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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: July ::
Re: Colour-Blind Casting
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1512  Friday, 25 July 2003

[1]     From:   Derek Cohen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Jul 2003 17:01:13 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1501 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

[2]     From:   William Davis <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Jul 2003 20:01:02 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1501 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

[3]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Friday, 25 Jul 2003 11:50:59 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 14.1501 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

[4]     From:   Michael B. Luskin <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Jul 2003 14:37:24 EDT
        Subj:   SHK 14.1501 Re: Colour-Blind Casting


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Derek Cohen <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Jul 2003 17:01:13 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 14.1501 Re: Colour-Blind Casting
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1501 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

The whole discussion about colour-blind casting is based on the rather
arrogant assumption that Shakespeare belongs to white culture.  How
would you like to see King Lear cast in Uganda or Gaza?  Canada will in
the near future be more Asian than European.  How should we cast
Shakespeare plays here when that happens?

Derek Cohen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Davis <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Jul 2003 20:01:02 EDT
Subject: 14.1501 Re: Colour-Blind Casting
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1501 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

This thread reminded me of a book published a few years ago, "Eat Fat,"
by Richard Klein.  Amazon.com has this quote from Publisher's Weekly:

>He [Klein] calls this fat-friendly meditation "a postmodern diet book,"
>and it is larded with playful, self-conscious irony, with literary
>allusions ranging from Shakespeare to Raymond Carver, as it tracks cycles
>of fat and thin worship, from prehistoric figurines of plump, fertile
>Venuses to svelte Nefertiti to the enormously corpulent President William
>Taft.

If I remember correctly, Klein interprets Hamlet's words about his "too
too solid/sullied flesh" to be a introspective commentary on his own
body weight, suggesting that Hamlet was on the heavier side (ok, it
sounded like a stretch to me, no pun intended, but he nevertheless does
make the claim in his book).  Having worked with a number of actors of
many races, genders, and sizes, I have to say that I personally wouldn't
mind seeing a few heavier actors in some of Shakespeare's leading roles
(apart from Falstaff, the Nurse in R&J, or other roles that are
traditionally deemed acceptable for our thicker thespians).  I've seen
some extraordinary actors get passed up in casting calls, simply due to
their size; yet, some of them have incredible sexual magnetism and
charisma, not to mention a lot more talent and skill than a few of the
players I have seen actually get cast in such roles.  Given the modern
viewpoint of inclusive color-blind casting in most theatres today, I'm
of the opinion that our heavyset actors probably have the most difficult
barriers to overcome in these type of casting situations.

But then again, there's always opera...

Wm Davis

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Friday, 25 Jul 2003 11:50:59 +0100
Subject: Re: Colour-Blind Casting
Comment:        SHK 14.1501 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

It seems problematic to go all liberal and starry-eyed over
"colour-blind casting" while speaking from within a dominant culture
that is anything but "colour-blind".

The problem has been conveniently highlighted by those contributors who
seem happy to tolerate "colour-blind" casting, but shift about
uncomfortably when race is used to "make a point" against the dominant
(liberal) culture. "I believe in colorblind casting because the more we
do it, the more it will become a non-issue," as Jane Brody writes.
"Assimilation", reducing everything to "a non-issue", has always been an
oppressive way to defuse opposition, and elide the injustices upon which
our society thrives.

m

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael B. Luskin <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Jul 2003 14:37:24 EDT
Subject: Re: Colour-Blind Casting
Comment:        SHK 14.1501 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

Sadly, race consciousness is pervasive here in the US.  When I saw a La
Traviata a couple years ago, with a black soprano, at intermission,
everyone noted that she was black.  I don't know that many of these
posts, from a realistic or any other, point of view, are signs of
prejudice, I think that they are just saying that race is noticed, for
whatever it is worth.  Just as we note a Sikh, or a Chassidic Jew, but
don't note a Methodist.

I hope that "whatever" is appropriate for this.

Michael B. Luskin

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