Oh my word, y’all. There is quite a furor happening within the artistic community but it is an issue that goes way beyond just people in the business. A blog page and facebook group has been started by the wonderful Andrew Moodie – playwright and actor. Great, thoughtful guy. He is a ‘person of colour’ and his issue is with the hiring practices of the SHAW FESTIVAL . . . . gasp, yes the theatre I’m working at right now. The issue is with the Shaw’s history of hiring (or not hiring) of people of colour – period. . . and more specifically in lead roles. The complaint is that in the year 2008, there has rarely been an AOC (Actor of Colour) in a lead other than a role that called for an AOC.
Now the interesting part for me is I’m an AOC playing a lead this year. So there is a change. But as to my blog from weeks ago about respect for musical theatre, that doesn’t seem to get mentioned a lot – ie. that doesn’t count. I’m not going to get into that as the argument is bigger than that. They are talking about the plays of Shaw and his contemporaries – which is the mandate of the festival.
Another issue raised by the new group is the fact that the mandate is to produce works written by George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries or set in the time, yet there has never been a play by a black, chinese, hispanic, etc. author telling those stories performed at the Festival. So there is a lot being put forward by Mr. Moodie.
It’s been fascinating reading the issues put forth and the passion. Andrew started the facebook group about a week ago, if even, and there are already 586 members. He is urging people (white, black, asian – anyone who wants to see diversity on their stages) to write to Jackie Maxwell (Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival) and tell her (respectfully) that they want to see diversity on those stages. It’s interesting to see where people stand on the issue. It’s making me ask myself a lot of questions.
Both groups (his blog page and the facebook page) are called: SHARE THE STAGE
Here is the blog page.
Take a look. If you can find the facebook page, go to it. Some awesome discussions. Very strong emotions in some cases as you can imagine.
As for myself, I have several opinions about the subject which I won’t share right now. I want you all to look for yourself and evaluate your own conscience about it.
Live it and love it, my friends.