Choreographer Warren Adams Challenges Broadway to Confront Racism

Black Lives Matter   Choreographer Warren Adams Challenges Broadway to Confront Racism
 
“We are not looking for empathy. We are not victims. We are only asking for humanity and equality.”
Warren Adams
Warren Adams

As Black Lives Matter protests across the U.S. and beyond demand an end to police brutality and justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black folk killed at the hands of police, producer Warren Adams has issued a call to Broadway leaders and the industry at large to confront its own treatment of artists of color.

“Right now, we all have to wear masks because of the coronavirus, but the reality is, your black members have been wearing masks for a very long time; out of fear of rocking the boat, and to make sure you are comfortable,” Adams wrote alongside a black-and-white photo of a theatre ghostlight. “But here’s the thing, when we come back to the theatre, the place we all love most, WE will not go back to normal. We will not walk through rooms holding our breath and wear those masks anymore. We are not looking for empathy. We are not victims. We are only asking for humanity and equality.”

He continues, “When you have an all-white producing team, CHANGE IT. When you have an all-white creative team, CHANGE IT. When you have an all-white staff at your organization, CHANGE IT. When you’re pitching a narrative steeped in ethnic culture with an ALL-WHITE TEAM—DON’T!”

Adams’ message challenges Broadway to incite “real change” not by “the illusion of inclusion” through racial quotas, but rather by promising to confront and eradicate racism to ensure the growth of the community, particularly during a period in which theatres around the world are shuttered: “it is the perfect time to recalibrate, since ALL we have is time.”

Adams, born and raised in South Africa, choreographed Broadway’s Motown the Musical, as well as All the Natalie Portmans, How I Learned to Drive and Ruined Off-Broadway. His upcoming projects include Peter Tosh, The Rebel Wailer (as book writer), the new musical Trial (writing alongside Michael Ogborn), and the Broadway-aimed Bebe Winans musical Born for This (as choreographer). He co-founded the production company WalkRunFly with Brandon Victor Dixon; their Broadway credits include Moulin Rouge!, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Of Mice and Men.

Read his full post below.

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Dear Broadway, The Covid virus came, and it stopped everything. Our initial response was fear and terror because of all the uncertainty. But then, another virus reared its ugly head, that virus called RACISM. It is an ever present virus, one that moves through every space of our ecosystem by slithering like an invisible snake. The truth is, we all know that it is invisible ONLY to those who choose not to see it. Right now, we all have to wear masks because of the Coronavirus, but the reality is, your black members have been wearing masks for a very long time; out of fear of rocking the boat, and to make sure you are comfortable. But here's the thing, when we come back to the theatre, the place we all love most, WE will not go back to normal. We will not walk through rooms holding our breath and wear those masks anymore. We are not looking for empathy. We are not victims. We are only asking for humanity and equality. Some of you chose to express your heartache this past weekend. It was very touching... no, see, I just did it again. I wore the mask. Let me try that again. Some of you expressed your heartache this weekend after the Black Broadway community demanded it of you. The words you wrote were very powerful and we thank you for it. But, those are only words. Your actions regarding this matter is what will really count. When you have an all white producing team, CHANGE IT. When you have an all white creative team, CHANGE IT. When you have an all white staff at your organisation, CHANGE IT. When you have an all white board, CHANGE IT. When you're pitching a narrative steeped in ethnic culture with an ALL WHITE TEAM - DON'T! JUST DON'T. When you have an only white ANYTHING, CHANGE IT. And by CHANGE IT, we don't mean adding one of us so that it ticks a box. We are talking about REAL CHANGE. Not, THE ILLUSION OF INCLUSION. This narrative includes the equality struggle for our LATIN, ASIAN, NATIVE & MIDDLE EASTERN brothers and sisters as well. (Message continued below)

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