current project on the team calendar and I’ve consistently missed them. I’m missing two deadlines as we speak. Meow.

 SG: When you are working, are there other art forms you go to for inspiration? For instance, I love to listen to music while I write. 

 TVD: I don’t do anything else while I’m writing, but I’ve discovered a couple of unrelated things that help. I completed a 750 piece puzzle recently and it felt so satisfying! I think somehow it supported my creativity. And nature. It’s like a pill. One dose of nature and I see clearly again.

Thelma Virata de Castro (Photo by Jamie Clifford)

Thelma Virata de Castro (Photo by Jamie Clifford)

SD: What aspect of playwrighting is most difficult for you? 

TVD: I feel like I’m in confession. The actual writing is the hardest part. Once it’s done, yeah! But then you have to do rewrites or start on the next project. I must love it, though, because I’ve been doing it for a long time.

 SG: Mentorship is at the core of StateraArts' mission. Can you tell us about your mentors and how they shaped you? 

TVD: This question blows my mind. Of course mentorship is a solution to gender parity in the arts! As a woman, as an artist of color, as the child of immigrants, and as a mother, I’ve accepted struggle as inevitable. I’ve rejected possibilities and accepted limitations for myself. I have not had a formal mentor, but early in my career there was an organization that said yes to me: Hedgebrook. Hedgebrook is a literary nonprofit that offers women and trans writers space and time to write. Hedgebrook told me that my voice mattered. I founded San Diego Playwrights, an all-volunteer playwright network, in that same spirit of generosity and support.

 SG: Your most recent play, The Fire In Me is featured on the SWAN Day Calendar and will have workshop productions this March in San Diego, CA. It explores domestic violence in the Filipino community. How did this work come about? What was the inspiration?

TVD: I worked on an earlier project with Asian Story Theater that was based on interviews with the Filipino community. A man I know asked me to interview him and I was surprised that he shared a story about domestic abuse in his family. I wrote a short script based on his experience, and asked Anne Bautista, a lawyer for Access Inc., to participate in a talkback. She helps immigrant survivors of domestic violence gain their citizenship. A few months later I enrolled in Anne’s FIRE advocacy program, in which women learn about domestic violence, grant writing, and public speaking. We were asked to come up with projects to bring back to our communities, and I partnered with Access Inc. and Asian Story Theater to produce The Fire in Me. The project won grants from California Humanities and The San Diego Foundation.

 SG: Can you tell us about the title, "The Fire In Me"? 

TVD: There are many meanings to the title. I interviewed diverse community members who are connected to the issue of domestic violence, including survivors. One young woman didn’t tell anyone about her high school boyfriend’s abuse. When she broke up with him, her mother thought it was good because he didn’t match the “fire” in her. The young woman thought that was ironic, since her mother had never seen the boyfriend’s anger. Fire also refers to Access Inc.’s FIRE advocacy program. The protagonist also watches a fictional Filipino soap opera in the play that’s entitled “The Fire in Me”. The soap opera layer was a way to add humor, exaggerate traditional gender roles, and provide some distance to the audience as they engage in the exploration of this serious subject. Plus there’s a cameo of the goddess of fire.

 SG: There will be talkbacks after each reading. As a playwright, why are talkbacks important to you? And why are they important for your audience? 

TVD: Theatre is about connection! And this piece is written with the community and for the community. We had a preview reading for the interviewees in order for them to share feedback. People have taken risks to share intimate and painful experiences of their lives with me. I want to honor their stories and respect their truth. The talkbacks after the March performances are important for the audience because domestic violence is an issue that affects all of us.

 SG: What was the best piece of advice you ever got about being an artist or writer?

TVD: One of Natalie Goldberg’s writing rules is “You are free to write the worst junk in America.” I love that. It takes the pressure off.


ABOUT THELMA VIRATA DE CASTRO

Thelma Virata de Castro is a San Diego based playwright. Her plays have been produced by San Diego Asian American Repertory Theatre, Asian Story Theater, San Diego International Fringe Festival and others. She is a Hedgebrook alumna and was a participating writer at A Room of Her Own Foundation (AROHO) retreat. Her work is collected in the Asian American Women Playwrights Archive at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She works as Community Projects Coordinator for Playwrights Project, and is the founder of San Diego Playwrights.

ABOUT “THE FIRE IN ME”

The Fire In Me by Thelma Virata De Castro

March 2 @ 2pm at Skyline Hills Library in San Diego

March 10 @ 2pm at Central Library in San Diego

March 16 @ 2pm at Scripps Miramar Ranch Library in San Diego

The Fire In Me is featured on the SWAN Day Calendar. Learn more at www.thefireinme2019.com or on Facebook.

ABOUT SWAN DAY 

As part of our ongoing efforts to create gender balance in the arts, StateraArts puts the spotlight on women artists every March and April through Support Women Artists Now/SWAN Day. SWAN Day, now in its 12th year, is an annual international celebration of women’s creativity and gender parity activism. Learn how you can get involved at www.stateraarts.org/swan-day.

Become a Statera Member TODAY!

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You asked and Statera answered! StateraArts is now offering individual memberships! Join us and become a member by choosing a yearly subscription below.

General Membership is only $50 annually and Student Membership is only $35 annually.

Statera’s Membership program is open to everyone: all gender identities, all races and ethnicities, all religions and creeds, countries of origin, all immigrants and refugees, all abilities and disabilities, and all sexual orientations. Everyone is welcome here.

Membership Benefits:

Networking

  • Membership includes a listing in the online member directory (forthcoming in 2019)

  • Meet and cultivate lasting relationships with professional women in the art and theatre world via Statera events

  • Share news and projects via the Statera Newsletter

  • Affiliation for educators and professionals

Special Access

  • Post and/or apply for jobs on the StateraArts Members page

  • Lifetime Inaugural Membership status

  • Access to StateraArts staff and board members

  • Access to Statera Member coalition-building events and gatherings

Professional Development

  • Attend Statera's webinars, panel discussions, and seminars for members

  • Volunteer for leadership and mentoring opportunities with your regional Statera Mentorship chapter

Discounts

  • Statera’s International Conferences

  • StateraArts Journal, an annual publication featuring Statera’s best articles, interviews, stories, and research

Service to the Arts Community

  • Your membership is not only a wonderful way to invest in the future of StateraArts, but also a perfect vehicle to enhance positive action in your own communities and circles

     

Important information regarding your membership:

  • Individual memberships run on anniversary cycles, expiring a year from the date of purchase. Please allow up to two weeks for membership payment processing and activation of member benefits.

  • Individual memberships are nontransferable. 

  • This is a non-voting membership.

Do you have questions about Statera Membership? Please email Membership Director Vanessa Ballam at membership@stateraarts.org. Thank you so much!

Artist Grants: a StateraArts Guide for 2019

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Last month, StateraArts announced our FREE resource directory for artists. Since 2019 is upon us, we’re highlighting Statera’s Grants & Grant Writing directory so you can start planning for the year ahead!

Are you looking for time to complete your script, funding for your community arts project, or money to kickstart your next production?

Applying for grants is a great way for artists to supplement their income. The grants featured in Statera’s directory are designed to help artists across all genres pay for materials, time, space, or even rent. Funding resources like the ones listed below allow artists the freedom to make work in an unrestricted manner and dedicate their time to being fully creative. 

As you are browsing these grant opportunities, please make sure to check the fine print section of each listing. Each one is different and some of them only apply to artists living in certain states.

Are you new to grant writing?

A great tool for those of you new to grant writing is the Hemingway Editor App. Grantors are looking for clear, bold, and tight writing. This is no time for a passive voice. The Hemingway App is a fabulous proofreading tool that highlights common problems that can get in the way of clear writing.

Still nervous? Need a little pep talk? Artists Guide to Grant Writing by Gigi Rosenburg is a book written for artists who want to confidently tap into available funding resources. Its a practical guide stuffed full of great tips and suggestions for writing passionately and clearly about your work and your personal mission.

If you are not looking for funding, but are more interested in artist residencies, please take a look at Statera’s Artist Retreats & Residencies Directory. There are multiple national and international residencies listed!

GRANTS & OPPORTUNITIES

Aaron Siskind Foundation - Individual Photographer's Fellowship

The Aaron Siskind Foundation is a 501(c)(3) set up by preeminent photographer Aaron Siskin’s estate, which he had asked to become a resource for contemporary photographers. The award was established to support and encourage contemporary artists working in the photographic field.

AGE Equity Grants

Advance Gender Equity in the Arts (AGE) is offering grants to professional Portland metro-area theatre companies that demonstrate a commitment to intersectional gender equity in playwriting, directing, casting, and designing.

Artadia Awards

Artadia is a national non-profit organization that supports visual artists with unrestricted, merit-based awards and fosters connections to a network of opportunities. In the past 18 years, Artadia has awarded over $3 million to more than 300 artists throughout its participating award cities of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.

Artist Grant

Founded in 2017, Artist Grant is a new venture that aims to support and fund artists. To that end, this charitable organization funds the efforts of artists to continue their important work and contributions to society,providing a modest competitive grant of $500 to one artist every quarter.

Awesome Foundation Grant

A micro-granting organization, funding “awesome” ideas, The Awesome Foundation set up local chapters around the world to provide rolling grants of $1000 to “awesome projects.” Each chapter defines what is “awesome” for their local community, but most include arts initiative and public or social practice art projects.

Creative Capital

Creative Capital supports adventurous artists across the country through funding, counsel, and career development services.

The Gottlieb Foundation Individual Support Grant

Adolph Gottlieb, one of the artists known for initiating the Abstract Expressionism movement, achieved artistic and financial success far beyond his early expectations. But, he had several colleagues who, despite their artistic achievements, were not able to support themselves financially. The Gottlieb Foundation wishes to encourage artists who have dedicated their lives to developing their art, regardless of their level of commercial success.

The Harpo Foundation Grants for Visual Artists

The Harpo Foundation seeks to stimulate creative inquiry and to encourage new modes of thinking about art. Applications are evaluated on the basis of the quality of the artist’s work, the potential to expand aesthetic inquiry, and its relationship to the foundation’s priority to provide support to visual artists who are under-recognized by the field.

Integrity: Arts & Culture Association Grants

Integrity: Arts & Culture (IACA) sponsors mini-grants for artists focusing on creative endeavors, believing the arts are essential to the health and vitality of our communities and our nation. Grants are intended to assist with such things as: art supplies, recording studio time, exhibits, performances, project related expenses, etc.

