On November 9, SDCF proudly presented the Zelda Fichandler Award to director Tim Dang. Below are Mr. Dang’s remarks given at the awards event in Los Angeles.
Preparing for 2042: SeeChange
By Tim Dang
Thank you Sheldon [Epps] for those kind words. I am inspired by your leadership and courage in advancing the American Theatre with your direction at the Pasadena Playhouse. And thank you to the SDC Foundation for this recognition.
I’m am also honored to be in the company of such extraordinary colleagues: Juliette Carrillo, Chris Coleman, and Ruth Pe Palileo. Your passion and vision to make a difference in this world by using our art as a platform for change is extraordinary.
Our country and culture is experiencing extraordinary seismic shifts. The communities we serve, rooted in tradition for generations are now having to re-examine themselves and accept new traditions and norms. The Los Angeles theatre community is grappling with these shifts with robust and passionate dialogue about their future which in itself is compelling theatre. Whatever the outcome, it’ll make Los Angeles theatre better.
And we as directors, the ones with vision, are asked to do more than shape and clarify the story. We must make the story relevant to an audience whose cultural values are evolving. We are the guides to an America that is becoming majority minority. Where same-sex marriage and transgender rights have advanced faster than anyone imagined. Where the millennial generation is changing our definition of engagement. Where women are breaking down barriers and leading the way and will no doubt assume the highest office in the land…real soon.
We need to provide access points for our audience, to invite them into the story, to experience and become part of the story. We need to exhibit the intersections where our different lives can understand what others are going through. And we need to do it fast because life is happening faster than theater.
Sometime I feel like the American theater is behind film and TV.
What was Zelda Fichandler thinking when she dedicated her early career to the establishment of America’s regional theatre movement? That movement that all of have invested our lives in and that tens of thousands have been a part of for decades.
Had she all these seismic shifts in mind?
We channel Zelda or we tap our inner Zelda to advance her vision for a new generation. We look toward the woman whose leadership initiated this movement.
This is a quote from Zelda. “Theatre must be of its times, of its audiences and their concerns as well as, of course, of pressing interest to its artists.”
Many of you know that I am an advocate of a movement created at East West Players called 2042 SeeChange. “See” spelled S-E-E. It refers to the year that the US Census predicts when America will be majority minority. 2042 SeeChange includes an initiative called the 51% Preparedness Plan for the American Theater challenging theatres across the nation to create programs and policies to increase the employment of people of color, women and youth.
To you master storytellers and visionaries, we are the ones –in this room, in this union – who can make this change as quick and as bold as we want to. Let’s not just “see change,” let us “lead the change.”