A few weeks prior to the submission deadline for this volume of Theatre Symposium, the murder of George Floyd by officers of the Minneapolis Police Department sparked a movement for racial justice that reverberated at every level of US society. At predominantly and historically white academic institutions (including Theatre Symposium and its parent organization, the Southeastern Theatre Conference) leaders were compelled, as perhaps never before, to account for the role of systematic racism in the foundation and perpetuation of their organizations. While the present volume’s theme of “Theatre and Race” was announced in the waning days of 2019, the composition and editing of the issue’s essays were undertaken almost entirely within the transformed cultural and professional landscape of 2020. Throughout its twenty-nine years of publication, Theatre Symposium’s pages have included many excellent essays whose authors have deployed theories of race as an analytical framework, and (less often) treated BIPOC-centered art and artists as subject. The intent of the current editors in conceiving this issue was to center such subjects and theorizations, a goal that has since taken on a more widely recognized urgency.
Taken together, these twelve essays represent a wide range of scholarly responses to the theme of “theatre and race.” The fact that there is so much to say on the topic, from so many different perspectives, is a sign of how profoundly theatre practices have been—and continue to be—shaped by racial discourses and their material manifestations.