Joan Mitchell Foundation - Emergency Grant

The Joan Mitchell Foundation provides emergency support to U.S.-based visual artists who have suffered significant losses after natural or man-made disasters that have affected their community on a broad scale. The Foundation has historically granted funding to assist in the repair of homes and studios following flooding and material destruction, to replace art materials such as brushes, paints, inks, other materials such as hand or power tools and computers, and to assist in rent for a temporary studio space in which to work while cleaning up after a disaster.

John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowships

The Foundation offers Fellowships to further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions.

The Lyndon Emerging Artist Program (LEAP)

The LEAP Award was established in 2007. The program recognizes exceptional emerging talent in the contemporary craft field and provides opportunities for these early career artists to bring their artwork to the consumer market. The yearlong retail program features, markets and sells the work of one winner, who also receives a $1,000 prize, and 4 finalists.

The MAP Fund

The MAP Fund invests in artistic production as the critical foundation of imagining — and ultimately co-creating — a more equitable and vibrant society. MAP supports original live performance projects that embody a spirit of deep inquiry, particularly works created by artists who question, disrupt, complicate, and challenge inherited notions of social and cultural hierarchy across the United States.

PAAL Childcare Grants for Artists

These grants are available to parent-artists creating in the United States seeking funding for general artistic and/or general professional childcare support or project-specific childcare support. Union membership not required. All theatrical disciplines and administrative positions are eligible to apply for these grants. Pregnant Parent Artists and Artists in Late Stages of the Adoption Process are welcome and qualified to apply.

NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship (2019)

NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships, awarded in fifteen different disciplines over a three-year period, are $7,000 cash awards made to individual originating artists living and working in the state of New York for unrestricted use. These fellowships are not project grants but are intended to fund an artist’s vision or voice, regardless of the level of his or her artistic development.

PAAM's The Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Grant

The Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) is a nationally recognized, year-round cultural institution that fuses the creative energy of America’s oldest active art colony with the natural beauty of outer Cape Cod that has inspired artists for generations. PAAM was established in 1914 by a group of artists and townspeople to build a permanent collection of works by artists of outer Cape Cod, and to exhibit art that would allow for unification within the community. Today, PAAM continues to offer an every-changing line-up of world-class exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and cultural events.

Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant

Established as part of Lee Krasner’s legacy, the Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant was set up to support and strengthen the creative lives of artists. A competitive grant for artists with extensive exhibition records, this grant has a long list of impressive alumni. Since its start in 1985, the foundation has granted over 65 million dollars in award money to artists in over 77 countries.

Puffin Foundation Artist Grants

The Puffin Foundation Ltd. has sought to open the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and art organizations who are often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to their race, gender, or social philosophy.

Rising Voices: The Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Realists

The Bennett Prize, created in 2018, awards $50,000 to a woman artist to create her own solo exhibition of figurative realist paintings, which will travel the country. The Prize will propel the careers of women painters who have not yet realized full professional recognition, empowering new artists and those who have painted for many years.

SFFILM Rainin Grant

The SFFILM Rainin Grant funds feature narrative films that explore stories of social justice that are in the screenwriting, development, or post-production phase.

SFFILM Westridge Grant

The SFFILM Westridge Grant funds feature narrative films that explore social issues or questions of our time that are in the screenwriting or development phase.

The Shubert Foundation

The Shubert Foundation supports not-for-profit, professional theatre and dance companies in the United States. The Shubert Foundation awards unrestricted grants for general operating support, rather than funding for specific projects.

Sustainable Arts Foundation

The Sustainable Arts Foundation is a non-profit foundation supporting artists and writers with families. Their mission is to provide financial awards to parents pursuing creative work.


Male Allyship in the Gender Parity Movement

On October 6, 2018, Jack Greenman presented a breakout session called “Male Allyship in the Gender Parity Movement” at Statera’s National Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. StateraArts is proud to publish an expanded text version of his session below.

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Male Allyship in the Gender Parity Movement

BY JACK GREENMAN

 

In March of 2018, an anonymous proposal for a breakout session was received by StateraArts from “a white guy that wants to be part of the solution”:

Lead Presenter Name 

Not me

Co-Presenter Names

Also, not me

Proposed Session Title (You may change later

How to talk to people who don't get it... but want to.

Intended/ideal audience

anyone and everyone

Proposed Session Description (Please limit to 250 words or less)

I realize that this might not be helpful, or that you might have already done this, or have it on your agenda. This is something I would find helpful. I am not the appropriate person to lead such a workshop, but I think someone should… at some point. How do we talk to those around us that want to support but don’t know how, or, the how they know, is not helpful? I believe that we all need support and that we have people around us that want to be that support, but sometimes they just don't know how. When my friends joined in black lives matter, and the #metoo movements, I noticed that as a white man I wanted to help but didn’t know where I fit in that process, or if I even had a place. Also, I was afraid to ask for fear that my ignorance would offend. I believe that there are allies that don’t know how to help, are afraid to ask, or simply have a fundamental misunderstanding of what’s at stake. I know this is not your mission focus, and this is not a real proposal submission, but rather an idea for the future. I don’t have any of the answers but would love to be part of the solution… even it means, “just sit and listen”.

