Playwright Bruce Norris pulls Clybourne Park rights after white actress playing black character row
Playwright Bruce Norris has stopped the Deutsches Theatre in Berlin from staging Clybourne Park after discovering that a black character was to be played by a white actress in make-up.
In an open letter to the Dramatists Guild, the US playwright wrote that after seeing a "terrific production" of the play at Staatstheatre Mainz in Germany he heard it was to be staged at the prestigious Deutsches venue.
He soon received "a disturbing email" from the black actress who played the part at Staatstheatre, saying the actress who had been cast in the same role at the theatre in Berlin was white.
"Disbelievingly, I contacted my agent who put me in touch with the management of Deutsches Theatre. Yes, they confirmed, it is true, we have cast a white ensemble member in this role, and we see no logical reason why we should cast an 'Afro-German'," Norris writes.
The management told Norris they intended to "experiment with make-up", at which point he retracted the rights to the production.
Clybourne Park, which received rave reviews at the Royal Court and Wyndham's Theatre two years ago and last year, is a portrait of a bigoted society.
The two-part staging showing the progression of a Chicago neighbourhood of increasing ethnic diversity. It was inspired by Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, and won a Tony and Olivier award earlier this year.
The play starts in 1959, when neighbours try to pressure a departing couple to pull out of selling to a black family. It then jumps to 2009, when the neighbourhood is predominantly black, and an incoming white couple find their plans to raze and rebuild questioned by an historically minded residents' association.
Norris writes that upon further investigation he discovered "blackface has been and continues to be a widespread practice for the German stage" with black German actors regularly "passed over for roles explicitly designated for them".
He has added his name, and backing, to a petition condemning the ongoing practice of blackface in Germany, and urges fellow playwrights to add theirs.
"I would advise you to boycott productions of your own work by German theatres that continue this asinine tradition (The Deutsches Theatre and the Schlosspark are only two examples)."
"A zero-tolerance position is the only position to take, in my opinion, and if we are united then perhaps a few German theatres may take notice and, hopefully, in time, a better course of action."
There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turningTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 What are your fingerprint words?
- 5 Gary Lineker involved in Twitter row after presenter rubbishes claims he will be warned by BBC over foul-mouthed tweets
Thomas Heatherwick creates gin palace with a fantastical Willy Wonka vibe
Idris Elba 'absolutely' wants to play James Bond
Cilla, episode 2, ITV, review: Sheridan Smith continues to shine
Kendrick Lamar: New song 'i' released on Soundcloud sampling Isley Brothers - listen here
Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned PR disaster
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God