BPT exists as part of Boston University (BU) and works within the English Department of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School. As a subsidiary of BU, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre abides by its anti-discrimination policies, procedures, and commitments. Resources in this area have gotten exponentially more robust and easy to access in the past few years, especially with the establishment of Ibram X. Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research at BU.

Like many theaters, BPT worked throughout 2020 to reflect on our past and present connections to white supremacy and other forms of oppression, and what steps we might take towards becoming an antiracist organization. Many phases of this work, including a list of Commitments to Antiracism and associated action steps, made in November 2020, can be viewed below. We approach this work with humility, knowing that BPT as an organization, and each of us as individuals, have participated in and benefited from oppressive systems and structures. We’re committed to unlearning this conditioning, and to evolving our processes as we learn and grow. We encourage feedback and have created a Google form for this purpose where anyone may offer us feedback and make requests anonymously or with attribution, as they wish.

Currently, under new leadership, BPT is continuing this work of reflecting on and evolving our practices to be just, equitable, compassionate, and transparent. Our current leadership team comes to BPT with enormous knowledge and lived experience in this work. Artistic Director Megan Sandberg-Zakian has previously worked as an Associate at ALJP Consulting, an all-BIPOC executive search firm dedicated to equitable recruitment and hiring practices in the arts, and is a co-founder of Maia Directors, a consultancy supporting artists and organizations engaging with stories from the Middle East and beyond. Head of Playwriting Nathan Alan Davis is an award-winning writer known for creating profoundly intersectional work with a unique collision of history and poetry. The Whiting Award selection committee described Davis’ “uncanny gift for allegory and language, boiling down the large narratives of the African-American past to the scale of individuals wrestling to express themselves.”

To date, many of the 2020 action steps have been implemented, including: bystander training and transgender inclusion training for staff, the inclusion of fairly compensated cultural consultants on all shows that request/require this support (three of five shows in our 2022-2023 season), land acknowledgements at all performances and at the start of each rehearsal process, multiple revisions of Boston Theater Marathon (BTM) submission guidelines through an equity lens, inclusion of BIPOC readers in all rounds of BTM play selection, substantial gains toward pay equity for artists, the elimination of “10 out of 12” technical rehearsals, and affinity nights for productions as thematically appropriate in the 2022-23 Season (i.e. “Pride Night,” “Southeast Asia Night”) to offer specific audiences identified by the playwright the opportunity to view a play in community. Additionally, we have implemented feedback surveys and After Action Reviews for each production and program to identify the impact of our efforts and where we can do better, and are engaged in the process of robust data collection across our programming in order to more accurately assess who we are serving and how well.

Most importantly, after changes to recruitment strategy and approach, the talented incoming cohort of playwrights in 2022 is majority-BIPOC. In summer 2023, BPT will begin the next phase of this work, formally reviewing our progress on the 2020 commitments and creating a roadmap going forward.

Last updated: 12/20/2022