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Editor’s Note: Taking Advantage of the Pause

Michael S. Eddy • Editor's NoteOctober 2020 • September 30, 2020


“The most precious things in speech are pauses.”  – Sir Ralph Richardson, Actor

Pauses are a good thing. When speaking, they help you clarify your point. In writing, they can underscore a moment in a script. Playwright Harold Pinter is famous for his ‘Pinter Pauses’. He felt that theater didn’t accurately portray the unpredictability of human speech. Often when we search for the right words, we pause. In pauses, so much can happen; so much can be expressed or discovered.

At this moment in time, we are all in the middle of a pandemic pause, it has been a time where much has been discovered and expressed—in our theater community and in our society. I think it’s been an opportunity as a pause for introspection, reflection, and to think about what the future holds for ourselves, our theaters and our industry. While we haven’t had 1,001 things pulling us in different directions; distracting us, we have been able to really focus on hearing the underrepresented voices, learning the true extent of the marginalization of our BIPOC colleagues and discussing how to address these deeply rooted and complex issues together as a theatrical community. Now is the time to not merely imagine what the future of theater will look like but to tangibly change things so when we reopen those changes have been planted to grow, and grow quickly.

Now is the pause to create a more equitable theater for everyone. A level playing field for all theater makers. We need to take down the barriers of systemic racism, of misogyny, of harassment, of pay inequalities. From academic theater programs to Broadway, from regional companies to production shops, we all need to address the facts of how our organizations and our creative community work together and how to change things for the betterment of all. It’s time for theater companies to rethink their hiring practices and policies. Begin to address—and rebalance—their creative teams, their technicians and crew, and their staff positions. 

Several groups have been created to address these issues. I urge you to read their missions; look at what they are proposing and inform yourself on how you can help make a change—in your productions, and in your theater community. This pause is the time to come up with—and actually implement—a new plan, a new direction so we start back on a truly equal footing. 

This pause has shown how we need our colleagues. That being able to create while not in the same room is hard but it is not impossible. There is so much creative energy amongst theater makers, so many problems we confidently take on and solve as a team on shows, we can do the same for our industry, for our art. There have been thousands of hours spent on Zoom meetings; video interviews and conferences and through that time we have been able to hear new voices, see the work of new theater makers, find and connect with new colleagues and new ideas. Perhaps before this pause ends we can collectively look ahead to theater that is an equitable, safe and level stage for everyone. 

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