As artists, we must never forget our humanity and the worth and dignity of every person. And we must recommit to upholding the values of diversity, equality, and inclusion and using our art forms not only to delight and inspire, but also to promote empathy, social justice, and anti-racism.
— Giulio Ongaro, dean, College of Performing Arts
The administration, faculty, staff and students of the College of Performing Arts (CoPA) stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, with our Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) faculty, staff and students, and with all who have experienced racism and all forms of inequity and injustice. This year, we dedicate our performances to awareness and have developed the Conscious Speaker Series to celebrate the talent of BIPOC artists, allowing the Chapman community to hear and learn from diverse perspectives. This new platform is a result of extensive, college-wide discussions, town halls and meetings involving faculty, staff, and students working together, and will include workshops and master classes with BIPOC artists, who will also address issues they faced in the performing arts world and discuss ways to make our field more inclusive and diverse.
Conscious Speaker Series Fall Semester
Our commitment to broadening the diversity of CoPA’s curriculum goes even further, as each department in the college has focused on how to build additional relevant topics into their courses, and enhance programming, guest speaker selections and faculty diversity.
Department of Dance
Our dance faculty have devised a year-long activism theme reflected in the department’s concerts and curriculum. Throughout the fall, dance faculty are also featured in several virtual events, hosted by Musco Center for the Arts in their @TheMusco series, that focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
- Ever a Dancer: Theatrical Dance and Equity (Wilson Mendieta)
- Ever a Dancer: Representation in Ballet and Beyond (Brynn Shiovitz)
- Ever a Dancer: Tap Dancing Diaspora (Brandee Lara)
- Ever a Dancer: Complexions Contemporary Ballet with Desmond Richardson and Ido Tadmor
- Ever a Dancer: Citizen Artistry with Donald Byrd
Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music
Beginning with the 2020–21 season, the music conservatory is programming concerts that highlight BIPOC composers. The faculty have also enhanced the music history curriculum to reflect a global, inclusive, and diverse curriculum that comprises a broader representation of artists. Additionally, a new rotating-topics course that includes a deep dive into areas such as music, politics, and social movement; music and gender; or music, race and place in the U.S. will now be offered annually. Faculty and alumni of the conservatory will also be featured in the @TheMusco series this semester.
- Tenor Ashley Faatoalia (’06) is featured in a virtual performance, accompanied by Professor Louise Thomas, as part of Los Angeles Opera’s At Home recital series in collaboration with Musco Center
- Professor Sean Heim takes part in a conversation on Blues Roots and Diaspora, together with Professor Paul Apodaca (Wilkinson College)
Department of Theatre
This year, the Department of Theatre brings a season focused on the theme “Home” that will further the conversation on DEI, replacing the originally planned Tennessee Williams play The Glass Menagerie with a devised piece about the BIPOC and BLM movements. The new production, #Equality, is headed by award-winning director Oanh Nguyen. Under Nguyen’s artistic guidance this student-devised production explores and shares personal stories and experiences within the context of the global spotlight on racial justice and DEI. Later this season, the department presents Home Unchained: A Night of Devised Theatre by Black playwright and Chapman faculty member Tamiko Washington. Theatre faculty are also making an intentional effort to include more playwrights of color in the literary criticism courses and acting curriculum, and BIPOC speakers are engaged for the TH 497 The Business of Acting class.
“Collaboration is a hallmark of the performing arts and we will continue to encourage input from our students to make our course offerings and performances more inclusive and meaningful,” says Giulio Ongaro, dean of the college. “CoPA is committed to using its platform to advance equity and inclusion, and must include a collaborative, continual assessment of our actions,” he concludes, “We must continue to listen and explore ways to make sure we do not repeat the mistakes of the past and we foster justice and equality for all.”
Department of Dance Chair Julianne O’Brien, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Louise Thomas, and Department of Theatre Chair John Benitz contributed to this article.