The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0907  Monday, 23 April 2001

From:           Peterson-Kranz Karen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 22 Apr 2001 14:48:10 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.0889 Re: Black Rosalind
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0889 Re: Black Rosalind

I regret that I do not recall who originally posted the following:

> >The resultant
> >cognitive dissonance at every reference to
> "blackness" was disturbing in
> >the extreme-- there were shocked gasps from the
> audience at each such
> >line-- but I saw no reviews in which critics found
> a way to talk about
> >this. I have the feeling that if we could find a
> way, it would be very
> >instructive.   Any suggestions?

Stephanie Hughes answered:

> I think I understand what you're asking. If a
> director casts a play with
> a mixed race cast and that play has lines that refer
> to someone as
> "black," you're saying that causes a break in the
> audience's ability to
> stick with the story. It's disruptive.

I hope the original author writes again to say whether or not Ms.
Hughes's paraphrase is accurate.  To my mind, the "cognitive dissonance"
described as "disturbing in the extreme" need NOT necessarily mean that
the color-blind casting, and the resultant paradoxical flavor lent to
lines referring to "blackness," equals being "disruptive."  "Disruptive"
implies a reduction in the overall quality of the theatrical
experience.  Some excellent productions ARE intentionally *disturbing*,
and may intentionally generate "dissonance," without being diminished or
disruptive.  Sometimes those audible gasps come from audience members
who NEED to be made to gasp from time to time.

Speaking of multicultural casting, I saw Peter Brook's new *Hamlet* in
Seattle a week and a half ago.  I'm curious if anyone else on the list
has seen this production, either in Paris or in Seattle where it
received its North American premiere.  Any thoughts or comments?

Karen E. Peterson

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