Harvard and Yale are at loggerheads over an essential truism in modern theater: You can cast minorities as white characters in shows, but it’s unacceptable to cast whites in the role of minority characters.
The Yale Dramatic Association, the undergraduate Yale theater company, recently held new auditions for the musical “Wild Party,” their fall mainstage performance. The re-casting followed complaints when a white woman was cast in the role of “Mr. Black,” even though the Yale Daily News reported that nine people of color had auditioned for the production.
Following the new auditions, which only black performers could attend, a black man was cast as “Mr. Black” and two performers quit the show over the controversy. Yale Dramatic Association subsequently issued a statement stating, “We recognize the pain that this situation has caused” and re-affirming their commitment to bring new and varied voices to the stage.
Now board members of Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club (HRDC), their Ivy League counterpart, have piled on to Yale’s embarrassment.
HRDC’s President Aislinn E. Brophy, said: “We definitely would not want what happened at Yale to happen here.” Eliza B. Mantz, an HRDC, Board Member, said: “The way American theater is right now, there is a noticeable lack of opportunities for people of color. To take opportunities — the few that they have — away from people of color like that is absolutely unacceptable.”
Instead HRDC has a “‘color-conscious’ casting policy that encourages them to think about the complexities of race and how it can inform theater performances” according to the Harvard Crimson, which reported the board’s comments, adding that “colorblind casting could potentially lead to roles intended for actors of color going to white actors.”
Heaven forbid! Obviously these students haven’t digested the secret to the success of ‘Hamilton,’ which is that any kind of diversity should be embraced so long as it’s cool, inventive, and creative.