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  • Gary4362

    Harry Elam misses the point of Wilson’s criticism regarding color-blind casting. In 1996 it was being promoted to predominantly white regional theaters as a welcomed alternative to the production of plays by Black, Asian and Latino playwrights. His use of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton as an example of what Wilson would prohibit is just wrong on so many levels. Primarily, the fact that Miranda is a Puerto Rican playwright, by itself, means that the conceit of the play is not color-blind casting. Rather, he reinterprets the lives of the Founding Fathers through the prism of, primarily, African American and Latino cultural identity. The music, dance and cadence of the language all have been infused with the rhythms of R&B, Hip-Hop, and Soul. The most traditional Broadway-themed songs in the show are those sung by King George. Ethnicity is a part of who these characters are. Leslie Odom Jr. singing The Room Where It Happens has a very specific resonance BECAUSE he is African-American. That’s the antithesis of color-blind casting.

    What August Wilson wanted was a theater self-defined by the ethnicity of the artists working in it. One where the opportunities available are unfiltered through the appropriateness or courage of a white theater administrator who wonders if this playwright of color or these actors or color will turn off the theater’s usual patrons. That’s still the best option 20 years later.

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