Inclusivity taking center stage for 2 big Triangle arts organizations

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Two names in the Triangle arts industry are teaming up together to focus on inclusivity as well as generating local talent.

Last year was a year full of social awakening and so far, 2021 has been about action for Raleigh Little Theater and the Ink Project. The two organizations partnered together, bringing a new playwriting program to the community, hoping to fill a need.

“One of the things we heard from the community was all plays that feature BIPOC characters are about trauma and where are the plays celebrating life?” said Patrick Torres, the artistic director of Raleigh Little Theater.

The New Voices Program is a 10-session writing intensive for those who identify within the BIPOC (black, indigenous, or people of color) or LGBTQIA+ community.

Rimsha Afzal, the artistic director and founder of the Ink Project knows how frustrating it can be to see people play the same role repeatedly.

“As an actor, a lot of the roles I’m asked to do happen to be, for instance, the wife of an alleged terrorist or a refugee, and those narratives are beautiful and they’re needed to tell but that was the only thing I was being asked to do,” said Afzal.

The program is completely free. Right now, eight students are participating, and they’re all paid a stipend thanks to a sponsorship from BlueCross BlueShield.

Afzal says the hope for the future is to continue the program and ultimately change the way theater depicts this specific community of people by letting them tell the stories they want to see.

“The way that we improve that is by starting from the beginning and giving people the opportunity to write about whatever they want,” said Afzal.

A virtual showcase is taking place on June 13. Raleigh Little Theater will livestream the show on its Facebook page.

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