‘Labels Off:’ new group looks to promote diversity in theater

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‘Labels Off:’ new group looks to promote diversity in theater

Sofia Suardi

Sofia Suardi

Sofia Suardi

Sam Marks

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With winds of change blowing through the Wilson theater department, a new student-led group called Labels Off has formed with the hope of increasing diversity in casting.

Diversity has been a complex issue in the drama department for many years, and it moved center stage last year with the production of “Legally Blonde: The Musical.” With student complaints about the lack of a diverse cast, the show became controversial. As Wilson welcomes its new drama director, Karen Harris, who is replacing Harriet Bronstein, Labels Off is working toward creating a more diverse and inclusive theater program.

Labels Off aims to embrace and expand diversity in the theater community. They plan to put on the “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” for the spring musical. This show can be cast without any predetermined racial roles. While working towards the production of a spring musical, the group strives to create new theater productions and shed light on overlooked cultures in Wilson’s environment.

The group’s formation was partly due to the students’ reaction to former Wilson Director Harriet Bronstein’s casting decisions. Many actors in the drama department say this change couldn’t have come sooner. “I think that it will help with the cliquey-ness in theater, especially in student-led organizations, and I think that it will definitely help with increasing diversity,” said senior Maddy Vieth.

Months of planning months are ahead for the spring musical, which is the newest installment in the theater program. “We’re preparing for the spring musical and we want to work months beforehand because we want to be prepared for our first show,” said Aline Contreras, a founding member of Labels Off.

Labels Off serves as a sanctuary and forum for a variety of voices. The theater team is hopeful that an increase in new participants to the program will allow for different and new productions that provide more inclusive opinions.