In the pioneering spirit of its namesake, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center discovers, develops, and empowers new work, new voices, and creative risk-taking. By introducing innovative artists, essential to broadening the national cultural landscape, the O’Neill serves as the Launchpad of the American Theater.
DISCOVERY: We commit to the discovery of new and daring voices, vital to the future of American theater, through rigorous and direct outreach in our open submission process, and the curation of our artistic programs.
DIVERSITY: Our community strives to honor the experiences, abilities, heritage, and expression of all artists, faculty, students, and staff. Within our artistry and administration, we pledge to empower a full range of individual identities.
COLLABORATION: We endeavor to provide time and space for artistic collisions, bold risk-taking, and deep reflection by all of our artists.
RISK. FAIL. RISK AGAIN: These words ring out from every rehearsal room, performance space, classroom, office, and individual on the O’Neill’s campus. We encourage artistic impulse and exploration of the exchange between art and audience.
EDUCATION: To be in the theater is to be a student for life. Whether one comes to the O’Neill early or the midst of their career, we work to offer a radically accepting space of mentorship, collaboration, and camaraderie.
COMMUNITY: The O’Neill’s legacy and artistry relies upon its engagement with the robust and vibrant local audiences. We create spaces and programming in support of one another, the Waterford community, and the American theater.
The O’Neill gratefully acknowledges that its campus sits on land stewarded and cared for by the Mohegan, Mashantucket Pequot, Eastern Pequot, and Nehantic tribes for generations. We honor and respect these nations, peoples, and their enduring relationship to this land.
HATE HAS NO BUSINESS HERE.
We stand with BLACK LIVES MATTER.
We respect WOMEN.
We stand with our LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY MEMBERS.
We stand with IMMIGRANTS and REFUGEES.
We stand with INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES.
We celebrate PEOPLE OF ALL FAITHS.
We stand with OUR COMMUNITY.
ALL ARE WELCOME.
equity, diversity, & inclusion
The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center is committed to diversifying the future of the American theater through the stories we tell, the artists telling those stories, the staff supporting our work, and the audiences in our theaters. The O’Neill strives to cultivate a healthy and diverse community that recognizes the value of each individual and helps foster safety, civility, and respect for all people. All participants and employees in any O’Neill program, including students, staff, faculty, guests, and visitors, have the right to be free from racial, sexual and gender-based discrimination, harassment, and violence and all other forms of prohibited conduct.
anti-racist action plan
Phase One. Published 6/5/20
“I define an antiracist as someone who is expressing an antiracist idea or supporting an antiracist policy with their actions, and I define an antiracist idea as any idea that says the racial groups are equal.” - Ibram X. Kendi author of How To Be An Anti-Racist.
As a prominent theatrical organization that has benefited for many years from the work and lives of Black artists, Indigenous artists, and artists of color, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center recognizes that we have not fully embodied the promise of our institution—equilateral support for all artists. Lloyd Richards, the first and longest-serving Artistic Director of the National Playwrights Conference (1968-1999), set the framework to champion the voices of some of the most influential Black writers in the American theater. The O’Neill continues to and always will champion Black artists, but we can and must do better in equilateral support for their work and lives. Staff, students, artists, and interns who committed their time and lived experiences to the O’Neill have not been adequately served or supported by our organization.
The O’Neill recognizes that as a currently white-led organization, we have not done enough. We sincerely apologize. We are deeply grateful to the O’Neill community members who have brought this to our attention and continue to share their experiences with us. To that end, we are pressing forward to devise and implement an Anti-Racist Action Plan. The following is one of many continual phases to recognize and support our Black Artists, artists of color, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
We are asking and encouraging all staff members, board members, National Theater Institute faculty, students, and members of the O’Neill community to review the following resources. These resources, though not an exhaustive list, define and illuminate anti-racist practices, and provide crucial context for the current moment. We encourage you to purchase these books from local, Black-owned bookstores, and for any allies who may be familiar with these texts to re-engage.
So you want to talk about race? by Ijeoma Oluo
How To Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo
Native Lives Matter compiled by the Lakota People’s Law Project
1619 Project collective authors from The New York Times Magazine
We are continuing staff training, specifically around anti-racism, microaggressions, and the long reach of racism today in America and in the theater. Mandatory training sessions have been scheduled and will now be optional for our Black staff and staff of color.
O’Neill Alumni & Staff Affinity Group
We are supporting the O’Neill’s affinity group for persons of color, formed in 2019. This group will continue to support all artists, staff, and students of color. This group will also hold further alumni gatherings to be announced at a later date.
The O’Neill is matching all personal donations made by its staff to any verified organization working to end police brutality, systematic oppression, institutional racism, white supremacy, and/or voter suppression, as well as bailout funds and support for protestors, with a donation of equal value to Black Lives Matter. Gifts made by staff throughout May, June, July, and August 2020 will be matched, and are supported entirely from earned revenue sources.
Furthermore, the O’Neill is making this matching gifts program a permanent benefit to its year-round staff and will expand the pool of organizations who will receive matched funds in the Fall of 2020.
Here are some organizations our staff has already supported. We encourage all to take the time to learn more about these causes.
We are engaging our local community by adding additional public programming to our 2020 season that amplifies Black artists whose life and work were impacted by their time in Waterford. These conversations will be announced shortly.
We are continuing to make the Microaggressions & Implicit Biases class a core part of our curriculum. We are committed to expanding this training for faculty. We will continue to bring in a faculty that reflects the variety of voices in this country and are committed to decolonizing our curriculum. We will continue to bring our students to theaters that feature Black work with Black artists, seek out more opportunities to engage with those artists, and attend theaters that are producing this work.
We continue to prioritize raising major NTI scholarship endowment funds, in partnership with the Miranda Family Fund, for students of color. The diversity of stories told on stage must reflect the makeup of the nation. This starts with our national training program.
We recognize that a diversity of voices should be represented at all levels of the organization, and that includes the governing body of the O’Neill. As such, we have set a goal to dramatically and permanently increase the diversity of our Board of Trustees over the next five years with members who identify as Black, Indigenous, or as a person of color. We aim to bring on five new BIPOC board members in the next 12 months.
We welcome and embrace feedback and we will continue to change in response. Please tell us how we can support you as we reflect, amplify, activate, organize, and mobilize. All are welcome to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.