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Color-blind and gender-blind casting- Page 2

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HogansHero
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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#26
Posted: 10/23/20 at 12:20pm

Tom5 said: "In this case Carousel was not color-blind but history-blind. Or color/history-blind."

How so? Sounds to me like you are just refusing to blind yourself to color. Another post that helps me make my point. 

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#27
Posted: 10/23/20 at 1:40pm

Kad said: "OlBlueEyes said: "It was a shame go see a full Broadway revival of Carousel to close so quickly. Is it possible that those doing the casting were not putting audience and investors first? Anyone in the audience unfamiliar with the show, or had forgotten the story, would think it was an interracial couple, since those are familiar to the audience.

I saw 1874 cited as the year in which Carousel was set. Maine did not repeal its anti-miscegenation law for another ten years (not saying they enforced it). A black man would never be permitted to talk to and touch white women on a carousel.

What can they do? Announce in the program that Billy is a white man? The audience doesn't want to work that hard.
"

The number of audience members who would know when Maine repealed that law, let alone know in which exact yearwhen Carousel is set, is so minuscule they would be irrelevant.
"

A trivial argument. They know full well that the show is set in the 19th century, and even if they don't know for sure if inter-race marriage was illegal then, they know it would have been socially taboo. 

I think you can do color-blind casting in Carousel, but you have to be careful with it, otherwise you are sending more negative messages than you are correcting the injustice of Black performers being denied good roles. I think you could sooner effectively cast a Black woman as Julie than you can a Black man as Billy. Geez, the man who drags him into crime is named Jigger, and there's a racial slur that would have still been known in the 40's using that name. You want to stir that up? 

Sometimes you just have to say life if unfair, and there are some roles Black performers can't easily slip into because of the world's past, and indeed good roles white people can't play for the same reason (we won't be having white people play the Black characters in Purlie or anyone in a revival of The Wiz; no white man will ever play Jim in Show Boat). Anyone who thinks we can square current casting processes so as to make sure everyone of every race and gender can play every role and no one is ever excluded is just deceiving themselves. 

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#28
Posted: 10/23/20 at 1:44pm
Sometimes casting a performer who is an IPOC doesn’t always work, though the best intentions were there.

For example, I took my friend to see August:Osage County before it closed. During that time, phylicia rashad was cast in the role of Violet.

I thought she did a good job. However, during the first intermission, my friend mentioned to me that it was weird seeing a family that is all white with one member being black. And, if I’m honest, I could see their point and may have felt weird about it too had it not been my first time seeing the play.
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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#29
Posted: 10/23/20 at 6:10pm

Islander_fan said: "Sometimes casting a performer who is an IPOC doesn’t always work, though the best intentions were there.

For example, I took my friend to see August:Osage County before it closed. During that time, phylicia rashad was cast in the role of Violet.

I thought she did a good job. However, during the first intermission, my friend mentioned to me that it was weird seeing a family that is all white with one member being black. And, if I’m honest, I could see their point and may have felt weird about it too had it not been my first time seeing the play.
"

"Weird" in this context is a euphemism for the racial baggage that has been inflicted on us over the centuries. Would your friend have felt weird if a brown eyed Violet had been cast in an otherwise blue eyed Weston family? And to say that "there are some roles Black performers can't easily slip into because of the world's past" is to ignore that some theatre companies (e.g., the Public) have been doing it routinely for years.

Life isn't unfair, but insidious systemic racism sure is. 

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#30
Posted: 10/23/20 at 7:54pm
The Carousel revival wasn't a disappointment because audiences were scratching their heads over a black man marrying a white woman in 19th century Maine, much like they weren't scratching their heads over a white man marrying a black woman in the Hytner revival.
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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#31
Posted: 10/23/20 at 9:42pm

HogansHero said: "Islander_fan said: "Sometimes casting a performer who is an IPOC doesn’t always work, though the best intentions were there.

For example, I took my friend to see August:Osage County before it closed. During that time, phylicia rashad was cast in the role of Violet.

I thought she did a good job. However, during the first intermission, my friend mentioned to me that it was weird seeing a family that is all white with one member being black. And, if I’m honest, I could see their point and may have felt weird about it too had it not been my first time seeing the play.
"

"Weird" in this context is a euphemism for the racial baggage that has been inflicted on us over the centuries. Would your friend have felt weird if a brown eyed Violet had been cast in an otherwiseblue eyed Weston family? And to say that "there are some roles Black performers can't easily slip into because of the world's past" is to ignore that some theatre companies (e.g., the Public) have been doing it routinely for years.

