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Response to Open Letter from Middle Eastern American Theater Community

April 27, 2017

 

We’re grateful to Lameece Issaq and the co-authors of this letter for the consistently productive, open-hearted conversations about representation that we’ve had with them over the course of the past few months surrounding our production of The Profane; they have continued to add invaluable insight to our active internal reflections.

Playwrights Horizons has been a longtime supporter of Zayd Dohrn's writing, throughout his extensive, wide-ranging body of work, and of his longtime collaboration with director Kip Fagan. The Profane is a deft reversal of a troubling, clichéd American narrative: again and again, we see stories that depict closed-mindedness in religious communities in America, perpetuating prejudices and divisions between the secular and the devout. Challenging narrative expectations, Dohrn's play is a heartfelt and personal appeal for empathy and greater understanding: so urgent and relevant in this cultural moment. We’re honored to have the work of this entire creative team — a designation which to our minds and in our practices includes its extraordinary ensemble — on our stage.

We’ve fully absorbed and are deeply engaged with the questions and issues that have been raised with us in our personal conversations with members of the Middle Eastern American theater community and in this open letter. While we feel this production doesn’t belie our ongoing pursuit of inclusion, as evidenced by our programming in both this and recent seasons, we gratefully accept the call for explicit action toward greater representation on our stages as well as in our offices. We’ve already taken steps in this direction — including a commissioning program for Middle Eastern and Arab American playwrights and an institution-wide expansion of efforts toward equity — and future programming will reflect this commitment. 

In private conversations with the authors of this letter, Playwrights Horizons has eagerly offered our physical and staff resources to support the call for a public discussion around these issues, and we renew this offer publicly here. We hope to be an audience and contributor to this conversation, which we’d be happy to see happen here in our building.

We look forward to continuing our efforts toward achieving equity and representation in alignment and in tandem with the community of Middle Eastern American theater artists and audiences, and with allied communities of all races, religions, sexual and gender identities, and cultural backgrounds.

 

Tim Sanford, Playwrights Horizons Artistic Director
Adam Greenfield, Playwrights Horizons Associate Artistic Director