• Rooby_Roo

    So, then, only Jewish actors should play Tevye or Anne Frank … only disabled performers should play Richard III or Helen Keller in THE MIRACLE WORKER or FDR in SUNRISE AT CAMPABELLO … only actors on the autism spectrum should play Christopher in CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN NIGHT TIME? As long as the performance is being respectful of the playwright’s intent, isn’t the purpose of acting to portray characters that are often different from whom we are in real life?

  • Lou

    I find this whole matter very amusing. More and more over the recent years there has been “color blind casting” in which many roles that would have been (and perhaps should have been) played by white actors have been given to non white actors. This is highly applauded by many in the theatre community. I recently saw a production of OUR TOWN in which the town doctor was placed by a Black actor despite the fact that there would never have been a black doctor in that New England town in 1920. here are frequently castings of non white actors in roles such as a family member of a white family in a setting during 1900-1940’s when we know this would be almost impossible.
    So if in fact we now should only cast someone in the role as intended by the authors –this will eliminate many, many parts which have been made available.
    to non white actors in the current and recent past. You can’t have it both ways. If it’s unacceptable for white casts to play Blacks and Asians, etc then we need to remove all “color blind” casting for “inappropriate” roles where the author expected an all white cast!

    • Jay Yai

      Listen to the American Theatre Offscript podcast and how this issue is addressed. This is a false equivalency. We don’t live in a universe with equal parts for people of color as annual studies of the demographic composition of Broadway theatre as well as tv/film attests. When we live in that world where discrimination has been addressed so effectively that actors of all stripes genuinely have equal representation then your comment will be more than a ridiculous refusal to recognize the ongoing reality of racism for everyone but apparently you, Lou.

  • Tom Hartman

    The protesters in Chicago use Latinx…why does Diep Tran take it upon hirself to use a different term? Can’t the magazine find a Latinx/Latin@ person to give voice to their struggle? Or does Tran self-identify as Latinx/Latin@? If not, why is she yellow-washing their lives, in order to grind her own particular little ax? No mention of her ties to Chicago are mentioned. Is this another example of New Yorkers telling the rest of the country what it thinks we should do…Tran explicitly states “Perhaps Porchlight, Marriott and other theaters around the country should ….” This is Manhattan Elitism at its most snobbish. Tran should take a page from her own meddling in Chicago’s business and take aim at the current cast of Aladdin….oh, but then that’s Disney and they’ll squash hir/ze/eo. Much safer to assume to speak for the strong independent people of other cultures from a position of safety than it is to challenge the same policies and procedures in your own backyard where you could suffer repercussions.

    And, if Porchlight violated authorial intent why doesn’t the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization or, more importantly the authors themselves — one of whom was interviewed — not state that intent had been violated. Ms. Hudes talks at length in theory but never directly about the production which is having it’s integrity questioned. Did Tran not ask or was the point of this article just to stir up the sour grapes of actors who didn’t get cast.

  • MWnyc

    A small thing, for what it’s worth: It seems a bit dicey to me to include Evita in a discussion about brownface, considering that most Argentines will hasten to inform you that they’re not brown*, and that the Perons themselves were fairer-skinned than I am.

    – – – – –

    * That attitude is why so many other Latin Americans despise Argentines.

  • Kevin Sheets

    Just found out the author of this article is Asian. So, she really is in no position to comment on this issue.

  • Kevin Sheets

    This is, simply put, racism. And I’m not talking about that “reverse racism” bullshit, but actual sincere racism. They’re trying to hide it with terms like “casting appropriately”, but what they really mean is “no white people”. Nobody would be complaining if Usnavi was going to be played by an Indian actor, for example. And nobody complained when Corbin Blue, a non-hispanic actor, played the role of Usnavi on Broadway. This is out and out discrimination. Any actor of any race should be able to play any role, period. This is typical simple-minded American thinking. The author of this article has probably never even been out of the country, and I guarantee you he doesn’t even speak Spanish. He’s just clinging on to something that feels like an identity (by the way, race is not an identity) because he doesn’t have one growing up in cultureless America.

  • Blue Harvest

    The conversation about diversity in theater seems entirely one sided, people applauded the decision for Noma Dumezweni to play Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child but condemn the decision that Jack DeCesare should play Usnavi? Shouldn’t it always be who plays the part best without regard for the color of their skin?

