Congratulations! You have been accepted into A Musical Theater Program That Is Now Accepting Multiple People of Color! Yes, yes, it is revolutionary isn’t it? We are thrilled that we could accept so many members of the BIPOC community this year. We were forced to if we wanted to put on a production of In the Heights.
The theater community has recently been hit with a big reality check when we realized that not only white people deserve a career on Broadway. Also, that not just anyone could play a role described to be for a person of color. Who knew? Why, with shows like Hamilton opening doors for a whole cast of colorful performers, and then telling white people not to audition? We honestly thought it would last about as long as an abusive producer “stepping back for a while to reflect on their actions” after being canceled and before finding a new job. So, a few weeks at most.
Well, weren’t we pleasantly wrong! It is such a wonderful time to be on Broadway if you are anything but white. As a person of color in this business, you are at a premium. Diversity is IN! However, this means that one day, we expect diversity to be out. This is why we will take pride in making sure that our BIPOC students know their place in an industry that has exploited them since its inception.
We will make sure to hammer home that Broadway is a business first that takes advantage of the art of musical theater to make money. Cold. Hard. Cash. Did you see how much Hamilton made in its first year in New York? More than you’ll ever make in your entire career. However, without you, the actor, this money doesn’t exist. Don’t worry though, we will teach you how to be exploited too.
We vow to treat our students of color with very special attention so they can be successful—within reason—in this business. In our program, you will need to study everything under the sun—jazz, ballet, tap, voice lessons, music theory, improv, Shakespeare, stage combat, trapeze, sword swallowing, and lion taming—to even get your toenail in the door. For our white students, it won’t be that difficult. Lucky them!
Broadway is a place that reflects America’s, nay, the world’s, most important value: white supremacy. Hold on—I’m not talking about the “men in white cloaks” kind of white supremacy. No, I’m talking about how Broadway implements the white gaze.
For example, everyone knows white people know Black people better than they know themselves. So to keep things consistent, we will implement the “forcing a stereotype on our students” approach. This way, our Black students will be able to fit into roles that we know will make white audiences comfortable: maids, slaves, African people with exaggerated accents, and of course, dancers in the back of the chorus. The “Blackground” as we like to call it.
This point also feeds into the white supremacy behind the term “Broadway Body.” There are only so many body types white audiences can comprehend. When it comes to the, well, voluptuous and full-figured bodies of people of color, white people simply will not compute. With this in mind, casting directors will expect that an actor maintains the Broadway Body, meaning that if you don’t look like an extra from Baywatch with your shirt off—yes, women too—you can kiss your dreams of being on Broadway goodbye. We do expect our students to go to the gym twice a day to become as thin as a stick in order to fit into our well-established cookie-cutter program.
Wait, you want to be an individual and play roles that aren’t in the Blackground? Well, let’s put it this way, we can’t train you for roles we’ve never seen your kind play before, until it happens, of course, then we can talk.
I just want to state that we understand that times are hard for the BIPOC community. Racial injustice is running rampant, and you are in our thoughts and prayers. That being said, if any of our students protest the way we teach, we will threaten your careers by telling every casting director we know that you are difficult to work with.
Again, congratulations, BIPOCStudent6, and we can’t wait to see you this fall!
A Musical Theater Program That Is Now Accepting Multiple People of Color’s Director