Ethics training for theatre artists: A manifesto | Intellect Skip to content
Ethical Dramaturgies
  • ISSN: 1757-1979
  • E-ISSN: 1757-1987


Professional theatre practice in the United States rests on a foundation of patriarchal, heteronormative, capitalist white supremacy. Of the many factors reifying theatre’s ties to racial and gender inequity, the theatre curriculum deployed by most American colleges and universities is perhaps one of the most consequential as it both upholds and replicates the profession’s oppressive structures by privileging training in craft over a more humanistic engagement with the discipline. If theatre curriculum actively challenged the profession’s oppressive foundations, and thereby produced artists who are prepared and committed to working for justice, then future generations might be able to change the profession from within the profession. I propose integrating ethics training into theatre curriculum as one way to initiate this process. This manifesto advocates for an ethics-driven theatre education and suggests that training in ethics will prompt students to consider the material consequences of their artistic choices and justify their decision-making using ethical theory. Ethical reasoning requires practice and the classroom is an ideal place for students to rehearse their use of ethics. Working through an ethical dilemma with classmates gives students the opportunity not only to see ethics as a social project, but also to devise anti-racist, feminist and queer-affirming approaches to artmaking. Training the next generation of theatre artists in ethics could lead to profound changes in the way we create and consume theatrical art in the future.


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