Addae Moon is passionate about bringing Atlanta stories to stages across the country and, as Theatrical Outfit’s new associate artistic director, he plans to do exactly that.
A playwright, dramaturg and educator, Moon is overseeing new-play development and community partnerships for the downtown company. He hopes to deepen the theater’s relationships with downtown communities and help metro playwrights get their work ready for production.
Moon, 49, officially joined the Outfit staff this month. He comes from the Atlanta History Center, where he was director of museum theater for nearly 10 years. He’s an adjunct professor at Clark-Atlanta University and an instructor for Horizon Theatre’s apprentice program. He has a B.A. in theater from Clark-Atlanta, acting credentials from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and an M.F.A. in playwriting and screenwriting from Ohio University. He’s a member of Atlanta’s new-play-development nonprofit Working Title Playwrights.
Moon recently talked with ArtsATL about why he chose to join Theatrical Outfit and why he believes that Atlanta is one of the most unique cities in America.
ArtsATL: What made you say yes to the associate artistic position at Theatrical Outfit?
Addae Moon: Two people I trust sent the job posting to me, so I knew I had to seriously consider applying. I didn’t take it lightly, because I happened to have a day job that I really loved as the director of museum theater at the Atlanta History Center. The focus of this new position is community partnerships and new-play development, which is really different for an associate artistic director, and I was intrigued.
ArtsATL: Last summer there was a three-day virtual town hall for racial reckoning within the Atlanta theater community. Theatrical Outfit was named by a number of artists and administrators as a place where they had experienced discrimination. How do you reconcile that as a Black artist?
Moon: When I work with White institutions, I always see it more as a collaboration rather than me working for them. I needed to make sure that I would be in a place where my voice would be heard and that the institution was serious about equity before I would say yes. Artistic director Matt Torney seems to be committed to equity and rigor, and making sure that what happens onstage is reflective of this city.
I’ll add that no Black artist I know was surprised by that reckoning or The New York Times article that came out earlier in the year. How long have we been saying that this city is 54 percent African American and you don’t see that reflected on stages? I think now it’s about whether or not these institutions plan to deal with these inequities and not pay lip service.
ArtsATL: What does dealing with those inequities look like to you?
Moon: First, it’s acknowledging that this is one of the most diverse cities in the country, not just in terms of ethnicity or race, but also class. Atlanta has one of the largest African American middle-class communities in the country, so some of the excuses you hear about why you don’t see diversity on stages don’t fly here.
ArtsATL: What’s the Atlanta story you want to see onstage that hasn’t been told yet?
Moon: There are so many. I am tired of Black trauma narratives. I want to see more stories that explore different aspects of who we are as a people that aren’t tied to racism and White supremacy. I also want to see more stories that reflect that this is an international city with all kinds of cultures. What is a possible Latinx Atlanta narrative? What is an Asian American Atlanta narrative? We don’t know, we haven’t seen those onstage yet, so I want to make sure we find a way to tell those stories as well.
ArtsATL: What does success in this role look like to you?
Moon: I’d like to see pieces that have either been commissioned or workshopped at Theatrical Outfit make it to the mainstage and/or other local stages, and then make their way to regional and national stages. I love the idea of a theater company being an incubator for new work. and then that work becomes a canon of work. How awesome would it be to have a canon of new work by Atlanta-based playwrights? That’s the big dream.