May 22, 2017

"It is important to note that Mr. Albee wrote Nick as a Caucasian character, whose blonde hair and blue eyes are remarked on frequently in the play, even alluding to Nick’s likeness as that of an Aryan of Nazi racial ideology."

“Furthermore, Mr. Albee himself said on numerous occasions when approached with requests for nontraditional casting in productions of ‘Virginia Woolf’ that a mixed-race marriage between a Caucasian and an African-American would not have gone unacknowledged in conversations in that time and place and under the circumstances in which the play is expressly set by textual references in the 1960s."

Said the letter from the estate of Edward Albee, quoted in a NYT article about the refusal to grant rights for a Portland, Oregon production "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" with a black actor cast in the secondary role of Nick (the character George Segal played in the movie with Richard Burton in the leading male role).

38 comments:

MisterBuddwing said...

I dimly recall an episode many years ago in which a theater troupe got into trouble with a production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" in which George and Martha were played by two men. Even though Edward Albee was a gay man, he did not approve of the lead characters of his play being portrayed as a gay couple.

The Cracker Emcee said...

It's a perfectly valid artistic concern. Amusing to see the torturous contortions of the makers of movies with a historical setting to add POC's into roles they wouldn't have occupied at the time. Amusing to see the Left so intent on whitewashing the past.

buwaya said...

In Asia they are played by Asians.
Someday they will be played by robots.

The Drill SGT said...

I wonder if DC's Shakespeare Theater asked the Bard for permission to cast a black woman as King Duncan? All the main actors were black. The only whites were the 3 witches.

Hecate (queen of the witches) is a white man, with a Russian accent

The Scottish civilians wear Arab clothes and the Scottish soldiers have red berets and AK-47's

Same with a recent Studio Theater "Three Sisters" - Chekov. The Sisters were white, but all the Russian military were Black.



-appropriation

LarsPorsena said...

It's called blackwashing. Whether it's Shakespeare, King Arthur, the Vikings, etc. blacks are always anachronistically shoe-horned into roles and we're not supposed to notice.

Any white folks doing 'Porgy and Bess' or 'Raisin in the Sun'?

Fernandinande said...

Prediction: "the estate of Edward Albee" will relent - because this is really an advertising campaign.

Unknown said...

I think it's OK on stage. I saw a production of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" where the ocean liner captain was black. Of course that would never have happened in the 1920s setting, but on stage you're already accepting so many things that aren't real that it works. In a movie, it would not work.

I have been reading and enjoying the heck out of two very good "Flintlock Punk" fantasy series lately: Brian McCllelan's Powder Mage Trilogy and Django Wexler's Shadow Campaigns. Both are "second world" settings where both black powder and magic work and both are informed by the French Revolution. And both give women roles they never would have had in that setting because modern readers demand it..

Michael said...

Why would a black actor want to appropriate a white role? Write your own fucking play.

Michael said...

Was Albee so fucking stupid and blind that he did not know black people existed?
Did he not choose to make the play about dysfunctional whites?

Matthew Sablan said...

Some art can be enhanced (or not harmed) by changing the cast (12 Angry Men can certainly be improved; much, if not all, of Shakespeare).

Others... not so much. I wonder if you could reverse the genders in Blithe Spirit and it work.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Racism, straight up.
Anyway race, gender, and "objective" physical characteristics are all social constructs. If the actor playing the part identifies as someone with blue eyes and blond hair (at the time the actor's playing the part, anyway) then everyone in the audience has to agree that the actor does in fact have blue eyes and blond hair, right??

I mean, that's what this whole transgender thing is about. You can plainly see that Caitlyn Jenner is not a beautiful woman, but Caitlyn Jenner IDENTIFIES as a beautiful woman and therefore we MUST all agree that Caitlyn Jenner is a beautiful woman. To do otherwise is to be a horrible bigot and would subject a person to loss of social standing, job, etc--to ostracism if not banishment.

It's fucking hilarious to try and draw a line now, with theater casting of all things! "Oh no, we can't allow this, it's too absurd!" Gee, how late are you guys?!

DanTheMan said...

So, it would be OK to cast Matt Damon as Martin Luther King Jr.?

readering said...

