From the Playwright: Dominque Morisseau’s Rules of Engagement

  1. You are allowed to laugh audibly.
  2. You are allowed to have audible moments of reaction and response.
  3. My work requires a few “um hmms” and “uhn uhnns” should you need to use them. Just maybe in moderation. Only when you really need to vocalize.
  4. This can be church for some of us, and testifying is allowed.
  5. This is also live theatre and the actors need you to engage with them, not distract them or thwart their performance.
  6. Please be an audience member that joins with others and allows a bit of breathing room. Exhale together. Laugh together. Say “amen” should you need to.
  7. This is community. Let’s go.

Microaggression: Brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.

Pipeline playwright, Dominique Morisseau, lists some of the microaggressions she has personally experienced in the theatre:

“That time at a prestigious theatre festival when black women were responding exactly how I want them to respond to my play—loudly and expressively and ‘ummm hmm’-ing—and an older white patron approached them at intermission and said: ‘Can you enjoy the play a little quieter, please?’

That time my play was being performed at a Tony award- winning regional theatre and older white patrons saw me coming to my reserved seat (that they were sitting in), and refused to get up from that seat until an usher assured them that I was the playwright.

That time my parents were coming to see my first Equity production at a beloved regional theatre, and again, older white patrons refused to believe that the seats they had taken were actually reserved for people that looked like my parents.

[Behavior like this] is harmful. It further marginalizes audiences of color and tells them they are not fully welcome in the theatre, except by permission of the white audience. It tells the upper-middle-class white audience that theatre is their home first and the rest of us are just guests.”