Larry Kramer, Lydia R. Diamond, MJ Rodriguez Join #IdentityWeek Panels | Playbill

News Larry Kramer, Lydia R. Diamond, MJ Rodriguez Join #IdentityWeek Panels The four-day event, running September 27-30, will explore racial, cultural, sexual and gender identity in the theatre.
Identity Week Updated HR

Samuel French, Playbill and HowlRound have partnered to present #IdentityWeek, a free four-day panel event exploring racial, cultural, sexual and gender identity in the theatre. Set to run September 27-30, all panels will take place at the Vineyard Theatre.

#IdentityWeek follows previous Samuel French and HowlRound events: #RightsWeek, which focused on intellectual property or artists; and #MusicalsWeek, which featured discussions about the creation of and representation in musicals. This marks Samuel French's third year of partnering with HowlRound for panel events and the first collaboration with Playbill.

The 2016 event was created in response to the issues of identity, inclusion and representation onstage being at the forefront of our industry's collective conversation.

“Samuel French is a stand for artistic integrity,” sais Bruce Lazarus, Executive Director, Samuel French. “We are proud to provide a space to discuss the theatre artist’s role in this global shift of identity consciousness.”

#IdentityWeek panels follow:

Playwrights & Their Identity
Tuesday, September 27 from 6:30-7:30 PM
Should a playwright write for their identity? Are playwrights sought out by specific theaters because of their ethnicity or cultural background? Partly inspired by Damon Chua's article, Asian Playwrights and Asian Characters: What's the Deal?, this panel will focus on the impact and influence of a playwright's perceived identity on their writing and within our theatre community. Panelists include playwrights Damon Chua, Lydia R. Diamond, A. Rey Pamatmat and Kimber Lee. Moderator: Pippin Parker, Director of The School of Drama, The New School.

Onstage & Off: The State of Transgender Artists
Wednesday, September 28 from 6:30-7:30 PM
This panel narrows in on the experience of transgender artists, discussing their opportunities and challenges within the theatre industry as well as how our community can better include and support their work. Panelists include playwright Azure D. Osborne-Lee and performers Bianca Leigh, Pooya Mohseni and MJ Rodriguez. Moderated by Adam Hetrick (Editor in Chief,

Access & Activism in Theatre
Thursday, September 29 from 6:30-7:30 PM
This conversation will focus on the progress and challenges in the theatre community around access and inclusion for artists, administrators and audience members. Topics may include advances in onstage representation of characters and performers of all abilities, the politics of casting an actor to play a character with a disability if that actor doesn't have the same disability, and more. Panelists include Phil Dallmann (Manager of TDF Accessibility Programs), Laura Kirk (Director of Audience Services for Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre), Christine Bruno (Disability Advocate for Inclusion in the Arts) and Alexandria Wailes (representing Deaf West). Moderated by Emilya Cachapero (Director of Artistic Programs and International Theatre Institute for TCG).

A Celebration of Pioneering Artists
Friday, September 30 from 6:30-7:30 PM
This evening will serve as a retrospective and celebration of the work that our industry has already accomplished. Artists who have achieved ground-breaking work in theatre will join together to discuss their journeys, challenges, victories and advice for aspiring artists in their field. Panelists include Larry Kramer (The Normal Heart), Dr. Ntozake Shange (For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf) and Joi Gresham (Executive Director of the Lorraine Hansberry Estate). Moderator: Christian Parker, Chair MFA Theatre Program, Columbia University School of the Arts.

All panels are open to the general public. Reservations are encouraged, but not required. All panels have accessible seating and will be signed by ASL interpreters. To RSVP, click here. In addition, the panels will be live-tweeted by Samuel French (@MrSamuelFrench), as well as live-streamed by HowlRound. A companion series of essays can be found on HowlRound throughout the week as well.

For further information and updates, visit

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