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Should Shakespeare's Plays be Politically Correct?

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I've heard reports about this on LBC: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/news/trevor-nunn-defends-allwhite-shakespeare-histories-10457512.html

 

Personally, I cannot see anything wrong with it; England didn't have much of a 'Black Community' back in the Middle Ages...So why the need to cast black and ethnic actors in Shakespearean plays? Wouldn't it be the same as pretending that a substantial number of America's slaves were white?

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I've heard reports about this on LBC: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/news/trevor-nunn-defends-allwhite-shakespeare-histories-10457512.html

 

Personally, I cannot see anything wrong with it; England didn't have much of a 'Black Community' back in the Middle Ages...So why the need to cast black and ethnic actors in Shakespearean plays? Wouldn't it be the same as pretending that a substantial number of America's slaves were white?

There were quite a few Irish slaves tbh, however I make you right about shakespeare, I just think it would look strange to have black actors in roles like say Romeo or Juliet. Doesn't mean it can't be done, it would just look strange. 

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There were quite a few Irish slaves tbh, however I make you right about shakespeare, I just think it would look strange to have black actors in roles like say Romeo or Juliet. Doesn't mean it can't be done, it would just look strange. 

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with black actors playing, say, Romeo and Juliet, or that there were Irish slaves in the Americas...But, why must we have black and ethnic actors taking part in the English Civil War; surely, there weren't any? The blacked-up white men, with Tony Curtis haircuts, that were in those old Tarzan movies peesed me off just the same! :D

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Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with black actors playing, say, Romeo and Juliet, or that there were Irish slaves in the Americas...But, why must we have black and ethnic actors taking part in the English Civil War; surely, there weren't any? The blacked-up white men, with Tony Curtis haircuts, that were in those old Tarzan movies peesed me off just the same! :D

I guess if it doesn't detract from the believability of the play, then I don't see why not. Most observers will just see a person playing a role, rather than consciously note the historical inaccuracy of the ethnicity of the actor/actress.

If anything, I'd argue that the racial uniformity of the people at the time and place the play is set actually lends itself to a multi-racial cast, as the concept/mention of different races is unlikely to be made in the play, and therefore there will be no distinction made between actors along those lines.

Conversely, if race is a key or important feature of a play, the interference of political correctness could be downright confusing!

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Political correctness should not come into it in quite the same way as it is used these days - his works were written in a time when it did not exist and should be valued in their historical context - as it is Shakespeare's genius was that he was extremely shrewd, observant as well as being a master wordsmith, in being able to portray human strengths and weaknesses to an extent that they are applicable to any age, even the political correctness which comes under the guise of 'yes men' (they had mealy mouthed bar stewards in those days as well) and as such his work stands the test of time in any age and as such is a classical part of our heritage.

 

So which of these so called PC people is arrogant enough to think he can re-write his works to fit in with our so called politically correct society? 

 

One way or another many people try to rewrite history but to do so means a departure from the truth of what actually happened in order to twist it to their own ideas which are not always necessarily honourable.  

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Well should a white actor play Othello? They did in the past when Olivier blacked-up to play the part in the 60s which was quite ridiculous. But that was then.

 

If the idea is to put a different spin on the play by challenging perceptions of the principal character, that’s one thing. But, when a white actor applies the shoe polish, all that says is that the character really should be black or Asian.

 

So I see nothing wrong in having an all white cast if one is looking for historical verisimilitude

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Well should a white actor play Othello? They did in the past when Olivier blacked-up to play the part in the 60s which was quite ridiculous. But that was then.

 

If the idea is to put a different spin on the play by challenging perceptions of the principal character, that’s one thing. But, when a white actor applies the shoe polish, all that says is that the character really should be black or Asian.

 

So I see nothing wrong in having an all white cast if one is looking for historical verisimilitude

No they shouldn't. Shakespeare wrote things the way they work, again it would look strange if a white person did. I can't see what is wrong with casting in the way the playwright intended. 

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No they shouldn't. Shakespeare wrote things the way they work, again it would look strange if a white person did. I can't see what is wrong with casting in the way the playwright intended. 

Personally, I have no probs with whatever ethnicity Shakespearean actors are or the particular parts they may play, the bard's work is open to all; my problem is the the reaction to the all-white casting...Why does someone always have to make a fuss?

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Personally, I have no probs with whatever ethnicity Shakespearean actors are or the particular parts they may play, the bard's work is open to all; my problem is the the reaction to the all-white casting...Why does someone always have to make a fuss?

 

 

They think racism is the reason, but it's really not, only thing I can think of.

