SHAKESPEARE OFFENSIVELY WHITE

An all-white Shakespearean cast? It's theatre of the absurd

Simon Mellor, Executive Director of Arts and Culture, Arts Council England:

"This production seems out of step with most of British theatre where casting that ignores an actor’s race is increasingly the norm. Whilst we do not fund the Rose Theatre, we expect organisations we fund to actively ensure their programme, and the artists that create it, reflect the people of contemporary England.”

Shakespeare too white Trevor Nunn Wars of the Roses full cast.jpg

The offensively White cast of the Wars of the Roses, Rose Theatre, Kingston


Trevor Nunn defends all-white Shakespeare cast as ‘historically accurate’

By Georgia Snow, Stage, Aug 17, 2015

Trevor Nunn has defended his all-white cast for Shakespeare trilogy The Wars of the Roses, which opens at the Rose Theatre Kingston next month.

The director, who has been criticised for including only white, able-bodied performers in his 22-strong cast, has claimed that a desire to reflect "historical verisimilitude" was behind the decision.

Earlier this month, Equity described Nunn’s casting for the show as “disappointing”, adding that it "locks minorities out of the cultural picture".

Responding to the criticisms, the director told The Independent on Sunday: "Having been involved since the early 1970s in the movement to cast, wherever possible, according to the principle of diversity, I am, of course, saddened to discover that Equity has criticised the casting for my current project.”

He added: “The connections between the characters, and hence the narrative of the plays, are extremely complex, and so everything possible must be done to clarify for an audience who is related by birth to whom. Hence, I decided that, in this instance, these considerations should take precedence over my usual diversity inclination.”

The production condenses four of Shakespeare's early history plays.



ARTS UNION BLASTS SHAKESPEARE PRODUCTION FOR HAVING WHITE ACTORS AND NO DISABLED QUOTA

Oliver Lane, Breitbart, 17 Aug 2015

A celebrated director has been savaged by the leftist arts establishment for staging a Shakespeare play about England’s medieval history with a historically correct all white cast.

Remarkably, highly regarded director Sir Trevor Nunn has been accused of “whitewashing” British history for his deliberate casting decision for a production of The Wars of the Roses, reports The Independent. Combining the Henry VI trilogy and Richard III, the omnibus of Shakespeare’s most famed history plays presents a crucial period in English history – at a time where the population was essentially entirely white.

The United Kingdom’s largest actors union Equity weighed in to criticise the play, which will be showing at the Rose theatre in Kingston with a cast of 22, with the president of the union opining: “Whilst wishing every individual actor in the production well, can it be acceptable best practice in 2015 to cast a project such as this with 22 actors but not one actor of colour or who apparently identifies themselves as having a disability?”.

Sir Trevor insisted the casting was based on a deliberate decision – and one very rarely taken in contemporary theatre – to select players according to “historical verisimilitude”. In other words, he wanted to give the appearance of realism that an average theatregoer would accept as being recognisably medieval England. He added that the feudal nature of the plays, which revolves around two great English families vying for control of the country would become more difficult to understand for the audience if the characters weren’t obviously related to one another.

Rejecting the casting logic, the Equity statement read: “To present this benchmark of British heritage in a way that effectively locks minorities out of the cultural picture [literally] flies in the face of the huge conversation taking place in British media at present, of the very real progress made in recent years to increase diversity in our industry.”

It is likely a small number of travellers from the farthest corners of the world journeyed to England even in the 15th century owing to the nation’s blossoming mercantile trade. Yet the fact remains the number involved was so vanishingly small as to be a fraction of a single percent – and certainly no characters in these Shakespeare plays were non-European.

Far from whitewashing history, the accusations of miscasting in this case might be said in turn to be attempting to re-write history to suit a modern agenda.

One of the most concerning attacks on the play came from the director of Arts Council England. A recipient of huge amounts of tax payer money, the criticism of the play laid bare the political agenda of the quango as executive director Simon Mellor admitted only ethnically diverse projects would receive government funding through the council. He said:

“This production seems out of step with most of British theatre where casting that ignores an actor’s race is increasingly the norm. Whilst we do not fund the Rose Theatre, we expect organisations we fund to actively ensure their programme, and the artists that create it, reflect the people of contemporary England.”