Life isn't unfair, but insidious systemic racism sure is.
"

Say whatever the hell you want about my friend. We had a falling out ages ago, and I could honestly care less. However, I never said that there are some roles black performers can't slip into.. And, if you are saying that in reference to another poster, sorry for mis reading. 

But, I am not raciest by any means whatsoever. I think you are wrong for even implying that. And, that brief thought I had with my friend was roughly ten years.

Now, answer me this. I honestly do feel that there are a plethora of roles that black performers can do well with. And, yes, there are roles that can be cast either way. Now, answer me this though. Say there's a new play being cast. The lead can be of any race. Now, say that the casting director just finished seeing a black actress for the lead. Now, in all his years of casting she gave the worst audition he'd ever seen in his many years as a casting director. He then has them bring in the next person. She's white very talented and the casting director thinks, that out of all the years in working in his job, she gave one of the best auditions he had ever seen and offered the role to her on the spot. Now, we all know that from an artistic standpoint, you go with the best talent. Yet, from the spot of optics and PR, would the casting director feel the need to have had cast the black woman, despite her giving a bad audition based on the fact that can be misconstrued as him not wanting to hire the black actress just because she's black. Should he have not offered the more talented white actress the role as a result? 

 

 

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#32
Posted: 10/23/20 at 11:19pm

Islander_fan said: "Say whatever the hell you want about my friend. We had a falling out ages ago, and I could honestly care less. However, I never said that there are some roles black performers can't slip into.. And, if you are saying that in reference to another poster, sorry for mis reading.

But, I am not raciest by any means whatsoever. I think you are wrong for even implying that. And, that brief thought I had with my friend was roughly ten years.

Now, answer me this. I honestly do feel that there are a plethora of roles that black performers can do well with. And, yes, there are roles that can be cast either way. Now, answer me this though. Say there's a new play being cast. The lead can be of any race. Now, say that the casting director just finished seeing a black actress for the lead. Now, in all his years of casting she gave the worst audition he'd ever seen in his many years as a casting director. He then has them bring in the next person. She's white very talented and the casting director thinks, that out of all the years in working in his job, she gave one of the best auditions he had ever seen and offered the role to her on the spot. Now, we all know that from an artistic standpoint, you go with the best talent. Yet, from the spot of optics and PR, would the casting director feel the need to have had cast the black woman, despite her giving a bad audition based on the fact that can be misconstrued as him not wanting to hire the black actress just because she's black. Should he have not offered the more talented white actress the role as a result?
"

Re the "slips into," that was indeed picking up on words from the previous poster, not you. 

I am absolutely not calling you (or your erstwhile friend) a racist. What I said is that we all (meaning Americans in particular) have "racial baggage" which is, to me, the ultimate source of systemic racism. A racist practices blatant racism, and thus drops out of the systemic paradigm. The rest of us need to be mindful of our own baggage and that includes the difficulty we have looking past the skin color attribute. 

Your question about casting is perhaps a symptom of "not looking past." I don't think it lends itself to a single answer. First, let's make it clear that casting directors don't actually cast and if there is an optics/PR discussion, they may be present but that is above their pay grade. Is it conceivable some producer and director might do as you suggest? Sure. Are there others who would not? Yes. I just don't think the question is susceptible to some generalization. If that doesn't answer you satisfactorily, feel free to come back at me. 

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#33
Posted: 10/24/20 at 2:46am

But, I am not raciest by any means whatsoever. I think you are wrong for even implying that. And, that brief thought I had with my friend was roughly ten years.

Save your breathe. These gentlemen do not care about the audience at large, or about the cast members who suffer from a short run, or certainly not about investors.

I see now that they have a certain political credo which every production must serve above all else.

They are our commissars.

 

 

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#34
Posted: 10/24/20 at 4:47am

It has zero to do with "racial baggage" to acknowledge it looks odd to have an otherwise all-white family with one Black family member; it has everything to do with a practical understanding of genetics. If an actress is Black and her supposed biological relatives (including a sister and daughter) are played by people who are white, it's clear these people cannot really be related, and the suspension of disbelief is strained. This pretense that we can't trust the information of our eyes when it comes to such a basic reality is absurd. And it's doubly absurd if you know (or are a part of) a mixed-raced family, and you know DNA doesn't separate itself out so completely among different family members. To tell people who recognize falsity when they see it that what they are really experiencing is "racial baggage" is just a manipulative argument. It reminds me of the old "If you weren't a racist, you wouldn't see color, only people" bit, a lie if there ever was one. 

