Over the next several weeks, True Colors staff will share updates on our vision and programming, discuss the intended impact of work on the local and national theatre ecology, and encourage dialogue around building a more connected Atlanta arts community. Artistic Director Jamil Jude offers his initial views on an article written about Atlanta theatre and outlines the series.
Jesse Green of the New York Times recently provided the Atlanta Theatre community with an opportunity – maintain an inequitable status quo or endeavor to recreate an arts scene in an image more representative of the city’s richness. There was a time when, as a young artist, I could shout loudly at the decision makers, wag my finger with derision, and wait for the change I wanted to happen. As a leader of an organization with a long history of supporting all artists, but specifically supporting the same Black artists Mr. Green outlines are woefully underrepresented, I realize that True Colors Theatre Company is in position to shift the conversation.
I became an artistic director because I wanted to create a home for artists that was “culturally-relevant” and addressed the needs of its community. At the start of my career, I had no idea what that meant but I was aware that there weren’t many models for me to aspire to. In D.C., there were very few arts administrators of color, and at the time, no artistic directors of color leading flagship organizations. After moving to Minneapolis/St. Paul years later, I noticed a similar trend. That is to say that a lack of representation – actors on stage, playwrights writing the plays, directors, designers, crew members, and administrative staff working behind the scenes, the audience in the house – is a NATIONAL problem.
True Colors sees itself as a part of a rich Atlanta theatre community. Additionally, we understand our role in the larger American Theatre. Co-founded by Kenny Leon and Jane Bishop in 2002, our vision was to reverse the regional theatre trend of primarily producing white narratives and diversifying on the fringes. True Colors committed to centering Black classics and using that lens to share the experiences of all. Since our founding, our invitation has always been extended to the entire Atlanta metro-area while being a place where Black audiences can feel at home. We are thankful for the way in which our mission and artistic aesthetic has been appreciated over the years. In assuming leadership of this cultural institution, my staff made it clear: resting on the laurels of our past were not enough. Our local community, the national landscape, and the artists/audiences we serve need more. Mr. Green’s article underscores that assertion.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll share thoughts on the ways True Colors can answer the call. I’ll share news on current and future programming, our new play development plan, and the ways in which we are grooming the next generation of theatre makers. Furthermore, we’ll share insights from our audience and community about what they want to see from the Atlanta Theatre community and the ways in which we can inspire change and positively impact our field.