INCLUSION – DIVERSITY – DECOLONIZATION – EQUITY – ACCESS – ACTION
(SIR’s IDDEAA PLAN)
Shakespeare in the Ruins (SIR), located on Treaty 1 Territory, is the only professional theatre company in Manitoba dedicated to producing and revitalizing works from the classical canon. Every Spring, we present our signature promenade style of theatre under the prairie sky at the Trappist Monastery Provincial Heritage Park, (“The Ruins”), in the historic Métis community of St. Norbert.
In understanding the colonial history of this place that we love, live, and work on, we acknowledge that English theatre has been used as a purposeful and unconscious tool to exclude. We strive to actualize our belief that the classical canon and in particular the works of William Shakespeare can be used as tools for social mobilization and community building.
To that end, we seek to challenge all systems in our industry and theatre practice that alienate Indigenous, Black, Brown and other People of Colour (IBPOC), people with disabilities, 2SLGBTQ+ peoples and other marginalized people and communities.
With the help and gracious guidance of artists and local community members we have created an evolving series of initiatives and commitments that aim to build a future of transparency, cultural awareness, and collaboration in creating a new world of Classical theatre at SIR.
The following is a living document that outlines our plan to ensure Inclusion, Diversity, Decolonization, Equity, Access, and Action in all our artistic and professional interactions and endeavours.
Shakespeare in the Ruins exists to spotlight the enduring power of classical theatre through the contemporary human experience.
Shakespeare in the Ruins is a theatre company dedicated to:
- The production of plays from the classical canon, with a special focus on Shakespeare;
- The creation, development, and presentation of Shakespeare-adjacent new work;
- The use of environmental and site-specific staging in the production of plays;
- Equitable casting that reflects Manitoba’s diverse population;
- Creating opportunities for the development and growth of theatre professionals in Manitoba and engaging with and enhancing our community.
SIR believes in the power of classical theatre to transform people and communities. As the only professional theatre company in Manitoba dedicated to producing Shakespeare’s work, we recognize our unique role in unearthing and revitalizing texts that otherwise might be forgotten. We are dedicated to the exploration of classical works through a contemporary lens, and with deep awareness of our current place in the world. SIR approaches the classical canon in a way that speaks to the present and is therefore alive – here and now.
SIR’s treatment and understanding of the ‘Classical canon’ is one of expansion and inclusion. We seek to challenge and redefine assumptions of what constitutes Classical theatre in the 21st century. Moving beyond the western tradition, SIR aims to include plays from the Spanish Golden Age, from Latinx, Indigenous, and Queer experiences, and from other underrepresented communities and cultures that have been creating dramatic storytelling and literature since even before Shakespeare’s time.
The words “equity”, “decolonization”, “inclusion”, “accessibility” and others we use in this plan are in common use, however they are not always universally understood. We believe common language facilitates productive conversations and collaborations and therefor propose these definitions as adopted by SIR. We recognize that there are other meanings within other communities and settings and that meanings will evolve over time.
INCLUSION: SIR is committed to fostering and maintaining an environment of inclusion that our artists, staff, and audience can count on. Inclusion in this context means having a strong sense of belonging, feeling welcome and valued, and having a sense of citizenship. It also includes the capacity to comfortably engage with and succeed in a given institution, project, program, or space. Inclusion calls for recognizing, reducing, and ultimately removing barriers to access and participation created by social disadvantage or oppression, and can result in the reimagination and reconfiguration of an institution, program, project, or space.
DIVERSITY: SIR is committed to ensuring that artists and members of Winnipeg’s community in its entirety know that there is space earmarked for them within our theatre and artform. The principle of Diversity requires maintaining a safe environment for all differences within any collection of people as it relates to race, Indigeneity, class, sexuality, gender, ability, ethnicity, and religion. Knowledge and understanding of historical and contemporary experiences of colonization, oppression and exclusion, as well as recognizing and responding to systemic and institutionalized discrimination, are essential to fostering a diversity-rich environment.
DECOLONIZATION & INDIGENIZATION: SIR is committed to the process of Decolonization & Indigenization. In this context Decolonization is understood as a long-term process involving the bureaucratic, cultural, linguistic and psychological divesting of colonial power within the organization. Indigenization simply means to make Indigenous or include Indigeneity. As an organization committed to Indigenization we recognize the validity of Indigenous worldviews, knowledge, storytelling traditions, and perspectives and create opportunities for Indigeneity to be expressed in and through our organization.
EQUITY: SIR is committed to the principle of Equity which ensures that everyone has access to the same opportunities. Equity recognizes that advantages and barriers exist and that we all come from diverse backgrounds. It begins by recognizing those imbalances and barriers and makes a commitment to addressing, correcting and dismantling them. Equitable outcomes often require differential accommodation and resource redistribution to achieve a level playing field among all individuals or to bring disparities into balance. SIR is committed to ensuring that historically excluded, and under-served people have the opportunity to grow, contribute, teach, and develop in our organization and on our stage.
