BLACK STAGES MATTER
In a time of social upheaval that has exposed the centuries-old struggle our non-white neighbors face, specifically Black Americans, the Clark University Players Society recognizes the dire importance of Black Scenes, Black Stories, and Black Stages. More importantly, we want to amplify these spaces and stories to our audiences and our following.
As a nonprofit arts organization, situated within a predominantly white college campus, run by a predominantly white leadership team, we acknowledge that there are shortcomings, faults, and failures in our pedagogy of performing arts and storytelling that are insurmountable without the proper resources and support. Those resources, and those systems of support, should not be solely supplied by Black lives, an unjust burden for an oppressed class that, as we have observed for hundreds of years, lives at risk of a system that was designed to prey upon them.
At this juncture, CUPS joins the growing list of predominantly white organizations and institutions in beginning the process of dismantling whiteness, white supremacy, and the oppressive structures that are implicitly linked to the art we practice. We challenge the status quo that keeps hundreds of Black playwrights out of the American dramatic canon. We rebuke theatre's existence as a space that obsesses over white narratives and shuns the truths Black Americans need to speak. We promise to do better in uplifting, amplifying, and advocating for Black voices in theatre, whether it is in our backyard in the Little Center, at Worcester's Hanover Theater, or anywhere else we can use active allyship to abolish racist, elitist theatrical praxis.
These challenges, rebukes, and promises begin today - already, they have waited too long. CUPS invites our community to join us this summer as we answer the call to radicalize the performing arts, and reimagine our communities as equitable spaces that champion and cherish Black lives. Continue reading to learn about our various fundraisers, seminars, and resources designed to bring you into the fold, and help us in this fight to bring racial equity and justice back into theatre at Clark, in Worcester, and everywhere else.
We watch Black Scenes, knowing they have always mattered.
We listen to Black Stories, knowing that they have always existed.
We cultivate Black Stages, knowing they have always celebrated Black Lives.
Virtual June Fundraiser: Offbook Trivia for the National Black Theatre
Thursday, June 25th at 8:00 PM EST
We are ecstatic in announcing our first fundraiser of the summer, Offbook Trivia, an evening of dramatic trivial pursuit hosted over Zoom by the CUPS Executive Board. Join us for an evening of music and fun as we play three rounds of trivia, with questions and factoids on anything and everything theatre. Offbook Trivia could be on anything from early modernism, to contemporary African diaspora, to the Theatre of the Oppressed - we recommend folks study up before the big evening.
Registration is open to Clark students, Clark alumni, Clark families, and anyone and everyone else!
Tickets for Offbook Trivia are $5.00+ donation; please forward a receipt of your donation to the National Black Theatre to the CUPS email (email@example.com). Space is limited!
All proceeds from the evening will be donated to the National Black Theatre, a nonprofit that has kept Black performing arts alive in Harlem for over 50 years. Read more about their work at the link above, or consider making a donation of your own here.
Black Lives Matter: Virtual Conference with the Theatre Communications Group
Available July 2nd, 2020
Earlier this month, members of CUPS attended a virtual conference orchestrated by the Theatre Communications Group on Black Lives Matter and anti-racism within theatre. On July 2nd, CUPS will be able to stream a recording of the first section of this conference through our website. We anticipate that more sections of the conference will be made available for streaming here, as well.
The first section of the recording is a space facilitated and intended for white theatre artists only; TCG intended to alleviate the educational pressure that Black artists often feel in predominantly white learning spaces. We strongly encourage our white peers in the Clark theatre community to watch and reflect in this space.
The Black Playwright Collective: Spotlights & Stories for the Black Voices You Need to Hear
Tuesdays via Facebook & Instagram
With countless plays pouring out of emerging young Black writers, it is time we expand the canon beyond Lorraine Hansberry and August Wilson. CUPS' Black Playwright Collective hopes to spotlight Black writers via our social media outlets, directing folks to their websites, providing PDFs of their written work, and encouraging familiarity with prominent Black theatre. From the contemporary narratives of Lynn Nottage and Tarell Alvin McCraney to the overlooked dramatic works of James Baldwin and Alice Childress, Black artists have always made and continue to make crucial contributions to the theatre. We owe it to them to sit with their pieces, and let their words and their writing become just as familiar and important as the work of famous white playwrights.
All Black Stages Matter: Supporting Black Theatre Beyond CUPS
via Local Companies & National Nonprofits
All stages can't matter until all Black stages matter. CUPS is grateful for the folks at Black Theatre Matters for creating this comprehensive list of Black theatre companies in the United States. We want to especially highlight three New England companies from this list; Mixed Magic Theatre in Pawtucket, Rhode Island; the Front Porch Arts in Boston, Massachusetts; and JAG Productions in Hartford, Vermont.
CUPS also encourages folks to invest in national visual and performing arts nonprofits that support Black artistry. Black Table Arts, Arts Admin of Color, and the National Black Theatre are crucial organizations that keep Black visual and performance art alive. Many of these organizations will be featured donation spots during summer fundraisers organized by CUPS.
Activism Beyond Theatre: Protecting Black Lives at Clark & in Worcester
via the Black Student Union & Defund WPD
Earlier this month, CUPS made it clear we stand in solidarity with Main South as it faced brutality and excessive force from the Worcester Police Department in the wake of largely nonviolent protests (read our full statement here). Now more than ever, however, we are learning that words of affirmation are not enough to support, defend, and save Black lives from corrupt justice systems - we need organizations to put action forward, as well.
For specific actions that hold Clark accountable to keeping our campus safe and equitable, we encourage folks to visit the Black Student Union's website, where you can read their list of demands directed at Clark's administration, as well as learn more about the #NotYourToken blackout campaign and how you can participate.
For specific actions that hold Worcester accountable to keeping our city safe and equitable, we encourage folks to visit DefundWPD, a social media campaign that has been ignited by a collection of Worcester activists. Their resources will point you in the direction of how you can take an active role in demanding action from the Worcester City Council and Worcester Police Department.