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Lin-Manuel Miranda, Viola Davis among 300 theater artists to sign letter to ‘White American Theater,’ decrying racism

The letter was signed by over 300 theater artists that are black, Indigenous or people of color, and is a response to nationwide protests over racial injustice

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Lin-Manuel Miranda arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Miranda’s hit musical “Hamilton” will play at Salt Lake’s Eccles Theater from April 11-May 6.

Lin-Manuel Miranda arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Miranda is one of over 300 theater artists that signed an open letter to “White American Theater,” calling for change amid claims of systemic racism in the theater industry.

Jordan Strauss, Invision

A group of over 300 theater artists that are black, Indigenous or people of color signed an open letteron Monday that shared their experiences of racial injustice and called for change.

The letter, which was addressed to“White American Theater,”was signed by Pulitzer Prize-winners Lin-Manuel Miranda and Lynn Notage, as well as stars like Viola Davis and Sandra Oh, and Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang, who is also the chair of the American Theatre Wing, according to the New York Times.

“We have watched you amplify our voices when we are heralded by the press, but refuse to defend our aesthetic when we are not, allowing our livelihoods to be destroyed by a monolithic and racist critical culture,” the letter reads. “We see you.”

The letter is a response to the nationwide protests and unrest that have followed the death of George Floyd.

“We all recognize that while our country is full of protests against racial injustice, we must also protest it in our own field,” reads the about statement on the website of “We See You,” where the letter was published. “We are demanding a more equitable and safe space for all BIPOC communities in our nation and inside of the American Theatre.”

The letter outlines a number of different ways in which it claims that people of color are suppressed and treated unjustly in the theater industry, according to the New York Times. That includes programming that is “written, directed, cast, choreographed, designed, acted, dramaturged and produced by your rosters of white theatermakers for white audiences,” the letter says.

Of all Broadway and off-Broadway shows, 86.8% were from white playwrights and 87.1% were from white directors, a 2019 study from the Asian American Performers Action Coalition found, according to The Guardian.

“We have watched you use our BIPOC faces on your brochures, asking us to politely shuffle at your galas, talkbacks, panels, board meetings and donor dinners, in rooms full of white faces, without being willing to defend the sanctity of our bodies beyond the stages you make us jump through hoops to be considered for,” the letter reads.

Attached to the letter is a Change.org petition that had been signed by over 40,000 people as of Tuesday.

“We stand on this ground as BIPOC theatremakers, multi-generational, at varied stages in our careers, but fiercely in love with the Theatre. Too much to continue it under abuse,” reads the statement that accompanies the petition. “We will wrap the least privileged among us in protection, and fearlessly share our many truths.”