Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
This "Faith-Based" Drama Is Giving 'Straight Outta Compton' a Run for Its Money This Weekend... This "Faith-Based" Drama Is Giving 'Straight Outta Compton' a Run for Its Money This Weekend... Lee Daniels' Richard Pryor Biopic Is Officially Ready to Go (Mike Epps, Eddie Murphy, Oprah Winfrey, Kate Hudson) Lee Daniels' Richard Pryor Biopic Is Officially Ready to Go (Mike Epps, Eddie Murphy, Oprah Winfrey, Kate Hudson) Watch 5 Clips from Regina King's Feature Directorial Debut 'Let The Church Say Amen' Starring Naturi Naughton Watch 5 Clips from Regina King's Feature Directorial Debut 'Let The Church Say Amen' Starring Naturi Naughton Righting a Past Wrong? Academy to Present Spike Lee with Honorary Oscar Righting a Past Wrong? Academy to Present Spike Lee with Honorary Oscar African-American Female Team Produce Indie Horror Film ‘The Dark Rite’ African-American Female Team Produce Indie Horror Film ‘The Dark Rite’ Viola Davis Says She Will Star in a Film Adaptation of 'Fences' Directed by Denzel Washington Viola Davis Says She Will Star in a Film Adaptation of 'Fences' Directed by Denzel Washington "This Is a Relationship" - Watch Michael Ealy Frighten Sanaa Lathan in Tense First Clip From 'The Perfect Guy' "This Is a Relationship" - Watch Michael Ealy Frighten Sanaa Lathan in Tense First Clip From 'The Perfect Guy' Vin Diesel Says He's Returning for a 'xXx' Threequel - Filming to Start in December Vin Diesel Says He's Returning for a 'xXx' Threequel - Filming to Start in December Updates on Steve McQueen's "Epic" Series Centered on a Black Community in London, Over 3 Decades Updates on Steve McQueen's "Epic" Series Centered on a Black Community in London, Over 3 Decades This Is What Angela Bassett and Naomi Campbell Will Look Like in 'American Horror Story: Hotel' This Is What Angela Bassett and Naomi Campbell Will Look Like in 'American Horror Story: Hotel' Quentin Tarantino Says 'The Hateful Eight' Will Be Timely & Will Tackle White Supremacy Quentin Tarantino Says 'The Hateful Eight' Will Be Timely & Will Tackle White Supremacy But What About Black Superheroines, You Ask? Watch Episode 1 of CW Seed's Vixen Series But What About Black Superheroines, You Ask? Watch Episode 1 of CW Seed's Vixen Series Watch: Trailer for Miniseries Based on Life of Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz (Coming This Fall) Watch: Trailer for Miniseries Based on Life of Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz (Coming This Fall) Watch: First Look at Season Three of 'Hit the Floor' Watch: First Look at Season Three of 'Hit the Floor' Brad Pitt's Plan B + 'Ex Machina' Distribution Company Team up for Barry Jenkins' 'Moonlight' Brad Pitt's Plan B + 'Ex Machina' Distribution Company Team up for Barry Jenkins' 'Moonlight' Jay Ellis and Yvonne Orji Join Issa Rae in 'Insecure' for HBO Jay Ellis and Yvonne Orji Join Issa Rae in 'Insecure' for HBO Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... AFM News: Danny Glover, Derek Luke Will Play Prison Inmates In 3D Drama 'Long Day Journey' AFM News: Danny Glover, Derek Luke Will Play Prison Inmates In 3D Drama 'Long Day Journey'

Controversy Over *Whitewashed* Casting Of Tony Award-Nominated Play That Co-Starred Chris Rock

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act December 5, 2011 at 2:50PM

We debate it happening in cinema almost whenever it does - most recently and notably, the casting of Akira, and The Last Airbender; but you'll be *glad* to know that it also apparently happens in theater.
3
Mfwth

We debate it happening in cinema almost whenever it does - most recently and notably, the casting of Akira, and The Last Airbender; but you'll be *glad* to know that it also apparently happens in theater.

I heard about this last week while I was out, but forgot to research it when I got home. You should recall that Chris Rock co-starred in the multiple Tony Award nominated Broadway production of the play.

Broadway World has the details below:

As TheaterWorks' production of THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT comes to a close, the controversy surrounding the casting process does not. The Hartford-based theatre company, presenting the regional premiere of the show, attracted attention when the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA) and playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis questioned the casting decisions made by the company. 

"The two romantic leads in my play were written very specifically as Latinos in their late 30's...I saw Theaterworks' character breakdowns for the roles that went out for the auditions, and there was no mention of the ethnicity of the two characters in question," Guirgis said... "It became clear to me that perhaps Theaterworks had no intention of casting Latinos in the first place since they weren't asking agents to submit Latino actors for these Latino roles."

And how does TheaterWorks respond? The artistic director, Steve Campo, explains, and rather weakly I might add:

"It is a tribute to his skill that Stephen Adly Guirgis, though not Hispanic, is able to so credibly depict a culture not his own, as he does in The Motherf[------] With the Hat. How gracious it would be of him to allow that actors of whatever heritage might succeed in acting, much as he has in writing."

Like I said, weak! You know damn well their intent was to cast 2 Caucasian in the romantic lead roles, likely because they believe doing so will sell more tickets. Even in theater, where I thought writers, above all else, are always given their due... evidently not so.

Playright Stephen Adly Guirgis (who describes himself as half-Egyptian/half Irish-American) responded to TheaterWorks' reply on Saturday with this piece of sweet salvo:

"It's interesting that mr. campo calls me out for not being latino. it's interesting that he categorizes me as being ungracious. I am a half-egyptian, half irish-american new yorker who wrote a play about new yorkers who are multi-ethnic, and yes, three of those characters are latino. I will be at the theater in hartford to support the actors & to see the show. I'm sure all the actors have worked hard and have given their all, and I look forward to meeting them afterwards and giving them some love. it will also be interesting to see if I will see mr campo there. perhaps he can teach me more about how to be gracious, and he can school me on all the other ethnicities that I am not a member of. I will say this: if mr campo can give me the list of every latino actor in nyc that they saw for the roles of jackie & veronica before they decided that these two caucasian actors were far and away the best choice, then I will be happy to make a sincere & formal apology to him, along with a financial donation to his theater. I have already lost FRIENDS over this -- people who just assumed I knew what was going on from the beginning and did nothing to stop it. perhaps mr. campo could also teach me how to repair those relationships. I look forward to meeting mr campo someday so I can fully express my gratitude to him face to face. I'm sure I have much to learn from him about many things."

I especially love this part: "

if mr campo can give me the list of every latino actor in nyc that they saw for the roles of jackie & veronica before they decided that these two caucasian actors were far and away the best choice, then I will be happy to make a sincere & formal apology to him, along with a financial donation to his theater."

Hah! Indeed. 

Though I doubt Mr Campo will take him up on that challenge.

I didn't see The Motherfucker With The Hat when it was on Broadway, here in NYC, but those who did had nothing but good things to say about it; even with regards to Chris Rock's performance, which was his Broadway debut.

This article is related to: Theater


Shadow & ActNewsletter