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Canada Black performers call out Vancouver TheatreSports for racism, misogyny

03:41  06 june  2020
03:41  06 june  2020 Source:   globalnews.ca

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Vancouver TheatreSports – 1502 Duranleau St., Vancouver , British Columbia V6H 3S4 – rated 4.8 based on 216 reviews "This place brings me so much joy! See more of Vancouver TheatreSports on Facebook.

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Justin Ellis et al. smiling for the camera: Ashlee Ferral and Tunji Taylor-Lewis are speaking out about their experience with Vancouver TheatreSports. © Global News Ashlee Ferral and Tunji Taylor-Lewis are speaking out about their experience with Vancouver TheatreSports.

Two performers are accusing Vancouver TheatreSports of racism and misogyny based on their experience with the improv group.

Comedian Ashlee Ferral says she decided to speak out after the company posted a "Blackout Tuesday" image on social media in solidarity with the George Floyd protests around the world.

"I saw that post and I was just like, 'How dare you?'" Ferral said.

Calling the post "incredibly hypocritical," Ferral told Global News that women and people of colour at Vancouver TheatreSports routinely face a glass ceiling that prevents them from moving up in the organization.

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"There's a group of performers there who are also in charge," Ferral said.

"So for them, they want to keep the stage all white, all male and, frankly, Boomer age, because they've been with the company for 30 years and they don't want to lose their spot."

Ferral said when she first started taking classes there, she was told she was only part of their rookie league because she was Black and female.

"They want you to be on stage to be like, 'Look how cool I am, I have a Black friend,' but they don't want you to come up and be the main character."

Performer Tunji Taylor-Lewis said his initial experience at TheatreSports was positive but he left the group because he felt he was never going to make it to the main stage.

"I could basically see the writing on the wall," he said. "There was nothing that I was being told, as far as the artistic team, that encouraged me to let me know that I was making my way up. I was always being told that there was no room."

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Vancouver TheatreSports , Vancouver , BC. 10,188 likes · 42 talking about this. Began in 1980, VTSL is now Vancouver 's #1 improv comedy company & based out Vancouver TheatreSports (VTS) brand of improvisation is a highly theatrical fusion of the dramatic e

Vancouver TheatreSports – 1502 Duranleau St., Vancouver , British Columbia V6H 3S4 – rated 4.8 based on 264 reviews " Vancouver is so lucky to be home to See more of Vancouver TheatreSports on Facebook. Vancouver Casting Call .

In a statement to Global News, Vancouver TheatreSports said diversity and inclusion have been priorities for years, but their initiatives have not resulted in diversity "reaching our main stage as quickly as we would have liked."

The company said it's working on a plan to address the problem right away and in the long term.

"VTS is committed to creating an environment that is culturally diverse and inclusive of all ethnic backgrounds, race, gender, sexual orientation, and abilities," the statement said.

"We will continue to listen to and respect all the feedback and voices from the community and within our organization."

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Ferral said the sentiment rings hollow as issues of diversity have been raised with senior staff in the past, but were never fully addressed by TheatreSports leadership.

Taylor-Lewis said the organization had put a five-year diversity plan in place.

"That was four years ago," he said. "And at this point, their main-stage ensemble is overwhelmingly white."

Ferral said it's important for audiences to ask questions about diversity.

"When you go to any show, if you see a cast and it's 100-per-cent white, that was a choice," she said.

"It's not an accident. It's never an accident."


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