April 5, 2016

THE GROUND ON WHICH WE STAND: Diversity and Opportunity in American Theater, Twenty Years after August Wilson’s Foundational Speech

McCarter Theatre Center and Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts to host a symposium on Monday, April 18 from 1-5 p.m. at McCarter.

On Monday, April 18th, McCarter Theatre Center and Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts will host a symposium commemorating the 20th anniversary of August Wilson’s seminal speech, “The Ground on Which I Stand,” delivered in 1996 from the stage of the McCarter’s Matthew’s Theatre addressing questions of race, diversity, and cultural identity in the American Theater.

As part of the 1996 Theatre Communications Group (TCG) annual conference held at McCarter Theatre Center, Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright August Wilson delivered the event’s keynote address. Holding up a candid mirror to the assembled cultural organizations and the theater profession at large, the speech laid out Wilson’s views on a wealth of topics including imperialism and appropriation, white privilege, historical context, and institutional funding as related to the American cultural landscape.

“The Ground on Which I Stand” launched months of debate both in terms of the historical legacy addressed in the work and proactive responses to Wilson’s challenge for the future of the industry. The speech remains a significant part of Wilson’s profound and lasting legacy, and a central moment in his celebrated career.

To honor the 20th anniversary of this watershed moment, this jointly-produced symposium will endeavor to explore Wilson’s speech through the lens of the last twenty years of race and theater, and discuss where we stand today. The event will include a reading of the speech itself, panel discussions with prominent members of the theater community and Princeton faculty Jill Dolan and Brian Herrera, and an open town hall discussion.

For a preliminary schedule of the day, visit the event page. The event is free and open to the public, reservations are required. Reserve online at or call the McCarter Theatre Ticket Office at 609-258-2787. Seats are General Admission.

McCarter Theater Center and the Lewis Center for the Arts offer sincere thanks to the Estate of August Wilson for their support in planning this symposium. Additional support provided by the Council of the Humanities, the Department of African American Studies, and the Russell B. Newton Faculty Support Fund.

Press Contact

Steve Runk
Director of Communications