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Lamar Perry Is On a Quest to Make the American Theater Inclusive for All

We spoke with The Old Globe's newest associate producer on how to make that happen

By Sarah Pfledderer

“I’m queer. I’m black. I’m fat.” That’s Lamar Perry’s self-introduction for you.

And he couldn’t be prouder of it, especially considering his new title as associate producer of San Diego’s very own Tony Award–winning Old Globe theater. That’s because, as he explains: “There’s no traditional place for me in American theater. My presence in itself is a rebellion. It hasn’t impacted how I do work. What’s changed is I’m looking at a revolution in the country and in American theater that I’m hoping we can capitalize on. I, as Lamar, deserve to be able to walk into a theater and see myself as much as anyone else.”

Perry was named to his position in May—a promotion from his post as an artistic associate—alongside Kim Montelibano. He brings with him not only the chops to develop new plays from mere scripts to full productions, but also a determination for inclusion at the Globe and beyond.

That applies to digital formats, too. Perry launched the Globe’s first podcast, Gather Round, in December 2020. A limited series, Gather Round explored how holidays are celebrated across different cultures in San Diego. Perry’s second podcast for the Globe, Cocktails with the Canon, is an interview-based series that seeks to paint a picture of how inclusive American theater truly is, through raw conversations with playwrights about communities that are not traditionally represented in the medium.“It’s my indictment, but also my love letter to the American theater,” Perry says. “It’s saying, ‘I see you, but I also want to challenge you.’”Needless to say, this comes from a personal place. Oscar Wilde may have said that life imitates art, but Perry believes you can’t truly know yourself unless you’ve seen your life “mirrored back to you” through art.

Growing up, he never saw that on the stage. The first time that came close was when he saw In the Heights in college. “It blew the door open. I’m not Latinx, but I have so many friends who are, and I was like, ‘Oh, this is what it can look like.’

”Perry graduated from St. John’s University with a bachelor’s of science in health service administration. All the while, he was supplementing his education through acting and touring with a gospel choir. By his senior year, he was producing plays as part of a theater troupe on campus. Following an AmeriCorps tour, Perry eventually returned to New York and became a producing associate at The Classical Theatre of Harlem. By the time he came to The Old Globe in 2018, he had many productions under his belt—including directing Watch Me by Dave Harris and assistant directing Actually by Anna Ziegler, Detroit 67 by Dominique Morisseau, and The Hot Wing King by Katori Hall, which won a Pulitzer Prize.

“The tea,” Perry points out, “is I’m only 30.”

Which might also explain his stamina. In addition to his associate producer role at the Globe, Perry serves as a freelance director and also teaches at UC San Diego. Some days, you might find him posted up at the beach with his laptop, reading a script. Other days he’s in casting meetings, or giving notes on rehearsals for in-person productions, which are returning to the Globe’s indoor theaters this fall.

“I’m excited the industry is opening the doors to a fat, Black, queer storyteller and is making space for me without going through the traditional path of graduate school,” he says. “I want artists and community members who’ve felt like they haven’t had access to the Globe to walk in and know they are part owners to feel good, seen, and safe. That’s what I’m hoping my legacy will be.”

Old Globe – Lamar Perry

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