In a 2017 “American Theatre” article titled “Succession and Diversity Must Go Hand in Hand,” journalist Joseph Haj wrote that the American theater is undergoing a generational change. Dozens of big theaters across the nation are seeing positions that have been filled for decades open back up again due to the retirement of longtime leaders.
Nationally and locally, these top theater positions have typically been filled by white men. And, Haj writes, in order to systematically diversify leadership, it’s important that diverse candidates be seriously considered as successors.
That’s exactly what is happening at Stage One Family Theater in Louisville as Idris Goodwin replaces Peter Holloway as the organization’s producing artistic director.
Goodwin will be the organization’s first black producing artistic director. He’s a nationally-renowned playwright and theater educator who was in Louisville last year with his production “And in This Corner: Cassius Clay” about boxer Muhammad Ali.
Holloway, who held the role of producing artistic director for 11 years, said Stage One’s audiences don’t look like those of many other performing arts institutions.
“You go to your average orchestra, theater, ballet or opera and it’s a pretty narrow demographic that’s reached,” Holloway said. “But that’s not the case for us.”
This is, in large part, because they see a lot of school-aged audiences for field trips.
But both Holloway and Goodwin say it’s important to have Stage One’s audience diversity reflected in leadership positions as well. Goodwin hopes in his new role he can invite playwrights and producers of all backgrounds to become involved in Stage One.
“As we explore diversity and inclusion across every industry, I think that this is an exciting time to be someone of color who is interested in doing that work because you can try to open doors for other people,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin officially assumes the role on August 1st.