George segal Jewish Nazi?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

I'll simplify:

If a person looks like a man but says they're a woman then we have to all agree "she" is a woman.
If a person looks like a white person but says they're black (or Native American) then we all have to agree they're black.
The penalty for disagreeing--for not agreeing to honor and repeat the self-identification of a given individual, no matter how contrary to what you might perceive as "objective reality"--is as harsh as that meted out for vicious racism in today's society.

These are the rules and they've been made pretty clear in the last few years--the smart people and our elites have used the Media to make and enforce those rules and only deplorable-types might dare to disagree.

Applying those rules to this situation immediately shows how untenable the position of the playwright's estate truly is. Obvious.

robother said...

Wait a minute, so Albee was OK with Aryan Nation Nick being played by (100% Jewish) George Segal? I guess the movie royalties somehow overcame his authorial principles.

Fritz said...

DanTheMan said...
So, it would be OK to cast Matt Damon as Martin Luther King Jr.?


OK? It should be mandatory!

mockturtle said...

Orson Welles played Othello, as did a number of other white actors, in blackface. So if a black actor wants to play a white role, he will have to play it in whiteface.

readering said...

Just saw production of Tosca with black and yellow male leads. Sang well in Italian.

Etienne said...

In my opinion, it's racism to not let black people enjoy a racist white mans play.

sparrow said...

Beauty and the Beast had a black priest, to make a quota I expect.

mockturtle said...

Last night I watched The Year of Living Dangerously for the umpteenth time. Linda Hunt was very believable as a dwarf man. So racial and gender appropriation can be done but it must be done to meet the criteria of the role as written. To ignore that infringes on the rights of the author.

Etienne said...

If David Carradine can play a Chinaman...

sparrow said...

Denzel Washington in Branaugh's "Much Ado About Nothing" is another (much older) example

sparrow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

Do you mean a White Viking Culture still exists on God's earth? If so, then appropriate your own culture.

TWW said...

Cultural Appropriation

MadisonMan said...

Well, I agree that *if* it happens it'll be good for the bottom line, as now more people know about the play.

There is no such thing as bad publicity.

Mary Beth said...

Etienne said...

If David Carradine can play a Chinaman...

5/22/17, 9:38 AM


Should have been Bruce Lee.

BudBrown said...

I wonder if the company performing Shakespeare's plays didn't have a couple of really good transsexual actors. Maybe Juliet and Cleopatra were played by the same actor.

Thinking about Who's Afraid, the need for the young prof to be a blonde, blue eyed Aryan doesn't make my top 100 list.

rcocean said...

this brings up the stupidity of copyright law. Mr. Albee is dead, and he wrote his play almost 50 years ago. I think he and heirs have been adequately rewarded by the Government monopoly we call "Copyright".

rcocean said...

"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

I think 50 years is an adequate amount of "Limited time"

rcocean said...

That aside, I agree with the estate. Its too bad Shakepeare's heirs aren't around to stop some of the bizarre casting and re-writes of his plays.

William said...

I don't think Who's Afraid is especially rooted in a time and place. I could definitely see Martha and George as a bitchy, same sex couple. Maybe remarks about the Aryan good looks of a black actor could be used as an example of their rich fantasy life...... . Why are some roles sacrosanct and others not so much. Should Shylock only be played by Jewish actors or should it be played at all? Othello was written for a white actor in blackface, but that role now exclusively belongs to black actors. How long before an actor in an orange wig plays Richard III?

Unknown said...

> Othello was written for a white actor in blackface,

And all the Bard's female roles were written for actors in drag..

Big Mike said...

Shakespeare had it right: "Much Ado About Nothing."

mockturtle said...

> Othello was written for a white actor in blackface,

And all the Bard's female roles were written for actors in drag..


The actors' union was very powerful in those days.

buwaya said...

"this brings up the stupidity of copyright law. Mr. Albee is dead, and he wrote his play almost 50 years ago."

Correct. Copyright law is ridiculous.

Michael K said...

"Denzel Washington in Branaugh's "Much Ado About Nothing" is another (much older) example"

And he was excellent. I think it works because he is not the Samuel L Jackson angry black.

Also, I like almost anything he does.