“Morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”
— RABBI ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL
WCP ANTIRACISM STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
As our country reckons with current events, we at Westport Country Playhouse would like our community of artists and leaders in the theater and beyond to know that we have heard you and we are in full support of the systemic changes that are needed and well past due.
We resolve to place anti-racism at the center of our work. We are committed to holding ourselves accountable to short-and long-term goals, while realizing that this work has no endpoint and will evolve and change. We realize and acknowledge that this is an educational process for which we ourselves are responsible.
We have begun the process of discussions with artists, staff, community leaders, and board members. Those discussions will be ongoing, and more importantly, permanent. In addition we have also begun sensitivity training sessions for the Playhouse as a whole, which also will be ongoing.
In the coming weeks and months we will outline our initiatives and action items concerning our new mission, our staffing, and our board focus and goals. We will share these with the greater community we serve.
We welcome your support and feedback as we hold ourselves accountable for making our theater community a much more equitable, equal, and inclusive environment.
We imagine a world where all bodies and voices are present, heard, and welcome.
The staff and leadership of the Playhouse are setting out to understand what role the Playhouse should hold in building that world — as individuals, as a prominent institution in the community, and as a theater.
Through this website, we will share with you our journey.
After the death of George Floyd, the entire staff began to meet weekly for an on-going dialogue about the racial reckoning our nation is undergoing. We examine our history, our present, and our future as it relates to our position of privilege as a white institution and its inherent supremacy.
Separately, we meet weekly to review the BIPOC Demands for White American Theater. Item by item, we are examining what each demand asks of us, we are assessing our progress in achieving those demands, and we are acknowledging our responsibilities.
Toward empathy and growth as individuals, we started a book group, and are currently reading Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie Glaude, Jr. Our group includes both Playhouse staff and trustees.
With the partnership of an outside consultant to guide us, we have begun a series of facilitated, educational workshops on anti-racism, so that we will be in a position to identify and declare institutional goals alongside a specific, verifiable action plan for the theater. Most important, we want to be held accountable for our declared goals, for the actions we take, and the impact we make as a result.
These past months, our nation has experienced fear, anger, grief, periods of reflection and learning, maybe some glimmers of hope, and has been jolted into self-examination on systemic racism. As a theater, our work can embrace art and artists to enrich, activate, and enliven our community. We want the Playhouse to continue being a platform for theatrical storytelling, especially for those stories that wake us up to see our own experiences in new ways and those stories that have been ignored or have yet to be told. We believe it is essential for our hearts, our souls, and our shared future on this earth.
At this time, we’d like to share with you some of the research, resources and organizations our staff has turned to for wisdom and for action:
Towards an Inclusive History of America
The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration & The National Memorial for Peace and Justice
The Amistad Center for Arts & Culture (Juneteenth celebration)
National Museum of African American History & Culture (Juneteenth celebration)
Westport Museum of History and Culture Virtual Exhibit | Remembered: The History of African Americans in Westport
Towards an Engaged Citizenry
In Support of our Trans Community
The Next Generation Project | @wearetngproject Instagram
The Marsha P. Johnson Institute
The Black Trans Fund
The Okra Project
Black Visions Collective
The Black Trans Femmes in the Arts Collective | @bftacollective Twitter, Instagram & Facebook
Toward Racial Justice
Steps you can take now
Purchase books at Black-owned bookstores