The admission by Mellor explains how ethnically diverse casting has become such a norm in the United Kingdom and so quickly – as most artistic ventures remain completely unprofitable the receipt of grants remains essential for most theatre and arts companies.

Dispersing £830 million of tax payers’ money a year, the Arts Council is near ubiquitous and is able to exert enormous creative control through its selection of who is and who is not worthy of funding.



Trevor Nunn defends all-white Shakespeare histories

But Equity and diversity activists are furious at the lack of ethnic minorities and disabled actors in a cast of 22


Jonathan Owen, The Independent, 15 August 2015

One of Britain's most celebrated theatre directors, Sir Trevor Nunn, is embroiled in a furious row over the all-white cast chosen for his latest Shakespearean production, The Wars of the Roses. The distillation of four history plays, which opens at the Rose Theatre in Kingston next month, will be performed by a 22-strong cast led by Joely Richardson and Rufus Hound.

The casting has been condemned by the actors’ union Equity and drawn criticism from Arts Council England and diversity campaigners who are angry at what they describe as a “whitewashing” of history. Malcolm Sinclair, the president of Equity, said: “Whilst wishing every individual actor in the production well, can it be acceptable best practice in 2015 to cast a project such as this with 22 actors but not one actor of colour or who apparently identifies themselves as having a disability?”

And in a statement, Equity’s minority ethnic members committee said: “To present this benchmark of British heritage in a way that effectively locks minorities out of the cultural picture [literally] flies in the face of the huge conversation taking place in British media at present, of the very real progress made in recent years to increase diversity in our industry.”

Responding to the criticisms, Sir Trevor told The Independent on Sunday said he was a longstanding member of the movement to “cast, whenever possible, according to the principle of diversity”, but in this case of The War of The Roses he had made an “artistic decision” to cast according to “historical verisimilitude”.

He added: “The connections between the characters, and hence the narrative of the plays, are extremely complex, and so everything possible must be done to clarify for an audience who is related by birth to whom. Hence, I decided that, in this instance, these considerations should take precedence over my usual diversity inclination.”

That explanation was confirmed by a spokesperson for the Rose Theatre, who said: “A creative decision was taken by the director that a naturalistic historical approach in casting was required.”

Critics have questioned the “verisimilitude” of the production, which amalgamates Shakespeare’s Henry VI trilogy and Richard III and is sponsored by Norway’s largest financial services group, DNB. Norwegian actor Kare Conradi was chosen to plays Edward IV. And two British actresses, Joely Richardson and Imogen Daines, play the French characters Margaret of Anjou and Joan of Arc. The Rose Theatre in Kingston where The War of the Roses is opening The Rose Theatre in Kingston where The War of the Roses is opening

Simon Mellor, executive director of arts and culture, Arts Council England said: “This production seems out of step with most of British theatre where casting that ignores an actor’s race is increasingly the norm."

He added: "Whilst we do not fund the Rose Theatre, we expect organisations we fund to actively ensure their programme, and the artists that create it, reflect the people of contemporary England.”

And actor Danny Lee Wynter, founder of Act For Change, which campaigns for greater diversity in the arts, said: “The Wars of the Roses caused us concerns, particularly the justification of historical accuracy which displayed a lack of awareness of the debate ... It’s very hard in this day and age to have a company that size which is all white.” Mr Wynter added: He added: “They have not been ‘historically accurate’ in having a Norwegian actor in the company.

Trevor Nunn, the Rose Theatre Kingston, and Ginny Schiller who cast this production have placed themselves in a tremendously unfavourable corner ... worryingly, some will take the Rose Theatre’s whitewashing of history as gospel.”

Ms Schiller, who cast the play, told The Independent on Sunday: “On this occasion Trevor Nunn – a director with a proven commitment to diverse casting – decided that because of the complex family tree and conflicting claims to the throne through direct lineage to Edward III, a naturalistic ‘colour aware’ approach was required.” She added: “All the supporting actors will play many parts, and at some point in the trilogy take on roles who are related to the Houses of York and Lancaster by blood. This is why even those roles with no genealogical link to the families were also cast white.”

In a statement last night, Sir Trevor said: “Having been involved since the early 1970s in the movement to cast, wherever possible, according to the principle of diversity, I am, of course, saddened to discover that Equity has criticised the casting for my current project.” He added: “I took the artistic decision that a trilogy of Shakespeare’s early history plays, telling in documentary detail the story of the English monarchy and English nobility in the second half of the 15th century, should be presented with, as far as possible, historical verisimilitude.”