Presenter or Presenting Group Bio

Just a white guy that wants to be part of the solution”

 

Shortly after receiving this proposal, the Statera leadership team reached out to ask if I would be willing to lead a session on “Male Allyship” this fall in Milwaukee. (Full disclosure: I’m married to Statera’s Director of Operations, Sarah Greenman, so the “reaching out” happened at the breakfast table). Although I was moved by the proposal, I was reluctant. I shared the “white guy’s” caution, trepidation, and well… fear that the effort would surface my own unconscious biases and that I would end up offending everyone and looking like an asshole.  

I said I would think about it.

In the weeks and months that followed, revelations of male sexual abuse and harassment continued to emerge as a result of the #metoo and #timesup movements. The conversation became simultaneously more urgent and even more difficult for me to fathom. I delayed giving Statera an answer. I think I was waiting to see if someone else would propose a session on male allyship and take me off the hook.

It didn’t happen.

Finally, my partner (who had been very patient) was setting the schedule for the conference and needed an answer. She told me that the Statera team really just wanted to get some people in the room and start this conversation. With the bar of success set embarrassingly low, I reluctantly said, “Yes.”

I’m now deeply grateful to the anonymous “white guy” for articulating the need for a conversation about male allyship. I’m also grateful to Sarah Greenman, Melinda Pfundstein, and Shelly Gaza for patiently pressing me to lead it. My perspective on allyship and my position in this movement has changed forever. I now see this work as crucial to the healing of our culture.  

Prior to presenting at Stateracon III, I considered myself a feminist and an ally in the movement for gender parity. But the painstaking process of overcoming my reluctance to talk about it is a perfect illustration of how far men have to go in this work. Active resistance of the status quo and a real conversation about what is required of us as men to do this work is very rare. And the current social climate in which women have appropriately broken their silence and begun to express their justifiable anger over centuries of abuse and dehumanization at the hands of men seems, at best, a difficult moment to begin this practice.

But what I found in Milwaukee is a deep sense of how vital a conversation this is - especially in this moment of our history. For the men in the room, there was a clear identification with the fear experienced by the “white guy” who proposed the session and a keen sense of wanting some tools for effective allyship. From the women and TGNC folks in the room, there was a need to find space for the conversation and for some strategies for talking with their partners and coworkers. Many also told personal stories about arguments, relationship difficulties and trauma-inducing incidents that were deep challenges to communication. Building bridges to each other is desirable. But the landscape of the gender divide is a difficult one to navigate. Suffice it to say, we have a lot of work to do.

Jack Greenman facilitating a dialogue at StateraCon. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

Jack Greenman facilitating a dialogue at StateraCon. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

 

Allyship Definitions and Goals

Let’s start by defining what we’re really talking about when we say, “allyship”:

Allyship begins when a person of privilege seeks to support a marginalized individual or group. It is a practice of unlearning and re-learning and is a life-long process of building relationships based on trust, consistency and accountability with marginalized individuals or groups. Allyship is not an identity, nor is it self-defined. Our work and our efforts must be recognized by the people we seek to ally ourselves with. Because of this, it is important to be considerate in how we frame and present the work that we do. (i.e., we are showing support for…, we are showing our commitment to ending [a system of oppression] by…, we are using our privilege…).” (1)

Embedded in this definition of allyship is an emphasis on doing: practicing, unlearning, re-learning, building, supporting, committing, ending, using privilege.

Additional action-based re-framings include: “currently operating in solidarity with…, showing up for in the following ways…, shutting up and listening, educating yourself, accepting feedback and criticism about how your allyship is causing more harm than good”. (2)

Jack Greenman moderating a panel discussion at Statera’s 2016 National Conference in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

Jack Greenman moderating a panel discussion at Statera’s 2016 National Conference in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

Effective allyship is not an identity – it is action based.

This is critical to our understanding of effective allyship. We take actions, not the credit. If we seek credit for what we do, we can simply advance the oppression we say we’re fighting.   

As theatre artists, this is a familiar and a freeing perspective. Basic acting theory tells us that we need to play particular actions, not the emotion or the state-of being in a scene. When we do this consistently, we communicate the story effectively and place our own focus in the moment of now and onto our immediate surroundings. This allows the audience to label the character we’re playing based on the actions they observe (i.e. “he’s being manipulative”, “she’s being a jerk” etc.). As actors, we relinquish responsibility for the character label and focus on what we’re doing.

This is exactly the approach we want to take when we work as allies. We take actions in alliance with women and they have the choice whether or not to apply the label of “ally” to those actions. Of course, even if the label is not applied, effective allies continue to take action if we are serious about the ultimate goal of allyship and collective liberation.

So, what is ultimate the goal of working as an ally? What is advanced when men work with women in an effective way? Nothing less than true colleagueship and mutual liberation from a culture of domination. In their book “A Male/Female Continuum: Paths to Colleagueship”, Bill Page, Carol Pierce, and David Wagner articulate the anatomy of a deeply personal journey toward these goals.  

This graph represents binary male/female action on a continuum from dominance/subordinance to colleagueship. (Page, Pierce, & Wagner)

 

            “Men [are] on a journey

1) from the need to control women through the use of violence and sexual exploitation, to sexual harassment, to discrimination and courtesy,

2) into a transition where at first they experience anger for having to change, then accept that there is much to learn about expanding the dimensions of being male,

3) and on into colleagueship where how tasks are accomplished is as important as the task itself.

