Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Through rigorous interrogation of our personal and professional practices, we commit to dismantling the barriers to the creation, learning, and celebration of the communal practice of making live theater.
We believe in the transformative power of art to promote wonder, empathy, and understanding in the world. In pursuit of this vision we resolve to foster and sustain a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment where all members of our community can thrive in life and art. This vision requires an ongoing commitment to assess our organizational culture on a regular basis and ensure that our practices and operations are explicitly anti-racist. Through rigorous interrogation of our personal and professional practices, we commit to dismantling the barriers to the creation, learning, and celebration of the communal practice of making live theater.
Yale Repertory Theatre and David Geffen School of Drama at Yale have a long history of championing diverse voices who celebrate our shared humanity and challenge us to honor it. This work is enshrined in a legacy of artists, faculty, staff, and students who have over decades advocated for and borne the emotional toll of this work.
In 2015 Artistic Director James Bundy formally announced an institutional commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion with emphasis on providing training and formalizing practice at Yale Repertory Theatre and David Geffen School of Drama. Carmen Morgan was appointed to the faculty of the School of Drama and began offering annual artEquity training for staff, faculty, and students. Key workshops have included Beyond Diversity: Practicing Equity and Inclusion, which is mandatory for students and all benefitted faculty and staff; and Facilitation for Social Change, which offers community members an opportunity for facilitation training.
Mobilized by their training, the first cohort of School of Drama students to take the Beyond Diversity workshop issued a letter of demands to the deans of the School, outlining urgent issues the organization needed to address. The practice of creating a list of action steps is a hallmark of the annual student workshop and continues to be a key contribution to ongoing advocacy work at the School and Yale Rep.
In April 2016, the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Working Group (EDIWG) was created following a community-wide meeting where over 100 community members including staff, faculty, and students, engaged in a discussion about the issues raised in the letter.
Beginning in 2015, School of Drama Affinity Groups were expanded and formally funded by the School. In addition to the historic Black affinity group FOLKS, founded in 1981 by Angela Bassett, seven affinity groups have been formalized between 2015 and 2019. These groups include: ActOUT, Analyzing and Mobilizing Privilege (AMP), Asian and Asian-American Theatre Coalition (Asian Potluck), Beyond Borders, Disability Empowerment for Yale (DEFY), El Colectivo, and People of Marginalized Genders (PMG).
In the fall of 2016, the EDIWG created the Naming Spaces Initiative, a program to honor historic figures who represent a diverse spectrum of identity and lived experience and to amplify their contributions to the School, Yale Rep, and the field. A dedication ceremony was held in the spring of 2018 to unveil seven newly named spaces, including rehearsal studios and a public lounge, in honor of Carmen de Lavallade, María Irene Fornés, Julie Harris, Harry Kondoleon, Ming Cho Lee, Wendy Wasserstein, and August Wilson.
In spring 2018 Yale Rep and the School began underwriting the full cost of admission for any member of the staff, faculty, student body and advisory board to attend The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond’s signature workshop: Undoing Racism and Community Organizing.
The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Symposium Series was established in fall 2018 to engage with practitioners in and outside of the theatre industry on topics that focus on raising the standard of professional practice in the areas of EDI, anti-racism, and social justice.
From 2016 to 2019, new policies and practices were implemented at Yale Rep and the School of Drama to support safe and inclusive working and training environments, including: Respect in Our Workplace Protocol, Protocol for Rehearsing and Performing Material with Sexual Content, and Land Acknowledgement.
For decades, Yale Rep has provided its patrons with comprehensive accessibility services. In recent years, Yale Rep addressed the accessibility of its buildings for staff and artists. As of March 2020, Yale Rep’s rehearsal studios and all of its performance venues are wheelchair accessible for artists and audiences.
Throughout the 2019–20 season, Yale Rep and David Geffen School of Drama participated in a Cultural Assessment conducted by the Maryland-based consulting firm Cook Ross to identify areas of alignment and non-alignment with our stated commitments to equity, diversity, and inclusion. The findings were sobering and will inform an upcoming strategic plan focused improving our organizational culture.
In the summer of 2020 Yale Rep and David Geffen School of Drama published two statements: In Solidarity and Our Commitments.
Carmen Morgan is a Lecturer at the School of Drama and the Founder and Director of artEquity. Together with additional facilitators from artEquity, Carmen leads the following annual trainings for faculty, staff, students, and interns.
The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Working Group (EDIWG) was created in April 2016; its membership consists of the deans of David Geffen School of Drama at Yale and a mix of students, Yale Rep staff, and faculty. The group holds an open, monthly or bi-monthly meeting focused on community dialogue and institutional accountability. As a way of encouraging participation and lowering barriers to attendance, the School and Yale Rep set aside two hours each month during which rehearsals and work study calls begin after the EDIWG meeting. Additionally, students who are formal members of the group are paid work-study for their efforts. Recent topics of discussion include faculty, staff, and student responses to Our Commitments published in June 2020, and the We See You White American Theatre Demands; presentation of the Cook Ross Cultural Assessment findings and recommendations; review of the 2019 Association of American Universities (AAU) Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Misconduct findings; and discussions on the practice and philosophy of Land Acknowledgement.
The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Symposium Series provides opportunities for interactive learning through discourse, scholarship, and collective action that addresses topics on the theatre industry’s need to become more wholly equitable, inclusive, and diverse in leadership, training, and professional practice. The series was launched in the fall of 2018, and symposium topics, workshops, and panels have included: Inclusive Casting in American Theatre, Disability and Design, Gender Equity in American Theatre, Asian and Asian-American Representation in American Theatre, Conscientious Theatre Training with Nicole Brewer, Considering EDI and Accessibility During COVID-19, and Disability and Artistic Process with Petra Kuppers.
Building an Anti-Racist Coalition
Support Our Greater New Haven Colleagues
We recognize with admiration our Greater New Haven colleagues who work on the front lines of anti-racist activism, the arts, education, and community organizing, through advocacy, partnership and resource sharing. We encourage you to support these five local organizations, all led or co-led by People of Color, whose vital work we respect:
The artwork on this page, inspired by Daniel Quasar’s “Progress Pride Flag,” was designed by Marguerite Elliott.
Photo of New Haven Green, New Haven, Connecticut, USA; Credit: dbimages / Alamy Stock Photo