Reclaiming our roles
Reclaiming our roles Reclaiming our roles Reclaiming our roles………….
I needed a day to process this. It’s been roughly twenty-four hours since the casting announcement of the GODS in the soon to come Broadway Revival of Once On This Island.
Once On This Island, which started tony award winner LaChanze in its original 1990 Broadway debut. Once on This Island is a one-act musical with a book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty. (Ragtime, Seussical, Rocky, and Anastasia) Based on the 1985 novel My Love, My Love; or, The Peasant Girl by Rosa Guy, is set in the French Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. The show includes elements of the Romeo and Juliet story and elements of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Little Mermaid. It concerns a peasant girl on a tropical island, who uses the power of love to bring together people of different social classes.
Now that you know the background let’s dialogue about how “The Great White Way” has got it all wrong again! With a casting announcement from producers on August 8, 2017. Lea Salonga will join the cast as Erzulie “God of Love”
Read the statement from the revival Director Michael Arden- “In casting the Gods that inhabit our island, it became imperative for me to break expectations and stretch beyond the bounds in which Gods are traditionally represented. It felt important that young people watching our production see themselves reflected back from the stage at them,” “The Gods are simply that: Gods. They are not bound by gender, race, sexuality or being human at all. I’m so very pleased to be collaborating with these four artists exploring the important and timely themes of this musical through their unique and incredible abilities.”
Did Broadway not learn anything from the protest and backlash last summer over the cancellation of The Prince of Egypt Concert because of lack of diversity?
Also let us not forget the major concerns just last month over the Frozen The Musical casting using P.O.C. as cartoon characters. The other persuasion was outraged that Kristoff would be played by a black man. Even more backlash and hate comments that the Stand by Anna would be played by a Black Girl. They are cartoon characters get over it. This is different we are talking about an Island of people a culture of people who truly exist not fictional characters.
People this is a no brainer! The musical is set on the Caribbean Island. GOD or not the show should reflect people of color. The West Indies Islands natives are people who have a certain percentage of melatonin in their skin. Why does Broadway keep casting P.O.C. Musicals with people who are NOT of color. The answer to that is simple.
We the people of color;
1. Don’t own any theaters on Broadway.
2. Don’t have any black producers on Broadway.
3. Don’t have any black casting directors that are unionized on Broadway.
4. Have no say in how all of this “Great White Way” business works.
Broadway uses our talents to be “An eventful afternoon or evening of inspiring entertainment.” As often describe by most white critics. The same companies or productions that consistently black ball People of Color from the white shows. When a black show opens on Broadway with great success; After Midnight, Porgy & Bess, Jelly’s Last Jam, Purlie, Holla If You Hear Me, Shuffle Along, and Motown The Musical just to name a few. As you can see they often close early or they are sent out on short touring contracts to recoup some sort of investment. Why can’t our shows be a show that’s “Broadway’s Sure Thing?” Before you even say it Lion King doesn’t count, white director and it’s produced by Disney.
As a Black Creative this kills the spirit. Why even create when my show might not go any further than a staged reading. A profession that so many little black boys and little black girls dream about, can be crushed because of casting. I get it let’s be different and be inclusive, but how are being inclusive when on a regular casting call breakdown we don’t include people of color. Oh yeah that’s right because casting is at the discretion of the writer or the director.
In the last few years Broadway has surely evolved and I think I’ve attended over forty plus shows that have been “reimagined.” If we are truly reimagining things that means we are complete out of fresh ideas.
- Where are the new works?
- Where are the new writers?
- Where are the new directors ?
We can’t get ahead if we are consistently reviving everything. Theatre is supposed to an experience that is life changing and art should reflect the times.
The 2016/ 2017 season has been the year of the revival. With great anticipation the 2017/2018 season will not be a duplicate of that. Creatives of Color let’s get together and fund some of these new works. Let’s produce some new work on the great white way. Let’s buy our own theater and put our shows in there. We must work together for US.
In other news I do enjoy the take of seeing a God that doesn’t have a sexual orientation shout out to ALEX NEWELL! Broadway we just want you to get it right one day. Treat us the way you want to be treated. Talk about racial equality in the work place. RAGTIME The Musical said it best “There’s a day of hope. May I live to see, When our hearts are happy. And our souls are free. Let the new day dawn, Oh, Lord, I pray. We’ll never get to heaven till we reach that day.”
For Bring It Black
– Frederick Alphonso
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