May Term: Race and Gender in American Music Theatre

 


    I have had the distinct pleasure of co-teaching my last class at Carthage College with Raven Dockery (she/her) on "Race and Gender in American Music Theatre." I have always loved teaching Writing Intensive courses at Carthage because most of the students in my class are NON-MAJORS! There are 23 students in this class (in-person and online), 12 of them are students of color, and their majors are Nursing (over half our class!), Theatre and Music, Computer Science, Psychology, Exercise and Sports Science, Poli Sci, Graphic Design, and International Political Economy. Raven has been blowing their minds teaching the history of the Black Experience in the performing arts for the last 200 years, and we have had some incredible guest speakers the first couple of weeks.


Sawyer Smith (they/them), Chicago actor and Choreographer, was our first guest and for over half our students, this was their first experience ever talking with someone who is trans. When I invited Sawyer to "meet" with our class, that reality had never occurred to me. We got to talk to Sawyer about their career, their dream roles and projects, and then Sawyer led us all in an abridged FLY HONEYS SHOW exercise where you close your eyes and think about the last time you told someone you loved them...and then you think about the last time you told yourself that you loved yourself. Gosh, they are so special.


Next we had Megan Farley (she/her), Associate Director for SIX on Broadway and Director of the eventual Chicago sit-down of SIX! We got to talk about all things SIX-related, including talking about their HUGE creative team, and the dreams they have for the production moving forward. After meeting with Sawyer, the class was very interested in asking her questions about casting non-binary performers in the show. I was amazed and filled with hope that a class of mostly non-majors could spend a few days talking about the lack of trans representation onstage and follow through with that learning moment to ask Megan this question. Half the class also collectively lost their mind when they asked Megan what pop star she would love to rehearse into SIX and she said Jessie J. BANG BANG.

Next week in class we have Malkia Stampley (she/her), Milwaukee Black Theatre Festival Producer and Co-Founder of Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. Raven will be leading a discussion with her and the class on her experience as a Black Woman in the Theatre Industry. This class has been so special and I am so happy to be leaving Carthage College on such a high note. Everyone should hire Raven Dockery to teach Music Theatre History at your institution! Here she is being fabulous.






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