The following is a response and public statement from Artistic Director of Northlight Theatre, BJ Jones. There have been concerns shared from the artistic community on the composition of the cast, see local casting director Lavina Jadhwani’s editorial here. Rescripted encourages artists to respond to discussion generated by our website, in the hopes of facilitating a more open dialogue between institutions and artists. As noted below, the conversation will continue with a panel in late January co-hosted by Jessica Thebus and Aaron Todd Douglas.
We are grateful to engage in this vital conversation, one that we endorse and support.
With regard to The Book of Will, our objective was to be inclusive in our casting. Our casting process extended invitations to actors of color. Indeed, we made offers to multiple actors of color. All of whom turned down the roles for a variety of reasons, with availability being chief among them. We extended the casting process, and searched on.
Northlight strives to be inclusive not only in our casting but also in our season selection. This commitment is evidenced in how we have approached the casting of our previous shows, such as last season’s Miss Bennet by Lauren Gunderson, as well as our most recent production, this season’s The Legend of Georgia McBride. It appears in our commission of Faceless, which concerns anti-Islamic prejudice, and our ongoing engagement with the work of Dominique Morisseau.
We take issues of diversity and inclusion seriously. We recognize that with The Book of Will, we did not achieve our objective as set forth by our playwright, our director, or our core values. We will redouble our efforts to champion equity, diversity and inclusion. We have done better and we will do better.
In the spirit of continuing the conversation, Director Jessica Thebus and Aaron Todd Douglas will be co-hosting a panel in late January, and we hope to see you there.
BJ Jones, Artistic Director
Photo Credit: Liz Lauren
One Reply to “Northlight Theatre’s Artistic Director Statement on ‘Book of Will’”
The ALTA Artist Database has been available on http://altachicagomembership.org/database for over a year, if you’re looking to be proactive.