A diverse group of five people in professional attire are pictured from below as they hold out their fingers in V shapes and touch them together to form a star.
A diverse group of five people in professional attire are pictured from below as they hold out their fingers in V shapes and touch them together to form a star.
Photo by pxhere, Creative Commons License

This is a question I’ve been asked often both as a consultant and as a professional colleague.

I know that some people want to hear concrete, easy-to-implement answers, like “Use this program designed by someone who’s never set foot in your organization,” “Advertise here,” or “Do these three harm-reduction protocols that assume to know what harm you’re causing and assume anything they haven’t foreseen is irrelevant,” but, until you know why you’re having trouble attracting diverse applicants and retaining the diverse staff you hire, it’s all guesswork.

The real answer is: ASK THEM. Believe them when they tell you what’s…


A teenage Black girl with long, thin braids laughs as she stands against a white background. She wears a black Nike cropped running tank.
A teenage Black girl with long, thin braids laughs as she stands against a white background. She wears a black Nike cropped running tank.
Andraya Yearwood found herself at the center of a controversy when cis female runners sued her and another girl to stop them from running in high school track meets. (Photo: Jesse Ditmar)

There’s a major debate happening around transgender girls. It’s actually been going on for years, but its current popularity among right-wing extremists (like Marjorie Taylor Greene) and high-profile anti-trans “feminists” (like JK Rowling) has brought the discussion into the mainstream. While an anti-LGBTQ stance is expected from the far right, many people are surprised to learn of the existence of TERFs — trans-exclusionary radical feminists. …


Small child with dark skin and curly black hair wears a face mask while being carried by an adult. The child looks over the adult’s shoulder, clinging to the adult, eyes wide.
Small child with dark skin and curly black hair wears a face mask while being carried by an adult. The child looks over the adult’s shoulder, clinging to the adult, eyes wide.
Photo by Xavier Donat. Creative Commons License.

There’s been a flurry of activity nationwide about the need to reopen school buildings and get back to in-person instruction. No one wants to get back to in-person learning more than teachers! Teaching on Zoom is much more difficult, and an all-online K-12 curriculum has been wickedly difficult to create on the fly, not to mention extremely time consuming. But educators aren’t enthusiastic about this sudden push for in-person instruction because we want to ensure that it will be safe for teachers, students, and the families who are at risk of contracting anything brought home.

The safety guidelines touted as…


I invited actor and playwright Cameron McNary to write a guest blog about being a theatremaker who’s on the Autism Spectrum. I wish I had read this piece 20 years ago. Every theatremaker should read this piece! I learned so much I wish I could apply retroactively to my work.

A man with dark hair & pale skin sits backwards on a chair on a dark room, lit dramatically from above.
A man with dark hair & pale skin sits backwards on a chair on a dark room, lit dramatically from above.
Cameron McNary. Photo by David Hobby.

ACTING WITH AUTISM

I can remember the moment I realized that Henry Higgins (the Pygmalion one, not so much the My Fair Lady One) was on the Autism Spectrum.

I don’t mean the kinda-sorta, nonspecific “Autismishness” that, say, Sheldon Cooper got because The Big Bang Theory’s writers didn’t want to…


Disabled people need people who live in privileged bodies to do better.

People with disabilities make up a significant percentage of the population — by some measures, a full quarter — and yet, despite aggressive, ongoing ableism, we are almost always left out of discussions of diversity and equity in theatre & film. We’re rarely hired and our stories are rarely told — when they are, they’re almost always told by abled people, for abled people, with abled people. Abled people are centered in nearly everything about us.

Headshot of a young woman with curly dark hair, olive skin & a wide smile wearing red lipstick & a red top.
Headshot of a young woman with curly dark hair, olive skin & a wide smile wearing red lipstick & a red top.
Throughout this post, I’ve included pictures and information about disabled actors, directors, writers, producers, & designers. Meet actor Melissa Salguero. Melissa is represented by Gail Williamson at KMR.

The centering of abled people routinely takes the form of ableist tropes…


We are a luxury good. And that? That’s not a compliment. It’s a calamity.

Chris Quintos in The Chalk Boy by Joshua Conkel at my theatre, Impact Theatre. Photo by Cheshire Isaacs.

Theatre is a shared artistic experience, both in its creation process and in its performance. In human history this shared artistic experience has been framed in a multitude of ways — as ritual, as religious observance, as entertainment, as propaganda, as resistance. And while it has been — and will continue to be — all these things in modern America, what it is primarily for us is a commodity. Framing theatre as a commodity is at the root of every major problem we have.

In 1954…


I’m giving a workshop in worldbuilding for playwrights! Come play with me!

Cartoon drawing of Melissa, a white woman with a red bob & black-framed glasses, wearing a fall-themed shirtwaist dress.
Cartoon drawing of Melissa, a white woman with a red bob & black-framed glasses, wearing a fall-themed shirtwaist dress.
4Art by Asia Ellington! I only own this dress in my dreams.

Worldbuilding isn’t something we talk about often in playwriting and screenwriting. It’s more common to writers of fictional prose, especially SF/F writers. Careful attention to worldbuilding, however, can level up your scripts significantly. Conversely, its lack can sink a piece, distancing or even confusing your audience.

When people give examples of excellent worldbuilding, they’re always rich, deeply crafted fantasy scapes like the Lord of the Rings films, NK Jemisin’s fiction, or Game of Thrones. When you ask people about worldbuilding in playwriting, people will offer high concept musicals…


I have to admit I’m writing this piece as much for myself as I am for you. As a card-carrying Gen Xer, I’m a firm believer in KNOWLEDGE IS POWER! The more we know about Trump’s election lawsuits and claims of fraud, the easier it will be to see through his nonsense.

First, let’s talk about Kayleigh’s binders. The woman who draws a taxpayer-funded salary to perform the duties of the White House press secretary has instead been wasting her time at work doing personal favors for one Donald J. Trump. You may have seen her waving around binders…


Everything is in flux, our future is uncertain, and we’ve never been more important.

Delacriox’s “Liberty Leading the People” with “The Arts” on her flag and “Remember Who You Are” below
Delacriox’s “Liberty Leading the People” with “The Arts” on her flag and “Remember Who You Are” below

Are we really that important?

The arts are always important, but they’re critical during cultural inflection points, and right now, the US is in a doozy. The GOP slide into authoritarianism is unraveling our democracy, emboldening racists, and pushing the horrific stance that everyone but the GOP base are “the enemy,” and, in the words of Eric Trump, “not even people.”

Republicans have radically shifted their approach to the problems facing our nation.

In the past, we discussed problems in terms of: “What do we do…


Republicans begin the scramble to distance themselves from the sinking failboat that is Donald Trump.

I’ve long said that GOP politicians will stand by Trump, no matter how criminal, dangerous, or simply bizarre his behavior is, until the exact second he becomes a political liability. Well, we’re two weeks away from the election, and Republican after Republican — especially Congressional Republicans in tight races — have been tentatively testing the waters of dissent with a few mild, safe criticisms for weeks. Now they’re either arranging for their “private dissent” to be leaked or are publicly stating that they were secretly…

Bitter Gertrude

PhD, D&D DM, Disabled Cyborg, lifelong educator & theatremaker now working as a JEDI consultant (justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion).

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