 

            The journey for women [differs]. They move, as *subordinates,

1) from the use of violent retaliation, focused on both themselves and men, and psychological punishment, to the manipulation and deference of ladies who graciously accept specific roles as proper,

2) into a transition where the anger that surfaces propels them to seek less confining ways, bringing them to the conclusion that it is not always others who limit them, but their own learned behaviors,

3) and into colleagueship where the mutuality of empowerment is valued.

 

*Subordinates start the process of change when the pain and burden of subordinance become intolerable. Those with power over others – the dominants [predominantly men] – see no reason to change. Subordination is always confining, and when it is based on gender, race, culture, sexual orientation, class, age, or being differently abled, it is particularly loathsome. Rejection of subordination gives women the power to move first and to create the needed momentum to move women and men along the continuum. The tension of some women moving along this continuum far beyond specific men forces those men to look at themselves in new ways.” (3)

The challenges of the transitions in the journey articulated above are considerable. However, the benefits of a conscious journey to colleagueship and mutual liberation are many. In the personal and relational sphere, benefits include more intimate and loving relationships, advancing pay equity, more productive working relationships between the genders, and lives saved and reclaimed. On the societal level, benefits include collective liberation, dismantling of the patriarchy and white supremacy, intersectional unity, the transformation of our society from one obsessed with domination to one based on love and mutual respect. Throughout history, women have always “moved first and generated momentum” for this journey. For men, working as allies helps us to also move forward as we walk in solidarity with women, advancing their efforts.

Obstacles to Allyship and Ways Around Them

What stands in the way of this work for men? Simply, the status quo: a patriarchal society in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege, and control of property. (4)

But if men hold most of the power, how is this an impediment? Because when men behave in a certain way (acting as agents of the status quo) they receive the benefits of power. But when they step out of those mandated behaviors, they are threatened. This is the “man box” and is a primary way in which our patriarchal system maintains itself – by numbing the natural responsiveness and deep emotional lives of men and boys so that they work to obtain society’s benefits in compensation for the loss of their humanity.

Mark Greene perfectly captures the consequences of this dynamic in his article, “Men’s Anger and the Brutal Contradictions of Masculinity”:

“By training our sons into foregoing authentic relational connection and expression, what some call living in the man box, our culture blocks them from the trial and error process of growing crucial relational capacities, even as it simultaneously coaches them to police and bully other men to conform. 

At a time when boys should be expressing and constructing their identities in more diverse, grounded, and authentic ways, they are brutally conditioned to suppress authentic expression and instead cleave closely to the expression of male privilege as identity. And so men brag about hook up sex and ghosting women, seeking to bond via the uniformly degrading and contemptuous narratives of locker room talk.

The result is far too many men who are bullied and shamed into being half anti-women and half anti-self, suppressing the authentic expression of who they are, even as they compete to parade their male privilege. The impact, of women’s steady progress toward equality, on these men’s anti-woman side cannot be underestimated. Because women’s empowerment is antithetical to how the man box constructs manhood, too many men are now fighting to overturn the progress women have made.” (5)

Michael Sag and Mike DiSalvo at StateraCon in Milwaukee. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

Michael Sag and Mike DiSalvo at StateraCon in Milwaukee. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

Ack. 

How do we get out of this trap?  

We need to recognize what is required of us as men and we need to find approaches to the problem that allow for process, imperfection, discomfort, and practice. If we aspire to work with women as allies, this is crucial work for us to do.

1) Educate Yourself

A first step is to educate ourselves about these issues. In preparing for my talk in Milwaukee I came across a wealth of material on this subject that I was previously unaware of. Much of it appears in the end notes below. But there is so much more. Begin with where your interest lies and check it out.

2) Develop Emotional Capacity

We need to develop emotional capacity, literacy, and fluency. This is an ongoing process and will manifest differently for almost everyone. Steps may include:

  • developing a personal reflective practice that allows space for change and for emotion to find expression (mindfulness meditation, journaling, yoga, bearing witness)

  • finding other men with whom to begin this conversation, and actively developing our own emotional capacities that have previously been “wrongly gendered as [female], including empathy, play, compassion, collaboration, connection, and that greatest of human challenges, bridging across difference.” (6)

This will not be easy. It’s taken us centuries to build the culture we live in. It will take generations to fully dismantle it. But simply starting has immediate effects and, as more and more men join this work, we begin to build our own momentum and start to act in ways that truly support the advancement of gender parity and our own liberation from gender roles.

Strategies for Talking with your Partner

How do we start a conversation about this with the opposite gender? What is helpful and what is not?

It’s helpful to remember that this is a counter-culture conversation and that, by interrogating the mechanisms of the patriarchy, we are engaged in a moment of radical activism that requires care and awareness to navigate. We have very little support for this kind of conversation in a culture that frames moments of interaction in terms of winners and losers. We must be intentional about the kind of conversation we want to have surrounding issues of gender and allyship and so need to productively seek to be in dialogue about these subjects. Defining the difference between discussion, debate, and dialogue will clarify what I mean:

“The overarching goal of Dialogue is to create common understanding, through listening to other perspectives and seeking points of connection and gaining clarity about feelings and thoughts. This contrasts sharply with Debate, which is at its core an oppositional process – the goal is to prove the other person wrong, and to make your voice be heard the loudest. Debate frequently leads to close-mindedness and confirmation of our own opinions and biases. […] When we can approach a situation with the skills of Dialogue, we enter a conversation more open, and the results frequently include greater understanding and connection from both sides.” (7)

Yusef Seevers and Amy Smith at StateraConIII in Milwaukee. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

Yusef Seevers and Amy Smith at StateraConIII in Milwaukee. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

Practicing the skills of dialogue can be helpful in conversations around this topic. Specifically, these skills manifest as listening without judgement (with a view to understand), honoring silence rather than avoiding it, looking for shared solutions, discovering collective meaning instead of searching for flaws in logic – and many more. The basic goal of dialogue is to broaden our perspective and build the relationship – an essential skill for allies.