Updated On: 10/24/20 at 04:47 AM
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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#35
Posted: 10/24/20 at 7:27am

The recent revival of Carousel and the casting of Phylicia Rashad in August: Osage County are both great examples of color blind (emphasis on blind) casting. We as the audience are expected to suspend our disbelief and just accept that race isn’t an issue in the universe the show is presenting us. Another interpretation of this type of casting is that we are intended to accept that these are non-white actors playing white characters that they wouldn’t be playing without said blindness.

Either way, it all comes down to how much disbelief the audience is willing to suspend. It doesn’t always work for everyone. That’s why you see this type of practice more in theatre than in film or television, the suspension of disbelief is already greater in theatre. To use the August example, most film audiences would be puzzled by a Black matriarch of an all White family, while many (but certainly not all) theatre audiences will get over it.

It’s a practice that is becoming somewhat less popular now. A lot of people believe now that to ask audiences to blind themselves to the performer’s ethnic identity is unrealistic or even harmful in some instances. Why not just let the character be Black or Indigenous or Asian as opposed to us pretending they’re White? How might that performer’s background enrich their characterization and the storytelling? Why not tell a story not only centered on the White experience? A good theatrical example of this change of attitude, though not pertaining to casting, would be the recent lyric change in Hairspray’s You Can’t Stop the Beat. A prominent lyric, “Tomorrow is a brand new day and it don’t know white from black,” is now, “and it sees both white and black.”

Ultimately it’s a case by case basis. Show by show, character by character. As a previous poster said, casting a Black Billy Bigelow in Carousel might have different connotations than a Black Julie Jordan. Nuance and forethought are necessary, as always.

As far as gender-blind casting, that’s a whole other conversation.

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#36
Posted: 10/24/20 at 9:13am

HogansHero said: "Islander_fan said: "Say whatever the hell you want about my friend. We had a falling out ages ago, and I could honestly care less. However, I never said that there are some roles black performers can't slip into.. And, if you are saying that in reference to another poster, sorry for mis reading.

But, I am not raciest by any means whatsoever. I think you are wrong for even implying that. And, that brief thought I had with my friend was roughly ten years.

Now, answer me this. I honestly do feel that there are a plethora of roles that black performers can do well with. And, yes, there are roles that can be cast either way. Now, answer me this though. Say there's a new play being cast. The lead can be of any race. Now, say that the casting director just finished seeing a black actress for the lead. Now, in all his years of casting she gave the worst audition he'd ever seen in his many years as a casting director. He then has them bring in the next person. She's white very talented and the casting director thinks, that out of all the years in working in his job, she gave one of the best auditions he had ever seen and offered the role to her on the spot. Now, we all know that from an artistic standpoint, you go with the best talent. Yet, from the spot of optics and PR, would the casting director feel the need to have had cast the black woman, despite her giving a bad audition based on the fact that can be misconstrued as him not wanting to hire the black actress just because she's black. Should he have not offered the more talented white actress the role as a result?
"

Re the "slips into," that was indeed picking up on words from the previous poster, not you.

I am absolutely not calling you (or your erstwhile friend) a racist. What I said is that we all (meaning Americans in particular) have "racial baggage" which is, to me, the ultimate source of systemic racism. A racist practicesblatant racism, and thus drops out of the systemic paradigm. The rest of us need to be mindful of our own baggage and that includes the difficulty we have looking past the skin color attribute.

Your question about casting is perhaps a symptom of "not looking past." I don't think it lends itself to a single answer. First, let's make it clear that casting directors don't actually cast and if there is an optics/PR discussion, they may be present but that is above their pay grade. Is it conceivable some producer and director might do as you suggest? Sure. Are there others who would not? Yes. I just don't think the question is susceptible to some generalization. If that doesn't answer you satisfactorily, feel free to come back at me.
"


No, I totally see where you’re coming from. And, for what it’s worth, August closed about ten years ago. I feel that that the way many would have viewed the subject matter of this thread and even talked about it would be different today than it would have ten years ago. 
 

