Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Accountability Update: May 2021

Welcome! Berkeley Playhouse acknowledges that multiple avenues are necessary to address change as we work to center equity, inclusion, diversity, and justice in our organization. To hold ourselves accountable and offer transparency, we commit to periodic updates highlighting current progress.

Current organizational efforts are as follows:

  • Bay Area Accountability Workgroup - Three Berkeley Playhouse staff members participate in both a Learning Space and Action Space group alongside fellow theater industry colleagues to facilitate learning, action, and accountability opportunities.
  • Berkeley Playhouse EDI Committee - The large group committee is composed of teaching artists, staff, board members, and actors. Arjuna Sayyed from Possibility of Play facilitates and guides our work. This month we continue exploring the liberatory design mindset and put it into practice by conducting empathy interviews. Further, we have reviewed and noted thematic findings from our recent EDI survey.
  • BIPOC Equity Demands - We are reviewing the Living Document testimonials on the EDI committee and identifying patterns that will help shape and guide our priorities moving forward. Staff is developing an action plan to address the demands developed by the Bay Area BIPOC Equity Demands and the WeSeeYou WAT demands. We will be working with staff, board, and the EDI committee to continue to develop the plan.
  • Berkeley Playhouse Organizational Policies - We are developing several new policies, procedures, and strategies:
    • The first day of rehearsal and the first portion of the first production mtg will be a designated time for community agreements, EDI policies, equity and justice pathways, communication expectations and core values.
    • We begin our casting process with a thoughtful discussion with the Director, Musical Director, Choreographer, Casting Director, Artistic Director, and Producing Director to consider casting values and identify if a specialized consultant, choreographer, or dramaturg is needed.
    • Eliminating the 10 out of 12 tech weekend. We will be moving to an 8 out of 10 for the Sat/Sun before opening.
    • Clear core value documents have been created for education and mainstage departments, discussion around them are included in meeting agendas.
    • We have welcomed a full time staff member and three board members increasing representation from marginalized groups in spaces of power and leadership within the Berkeley Playhouse organization
  • Trainings Update:
    • San Francisco Harm Reduction Training Institute webinars planned for June 2021 for staff and board members on De-escalation and Conflict Management Training and Cultural Coordinating: The New Essential Role in Theatre
    • EDI training through Theater Bay Area (TBA) planned for June 2021 for staff and board members, with facilitation provided by Beatrice Thomas, Principal, Authentic Arts & Media Members:
      • Day 1: Got Bias: Foundations of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion customized for Bay Area theatres. The first session will focus on personal bias and systemic racism, especially as it manifests within theatre institutions and practice. The session will address privilege and social location; explore the many ways bias plays out in our lives and the world; and discuss how to mitigate microaggressions and build cultural allyship.
      • Day 2: Growing EDI into our Theatre Organizations. The second session will build on the first and employ public education and emergent strategy processes to help participants identify issues present in their institutions and design strategies to confront them. A concluding component will outline the key tactics used to build an organizational EDI plan.

Lastly, we acknowledge that the Julia Morgan Theater is located on Ohlone tribal ground, and we recognize the significance of honoring this history. Below is the first version of our Land Acknowledgement (process ongoing):

The Berkeley Playhouse recognizes that The Julia Morgan Theater in Berkeley sits on the territory of xučyun (Huichin), the ancestral and unceded land of the Chochenyo speaking Ohlone people, the successors of the sovereign Verona Band of Alameda County. This land was and continues to be of great importance to the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe and other familial descendants of the Verona Band.

This land has been loved and tended to by the Ohlone people for over 10,000 years. We humbly and gratefully acknowledge their stewardship of the land and all the ways in which we benefit from this land.

Our Statement: June 2020

Berkeley Playhouse stands in solidarity with the Black, BIPOC and other marginalized communities, and we denounce the centuries of oppression, trauma, pain, and death caused by structural racism. We are committed to the serious examination of our organizational procedures and praxis, and will work to become a more actively anti-racist organization.

We use our platform and the privilege it affords us to showcase the talents, skills, and stories of diverse voices which continue to be underrepresented in theater arts.

We champion more equitable access to all theater productions and educational programming.

It is our responsibility to create art that actively engages with the diverse communities of the Bay Area that will impact people for years to come.

We encourage ourselves and our community to work towards broader education, support and action for racial justice.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at Berkeley Playhouse

At the Berkeley Playhouse, a commitment to community, diversity, inclusion, and empowerment is at the heart of our work. Berkeley Playhouse is committed to strengthening ongoing efforts to ensure that our organization reflects a strong commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. To that aim:

  • We have developed an EDI committee, made up of Staff Members, Board Members, Teaching Artists, and Mainstage Theater Artists dedicated to the serious examination of our organizational procedures and praxis. Further, the committee’s make-up expresses our diversity in terms of race, gender, age and LGTBQIA+ representation. Current top goals include:

    • Build greater diversity on BPH board, staff, teaching artists, artists, students and audiences.

    • Develop a company culture document that examines what the organization has done to unintentionally promote white supremacy. Allow the findings to inform specific actions Berkeley Playhouse will implement to help ensure an actively anti-racist and inclusive culture. 

    • Review the “We See You, White American Theater” and the “Living Document of BIPOC Experiences in Bay Area Theater Companies” (both the anonymous testimonials and the BOPOC Equity Action Plan) and make a short and long term Implementation Plan.

    • Create a framework to ensure an anti-racist approach to performance selection, production, direction, and management. 

    • Revisit Berkeley Playhouse’s mission and establish core diversity & inclusion values related to race, gender, age and sexual orientation throughout the entire organization.

    • Prioritize EDI work on a staff level by ensuring adequate staff time is dedicated weekly to planning, training, community events and meetings regarding EDI work, HR Policy and Procedure strengthening, and organizational communications.

  • We are committed to ongoing training. This year staff and board members have attended workshops and talks around racial justice in theater, as well as accountability work. Last year our board and staff attended a training by Claudia Alick from Calling Up on Microaggressions. 

  • We have an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion page on our website dedicated to transparency & accountability as we grow, strengthen and develop our EDI practices.