– That girl thinks she’s the queen of the neighborhood –
Joe Dowling, the AD of the Guthrie is getting crushed by what he considers small fish in the dripdripdrip of social media over creating a very traditional season. He has been largely deaf to the criticism about the Guthrie’s continued lack of support for gender or racial diversity and tin-eared in his responses to it.
– I got news for you, she is! –
It is a pristine example of the fundamental disconnect longterm non-profit organizations run into. Being a community cultural asset with a large budget doesn’t release you from the social contract created when you were smaller. You don’t keep receiving charitable gifts but graduate to being a for-profit corporation answering only to your board.
Mr. Dowling, I understand money pressure. You have a lot of seats to fill and no sure things. So you’re looking for the surest things you can. That is after all what you mean when you say you’re a “classics theatre”. I understand that you have tried a little to fill those non-classic spaces in your schedule with plays from women. I understand the constraint of the western cannon being made of of primarily white men.
But Mr. Dowling that needs to be an obstacle not an excuse.
– That girl she holds her head up so high –
Mr. Dowling when you say out loud that there was nothing by a woman that met the standards of your season do you even hear yourself? If what you mean is that there are too few superstar women playwrights I absolutely agree. So as one of the ten most powerful people in American theatre Mr. Dowling? Make one. Annoint one. You seem to be pretty self-assured in your knowledge of the brightest and best of global theatre, prove it. Don’t wait for others to let you know who the marketable enough women to produce are. You tell us.
– When she talks, I hear the revolutions
In her hips, there’s revolutions
When she walks, the revolution’s coming
In her kiss, I taste the revolution –
Mr. Dowling, last night I stood in front of a too-expensive underfull arts palace here on the other end of Interstate 35 for the opening of of Fusebox 2012 and watched several dozen girls from 5 –15 dance and move as choreographed by Allison Orr to punk music by the Coathangers.
The climax of the piece was the triumphal smashing of papier mache guitars as the Coathangers played Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill.
But that’s not the moment that will stick with me Mr. Dowling.
Two thirds of the way through the short set a mike was brought out and set up low (those 5 year-olds are smaller than you remember) and from both sides of the stage those girls came to the microphone and announced their name full voice as the fully empowered rock goddesses that they were in that moment.
It was awesome in the intended meaning of that word Mr. Dowling. No expectation, simply an open microphone and an invitation to announce yourself.
Mr. Dowling, I want every person in a position of power to try make the same accommodation. Not an apology for the social history of the last century because that’s what you’re stuck with, but a creation of a cannon for THIS century prominently featuring the women you feel best exemplify the era. Don’t feel oppressed because everyone thinks they can do your job, recognize that you don’t have to be a slave to our cultural history, you get to help write it.
Rebel girl, Rebel girl
Rebel girl you are the queen of my world