Ds Scholarship

Theatre department apologizes after recent play Machinal criticized by students for its portrayal of oppression

The Department of Theater and Film has apologized to students after concerns that his latest play aims to “unite the struggle of minorities” without acknowledging the oppression faced by blacks.

to meWritten by Sophie Treadwell and directed by fine art student Laura De Sico, the play is about a woman who marries her boss in the 1920s and ends up murdering him, after she is “driven by her desperation for freedom,” according to the department’s description of the show. It ran from November 25 to December 4 at the Frederick Wood Theatre.

In an email sent Friday, December 10, department head Stephen Heatley apologized to the students.

“…I know that our production items from to me, especially the last episode, people hurt and offended. I’m sorry about this. He wrote: There are important lessons to be learned through this experience.

Michaela Joy Kawali-Lathan, Fifth-Year Student and Performer in Black, Aboriginal, and People of Color Fine Art (FABIPOC)And A group focused on addressing issues of racism within the fine arts departments, expressed concern about the use of “painful and degrading” in Heatley’s statement.

“While I appreciate trying to address the emotional impact, for me as a member of the black audience I did not feel hurt or offended – it was not an emotionally driven reaction, but a critical, logical and cognitive reaction. I was disappointed and anxious, but not hurt,” She said.

Unnecessary similarities

Issues related to the play centered around its portrayal of oppression.

Projections of the Black Lives Matter protests and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. appeared in the production, which Kwale Lathan said “draws unnecessary parallels between the oppression of women in the 1920s and blacks”.

“By seeking to ‘unify the struggle of the minority’ without a comprehensive portrayal of the oppression faced by blacks, it has erased and reduced the complexities and differences between the two,” she said.

Kawaley-Lathan also said that in the last scene of the show, the guy played the protagonist.

“Although it was an interesting option, after no members of the LGBTQ community had been consulted or there was any other mention of cross-dressing issues or transgender rights, I felt that the depth of this decision was overlooked and did not serve the community it was trying to represent,” she said.

On December 8, the Fabibook Center posted several photos on Instagram with the phrase “Stop using black people and black shock as support” on the main photo. The post tagged Department of theatre.

In her director’s note on the department’s website, de Sico writes that there are “numerous references in this play that speak of the language and attitudes prevalent at that particular time period”, which are “not considered appropriate” today. I thanked her “her cultural advisor… for his assistance in working with myself and our staff to determine the most appropriate way to set up this production.”

Kwale Lathan said that it might have been more useful to have a black woman counselor for this play – given that it is about the oppression of women.

Working to address concerns

In a statement to Obese On December 16, Heatley said the division was working closely with the community to address concerns about production.

“I would like to stress that we are committed to creating a safe, respectful, and inclusive space for all students, faculty, and staff, including members of the BIPOC community,” Heatley wrote.

Heatley pointed out in his statement that this version of to me “An exploration of themes of social location (such as gender, race, class, age, ability) and privilege during the twentieth century, and the lessons we can learn collectively from this time period when looking at it through the lenses of contemporary social justice movements such as Me Too and Black Lives Matter” .

Heatley said they took “proactive steps to mitigate potential adverse effects while also balancing these considerations with academic and artistic freedoms” when working on this production. He specifically indicated that they sought outside advisory advice for Fairness, Diversity, and Inclusion and included a note from the director revealing the content of the play.

Last summer, the Fabibook Center wrote a letter to Heatley asking him to address racism and harassment in the department.

Since then, Kwale Lathan said VapeBook has been meeting with the division “on a regular basis.” She said she was “confident” that the department was addressing the issues they raised and working to change the department for the better.

Kwale Lathan also said she believes Heatley realizes that there are aspects of “intersectionality and minority struggles” that he does not.

“A willingness to own this lack of knowledge and apologise, and a willingness to listen, learn, and grow is promising,” she said.

In his statement, Heatley wrote that they are “taking active steps as a department toward supporting UBC’s institutional efforts to build a more inclusive campus.”

These steps include a “community conversation” in January, using the Inclusion Self-Assessment Tool at the UBC’s Office of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, engaging with BIPOC advisors and attending a workshop on decolonization.

In addition, Healtley noted a new selection process that “pays close attention to student safety and representation, taking into account any potential concerns actors may have about their role and potential fixtures or alterations that might be made.”

Kwale Lathan said FabBook is looking forward to the conversation in January, as well as how management is restructuring the “play selection process to promote inclusivity.”

“We’ve been discussing this for the past year, and we feel this is a critical time to learn more about the exact way that minority representation should be approached.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here