We are the Rise Up Project that operates out of CSP. Our initiative focuses on sharing the stories of BIPOC and LGBTQA+ communities – people who are too often silenced. After the murder of George Floyd and the rightful outrage against injustice and police brutality that followed, CSP acknowledged their responsibility within the community and the world to do better at sharing wider world experiences within the theatre, rather than just the ones we are comfortable with. Following our Voices Not Heard play writing competition, which led to a production featuring stories about an interracial family during 2020, and a gay man and his estranged mother coming to an understanding, we presented Two Asians Dating, a lovely look into the dating world for divorcees this past November. Our next production, The Laramie Project will premiere on February 19th, 2021.
From its very inception, theatre has been a central and driving force for political activism and social change. Beginning with the satires performed in ancient Greek amphitheaters that helped shape the earliest democracy, to queer playwrights like Paula Vogel and the late Larry Kramer, and the works of Black playwrights like Lynn Nottage and August Wilson, theatre has always held up a mirror to society in order to both celebrate its triumphs and to bring light to its failures, so that they can be corrected.
Camarillo Skyway Playhouse believes that to be silent or indefinite in our condemnation of the long-standing, systemic, and devastating injustices suffered by the Black community is to betray this legacy. CSP believes that to ignore or minimize the oppression and appropriation of the Indigenous peoples of our country, and to fail in striving to not only include LGBTQIA+ artists in our productions, but ensure that their voices and stories are deliberately presented, is to abandon the community in community theatre.
Black Lives Matter. Of that there should be no debate. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and all those whose lives were taken by a system and an institution that has always claimed to stand for the rights and the protection of all people are tragedies that break our hearts and crimes that we in good conscience cannot do anything but condemn. We hear the Black communities and People of Color demanding justice. We hear queer communities demanding acceptance and equality. We hear you. We stand with you. And we will do better.
Moved to take a hard, but necessary look at our organization and acknowledge the ways in which our actions have not measured up to our intentions, Camarillo Skyway Playhouse is determined to live up to theatre’s legacy of activism.
CSP has established a Diversity Committee, tasked with not only inviting the ideas and support of the underserved and under-represented members of our community in regards to how we might improve, but to actively seek out that support and communication, to develop those new undertakings, and direct them to their fullest potential. You will see us spotlighting the works from BIPOC artists over the course of our seasons or in special events, and we are proud to announce the theatre’s first play writing competition, inviting BIPOC playwrights to submit one-act works, two of which will be performed virtually this September (details coming soon).
The Diversity Committee has already begun reaching out to find the voices that might best guide the theatre in the right direction, and, we hope, will be willing to join us in shaping that path. As part of a community with a diverse and exceptional population that is so rarely represented on stage, CSP believes that all voices deserve to be heard in our theatre, and ensuring that must begin by amplifying those that have not had the opportunity to be heard.
Although we acknowledge that there are some uncertainties in regard to CSP’s future, we will be striving to make our theatre, in whatever shape or form it may evolve, a place that truly represents, serves, and enrichens our community. If you are a theatre lover with ideas, suggestions, or pitches that you feel would benefit Skyway Playhouse’s expanded mission, or if you are a member of the BIPOC or queer communities and are interested in joining the Diversity Committee to help make this theatre we love a place we can be even more proud of, please contact the co-chairs of the Committee, Libby Baumgartner and Eric R. Umali at firstname.lastname@example.org