In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, The Drama Group board of directors unveiled a plan to move the organization forward addressing the issues of racial justice, inclusivity and empowerment in all aspects of the theater.
The Chicago Heights theater company is marking its 90th anniversary. It is one of the oldest continuously running all-volunteer community theaters in the nation. It performs under the banner “bringing Broadway to the Southern Suburbs since 1931.” Shows are performed from the group’s theater at 330 W. 202nd St., Chicago Heights.
More than 75 people were part of a remote meeting of the general membership and community on July 18. According to the group’s press release, the greater part of the meeting was an opportunity for members and the community to speak freely about their concerns, hopes, fears and desires for the theater group. It was a very lively, honest and frank forum with the board of directors listening openly to all comments.
During the meeting, the directors unveiled an eight-point plan that included the appointment of two Black members to the board of directors. The theater group also will invest in people of color in all levels of the organization, including performing artists, directors, show staff, board of directors and committee members.
In addition, J.R. Rose, the director of next year’s musical, “The Color Purple,” stepped down and turned over the production to a person of color. The musical is adopted from a book by Alice Walker that profiles African American women in the South in the 1930s and their struggles for identity.
The Drama Group has also pledged to work with individuals who want to direct at their organization and will work to foster their success. The theater company also has committed to the hiring of an outside diversity consultant to inform and recommend change.
As one member, Tina Zagone, put it, “Last night was a pivotal moment for the The Drama Group and a monumental way to begin our 90th anniversary season.”
For information, see The Drama Group website at www.dramagroup.org