Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Share the Stage

There's controversy over at the Shaw Festival:

"Toronto's Andrew Moodie, 40, electrified the country's theatrical community last week when he announced that he was starting an online initiative he calls Share the Stage to lever the festival, started 46 years ago at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., to embrace such practices as colour-blind casting. In the announcement, Moodie asks: 'Does the festival actually have a policy to exclude people based on race?'"

"Moodie thinks that the Shaw should emulate the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. "They've got it right. ... They're working with members of colour to commission new plays and commission plays that are black-themed." This year's Stratford cast an African Canadian, Nikki James, as the lead in Romeo and Juliet and hired an African American, Ron OJ Parsons, to direct Joanna Glass's Palmer Park: A Visit to Post-Riot Detroit."

You can read all the quotes and reactions in the Globe and Mail article.

J. Kelly Nestruck, in his blog for the same paper, expands on the comparison to Stratford:

"The contrast with Canada's other big repertory company is striking. Over at the Stratford Festival, there are actors of colour playing Juliet, Helen of Troy, Christopher Sly, Cleopatra (in a play by Bernard Shaw, no less) and rebellious Fuente Ovejunians, to name just a few. There isn't a big fuss made about it, either. Maybe it's because Shakespeare's characters were originally all played by male actors, but non-traditional casting is just the way Stratford roles. (Apologies.)"

Nestruck also points us to two Shaw actors, Ali Momen and Thom Allison, who have responded to the issue in their own blogs.

So . . .

What do you think?

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