  • Tom Woldt

    “Because when it comes to a choice between whitewashing roles of color or having no production at all, the latter is preferred.”
    This is a massive generalization–in an essay that is, in large part, about not speaking for others whose story we might or might not fully grasp, this is stated as dogma….a dangerous strategy, I should think. Clearly some writers/creators do take this position, which has been stated in AT and elsewhere. And they have the right to do so, of course. But, having spent (geezer talk warning!) a lotta years working with emerging/young/student/just-emerged/early-professional/grinding-it-out writers and directors, I would suggest that the generalization can not hold, as stated (unassailable fact.) More pedantically….what are the sources, evidence, or collection of many opinions that support the supposition? Less pedantically-“sez who?” A handful of (deservedly) award winning, nationally successful artists-outside-typically-dominant-cultural-strata don’t speak for all of their peers-and I’m betting that several might agree. More talk, investigation, drilling-deeper, input-seeking, and more careful consideration of the hard realities of producing plays or getting one produced in a wider context, please.
    Also 3 R’ s in caption ‘Marriott’?…..but that’s a different day’s kerfuffle……

  • Sally Bayes

    I agree, whitewashing of shows is abhorrent…..but in the same breathe, and stay with me for a second……they are ACTORS. We don’t cast French ethnicity performers in Les Mis…..some people would love to play Fauntine/Eponine but those roles now consistently go to Asian actors. Which is great!! The diversity currently in the Broadway cast is so admirable. But mentioning in this article that the creative team of this particular production of In The Heights isn’t Hispanic is a fact, but again….they’re artists. The art of theatre is to create empathy and have a talent to put yourself in the place of others. To insist that you have personal history or genetic connection with material is such a broad stroke of the brush….this is a much more intricate issue to navigate.

  • Jack Werner

    If you are a professional theater company and you can’t be sure you will get the correct cast for a show like The Heights, maybe you should pick a different show, just sayin’ .

    • Tom Hartman

      I know.

    • Annabel


  • pendo

    They majority of the cast features Latinos. DeCesare is too “white”? Look him up.

  • pendo

    Enough. If there is no difference to you between Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, and Mexican (there is), then why is there such a HUGE difference between an Italian (who you deem “white”) and Spanish? This is all basically people trying to find some reason behind the entertainment industry being so hard. So these minority groups have decided it’s because they don’t get a fair shot. NO ONE in entertainment gets a “fair shot” unless they are very young and good looking, or if their family is connected and comes from money. People are now bending over backwards to accommodate the “I’m not getting a fair shot” crowd. And you have the nerve to protest this production that made such an effort to cast Latinos, because one of the main characters is “white”?? Give me a break.

  • Garrett G.

    Sour grapes. If ethnic actors don’t show up for calls or are not as talented as the actors who DID show up (and who are more than capable of playing the roles), why should the theatre go to the added effort and expense to track ethnic actors down and beg them to be in a show? If you want the job, do your research on the theatres producing these “ethnic exclusive” shows and make an effort to get cast – by being present and proving yourself to be the best person for the role. Ultimately an audience wants to see a story told well. If that requires the suspension of disbelief, or god forbid using their imaginations, so be it. If the creators would rather their works not be produced at all, then they can look forward to that being the result.

    • Annabel

      Stop calling us ethnic! It’s 2016. And it’s so insulting that you would insinuate that actors of color might not be “as talented” as white actors. Insulting and infuriating. Please stop. Folks that are on this side of the conversation, should read this: http://www.hesherman.com/2016/08/02/the-frightened-arrogance-behind-its-called-acting/

    • Jay Yai

      This comment is based on the belief that the world is completely meritocratic, that racism in no way has created the possibilities or lack of possibilities that currently shape who is able to have access to the theatre either as an audience member, student or ultimately professional actor. When people make this argument all I think is “How can anyone realistically believe that it just so happens by dint of chance that white people possess all the privileges in this society including the VAST majority of excellent roles or roles at all without recognizing how racist that presumption is?” You just think it’s a matter of skill alone that people of color haven’t gone further in this industry or in all industries in U.S. society and the world over? There are hundreds of years of history going into the way actors of color are looked at when it comes to being evaluated for the quality of their work as writers, directors, scene designers, actors, etc. Please rethink your whole assumption and learn about the history of U.S. racism which persists through actions like this. I’m a Chicago actor. To honestly think a Latino actor of equal merit could not be found to fill this role is ludicrous.

    • miamifella

      “… why should the theatre go to the added effort and expense to track ethnic actors down and beg them to be in a show? ”

      Because they want to do the show?

      It is foolish to announce a show if you do not know you can cast it. All they have to do is ask the hispanic actors who usually work with …. oh, wait … if they ordinarily cast minority actors and had a relationship with them, they probably would not have gotten into this mess.