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Three on the Aisle: Is Whitewashing Ever Okay?

The critics discuss whitewashing, the Muny protests, and get an education on San Francisco theatre from Bay Area critic Lily Janiak.

Twice a month, critics Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal; Elisabeth Vincentelli, contributor to The New York Times, The Village Voice, and The New Yorker; and Peter Marks of The Washington Post get together on their Three on the Aisle podcast to talk about what’s going on in American theatre.

Lily Janiak.

On the latest, longer-than-normal episode of Three On the Aisle, Terry, Elisabeth and Peter delve into one of the most controversial issues of the day in the theatre world and the performing arts in general: whitewashing, aka the practice of casting white performers as characters of color. The discussion is inspired by the recent protest at the Muny theatre in St. Louis, where 15 audience members loudly booed and then walked out of a performance of Jerome Robbins’ Broadway. They are joined in the discussion by Diep Tran, senior editor of American Theatre magazine, who engages with the podcast’s panel of critics in a spirited discussion of why the practice persists, and why some in the theatre community are militating against it.

Then, the critics look westward, to interview one of their own: Lily Janiak, the fairly recently installed theatre critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. Janiak fills in the panel on the theatre scene in the Bay Area, talks about how she goes about her job and the need for more women and younger writers in the ranks of theatre critics.

The podcast wraps up, as has become the tradition, with all of the critics weighing in on shows they’ve liked, or not. We’ll let you listen in to find out what tickled their fancies, and didn’t.

Download the episode here. Subscribe via the RSS feediTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher.

Have comments or requests for what the critics should talk about? Email them at, or go to @threeontheaisle on Twitter.

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