Columbia College Chicago Theatre Alum Makes ‘The Case for Normalizing Fatness Onstage’ in ‘American Theatre’ Magazine

Maggie Rogers

Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department alum Maggie Rogers ’14, a graduate of the Theatre Department’s BA Program in Theatre with a concentration in directing, published an article titled “All Sizes Fit All: The Case for Normalizing Fatness Onstage” in the January 2018 issue of American Theatre magazine, the nation’s leading publication for the nonprofit theatre movement. Rogers, described by the magazine as “a Seattle-based director, dramaturg, and fat activist who hails from Louisville, Kentucky,” is the literary manager and resident dramaturg at the Washington Ensemble Theatre in Seattle. When she graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2014, she was the class valedictorian and spoke at that year’s commencement exercises, introduced by her former teacher Jonathan Berry, now artistic producer at Steppenwolf Theatre.

“I am genuinely asking heads of theatre programs, directors, teachers, casting directors, and even audience members across America: Why is weight an inhibitor to you?” Rogers says in the article, adding: “To be clear, this is not just about accepting fat actors—it is about deepening storytelling to encompass the whole of the American experience. We live in such a diverse country filled with endless shapes and sizes. By only representing smaller bodies onstage, you are doing a disservice to audience members who are not a size 0 or who don’t have six-pack abs. Fatness crosses every race, creed, and culture, and you want to tell me the only people that are worth seeing onstage are thin? Please. You can get on board with helicopters landing onstage, witches flying through the air, and puppets, but not a size 22 playing a lead? . . .  American theatre, I challenge you: Call back fat actors for lead roles where their weight is never mentioned. Put a person of size in the sexiest role in the play. Dig deep within yourself and discover those uncomfortable feelings with size you may have and try to make sense of them. Give us fat theatremakers a chance. They may crush your expectations (pun absolutely intended).”

To read the article, click here.