“What is the future of American theater, and how do we bring it to Spokane?” Those questions will be discussed during the second “Expanding the Table,” a virtual panel discussion series hosted by the Spokane Theatre Arts Council, on Friday at 6:30 p.m. via Facebook Live. According to a news release, the panel will be an opportunity for local arts leaders “to hear from institutional leaders of color about their experiences in operationalizing equity and cultural diversity in arts spaces.”
“When an organization sets out to diversify their season or casting pool without having existing relationships with communities of color in place, it is not uncommon to become discouraged or even fatigued,” the news release continues. “Community building is challenging work, and it demands a tremendous amount of energy from the hearts of all of those involved. Thankfully, the guests that will be sharing on this panel have demonstrated measurable success in building meaningful connections rooted in trust and mutual respect that have allowed their respective arts communities to thrive and flourish.”
The panel, facilitated by Spokane’s Josephine Keefe, features DeLanna Studi, Wardell Julius Clark and Leslie Ishii. Studi is an actor/playwright and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Her TV credits include “Dreamkeeper,” “Edge of America,” “Shameless,” “General Hospital,” “Z Nation” and “Goliath.” Her theater credits include the first national Broadway tour of “August: Osage County” and an Off-Broadway production of “Gloria: A Life.”
She created “And So We Walked,” which is based on her time retracing her family’s footsteps along the Trail of Tears with her father. Studi is the chair of SAG-AFTRA’s National Native Americans Committee and the artistic director of Native Voices at the Autry, America’s only Equity theater company that develops and produces new works by Native American, Alaska native, native Hawaiian and First Nations playwrights exclusively.
Clark is a Chicago-based performer who received a BFA in acting from the Theatre School at DePaul University. He is a company member with TimeLine Theatre, where he also works as a teaching artist in the Living History program. He is an associate artist with the Black Lives, Black Words theater collective. His directing credits include “Kill Move Paradise,” “Sheepdog,” “His Shadow,” “The Shipment” and “Dutch Masters.” His acting credits include “Flyin’ West,” “Suddenly Last Summer,” “Silent Sky,” “Othello” and “The Gospel According to James.” His TV and film credits include “Proven Innocent,” “Shameless” and “Chicago Fire.”
Ishii is the artistic director of Perseverance Theatre in Anchorage and has directed at Pangea World Theatre, East West Players, Artists at Play, UC-Irvine, USC, Cal State-L.A. and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She has worked on Broadway and in film and television and has worked with BIPOC theaters including Penumbra, Theatre Mu, the Asian American Theatre Company, El Teatro Campesino and Native Voices.
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