CTG Leadership Update on Upcoming Taper/Douglas Seasons

Letter from Center Theatre Group’s Artistic Team
Published on Tuesday, October 12, 2021

To our artists, audience, colleagues, and partners,

We want to have a conversation with you.

We recently announced Center Theatre Group’s first Taper and Douglas seasons after a two-year Pandemic shut down. We acknowledge that our 21/22 season was heavily imbalanced when it came to gender. Women-identified voices are needed on our stages in every season. As an organization that is actively working towards being anti-racist and inclusive, we take responsibility for the lack of intersectionality of social identities and experiences on our stages.

We have been reminded by our community this past week about the great need for transparency. We are an organization in the midst of pandemic recovery and at the start of an Artistic Leadership transition; this is a moment of great change and communication is incredibly important. The 22/23 season planning process began over a year ago, and we had already been working hard to make sure our programming was of the highest artistic caliber and has been informed by our commitment to center BIPOC voices and give more production slots to women-identifying and non-binary playwrights.

As the season is shaping up, we are excited about our plan to schedule the full Taper 22/23 Season next year with entirely women-identifying or non-binary playwrights and to also have it be a BIPOC majority season. We are focusing our Douglas 22/23 season on majority women-identifying or non-binary and BIPOC playwrights. We will continue our commitment to uplifting/building gender and racial equity within our production directors and artistic teams.

In addition to the work that will appear on our stages, our expanded New Play Development programs also further our commitment to gender and racial equity. We have been preparing to announce a new chapter for our Not a Moment, But a Movement initiative in which we will be commissioning six new plays by Black women-identifying or non-binary playwrights. This adds to our other current developmental programs including the current writer’s cohort which is comprised of 10 women-identifying, majority BIPOC playwrights, and 11 of our 16 current commissions are with women-identifying playwrights, 11 are also BIPOC playwrights.

In the spirit of this commitment to transparency, we have shared these in-the-works plans with members of our community, including Jeremy O. Harris. Jeremy has faith in the necessary measures we are taking and as a result of these conversations, Slave Play remains the opening production of our upcoming Taper season.

Moving forward, a new Artistic Director(s) will program our future seasons. We are seeking leadership that shares our values and commitments to change.

We are grateful to the women-identified playwrights and other members of our community who made it clear that we need to better communicate our planning intentions. We look forward to continuing this conversation with you. We are unwavering in our commitment to cutting edge art and diversity of all perspectives, the best possible experience on our stages.

The Artistic Team can be reached at this email: ArtisticTeamContact@ctgla.org.

Luis Alfaro
Lindsay Allbaugh
Tyrone Davis
Neel Keller
Kelley Kirkpatrick

We acknowledge that terms and language like “women-identifying” and “non-binary” are in a constant state of redefinition and evolution, and the language we use may change over time.

A Note from Center Theatre Group Leadership:
Published on October 5, 2021.

In assembling Center Theatre Group’s upcoming Taper and Douglas seasons, we first honored commitments to many shows that were disrupted by the pandemic over the course of the last two years. Some of those commitments include plays by women that have been scheduled for next season due to artist availability but are not yet announced. We understand the frustration, disappointment and even anger in the scarcity of women playwrights in the upcoming season. Although we have announced a lineup featuring voices from many standpoints and identities, we acknowledge that we’ve fallen short of our own expectations and those of our community in regards to gender equity, and for that, we apologize. We can and will do better.

We want to reassure our community that we remain intensely focused on our mission of reflecting and serving the many communities of Los Angeles. We have already begun work on 2022/23 seasons that include a commitment to gender equity amongst playwrights for Center Theatre Group produced shows. The opening production already slated for the 2022/23 season at the Mark Taper Forum is written by a woman of color.

We made this commitment to equity to other aspects of our current season as well. All four of the directors in the just-announced Douglas season are women or non-binary. In addition, this year’s Writers Workshop cohort is made up solely of women-identifying playwrights, all local to Los Angeles. Of the 16 new plays Center Theatre Group recently commissioned, 11 are from BIPOC writers and 11 are being written by women.

We are thankful for our community members who remain supportive of Center Theatre Group—even through our missteps—as we strive to amplify women’s voices and become more equitable, accessible and reflective of all of Los Angeles’ diverse communities. We hope our audiences will continue to join us in that journey.

Today we received a notification from playwright Jeremy O. Harris that he would like to start the process of removing Slave Play from this season in the hopes to make room for more women. We respect Jeremy’s opinion and believe in him as an artist. We hope to continue our relationship with him going forward. We are regrouping and will be able to share more in the coming days about the impact on our upcoming season.

—Michael Ritchie (Artistic Director) and Meghan Pressman (Managing Director/CEO)