Rehearsing for a Broadway show has become an absolute nightmare, says Michael Riedel in Air Mail. Before they even start, the actors and writers have to sit through endless training sessions on Covid protocol, sexual harassment, “equity-diversity-and-inclusion training”, and so on. Then theatres insist on hiring intimacy trainers to offer guidance on love scenes. “You can’t have an onstage kiss without an intimacy coach monitoring every quiver of a lip.” At one particularly woke theatre, the team is trying to banish meetings because they “represent patriarchy”.
For larger companies this stuff isn’t especially onerous, but for smaller organisations it’s a big financial burden. “I had to spend $1,000 to create a ‘healing space’,” says the head of one nonprofit theatre. “We don’t have any money as it is.” And it’s not just owners who have a tough time – writers are in a bind too. Plenty of theatres are getting “diversity dramaturges” to comb through scripts and take out insensitive language or offensive stereotypes. Many feel this is part of the larger – and absurd – idea that you must write only what you know. “It’s preposterous,” says one white, gay, Tony Award-winning playwright. “If I want to write about the Boston Strangler, do I have to go out and strangle someone?”