Also, Joevitus, I do agree with the point you made regarding August as well. Very good points made and well written.

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#37
Posted: 10/24/20 at 11:29am

Islander_fan said: "No, I totally see where you’re coming from. And, for what it’s worth, August closed about ten years ago. I feel that that the way many would have viewed the subject matter of this thread and even talked about it would be different today than it would have ten years ago."

Absolutely. We evolve and all we can really ask of each other is to be mindful of what our reactions are and what they mean. @NOWaWarning, nice points, thanks. @joevitus, thanks again for highlighting my very point. (The other post, well, res ipsa loquitur, LOL)

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#38
Posted: 10/27/20 at 11:35pm

hayleyann said: "When you look at predominately black plays and musicals like the ones you mentioned, race and/or culture is oftentimes a driving force behind the story. That's why it would make no sense for a non-black person to play those roles.

But even in shows where race has nothing to do with casting, there is still a lag in casting BIPOC. Look at Wicked....a world of fantasy where race literally doesn't matter and doesn't even exist in the context that we know it. And they still have never had a black lead on Broadway. The phenomenal Alexia Khadime was lead Elphaba on the West End for nearly a year and a half, but to my knowledge there hasn't been another black lead Elphaba. There have been several standbys (Lilli Cooper, Saycon Sengbloh, Brandi Chavonne Massey). And Glinda is a whole different story. It wasn't until last year that anyone black ever played Glinda when Brittney Johnson went on as an understudy on Bway. She's since been promoted to Glinda standby.


"

I think Brittany Johnson has since been promoted to the role of Glinda full time (on Playbill.com she is listed as simply Glinda) 

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#39
Posted: 10/28/20 at 3:23pm
It's also very unrealistic that Billy would be belting a beautiful soliloquy about his feelings by the pier.

Theatre requires such an extreme amount of suspension of disbelief, you guys really can't go just ONE step further by believing this black man is in this role, regardless of what would've probably been more accurate in history?

I think about Great Comet; that show had ensemble members running around the tables, playing accordions right in your face, and singing their feelings/narration in a fully-sung show. Plus, those costumes were purposefully anachronistic. People REALLY couldn't go one step further and believe that the ingenue could be black?

I know no one is actually saying that specifically, and I totally understand the nuances with having certain races/genders, etc. playing certain roles and what that could reflect. I'm just completely over the conversation of "blah, blah, blah, a black woman wouldn't have been Russian nobility historically speaking" because we're playing pretend at the end of the day, and people of color deserve to play pretend in meaningful ways, too.
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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#40
Posted: 10/29/20 at 7:45am
The Black Swan State Theatre Company is Western Australia is actually about to do a production of Oklahoma! starring Emily Havea, an Australian Tongan woman, as Curly. Here is an interesting article where Producer/Director Richard Carroll explains the gender-blind casting: https://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/features/oklahoma-gets-a-curly-twist/
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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#41
Posted: 10/29/20 at 10:12am

Okay. This is very simple.  When a POC is cast in a role that can only, in the world of the play, be a white person than that POC is "playing white".

I am not sure why it is illiberal to say that, but no one ever does and it causes much confusion. 

As for the color blind casting itself, we as audience members are pretending everything else, why is it so hard to go a step further. 

I thought Hamilton would end that confusion but I fear people think that casting is just a gimmick.

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#42
Posted: 10/29/20 at 10:49am

There is a giant difference between the unreality of people bursting into song in a musical vs. other unrealistic elements of a production. Indeed, it's probably more important to keep a strong sense of reality in a musical because such a thing is so much harder to create (and shows that more accurately reflect reality have been the main goal of most Broadway composers/lyricists since the day Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II began work on Show Boat).

"Playing white" isn't illberal, it just doesn't make sense as an absolute rule, and clearly is not going to be grasped by many (most?) audiences. Are you going to have a Black woman play Magnolia or Ravenel? How does that work when you have Joe (can he be played by a white man? a white man playing Black?) singing "Ole Man River" or Julie and Frank are put through the miscegenation scene?You can't.

As I and others have said, there are roles that easily lend themselves to color-blind casting, others that don't. Trying to make it a unilateral rule about the process that always applies ("you can always do it" "you can never do it"Color-blind and gender-blind casting just doesn't work.