ACCESSIBILITY: SIR is committed to removing barriers to access for People with Disabilities and other marginalized people and communities. The principle of Accessibility prioritizes investing in initiatives and ideas that allow all people to access and enjoy our performances. Further, we recognize that barriers to participation include institutional, physical, communication, attitudinal, cultural, and monetary barriers and we are committed to an ongoing and long-term process of reducing these barriers for our audiences, Board and staff.
These concepts – inclusion, diversity, decolonization, equity, and accessibility – are more than rhetoric; they are central to SIR’s vision. This plan aspires to integrate these foundational and actionable concepts into SIR’s inner workings to achieve specific goals over the next three years. Further, the IDDEAA Plan ensures we root these values and practices as fundamental to all areas of the Theatre.
PROGRAMMING & PRESENTATION: SIR will produce impactful and relevant productions. Both on stage and off, we will include and represent all Manitobans. We will be bold and innovative, and connect with other theatres and artists, locally and nationally. We will continue to cast actors and hire designers from historically excluded communities and identities. (Note: The years below mark when the action will begin, the reader should assume they continue in subsequent years.)
How and When:
- Provide stationary performances of promenade show as a part of commitment to accessibility. (2022)
- Provide relaxed performances, ASL interpretation and audio description for selected dates. (2022)
- Provide free accessible transit to the venue on Pay What You Can Tuesdays. (2022)
- Continue commitment to affordable tickets through Pay What You Can Tuesdays and discounted tickets for patrons under 30, members of the theatre industry, under-employed folks or people living on a fixed-income. (2022)
- Prioritize commissioning new works from IBPOC and 2SLGBTQ+ playwrights (2022)
- Connect with Indigenous theatre artists to develop new Shakespeare-adjacent work. (2023)
- Develop a visual story for neurodivergent people. (2023/2024)
EDUCATION: SIR will continue school tours (when possible) and present school preview performances at the Ruins. We will supplement performances with Shakespeare study guides that invite discussions on inclusion, diversity, decolonization, equity, and accessibility in the classroom. We will continue investment in Shakespeare in the Classroom (SITC) and Shakespeare in Stony Mountain (SISM).
How and When:
- Resume Shakespeare in Stony Mountain (2023)
- Develop new study guides that “interrogate” Shakespeare through a contemporary lens and invite discussions on inclusion, diversity, decolonization, equity, and accessibility through his work. (2024)
- Increase investment in Shakespeare in Action; free workshops for English and Drama students and teachers. (2024)
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: SIR will hire emerging local talent in all areas of the organization, with an emphasis on IBPOC candidates. We will provide free workshops for professional and emerging artists and offer mentorships that include ongoing career support and development opportunities. SIR will continue our work as an organization where artists and other theatre professionals can learn and advance their practice.
SIR recognizes that while diversity on stage has developed and improved over several years, there is an alarming lack of IBPOC in administrative, production and technical roles in Winnipeg. There is also an alarming lack of IBPOC representation among Directors. SIR intends to be a leader in seeing the faces behind the scenes become more representative of Manitoba’s diverse population over the next 5 to 10 years.
How and When:
- Re-launch online PWYC Shakespeare Clinic to coach emerging actors. (2023)
- Increase investment in PWYC workshops for local theatre professionals. (2023)
- Implement admin/production/technical mentorship program specifically for Indigenous, Black, Brown and other racialized Peoples. (2024)
- Implement Assistant Director mentorship program specifically for Indigenous, Black, Brown and other racialized Peoples. (2024)
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: SIR will partner with community-based artists to develop and deliver programming that is created for IBPOC youth. We will keep tickets affordable through Pay What You Can performances. We will continue investment in community classes. SIR will continue our pursuit of making a transformative difference in the lives of the people with whom we engage.
How and When:
- Increase investment in Community Classes through McNally Robinson. (2022)
- Invest funds in Indigenous led organizations as a part of our commitment to reparations. (2022)
- Implement audience surveys to assess Qualitative change. (2022)
- Seek funding for ROOTS, a community-based arts program created for IBPOC youth, and launch in 2023 if successful. (2022)
- Engage an Indigenous Cultural Consultant. (2024)
ORGANIZATIONAL HEALTH: SIR’s unique practice in the local and national theatre landscape, and our fresh artistic vision, principles and culture continues to help us build trusted partnerships and collaborations. SIR will continue to operate in a way that sustains and builds trust with donors, funders, collaborators, artists, board, and staff.
How and When:
- Continue investment in Decolonization, Anti-Racist, and Inclusion Training for Board and staff. (2022)
- Continue Board development prioritizing building strong reciprocal relationships with members from under-represented communities. (2022)
The above statement is further supported through SIR’s current strategic plan: