Assessment on the State of African American Theater Studies
in Theatre Survey, 47.2
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
A number of years ago I sat in on a talk by a prominent white theatre producer who will remain nameless. The point is not to single out this producer, but to suggest that his response to my query is common, at least in my experiences, and in the experiences of others with whom I have spoken. He began his lecture by decrying the practice of resident theatres creating slots in their season (the Shakespeare slot, the musical theatre slot, etc.). Slotting, he claimed, stifled creativity. In the latter half of his talk (about an hour later) and after addressing many other subjects, he turned to the topic of minority plays and extolled the Goodman’s practice of reserving one production a year (he didn’t call it a slot) for a play written by a minority playwright—usually August Wilson. Unable to keep my mouth shut, I asked him if this was not indeed slotting and why it was acceptable when it came to a minority playwright. What happened if two great plays by minority playwrights came to the Goodman in a year, I asked. What happened to all the non–August Wilson playwrights when August Wilson was producing a show in a given year? He had nothing to say. I do.