Editorials

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A headshot of Ijames, a Black man in his late 30s. He looks with gentle dignity at the camera & wears a white collared shirt.

A Pulitzer for Philly playwright James Ijames spotlights our arts funding crisis

Mayor Kenney’s plan for the arts

Another year, another attempt to gut city support for the arts in Philly. As one of our own artists wins a Pulitzer, a major budget cut seems like an especially bad plan. Alaina Johns considers.
Alaina Johns

Alaina Johns

Editorials 5 minute read
A green sign on a glass door says “Philly Bagels.” A handwritten blue sign above says “mask required! Thank you!”

If the end of mask mandates means a win for freedom, who is that freedom for?

The real argument

As new rulings and lawsuits about mask mandates in Philly and throughout the country roll in this week, Alaina Johns notes what mask mandate arguments are really about: debating accessibility.
Alaina Johns

Alaina Johns

Editorials 5 minute read
A beach just before sunrise. The sand is dark and the water is pearly. The long horizon glows orange, fading to blue above.

I won’t recover in the dark: People with bipolar deserve to be seen

Mental illness isn’t a punchline

Editor Alaina Johns is taking a few weeks off to focus on treating her bipolar disorder, with the support of the BSR team. Here’s why it’s important to talk about this.
Alaina Johns

Alaina Johns

Editorials 7 minute read
View from the middle of a crowd of hundreds, facing forward with the crowd. They wave signs at the base of City Hall.

Philadelphia rally speakers warn that the battle for abortion rights is coming to Pennsylvania

Reproductive justice matters to our cultural sector

All eyes are on the Supreme Court this week, taking up cases including one that could overturn the constitutional right to an abortion. What does Philly think about that? Alaina Johns attended the rally.
Alaina Johns

Alaina Johns

Editorials 6 minute read
Kyle, a Black man, lies against large rocks in a river, looking up to the sunny sky while wearing sunglasses and swim trunks

After years of writing from trauma, I’m choosing joy

Why do you want to amplify my voice?

After two long summers and many challenging writing sessions in between, Kyle V. Hiller contemplates how trauma-inspired work is no longer his cup of tea.
Kyle V. Hiller

Kyle V. Hiller

Editorials 5 minute read
A photo from between two high bookshelves in The Strand, facing more bookshelves, and a rolling cart full of books.

After a summer of solo adventures, I learned how good it can be to go it alone

Why I’m not waiting for you

In a world that expects everyone to travel in pairs, going out alone is a refreshing and important way to reframe your relationship to yourself—and others. Alaina Johns wanders.
Alaina Johns

Alaina Johns

Editorials 6 minute read
The Walnut Street Theatre today. It has a gray exterior with columns and large windows. American flags fly on poles in front

As artists continue to rally against the Walnut, it’s time to ask: who is “America’s Oldest Theatre”?

Staging history

Most coverage of protests against the Walnut Street Theatre ignores a key fact: the building may be historic, but the theater company there started in the 1980s. Alaina Johns thinks that matters.
Alaina Johns

Alaina Johns

Editorials 6 minute read
Protesters at the Walnut Street Theatre on June 18 called for Bernard Havard’s departure. (Photo by Alaina Johns.)

What I learned about leadership as a Walnut Street Theatre apprentice

Time warp on Walnut Street

Alaina Johns is one of many Philadelphia professionals who got their start in the Walnut Street Theatre’s apprenticeship program, and the experience still influences her today.
Alaina Johns

Alaina Johns

Editorials 5 minute read
One year later, on a different stoop, and unsure if things have changed. (Photo by Holly Yokley.)

As normality attempts to return, mask-wearing arguments often miss the truth

Masking our problems

The past year has brought us a lifetime’s worth of pandemic anxiety and movements for justice, but it all seems to have boiled down to worries about masks. Kyle V. Hiller says something deeper is in play.
Kyle V. Hiller

Kyle V. Hiller

Editorials 5 minute read
The galleries at PAFA were one of my first post-vaccination outings. (Photo by Alaina Johns.)

BSR is resuming in-person and indoor coverage: what you need to know

The arts go back inside

Last summer, BSR committed to keeping our coverage all-digital or all-outdoors until we saw a significant reduction in Covid-19 risk. Now we’re ready for an update. Alaina Johns explains.
Alaina Johns

Alaina Johns

Editorials 3 minute read