 

Fact is I've seen first hand a racist in action, every school day home time. If the driver was black and didn't let her on with the buggy no problem, if it was a white driver, her language was not fit to be said in front of kids, but often part of the sentence would be it's because I'm black. That is really the only racism I have ever personally witnessed. Not sure if she really did report every white driver that didn't let her on, she threatened to every time. But if she did I doubt they got in much trouble once the depot realised if ever. 

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They think racism is the reason, but it's really not, only thing I can think of.

 

Fact is I've seen first hand a racist in action, every school day home time. If the driver was black and didn't let her on with the buggy no problem, if it was a white driver, her language was not fit to be said in front of kids, but often part of the sentence would be it's because I'm black. That is really the only racism I have ever personally witnessed. Not sure if she really did report every white driver that didn't let her on, she threatened to every time. But if she did I doubt they got in much trouble once the depot realised if ever. 

I've seen some of that, too; silly racist excuses are certainly not exclusive to any particular race. By and large, London is pretty multicultural, but each group has its nastier elements, too...The unpleasant side of human nature crosses all sorts of divide?

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Personally, I have no probs with whatever ethnicity Shakespearean actors are or the particular parts they may play, the bard's work is open to all; my problem is the the reaction to the all-white casting...Why does someone always have to make a fuss?

Because they have nothing better to do.

 

I'm personally fed up with all the 'correctness' there is in the world today, political or not. I am a child of the 70's and 80's and some of the people speaking up for 'political correctness' would have a cow looking at the programs and such we had then.. Benny HIll, Kenny Everett ..funny that what they offered is re-placed with the so called 'toilet humour' which is to be honest disgusting rather than funny. 

 

I have no issues with anyone enjoying his works, no matter of colour or creed, as long as the original work is not 'changed'. 

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No they shouldn't. Shakespeare wrote things the way they work, again it would look strange if a white person did. I can't see what is wrong with casting in the way the playwright intended.

Originally blokes would have played the female roles, however I see nothing wrong with actresses in Shakespearian plays - I am quite sure Will intended the female roles to be regarded as female.

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Of course not, You can't just rewrite history and indeed some of the greatest literary works we have.

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Do you see colour or do you see the performance? That is the question!

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Do you see colour or do you see the performance? That is the question!

That's what I mentioned in my first post. If there are no racial themes or concepts in the play, then wouldn't most just see the performance?

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Originally blokes would have played the female roles, however I see nothing wrong with actresses in Shakespearian plays - I am quite sure Will intended the female roles to be regarded as female.

I have watched many phantos and there has always been a dame, so why can't Shakespear have females do females rolls? Does it matter if a man does a male roll or a female role or vice versa, I went to see 'A winters tale' in Shakespear  country and there was females and males acting in it.

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I have watched many phantos and there has always been a dame, so why can't Shakespear have females do females rolls? Does it matter if a man does a male roll or a female role or vice versa, I went to see 'A winters tale' in Shakespear  country and there was females and males acting in it.

At the times of Shakespeare in the 16th century an 'actress' was not considered to be respectable so at that time men had to play the female roles - actresses first came into being as we know it during the middle of the 17th century, hence Nell Gwyn and her oranges :) 

 

http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/the-first-actresses/first_actresses_exhibition/first-actresses-explore.php

 

It was in much later times that the custom of girls playing 'principal boys' and chaps playing female roles such as the 'ugly sisters' in pantomimes developed.

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That's what I mentioned in my first post. If there are no racial themes or concepts in the play, then wouldn't most just see the performance?

 

I would like to think so. There are many fine actors with charisma, presence and voice who are well up to performing lead roles in Shakespere's plays. Just because Elizabethan  England was predominately white does not mean that the plays don't have relevance for all ethnicities today. I mean, ladies are accepted in lead roles these days whereas in Shakespere's time they were excluded from the stage.

 

I don't see coloured actors being a sop to the PC brigade, I see it as a natural progression.

 

I wouldn't see it as appropriate for a black African to play say Abraham Lincoln, neither could a white actor be entirely convincing as Martin Luther King. Other than that, best man or woman for the job, same as any other endevour.

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Restriction of stop-and-search is a victory for ‘politically correct brigade’, claims police leader.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/restriction-of-stopandsearch-is-a-victory-for-politically-correct-brigade-claims-police-leader-10500849.html

They stop-and-search down at the Globe?

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They stop-and-search down at the Globe?

Maybe its just coming in abit like health and safety,I`ve not heard about this news item before today.

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Nothing  in such ventures should be"politically" correct, if a story is to be told or a point made then so be it, politics is for politics and nothing more.

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