How Delaware Theatre Company Hopes to Spark 'Brave Conversations'

Its newest production, “White Guy on the Bus,” begins Feb. 1.

The staff of Delaware Theatre Company has undergone an intensive equality, diversity, inclusion and social justice training ahead of its February production of “White Guy on the Bus.” The training examined issues of privilege, allyship and diversity with the lens of better providing the staff with the tools needed to run community discussions after every performance.

“Delaware Theatre Company actively commits to our community that we will remain a diverse and inclusive organization, welcoming individuals of all walks of life, regardless of their race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, gender identity or sexual orientation,” says executive director Bud Martin. “I am proud of our staff for having completed this training. The training provided them the necessary skills to facilitate brave conversations while we prepare for perhaps the timeliest production of our season, ‘White Guy on the Bus.’ I hope all arts organizations in Delaware will join us in maintaining these inclusive values that have allowed artists to produce meaningful and engaging work.”

The training provided staff with a clear understanding of their role and social allocation as a facilitator, stronger vocabulary to address issues of equity and inclusion, guidelines on how to create an environment conducive for intergroup dialogue and more. “Our staff has made a conscious effort to provide a safe space for audiences to have brave conversations about the work they’ve just experienced on our stage,” says managing director Melissa Zimmerman. “DTC is thrilled to provide this resource to our audiences and to the arts community in Delaware.” Following every performance of “White Guy on the Bus,” audience members will be encouraged to stay for a 20–30 minute community discussion on what they just experienced. This discussion is not a panel talk, but an opportunity for audiences to discuss and relate their experiences to each other. Guided by two members of DTC’s staff, attendees can feel safe asking difficult questions about the topical references that can be made in their life or community.

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“White Guy on the Bus” shows how, week after week, a wealthy businessman rides the same bus, befriending Shatique, a young single mother putting herself through school and struggling to raise a son on her own. As they get to know one another, their pasts unfold and tensions rise, which unravels a complex web of revenge, social mores and racial biases from a candid and unexpected perspective. The New York Times called it “a frank stare-down of racial perceptions…an unsettling study in cultural disaffection.” It runs Feb. 1–5, Feb. 8–12 and Feb. 15–19 at Delaware Theatre Company.

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