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Nicholas Hytner


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#61 Backdrifter

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 08:03 AM

QUOTE(Snout @ Mar 24 2007, 06:33 AM) View Post
Colour-blind casting only becomes a problem sometimes if the rest of the production is carefully set in a period when mixed colour groups would not have happened. Why go to the trouble of finding exquisitely correct period costumes and then inserting a black or white face where it would not have existed? Sometimes there is an element of forced protest about colour-blind casting - as if the director is saying 'look at us, aren't we bold?' whereas what is really happening is that artistic interpretation is being skewed by political assertiveness.  
Another thought: could you have a black face as a member of a group of Klu Klux Klansmen? It's an extreme example but it shows that the colour-blind theory does not work without fail.

Nah, I still don't see it. Maybe some casting is directors trying to be right on, I don't know, but I'm happy to accept that they're picking the best out of whoever auditioned. To question it on the basis of it being in some way anachronous doesn't hold water for me, if that actor is giving a good enough performance, that's all that matters to me. In answer to your question about casting a KKK member, I'd say: I don't know. I share your instinctive feeling that it wouldn't work, but I'd have to see it. It'd be the supreme test of that actor's ability but I wouldn't rule it out.

It simply boils down to whether the actor does a good enough job. It's a shame if people let other factors get in the way of that.
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#62 Job

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 07:58 AM

QUOTE(Backdrifter @ Mar 26 2007, 09:03 AM) View Post
It simply boils down to whether the actor does a good enough job. It's a shame if people let other factors get in the way of that.


In that case, why don't we see white actors in productions of Porgy and Bess? Aren't they good enough? And I see there are no non-black actors in Sizwe Banzi either. Should I complain about that?

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#63 Orchestrator

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 08:47 AM

QUOTE(Job @ Mar 28 2007, 08:58 AM) View Post
In that case, why don't we see white actors in productions of Porgy and Bess? Aren't they good enough? And I see there are no non-black actors in Sizwe Banzi either. Should I complain about that?

The casting of Porgy and Bess is strictly controlled by the Gershwin Estate, I think. Obviously where race and the relationship between different ethnic groups, as in Sizwe Banzi, is the subject or the main background to a play then the ethnicity of the actors might well be important. In Henry V or Tosca or, in fact, the vast majority of plays, musicals and operas, it isn't.
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#64 Job

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 11:44 AM

QUOTE(Orchestrator @ Mar 28 2007, 09:47 AM) View Post
Obviously where race and the relationship between different ethnic groups, as in Sizwe Banzi, is the subject or the main background to a play then the ethnicity of the actors might well be important. In Henry V or Tosca or, in fact, the vast majority of plays, musicals and operas, it isn't.


The historical Henry V may have had a more Anglo-Saxon ethnicity and the fictional Hamlet a more Danish one than Adrian Lester, but I don't recall too many complaints when he shouldered either role. Quite right too.

My argument is not against colour-blind casting - I'm all in favour of it when it does not intrude on the dramatic set-up - but it is wholly against hypocrisy or double standards masquerading as political correctness, which is why I posted that earlier comment.

I remember being slightly distracted by a white Alonso having a black Ferdinand for a son in Adrian Noble's The Tempest a few years ago, for the simple reason that the two characters' blood ties are so important within the play. However, I was far more distracted by the fact that the actor playing Ferdinand gave a quite appalling performance.

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#65 Change

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 11:55 AM


What you see, is what you get.

#66 Jan Brock

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 12:18 PM

QUOTE(Orchestrator @ Mar 28 2007, 09:47 AM) View Post
The casting of Porgy and Bess is strictly controlled by the Gershwin Estate, I think. Obviously where race and the relationship between different ethnic groups, as in Sizwe Banzi, is the subject or the main background to a play then the ethnicity of the actors might well be important. In Henry V or Tosca or, in fact, the vast majority of plays, musicals and operas, it isn't.


Wouldn't you say that the entire basis of the plot of Henry V is essentially racist - stout-hearted England vs. the foppish French ?

Sometimes directors introduce ethnic relationships to clarify texts and use appropriate casting to do so - Trevor Nunn's "Troilus and Cressida" for example (a poor production) or numerous "Romeo and Juliets".  So sometimes you need to ignore mixed-race casting, and sometimes not.

#67 Backdrifter

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 01:23 PM

QUOTE(Job @ Mar 28 2007, 07:58 AM) View Post
In that case, why don't we see white actors in productions of Porgy and Bess? Aren't they good enough? And I see there are no non-black actors in Sizwe Banzi either. Should I complain about that?

No, I don't see any reason to, unless you feel very strongly about it and anyway, I recognise you're making a point.

I just don't see it as an issue either way.
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