The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund presented its new toolkit, Dramatic Changes: A Guide to Producing Live Stage Works on College Campuses in Turbulent Times.
The DLDF Toolkit explores how students, administrators, and educators can work together to resolve tensions between free expression rights and the need to advance the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and diversity. access when producing programs on college campuses. It aims to prepare those involved in the presentation of theatrical works in an academic setting and to equip them to deal with any potential controversy that may arise at any stage of a planned production.
“We began to see an increase in attempts (some successful, some not) to shut down stage productions on college campuses. These attempts differed from such incidents in the past, not only in number, but in kind – in complex and nuanced issues they have raised,” said DLDF Chairman John Weidman. “Our ambition was to make a useful, balanced and informed contribution to what will surely be the ongoing debates around these cancellations of colleges in the future. The DLDF Dramatic Changes Toolkit is the result of our efforts.”
The DLDF has developed its toolkit by forming a task force of educators, activists, nonprofits and playwrights to study and address the many compelling concerns raised by the issue of school cancellations. The group spent more than two years looking at a series of case studies, to see how and why these cancellations happened, to see what were the key moments in the process that caused them, to identify similarities between the cases and to determine what worked and what didn’t. The group’s interviews and analyzes led to the creation of the toolkit. It provides the legal context in which productions are produced and cancelled, then offers guidance at every stage of a theatrical production (from the play selection process, to its casting, rehearsal and performance, to its consequences), as well as a list of additional resources.
The DLDF has now made the toolkit available to help all stakeholders navigate their way to a safe and satisfying opening night for everyone involved. The DLDF hopes its guide can help school communities, including the students, teachers and administrators who live and work there, to create opportunities for healthy discussions and disagreements, bound by mutual respect, unified by an understanding community of the unique and vital role that theater can play in their lives.
Visit https://thedldf.org/college-toolkit to download the toolkit today.