However, there may be times when feelings or current events are too hot to actually approach the topic of gender inequity. In these instances, it may be helpful to practice the skills of dialogue around less high-stakes topics. The more you practice the skills of “dialoguing” rather than simply discussing (information) or debating (gaining advantage) the stronger these skills will be when they are called upon to hold this important, but sometimes charged subject matter.

Developing resilience and compassion will also be crucial skill for anyone who wants to work as an ally. There will be moments when allies will hear sharp criticism of our efforts from women and others. There may also be times that women will express their anger with us precisely because we have opened ourselves to their expression. We need to prepare ourselves to receive this expression with grace and compassion and not allow it to land in the reactivity of our conditioning.

I offer a technique to interrupt our reactivity and to develop compassion in the moment developed by Roshi Joan Halifax of the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, NM. It’s easy to remember, because the acronym is G.R.A.C.E. Roshi Halifax developed it originally as a technique for care givers in a health care environment, but it is easily adapted to moments where we feel the stakes and our emotions rise and where we confront challenges that threaten our identity and ego. It also helps everything slow down. Speed kills in these situations and mindfully slowing down the interaction allows us to stay with it. Briefly, when you are “having a moment” follow the steps of the acronym:

G = Gather your attention (Use your breath, settle the mind, notice physical sensations)

R = Recall your intention (Recall what you aspire to and a previous experience of kindness)

A = Attune (With yourself / With the other. Sensations, emotions, thoughts present?)

C = Consider (What steps are possible next? What might serve this moment?)

E = Engage / End (Share information. Respond to emotions. Take action if appropriate. End the encounter and move on to the next moment.)

 

Please follow this link for further information: https://www.upaya.org/social-action/grace/

So, if you’re like me right now having read all this, you may be thinking something along the lines of, “This all takes a lot of time and energy. I’m already exhausted”. My answer is, “Yes. It does. And yes, I am too. But doesn’t maintaining the status quo also exhaust you? Wouldn’t you rather be exhausted from the work of allyship and, at the end of the day, have more authentic, loving relationships, a deeper sense of belonging in the world, and a less violent, more expressive world to live in?”

My answer is a wholehearted, “Yes”.


END NOTES:

(1) From the pdf document, “what is allyship? why can’t I be an ally?”, peernetbc.com, 22 Nov, 2016. PeerNetBC is a non-profit, registered charitable organization in British Columbia that provides resources for peer groups and peer-led initiatives.

(2) McKenzie, Mia, “Black Girl Dangerous on Race, Queerness, Class and Gender”, Oakland: BGD Press Inc., 2014, Kindle ebook file 

(3) The continuum is represented in the book with a fold out chart that makes the dynamics of both journeys and their inter-relationships extremely legible.  Page, Bill, Pierce, Carol, Wagner, David, “A Male/Female Continuum: Paths to Colleagueship”, Laconia, NH, New Dynamics Publications, 2004

(4) Wikipedia contributors. "Patriarchy." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 Oct. 2018. Web. 14 Oct. 2018.

(5) and 6) Greene, Mark, “Men’s Anger and the Brutal Contradictions of Masculinity”, 12 July 2018

(7) “What is Allyship and Skills for Allyship?”, University of Florida Counseling and Wellness.

FURTHER READING:

Accomplices, Not Allies”, Indigenous Action Network.

Allyship and Solidarity Guidelines”, Unsettling America.

Allyship: Intersectionality and Oppression”, Milan, Kim Katrin, 13 Jan, 2018.

Guide to Allyship”, Lamont, Amelie.

Baldoni, Justin, “Man Enough Episodes 1-4”, 2018

Cobb, Jelani, “The Feigned Victimhood of Bill Cosby, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas”, New Yorker, 26 Sept.,2018

DiAngelo, Robin, “What Does it Mean to be White: Developing White Racial Literacy”, New York, Peter Lang Publishing Inc., 2012

Green, Mark, “The Little #MeToo Book For Men”, 2018.

Johnson, Brad W., Smith, David G., “Lots of Men Are Gender-Equality Allies in Private. Why Not in Public?”, Harvard Business Review, 13 Oct., 2017.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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For the past 11 years, Jack Greenman served as associate professor of voice and speech and as the Head of Acting at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. As an actor, Jack has performed in over 80 professional productions. Jack also spent seven seasons at the Utah Shakespeare Festival as one of two text and dialect coaches. Additionally, Jack has coached voice and dialects at Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Roundhouse Theater in Bethesda, MD, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and for La Pell in Barcelona.

Before moving to Dallas, Jack spent two years on the faculties of Cornish College of the Arts and Freehold Theatre/Studio in Seattle and 14 years as an Artist-in-Residence at PCPA Theaterfest.

Jack resides in Eastern Oregon with his partner, Sarah Greenman, and their sons. Learn more at www.jackgreenman.com


SWAN Day 2019 is Coming!