The row highlights the continuing debate over the lack of diversity in British theatre and comes just months after actor Adrian Lester, speaking during an event at London’s National Theatre, said: “It’s up to us to gather in groups and embarrass the sides of the industry that we can...and to consistently, always, constantly ask for change.”

Diversity is one of the biggest challenges facing the arts today, says Equity, and the union recently issued its first ever policy on ‘inclusive casting’ to tackle what is calls “discrimination across the industry.” This calls for targets for casting actors from diverse backgrounds, regardless of sex, disability, race or sexuality, along with equality monitoring of performers, stage management and creative teams.

Julia Horan, a member of the Casting Directors Guild of Great Britain, commented: “I think that everybody in the industry supports the idea of inclusive casting and it is part of a constant conversation about who we should cast which is taking place in theatres across Britain.” But she added: “There’s a wider issue of a lack of diversity which extends beyond casting to the entire industry itself. Diversity only moves forward when the people doing the picking are diverse and if there’s no diversity in that then there will never be any true diversity in terms of who’s on stage.”

COMMENTS

STEVONATRON: It's over-due that the population of this country snapped out of their brainwashed acceptance of political correctness (Marxism) and start shouting back, standing up for ourselves and our history. The best to push back is to celebrate our white British culture, fly the flag of this country with pride and oppose those who try to shame us for who we are.

BigRed: Good grief! Must we now have a black Richard III? Stupidity in the extreme is grabbing our leftist brethren. No wonder UKIP is growing exponentially, we do not need to change our history to suit the current make up of our population. Its a bit like casting a white Mandela in a Long Walk to Freedom. Grrrr.... Vote NO to get us out of the EU and into a better Britain and a better national frame of mind.

dejavous: Make a Bollywood version. War of the roses with song dance and an all ethnic cast.

MeganBToo: Why are there no naked pole dancers in the cast? Why have all our royalty been white? Why are most news readers non-white - if they are 14% of the population why are they 50%+ in newsrooms?

VPboy: If somebody painted a picture of only white people would it be racist?

jxxgreen: who would these ZEALOTS of diversity want to sacked to make way for the minorities? the British have put up with being shoved aside for too long by the PC unelected bigots and they are doing the working class minorities no favours they only suits themselves and their rich ethnic friends

Dave Jones: What annoys me no end is when the same activists celebrate, literally gloat about an all minority cast.

catnap: Notice that in the film Zulu, none of the Zulu tribesmen were European - what an insult to the European minority in that country, the film should be banned !!!! ---------------------------- well they banned the Black and White Minstrels .... Why do I sense hand wringing Liberals here ? I'm sure 15th century England was simply awash with ethnic diversity. These plays are called histories for a reason. And rewriting history to appease some loonies' idea that they must reflect modern Britain is infantile. Let them do their own production if it matters that much to them. Shakespeare is out of copyright and lots of theatres could use the bookings.

Giggs: The responses to this article are shocking and display an ignorance and arrogance that are at the very heart of discrimination. Black and minority ethnic groups make up a significant percentage of our population, as do the disabled, the majority of whom were born in the UK into families who have been here for decades - they are as British as anyone else. They are entitled to exactly the same opportunities as any one else. However, the fact is that over the last ten years, employment within the entertainment industry amongst this group, which has never been representative of their communities, has reduced significantly, and there is solid data to prove this. Consequently, over the past two years, there has been a growing clamour to ensure that the work we see on our stages and screens, those working behind the scenes both as technicians and administrators, reflect the society we live in. Continuing to cast productions claiming 'historical accuracy' means nothing will change. For those who dismiss those calling for inclusive casting as simply being politically correct bigots - please get over yourselves! It's just a tired excuse for not doing the right thing.

BigRed: GIGGS you comment is the most stupid I've heard to date. History is just that history. The royalty going back over a thousand years have all been white, how can you cast a black man in the role of Richard III. Yes may be a disabled hunchback but certainly not black, green, yellow or purple. It is because of the likes of you that Britain is not what it used to be. We treat our immigrants with dignity it is about HIGH TIME that immigrants treat us with dignity.

