We’re going where the sun shines ‘whitely’
Full Casting Announced for the UK tour of ‘Summer Holiday’. And it’s about as diverse as my salt shaker.
So, help a guy out because I’m confused. How, in 2018, is it possible to ‘accidentally’ cast an all white show. With the huge array of exciting and diverse BAME talent to choose from, I cannot for the life of me understand why I’m still scrolling through cast announcements to see that yet another movie-turned-musical has failed to proportionally represent our current social climate.
I DONT GET IT.
On Sunday, Giles Terera accepted his Olivier, and proclaimed to the audience and the 600,000 people watching in on TV that “Diversity is not a policy, Diversity Is life. London Theatre makers, you have no excuse”. But, they clearly do have an excuse, otherwise how / why, would they continue to do it? I’m gonna outline a few points that are sometimes used to defend casts like that.
Possible Pathetic Excuse Number 1 - ‘It’s set in the 60’s, it wouldn’t be realistic’
Yet they’re about to burst into song every 5 minutes. Don’t throw realism at me because we’re making musical theatre. We’re a deliberate escape from realism. That said, if you’re an audience that genuinely would feel jarred by the historical inaccuracy of having a BAME dancer doing joyful partner choreo with a white dancer, then grab my contact details because we need to have a chat.
Possible Pathetic Excuse Number 2 - ‘It’s based on the movie, so we needed the casting to match’.
Granted, this is an excuse with legs to stand on. You worry that the audience wont be happy unless they see a like-for-like casting match to the character they fell in love with in 1963. But if that particular demographic was your target audience, then you’re better of just hiring a cinema and screening the friggin’ movie. I’ve always hoped that the creatives in our industry have the ability to be inventive and innovative when it comes to birthing something new. Heaven forbid someone do something new.
Excuses aside, the truth would be in the spotlight breakdowns, because surely, for this to be the diversity of cast they ended up with, that must of been what they asked for. But no, every single one of the casting breakdowns that they sent out said the following: “Performers of all ethnicities and ethnic backgrounds are encouraged to apply”. On top of that, the appearance of every single specified role was checked to ‘Any’.
So I ask you again, How is it possible to cast an all white show when the current make up of young performers in the industry features a fairly healthy level of diversity. 3 days ago, an evening of celebration took place at the Royal Albert Hall. The Oliviers highlighted what power Musical Theatre can have on the rest of society when done correctly. Whether intentional or accidental, Summer Holiday is a step backwards for diversity in the arts. And I’m sick of it.