Sallie Cinnamon credit Frenchie Holiday

Credits: Frenchie Holiday (Photograper)

Sallie Cinnamon here, nice person with a lot to offer.

Of all the memes featuring that murderous doll from the movie M3GAN, my favourite has to be the one featuring a group of actors standing together dressed exactly like the doll. The text reads, ‘the audience wants a certain aesthetic.’

Now, why is that so funny Sallie, you might ask? And I’ll say something like, I can’t explain memes to you, Dad. And no, I can’t fix your phone because I’m an elder Millennial and I don’t know how to use it, either.

Describing this niche meme is my absolutely genius and totally not weird and roundabout way of getting to the topic of this little article: why diversity in performance is absolutely crucial to creating and maintaining a strong, healthy community.

Diversity is not just an old, old, wooden ship used during the Civil War era. It’s at least slightly better than that! And when we talk about diversity we’re talking about a whole range of things, like...not ships. Or boats. We’re talking about viewing everything we do from an intersectional lens, and that includes performance and performing. Diversity is about allowing a huge (or yuuuuge, as it were) range of people to express themselves creatively onstage to a similarly huge (or yuuuuge) audience. We soak up so much from the world around us like cute little sponges and so much of popular culture shapes who we are and what we do and performance is all part of that. It’s good to see people like you doing fun things you might like to do.

Here are some ways in which diversity comes into play in the old performance... thing:


Whenever I go to a show I look forward to having absolutely no idea what’s about to happen. OK, within reason. I might want to know if I need an umbrella. But other than that, I want to be surprised, moved and entertained. Seeing a range of styles ensures that happens. Whether it’s different styles or genres of Burlesque, or lineups that include cabaret, drag, pole, hoop, circus, sideshow, etc, getting to see lots of different things done by lots of different people is, it turns out, very fun!


This is very broad, I know. But every lineup should and is strengthened and enriched by having a diverse range of people. Diversity of performers can include the following:

  • Age

  • Body type

  • Gender

  • Race/Ethnicity

The best shows will always showcase a wide range of talent and show every single person’s unique style, skill, and expression.


Society can be bad (I hope this isn’t the first time you’ve heard this, if not I’m sorry), and sometimes the heavy lifting of diversity and inclusion is done in the creative arts, especially when other spheres have a lot of catching up to do. Featuring performers who are disabled as well as making spaces as accessible as possible is, much like everything I’ve mentioned above, incredibly important.

... the desire and need for creative expression is not limited to those who conform to societal standards.

It may come as a shock to some people, but the desire and need for creative expression is not limited to those who conform to societal standards. We’ve all seen a little too many examples lately (and let’s be honest, forever) of what you can expect from some areas of the general public when you dare to not only exist but be happy in not conforming to those expectations. This absolutely needs to be reflected everywhere, every time. Art is for everyone. Creative expression is for everyone. We like to find ways of telling one another stories, so let everyone do that. Unless it’s a story that’s mean to me. Again, I’m very sensitive.

Art is for everyone. Creative expression is for everyone.

My Advice

There are lots of ideas, approaches and discussions to be had around ensuring performing spaces are diverse and inclusive for all involved, and I’m not always going to be the best placed person to contribute. I’d love to be involved where I can and where it’s appropriate, but too often these decisions are made without the participation of those with, you know, actual lived experience of the thing. Or, the burden of ensuring diversity is left up to those marginalised communities who already do so much advocating for themselves every day. Lighten the load without omitting people from the conversation, you know?

While I may not always be the one telling you what to do, I’m going to tell all of you (performers, producers, audiences) to keep doing the following things:

  • Performers: keep honing your craft, your skills, and your voice. Do not succumb to any pressure or listen to that voice that says what you’re doing is inherently wrong because it’s different. I get it: it’s easy to see what others can do as a negative for your art. But what if... that’s ok?

  • Producers: keep booking lots of different people doing lots of different things! Keep including people in conversations without expecting them to do it all for you

  • Audiences: keep shows diverse and inclusive by coming to them, by paying to see them, cheering raucously (or politely if you like) for them, and if you’re capable of it, keep asking for them if you don’t see them.

And together, we can build that old, old wooden ship called Diversity.

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