New institute offers training for aspiring theater directors of diverse backgrounds


Dipankar Mukherjee and Meena Natarajan, the founders of Pangea World Theater, want to create more opportunities for women theater directors and theater directors of color.

This December, Pangea is launching the first phase of a National Direction and Ensemble Creation Institute designed to address the lack of training and opportunities for budding directors.

The theater company has invited directors from around the nation to share lessons and help build a curriculum.

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The institute is inspired by what is common knowledge amongst theater professionals, and backed up by startling statistics. In 2009 the Directors Guild of America found that out of its 967 new members in the year 2009, 72.1 percent were Caucasian males, 16.3 percent were Caucasian females, 8.3 percent were minority males and 3.4 percent were minority females.

For Dipankar Mukherjee, that means the stories produced on stage often reflect a narrow world view.

"There are different ways to access a script, different avenues of imagination. Sometimes they're contextualized in culture, politics of experience, politics of race, and so forth. There is no one lens; there are multiple lenses," says Mukherjee.

Pangea World Theater, founded in 1995, works with diverse creative talent to shepherd new works into full stage production.