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#43
Posted: 10/29/20 at 12:17pm

Owen22 said: "Okay. This is very simple. When a POC is cast in a role that can only, in the world of the play, be a white person than that POC is "playing white".

I am not sure why it is illiberal to say that, but no one ever does and it causes much confusion.

As for the color blind casting itself, we as audience members are pretending everything else, why is it so hard to go a step further.

I thought Hamilton would end that confusion but I fear people think that casting is just a gimmick.
"

I think many here and elsewhere DO say that "playing" white (etc.) is what's happening in your first point. The confusion is that not everyone is willing or able to shed their racial baggage as I have termed it. When, e.g., a 20-something Gielgud played Lear, we say he was playing old; when Glenda Jackson played Lear, we say she was playing a man. But when a black man plays the part, why is it that some can't look past his blackness? There is only one answer. To say that some roles do not lend themselves to color blind casting is to admit one's racial baggage. The goal needs to be growing past that. 

Re Hamilton, that is not color blind casting. LMM very expressly set out to reclaim American history for all by casting the 21st Century mosaic (American then told by America now).

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#44
Posted: 10/29/20 at 12:34pm

It has zero to do with a person's "racial baggage" to notice a performer's race and to know what perceptions of race were in the given historical period in which a show is set.

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#45
Posted: 10/29/20 at 12:43pm

Joshua Rosenthal said: "hayleyann said: "When you look at predominately black plays and musicals like the ones you mentioned, race and/or culture is oftentimes a driving force behind the story. That's why it would make no sense for a non-black person to play those roles.

But even in shows where race has nothing to do with casting, there is still a lag in casting BIPOC. Look at Wicked....a world of fantasy where race literally doesn't matter and doesn't even exist in the context that we know it. And they still have never had a black lead on Broadway. The phenomenal Alexia Khadime was lead Elphaba on the West End for nearly a year and a half, but to my knowledge there hasn't been another black lead Elphaba. There have been several standbys (Lilli Cooper, Saycon Sengbloh, Brandi Chavonne Massey). And Glinda is a whole different story. It wasn't until last year that anyone black ever played Glinda when Brittney Johnson went on as an understudy on Bway. She's since been promoted to Glinda standby.


"

I think Brittany Johnson has since been promoted to the role of Glinda full time (on Playbill.com she is listed as simply Glinda)
"

It's  listed like this on Playbill for a reason.  Right before the Covid shutdown, Ginna Claire had just renewed her contract for another run so was taking a 3-4 week break.  During that time, Brittney, as standby, would be covering her mostly with Celia Hottenstein (understudy) getting a few shows.  Since it was going to be a long break, they probably had Playbills printed accordingly, which is why you see Brittney as Glinda, and right under it Celia Hottenstein as Glinda at certain performances.  However if you notice on that same playbill site, Brittney is also still listed as the Standby.  If you go to Wicked's actual website, the cast list correctly lists Ginna Claire Mason as Glinda and BJ as Standby and Celia as Ensemble/Glinda Understudy.  And they'd be the first to update any cast changes.

Updated On: 10/29/20 at 12:43 PM
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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#46
Posted: 10/29/20 at 1:02pm

joevitus said: "It has zero to do with a person's "racial baggage" to notice a performer's race and to know what perceptions of race were in the given historicalperiod in which a show is set."

To not recognize that noticing a performer's race in the disabling way as you do here is an emblem of the very racial baggage you claim has "zero to do with" it. One can and should of course have an awareness of historical perceptions of race but that's not a license to perpetuate those perceptions in our own existence.  

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#47
Posted: 10/29/20 at 1:07pm

Everyone notices race. If you did not notice race, you could not complain about race and casting to begin with. We know reality. We know science (people of exclusively one race do not produce people of another). We know at least generally the history of previous eras. And as audience memebers, that is going to inform what we are watching on the stage.

Not deceiving one's self about life or history is not baggage, and no attacks or smug language will alter that.

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#48
Posted: 10/29/20 at 1:27pm

noticing race and being preoccupied with it are not the same thing. That's the essence of racial baggage. You've made it clear you don't understand that.

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#49
Posted: 10/29/20 at 3:21pm

No obsession here. Insults don't make for effective conversation. Might want to consider that in you online interactions. 

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Color-blind and gender-blind casting#50
Posted: 10/29/20 at 4:39pm

what was insulting? That you don't understand "racial baggage"? You have said that yourself about ten times now.