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  • Cynthia Stillings

    A matter of clarification.
    I do not officially speak for Kent State but I feel obligated to correct some errors of omission in this and the previous article by Diep Tran.

    The production at Kent State was produced by the Department of Pan African Studies.
    The presenting group was the African Community Theatre.
    The director was an African American who is also a playwright.
    The inference by this and Diep Tran’s previous article that the production was a part of a professional theatre training program is in error.
    Civil discourse is always valued and encouraged at Kent State.

  • Stephen Redmon

    Diversity and representation are important, but we have to remember that our job is mostly portraying what we are not (at least the actors jobs). As an actor, I ONLY ever get jobs based on my appearance. I’ve played Sharyar in Arabian Nights (I am not Arabic at all.) a Shark in West Side Story (not Latino either) have been in Show Boat and Ragtime as an African American. I’m actually half African American, but it was not believable. People questioned it and it distracted from the production as a whole. Should I or the director take blame because we did what we had to work with. I’m up for a role right now as a Native American, because as the director simply put it, “We don’t have to paint you.” It is a historical outdoor drama and the role is important to the story. Should they just cut it, because we don’t have a Native American actor (one who actually is and passes) to play the role. NO! We work with what we have. A director can’t just say “Well I can’t do this show because I might not have actors of the right race audition for those roles,” or “Sorry we have to cancel this production of Hairspray. Not enough Black people auditioned.” As for as a writer, I’ve been accused of not having ethnically diverse material, but not one of my works states the race of a character. People only assume. I don’t think the issue is just “whitewashing” ethnic characters. It is an issue of “color swatching” material. Unless it is specifically stated in the script and contract that actors of a certain ethnicity are to be cast in specific roles, then you have to let it be. We can’t be ok with doing an all black version of a traditionally white cast show (ex: Hello Dolly) but not an all white version of another show (ex: The Mikado) The recent controversy over a white actor playing Michael Jackson is a good example. “Why aren’t they casting a black actor?” Would anybody really feel better if a person of color was cast and then painted white to resemble Michael’s appearance? NO! They would cry foul. Hamilton is a wonderful show. However, the persons portrayed were not ethnic people. They were white. Could we not call that misrepresentation? (not that I really would. Hamilton is unique in it’s delivery and the multicultural cast is crucial to it’s presentation and spirit!)

  • Casting an Actor

    If roles were cast according to the historical appearance, there would be a large market for unbelievably ugly people—seen from our current point of view. That would show the true diversity of humans. And, hopefully people would talk less about the facial appearance of a human being.

    http://www.americantheatre.org/2016/01/07/standing-up-for-playwrights-and-against-colorblind-casting/

    And, NO. It is no racisim to cast an asian role with an asian (or any other so-looking-intended role with a so-ethnic-appearing actor). It IS the job of casting to provide the fitting appearance in terms of ability and, the looks of the actor. And certainly the actress (you can never be sure enough what mob will pop up next).

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