Have you missed hanging out with your theatre friends? Is there an emptiness that used to be filled with gossiping over cocktails, or deep dives on theatre? I have great news for you then! The Old Globe‘s new podcast COCKTAILS WITH THE CANON and its two fun, charismatic, and incredibly smart co-hosts Lamar Perry and Danielle Mages Amato are your new best theatre friends. I had a chance to chat with them both about this new podcast, the topics they cover, and why they wanted to create a podcast that invited imagination to collectively dream of what the future holds for American Theatre.
Lamar Perry is an Associate Producer at The Globe, which means he serves as lead line producer for stage and virtual productions. Along with working on this podcast, Lamar also wrote and produced the Globe’s first podcast “Gather Round!” as well as the inaugural “An Evening with the San Diego Black Artist Collective” in 2020. Danielle Mages Amato is the Globe’s Literary Manager and Dramaturg, which means she deals with scripts of all kinds; proposing plays for seasons, submissions, translations, cataloging, and more. As a Dramaturg Danielle says she’s “sort of in-house historian, researcher, writer, and critic” and applies those skills as needed from productions, to discussions, to exhibits, and anywhere in between.
Inspired by their own friendship, the podcast was created with the intent to have informal, fun, and in-depth conversations exploring the Western canon. Discussing its creation, how it can be shaped now and in the future, and ultimately how it can be expanded and accessible to all? In this first season, they talk to playwrights about their personal experiences, dreams, and hopes for the future. As Lamar explains, “I really wanted us to lead with friendship this first season.”
Talking the cue from their own friendship, Lamar and Danielle wanted to create that same feeling of openness and safety with their artists and listeners. Danielle says that setting the stage for the conversation is a key component.
“I think that when I first heard or talked about community agreements I thought of them as something for like a university, or even like a classroom, but I think one of the things we’ve done is set a kind of community agreement just between us and a guest. It’s really about coming together as a very tiny group of people who are going to have a conversation and making agreements that set the terms of discussion, is what’s important to us and this conversation.”
For as difficult as that may sound, Lamar says that it all starts with the goal of making voices heard to build a better theatre community and industry.
“I think, just in general as we’re navigating through this period of social restorative justice and the American Theatre, it’s really important to understand that no one person is like the proprietor of ‘right.’
We talk about equity, diversity of inclusive conclusion, and what we’re ultimately trying to get to is a world where everyone has a seat at the table. As complicated as this work is it’s actually also very simple; it’s just about putting people first. What do you need? What do you want? Where can we meet each other, where, how can we agree to disagree?”
Lamar says his previous podcast for The Globe, “Gather Round”, a holiday podcast featuring community members from varying cultures and traditions talking about their memories and holiday practices, was an important learning opportunity on how to set the parameters for a successful conversation.
“Honestly, I don’t think that Cocktails would be what it is if I hadn’t done ‘Gather Round’ first. It was a holiday podcast that I co-hosted with Laura Zablit from the Globe Arts Engagement Department. It was a series of interviews with community members, so when you talk about community agreements and setting safe space, you know we’re having conversations with folks that don’t explicitly work within the American Theatre, and where English is not always necessarily their first language. There’s so much work that you have to do to set a space that is safe and equitable for that community and made moving into COCKTAILS WITH THE CANON made all that practice second nature.”
This season the guest focus is on playwrights and their experiences in creating within the theatre industry. The first episode guest Lauren Yee, and future podcasts will include the podcast will continue with playwrights Dave Harris, Donja R. Love, Ryan Victor Pierce or “Opalanietet”, Whitney White, and Karen Zacarías. With so many playwrights they had to be strategic about how they picked guests for this first season.
“We have had some of these conversations before so we knew they would be excited to talk about this topic” Danielle explains. “They’re also fun to talk to, they’re all great conversationalists, they’re all people whose work is really interesting and they all have strong opinions on these topics.”
“We start with people that we know that we love because, you know, we’re talking about safety,” Lamar adds. “It always helps to start with people that you have shared language and experience and relationship with because you have an entry point. I think we also had a very strategic conversation about making sure that a wide swath of communities in the American Theatre are represented.”
If you are a director or theatre artist that interested in participating in these conversations Lamar and Danielle want to hear from you! It may be their first season but they are already thinking about their next season of guests. You can find The Old Globe on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also follow Lamar on Instagram and Twitter, and Danielle on Instagram and Twitter.
Don’t be shy, check out your new theatre BFFs, Lamar and Danielle in their podcast COCKTAILS WITH THE CANON. It is a fun, energetic, and engaging podcast that uses curiosity, conversation, and cocktails to imagine how to make the theatre world a better and more inclusive place.
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