Stage Directors Union Spotlights Diversity With Season’s Standout Moments

In a Broadway season that’s seen a notable explosion of diversity onstage, the union that represents theater directors and choreographers — the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) — is doubling down on keeping that momentum going.

The union has written a new statement and action plan on diversity and inclusion, and with it released a list highlighting the ways its members — including the directors of “Allegiance,” “Eclipsed” and Deaf West’s “Spring Awakening”  — have contributed to the cause over the past season.

Dubbed the Diversity and Inclusion Statement of Commitment, the document reaffirms the union’s vow to foster a broader theater industry. “SDC recognizes that the Union and its Membership have a great deal of influence, responsibility, and decision-making power in the industry,” one section of the statement reads. “SDC challenges itself and the theater community to ensure that qualified, diverse candidates are considered for each and every directing and/or choreography job on any given project or SDC staff position.”

Looking beyond “Hamilton,” this season’s flagship of Broadway diversity, the SDC list of Standout Moments of 2015-16 range from an ongoing commitment to diversity from the likes of Oskar Eustis, the artistic director of the Public Theater, to smaller actions taken over the year, such as director Davis McCallum and Dallas Theater Center a.d. Kevin Moriarty’s efforts on behalf of the Evan Cummings, who uses a wheelchair and was the SDC observer on McCallum’s production of Samuel D. Hunter’s “Clarkston” at DTC.

The statement was drafted by the SDC Diversity Task Force, which formed a couple of years ago due to member interest in the issue. The union intends to release its list of Standout Moments annually, according to SDC executive director Laura Penn.

The full roster of 2015-16 Standout Moments follows:

  • Director Michael Arden and choreographer Spencer Liff for their recent Broadway revival of “Spring Awakening” with L.A. troupe Deaf West
  • Stafford Arima for his production of “Allegiance,” the first Broadway musical with an all-Asian American creative team
  • Eustis, the artistic director at the Public Theater (“Hamilton,” “Fun Home,” “Eclipsed”), for his longtime advocacy of inclusion
  • Director Leslie Ishii for her involvement in artist-activism organization artEquity
  • Director McCallum and DTC chief Moriarty for welcoming Cummings as a production observer
  • Director Robert O’Hara for introducing directors of color into the Clubbed Thumb Emerging Directors Fellowship
  • Lisa Portes for spearheading Chicago’s Carnaval of New Latina/o Plays
  • Molly Smith, artistic director of D.C.’s Arena Stage, for dedication to diversity and parity in programming
  • Liesl Tommy for her production of “Eclipsed,” the first Broadway play with an all-female, all-African-African American cast, playwright and director
  • The organizers and producers of D.C.’s Women’s Voices Theater Festival, a team that included area company leaders Smith, Michael Kahn, David Muse, Eric Schaeffer, and Howard Shalwitz

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