 
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As part of our ongoing efforts to increase the visibility of women artists, StateraArts puts the spotlight on women artists every March and April through Support Women Artists Now Day.

Support Women Artists Now Day/SWAN Day is an annual international celebration of women’s creativity and gender parity activism.

In June 2018, WomenArts announced that StateraArts would be the new organizers for SWAN Day 2019! StateraArts is passionately dedicated to intersectional gender parity in the Arts and is thrilled to usher in a new era of SWAN Day. 

Left: Martha Richards, Executive Director WomenArts. Right: Melinda Pfundstein, Executive Director StateraArts

Left: Martha Richards, Executive Director WomenArts. Right: Melinda Pfundstein, Executive Director StateraArts

Martha Richards, Executive Director WomenArts and Melinda Pfundstein, Executive Director StateraArts met in October at Statera's National Conference in Milwaukee, WI to convene with SWAN Day organizers from all over the world for this historic SWAN Day transition!

When announcing the transition, Richards said, “I have been looking for someone to take over SWAN Day for the past three years and I pitched StateraArts because they are based in various locations, they are committed to the same values I am. We treat each other with respect, they are a great team and they are well connected with artists all over the world. The important thing is they will carry the spirit of SWAN Day forward.” 

You can read more about this gathering in Nikoleta Morales’ article for FF2 Media HERE.


Are you ready to host your own SWAN Day Event?

Below you'll find everything you need to plan and manage your 2019 SWAN Day Event. Please join StateraArts and countless women* artists from all over the world for SWAN Day 2019!

Looking for SWAN Day ideas? There are lots of ways, large and small, to make an impact on SWAN Day!

  • Organize Arts Events for SWAN Day – There have been over 1,900 SWAN Day events in 36 countries in the past 11 years. Join the fun by organizing an event in your community! Remember to add your event to the SWAN Calendar!

  • Host a SWAN Day Party – Gather friends at your house to talk about ways that you might help the women artists in your community. Invite local artists to speak at the party. Screen films written and directed by women to show at your party. Ask everyone to contribute some amount of money and then make a group decision about which artist/s you want to support.

  • Introduce Students to Women Artists in the US & Elsewhere – If you are a teacher introduce your students to women artists. Don't know any women artists? Contact us! Perhaps we can organize an international pen-pal or exchange program!

  • Donate to Your Favorite Women Artists – If you love seeing the work of a particular woman artist, send her a check on SWAN Day to help her make more art.

  • Host a play reading with plays by women and non-binary artists! The Kilroys List or the New Play Exchange are great places to find new plays by women!

  • Post on your social media feed about your favorite woman artists and encourage others to do the same (#SWANDay2019)

  • Write letters to your local arts organizations asking that they feature more women playwrights, poets, painters, choreographers, directors, etc. Artistic Directors need to hear from the public!

  • In fact, you can start a letter writing campaign on behalf of women artists. Send them to Artistic Directors, State Representatives, Galleries, etc. Create a template letter and share it with your friends. Let’s raise our collective voices on behalf of women artists everywhere!

  • Share your own ideas in the comments section of this post!

If you have questions about how to participate, or you’d like to speak directly to the StateraArts SWAN Day coordinator, please contact us at swanday@stateraarts.org.


*Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as nonbinary. 

The Magic Stands Alone: The Importance of Solo Performance for Women in Theatre

On October 7, 2018, Torie Wiggins presented a breakout session called “The Magic Stands Alone: The Importance of Solo Performance for Women in Theatre” at Statera’s National Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. StateraArts is proud to publish a text version of her session below.

Torrie Wiggins Presenting at StateraConIII in Milwaukee. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

Torrie Wiggins Presenting at StateraConIII in Milwaukee. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

The Magic Stands Alone: The Importance of Solo Performance for Women in Theatre

BY TORIE WIGGINS

One of the main reasons solo performance exists in theatre is to highlight and focus the story of one. One that has many faces and perspectives, but one body, one mind, and one soul. As of late, women have been forced to the forefront of the advocacy of our existence – why we matter, why our stories are important, and how we aim to take the lead in changing the world. When women and theatre come together, an inevitable magic happens. Through the magic of solo performance, women in theatre can use it to bring about awareness of critical issues and social change.

A solo performance, sometimes referred to as a one-person show, features a single person telling a story for an audience, typically for the purpose of entertainment. This type of performance comes in many varieties, including autobiographical creations, comedy acts, novel adaptations, vaudeville, poetry, music and dance.

Women were first permitted to perform on the English stage in the early 1600’s, after the Restoration of King Charles II. It is said that Emma Hamilton was the first known female solo performer, and she started in 1787. She re-imagined the concept of tableau-vivant, and her style became known as “the attitudes.” Her performance style inspired other women to perform in this way through the 1800’s. Solo performance historically has lived in many forms – “linked” monologues, monologue-dramas, mime art, avant garde, and performance art, just to name a few. Some notable women in solo performance include Ruth Draper, Cornelia Otis Skinner, Whoopi Goldberg, Beatrice Herford, Anna Deveare Smith, Holly Hughes, Peggy Shaw, Charlayne Woodard, and many, many more. What they all have in common is reinforcing the power of the woman’s voice in theatre.

Women have always been the keepers of stories, problem solving, and empathy. And yet today, we still have a need to be seen. We have always taken responsibility for being the voice of the unheard, and not just in theatre. By becoming the voice of the unheard, and resisting being rendered invisible, we transform performatively into the complete opposite: being openly vulnerable, exposed, and seen.