Mcmlxi: Notice people don't complain about 'all-black' or other such productions - particularly historical dramas - but oh no we can't have a cast reflecting the ethnic make-up of the indigenous population at the time. Perhaps these prejudice and bigoted 'politically correct' individuals would be better off cleaning their windows than expressing their stupid opinions.

sabcarrera: Why is this "white-washing" of history?

Alfster: When casting 'has' to have quotas as defined by some non-entity pressure group then there is something seriously wrong with the world. No problem with 'ethnic' or disabled actors in things but criticising someone for their casting choices in historical Shakespeare plays is showing the 'activists' to have no sense of perspective or what they should really be protesting about...and people saying lines on a stage really isn;t where they should be concentrating their efforts.

I'm Really Not Very Happy: Idris Elba should play James Bond. The femme fatales will remain White and blonde, naturally. European nations must learn to be multicultural. Europe is not going to be the monolithic societies that they once were in the last century.

Gulf Flyer: They certainly won't be Asian or Oriental beauties - not big fans of black actors?

CeeRich: British actors in British plays. Whatever next !!!

Apocalypse Now: Why don't ethnic actors put on their own plays from the classics of their home countries?

Apocalypse Now: I like going to plays, but Trevor Nunn is right. I would not go to any play with a token black or disabled person. Look at the way the Fantastic Four burned and crashed with a token and PC black "brother" in an otherwise white family.

I'm Really Not Very Happy: The problem with British theatre is that while the White audience is colour-blind the Black-audience only wants to actors of their own race. So we have a choice: we can either ignore this racism or we can pander to it. Nunn has chosen the former route. It will end his career.

Gulf Flyer: Unless we stand up and say no more - this country is 90% white; it's no accident that our soaps/dramas, and in particular, our adverts are dominated by our ethnic population - your pathway to this is Government Behavioural Scientists - it has nothing to do with meritocracy? Post the Aug 2011 looting spree/riots/arson attacks by, in the main, a particular ethnic group, the subsequent bleating about being 'disenfranchised' from British society, has generated rich rewards for them. This radical change bought about in 4 years, imagine where we will be in ten years time? In the USA the Democrats are aggressively rewriting American history - are we soon to be pummelled into believing William Shakespeare was indeed black?

Charles Ewing: One in six people in the UK are from ethnic minorities. That is increasing rapidly - for example, Birmingham schoolchildren are 44% Asian (mostly Pakistani), 31% white and 13% black. White schoolchildren will become a minority in 2037. Once that happens, whites will inevitably become a minority in the population as a whole by the middle of the century.

almostvoid: how about a dark - of colour - dolphin hugging, metrosexual Richard III? An Asian John IV who of course is a closet lesbian.

william carr: There are no ethnic (black) characters in Shakespeare apart from Othello and Shylock. So no reason to have multicultural actors except in those parts. Apart from PC of course which along with 'multiculture' is destroying our own culture as fast as the liberals and other traitors can achieve it. I recently saw on TV a production of Richard 2nd, which although overly arty and in parts rather ridiculous was quite entertaining and well acted. However it featured a black bishop! Even if there were any black priests in England at the time they certainly would not have held high office in the church. I believe a few years back there was a production in London of Shakespeare in some African language. The escense our greatest playwright is the glory of his use of our once noble language. How ridiculous can producers and directors be.

Tom Snood: Why don't the ethnics bring their own plays. At least leave OUR heritage to us, even if they've corrupted our future. We're all supposed to respect THEIR heritage and strange ways.

sarah: What do expect of Nunn. Trapped in his own igloo. White everywhere you look.

maias: I'd like to see Simon Mellor's reaction when a play, about Apartheid South Africa in the 1960s but for today's political correctness sensibilities won't allow the terrible discrimination of those times to be shown as it doesn't reflect the views of people of contemporary England.

maias: Simon Mellor, executive director of arts and culture, Arts Council England said: “This production seems out of step with most of British theatre where casting that ignores an actor’s race is increasingly the norm... We expect organisations we fund to actively ensure their programme, and the artists that create it, reflect the people of contemporary England.” But Shakespeare is NOT contemporary England.

belltell: I am outraged that Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King are never played by white actors.

American Girl: Oh heavens, no black amputees in the production? Outrageous

lastcockney: Billy Shakespeare wrote plays to be performed by actors in front of an audience. Mr Nunn's casting is insulting to actors of every background.

max: When I see Nelson Mandela played by a white actor I'll think there's some sense in this.

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卍心の智

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