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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: August ::
Re: Colour-Blind Casting
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1594  Tuesday, 12 August 2003

[1]     From:   Kristine Batey <
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        Date:   Monday, 11 Aug 2003 09:30:56 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Colour-Blind Casting

[2]     From:   Carl Fortunato <
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        Date:   Monday, 11 Aug 2003 10:32:50 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1584 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Monday, 11 Aug 2003 14:20:53 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1584 Re: Colour-Blind Casting


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kristine Batey <
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Date:           Monday, 11 Aug 2003 09:30:56 -0500
Subject:        Re: Colour-Blind Casting

Kelley Costigan wrote,

>I like the idea of colour-blind casting, but I think that people have a
>long way to go before it's accepted by audiences.  When an actor and
>production (and an audience) work together and suspend that ol'
>disbelief, magic happens.  It's telling the story and wrapping the
>hearers (and viewers) up in its weave and taking them for a ride of
>wonder.

My high school started using color-blind casting for school plays during
my senior year, more than 30 years ago. Chicago's Goodman Theater has
used color-blind casting for at least a quarter of a century. I can
remember, even decades ago, being an audience member in both theaters
and noticing halfway through a play--quite incidentally--that, for
example, a black Annie Sullivan had a white brother, or a black Dr.
Stockmann had a white daughter. When race is of intrinsic importance to
a play, Goodman casts to color, but otherwise casting is color-blind,
and Chicago audiences have been handling it calmly for ages. I'm amazed
this is an issue in the rest of the world, and that the concept
repeatedly generates such heated debate on this list of sophisticated
players and academics.

Kristine Batey
Evanston, IL USA

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[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carl Fortunato <
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Date:           Monday, 11 Aug 2003 10:32:50 EDT
Subject: 14.1584 Re: Colour-Blind Casting
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1584 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

>And before he condemns the all-female Richard III - has he seen
>it?

I haven't seen that one, but there is a "Women's Shakespeare Company" in
NYC.  I have seen there productions of "Love's Labour's Lost" and
"Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead."  For the most part, it was a
rather good job.  The Don Armado in LLL was hysterical, and girl who
played Hamlet in R&G was absolutely terrific.  I'd like to see her play
the part in the real play.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Monday, 11 Aug 2003 14:20:53 -0700
Subject: 14.1584 Re: Colour-Blind Casting
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1584 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

>Throughout this strand, the use of the terms "blind" and "colour-blind"
>suggest a less than attractive "blindness" to the predicament of those
>people among us who happen really to be "blind" or "colour-blind". How
>did we get to the point where we can say, without any
>self-consciousness, that "blindness" of any sort is a positive thing?

I should imagine that it arises from Dr. King's desire to be judged on
the content of his character rather than the colour of his skin. Since
skin colour is a visual signifier, ignoring it in favour of other
criteria of judgement implies blindness.

This isn't to say that we should be blind or indifferent to the real
social stigmas attached to skin colour. Colour blindness may,
hypothetically, produce a sort of bad faith, by which we convince
ourselves that race doesn't matter when it clearly does have social
ramifications. It hardly follows, however, that awareness of race should
be praised as a good, or even as preferable, since nobody is more
obsessively aware of race than an overt racist. I remain unconvinced
that Iago's obsessive identification of Othello with his colour and with
animal life is preferable to the Duke's declaration that he is "far more
white than black".

Certainly we've all had experiences of forgetting all about the race of
a close friend or family member until some social prejudice reminds us
of it. And such appreciation of persons at a personal or professional
level rather than a racial level is, I think, not to be undervalued.

Yours,
Sean.

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