The FUN HOME Test: A Personal Resume Self-Check

With all of the well-publicized work and study towards a wider representation of women writers and writers of color in the theater (which I fully support), and in light of the recent record-breaking all-female Tony win for Fun Home and the all-female creative team behind the upcoming Waitress, I thought it was a good time to self-assess a bit. As a director, I took an honest look at the diversity factor of my resume. Here is what I discovered – and it ain’t pretty.

The vast majority of my directing resume is musical theatre. The list spans classic Golden Age through the modern era to the current NEW Golden Age of New Musical Theatre. The productions themselves span high school to collegiate to professional. The lessons I have learned from this simple assessment are enormous and valuable and eye-opening.

  1. Of the over 40 productions I have directed/music directed in my career, 40 male writers are represented. Only 12 female writers are represented. Ouch – this one hurt a little.
  2. Of those 12 female writers, the brilliant Lynn Ahrens is represented three times.
  3. Nine writers are represented on my resume. That’s a great thing! I am very proud and honored to have those shows presented prominently.
  4. 16 shows on my resume were regional debuts of work that had never before been seen or staged in the area. That’s also a good thing. I have spent a great deal of time championing new work and presenting unseen work to fresh audiences.
  5. Only two African American writers exist on my resume. This might be the most shocking and shameful statistic. My resume (as I imagine many others’ are) is dominated by white men. Brilliant as they may be, the diversity factor takes a plunge on this one.

These are just a few of the many statistics I can glean from looking at the work I have been proud to be a part. From these stats alone, here is what I have learned:

  1. I need to make a more valiant effort to support diversity – not just in my writing and support of such writers, but also by example in the projects with which I choose to involve myself in other capacities.
  2. Everyone has a great deal of improvement to make – and we can make an enormous difference in the future of this ever-changing art form by taking stock of our work on a more regular basis.
  3. I am very proud of my efforts and success in developing, directing, and nurturing new writers at every level – and will continue to do so with a new bent toward diversity and the best representation of the work being created.

In the next year alone, two of my own musicals will see their first stagings. One of them features a brilliant female composer, and the other features minority characters in the two leading roles. I hope this means I am making progress. I also hope this means that I have inspired you to take a look at your own work and make some decisions on the projects that matter to you. And by all means – self-check every once awhile. The revelations could lead to lasting and important change.

I also want to invite YOU to comment on this post about YOUR own resume. Where does your work stack up as an actor, director, designer, or writer?

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