One commonality found in women’s solo performance is relatability of characters. Statistically, theatre audiences are mostly female – women make up 70% of theatre ticket sales, and 60-70% of theatre audiences. They know their audiences.

Another is political and sociological commentary. Women performers tend to acknowledge historical triumphs and catastrophes from an emotional perspective, or how it felt.

Another commonality is comedy. Comedy is steeped in vulnerability – the ability to be laughed at requires a level of vulnerability.

And the final commonality is the stories are often autobiographical. Its women sharing their personal stories.

It’s easy to think that solo performance requires one to be self-absorbed, seeking accolades and all the attention. But solo performance requires an actor to purposefully fill space. They must see the audience as their scene partners, sharing and connecting with them. The solo performance is about a specific narrative, and the actor must decide who gets to tell whose story, and lean into the ownership of said stories and all relationships involved.

Torrie Wiggins Presenting at StateraConIII in Milwaukee. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

Torrie Wiggins Presenting at StateraConIII in Milwaukee. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill)

Below are some tips and questions to ask before getting started on your solo performance piece:

  • What’s the narrative? Do you have the authority or permission to tell it?

  • In what way should this story be told? Qualify your authority over this narrative – how does it relate to you specifically? What will it consist of – vignettes? Multi-media? Puppets? Music? Poetry? Characters?

  • How does this performance bring truth to power? Power being what the audience will leave with – you have this responsibility now!

  • Spend a significant amount of time alone with the piece. Work it the same way you would a scripted play. Analyze your work and get it on its feet.

  • Put eyes on it. Get a director or a trusted partner to objectively view your piece.

  • Share it. Break that 4th wall and invite us all in.

Molly Peacock wrote a piece on solo performance for Oprah.com, and she says, “Every woman I know has a one-woman show in her, a part of her life she would love to have onstage. It could be the romantic part or the most painful part - it doesn’t matter. What matters is the impulse in each of us to lean forward and say, “Whew, could I tell you a story.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Torie Wiggins has been performing and teaching professionally for over 15 years. She is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music with a BFA in Dramatic Performance. She has co-adapted and performed a one woman show, Your Negro Tour Guide, at various venues in Cincinnati and toured with it across the country. She has appeared on All My Children, and her voice can be heard on numerous national television and radio commercials for H&M, Home Depot, and Burger King, just to name a few. She has appeared on All My Children, and landed a principal role in A Christmas Melody on the Hallmark Channel, starring and directed by Mariah Carey, as well as a role in The Old Man and the Gun with Robert Redford and Danny Glover, The Public, directed by Emilio Estevez, and Extremely Wicked, Evil and Vile starring Zac Efron. Cincinnati credits include Collapse, Afghan Women Writer’s Project, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Pluto, Harry and the Thief, and Dragon Play (Know Theatre of Cincinnati) The Mountaintop, Cinderella, and Violet (Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati) and Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 by Anna Deveare Smith (Diogenes Theatre Co) which she also performed at Miami University. She appeared in To Kill a Mockingbird with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Black Pearl Sings! at ETC, which both garnered nominations for a League of Cincinnati Theatres  Award. At the Human Race Theatre in Dayton , OH she played as Vera Charles in Mame, Cassandra in Vonya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and Mabel in Crowns. She reprised her role as Calpurnia in To Kill a Mockingbird at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. She also wrote and performed a solo piece entitled The Breath of Africana for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and has performed it in various venues.

The StateraArts Resource Directory is Here!

Last February when StateraArts met for our team retreat, we dreamed up a new way to serve our community. We wanted to build a resource directory -  a one-stop-resource-shop for women* in the arts. And more importantly, we wanted our resource directory to be FREE. Total accessibility. 

We're so excited to announce the StateraArts Resource Directory, now available on our website! 

Advocacy & Activism

Allied Orgs & Festivals

Artist & Play Directories

Associations & Guilds

Education & Training

Grants & Grant Writing

Research & Reports

Retreats for Artists & Writers

Sexual Misconduct & Abuse


StateraArts is committed to updating and maintaining this directory for your use. Please share it with your friends, colleagues, students, and organizations. We promise to keep it FREE TO ALL. 

This directory is a work in progress, so if you would like to suggest resources to add to this list, please contact us at info@stateraarts.org. Thank you so much! 


*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA

Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as nonbinary. 

Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all. 

Bring Your Baby: a #GivingTuesday Story

StateraArts stands with and trusts women*. We believe in their creative power, their agency in the world, and their own understanding of their needs in the Arts. Statera is actively creating pathways to achievement and leadership for women in the Arts and we create resilient spaces where women can bring their whole selves to the work. And while they’re at it, they can also bring their baby.

Alexana Stavros attended Statera's 2016 National Conference on gender parity in the Arts in Denver, CO. As a mother of a nursing baby, she was unsure about how a four-day conference would be possible with her daughter. In this video, Alexana shares her personal Statera story.

TWO WAYS TO DONATE!

StateraArts relies on individual donations from supporters like you!

  • DONATE ONLINE:  Click HERE to Contribute

  • SEND A CHECK: Send a check payable to StateraArts, 755 S Main Street. Ste 4, #281, Cedar City, UT 84720

THANK YOU!


*Women: StateraArts recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as nonbinary.