Letter to the editor: Regarding the Underground Railroad

To the editor,

We write as members of the CenterSeries Programing Committee to offer our sincerest apology for the pain and suffering experienced by many members of the College community as a result of the recent performance of Underground Railroad Game. Over the past two weeks, we have heard expressions of the anguish caused by the show and related programming, and we deeply regret our part in causing this pain.

As the advisory group that curates the series of visiting artists who perform in the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance, our decisions are highly visible and have widespread impact. We did not adequately prepare the community, nor did we properly consider the potentially traumatizing consequences of staging such a production. We also apologize for the racist imagery on the “Game Night” poster that was circulated in advance of the pre-show event. The visiting artists provided the image and developed the concept of the event, but we accept responsibility for its publicity.

The conversations we have had since Underground Railroad Game make clear to us that the Committee needs to take a more proactive and widely consultative role in conjunction with all the productions we bring to campus. Thinking ahead, we are planning changes to the procedures and composition of the Committee so that it represents the full range of perspectives and interests of student, faculty and staff groups in future programming. Importantly, we will be clarifying our mission in the upcoming weeks as we meet to reflect and plan.

We are ready to listen to responses from the community. We welcome the chance to build on the important conversations that have already begun. Please feel free to contact any of us listed below.

The CenterSeries Programming Committee:

Hannah Antonellis ’18

Rashida Braggs, associate professor of Africana studies

Sandra Burton, senior lecturer in dance

Rachel Chanoff, director of programming, CenterSeries

Cassandra Cleghorn, senior lecturer in English and American studies

Erica Dankmeyer, artist-in-residence in dance

Randal Fippinger, producing director, ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance

John Gerry, associate dean of the faculty

David Gürçay-Morris, associate professor of theatre

Amy Holzapfel, associate professor of theatre

Carol Ockman, professor of art 

Lee Park, dean of the faculty

Jack Scaletta ’18

Brad Wells, artist-in-residence in music

Nathaniel Wiessner, operations manager, ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance

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