About Me

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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Martin Denton on Neil LaBute

Take a look at the nytheatre i for Martin Denton's brief posting. The story is Neil LaBute's claim that, if casting is truly color blind, then white actors should have access to "roles of color."

I'm not sure if LaBute is aware of the very long tradition of Othello being played by various white stars. Claims of "reverse racism" in our society are toothless. They ignore long-standing systemic inequities in favor of a few choice desires on the part of the powerful.


JRS said...

While I am certainly not defending LaBute or his claims, he is not only aware of the Othello tradition but he opens with it:

There's a wonderful old theater story about Laurence Olivier in the 1960s — he was playing in "Othello" and receiving generally glowing notices opposite Frank Findlay and a young actress by the name of Maggie Smith. One night, however, as he stormed through the jealous general's odyssey, Olivier seemed to be on fire (not literally, of course, because that would be painful, and, while certainly an interesting if too literal take on the Moor's passionate histrionics, pretty "out there" as an interpretation of Shakespeare, even for the '60s).

Backstage he was approached by his colleagues, who found him, rather than overjoyed by his brilliant portrayal, staring mournfully (as only Olivier could supposedly do) into his dressing room mirror. One meekly said to him, "You were magnificent tonight, Larry," to which he moodily answered, "I know." Another of his costars continued on, brave enough to ask, "Then what's the matter?" Olivier turned to them and wearily said, "I don't know how I did it."

Freeman said...

Fair enough. I guess, what I should say is: "Is that history not enough evidence of white actors lack of challenge in this department?"

His suppositions, that Liev Schrieber won't be playing Othello and it's a shame, seem, in the very least, odd to me. Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier played it. Now, at last, Andre Braugher can play Henry V and Denzel Washington can play Hamlet.

It seems the question becomes sort of competitive. Why do the increasing rights of others seem to signal, in some, a diminshed right in others?

Cat* said...

well I started to comment and apparently had So much to say that I realized I'd better make my own damned blog entry... sigh... good thing Jimmy posted his review of you today or I'd feel really guilty...

ps - you were tagged as he also stole my people ; )

Quin said...

i was sent the la times editorial comment recently, and will repeat what i've said on other sites regarding this matter.

words are written, and read, and to me, as a stage manager/production manager/casting director...show me the talent.

i don't care what or who you are..don't let me sit in my booth wanting to stab you with a sharp pencil as trucks drive though dead space and crickets chirp.

don't be a prop that eats.

don't let down the talent on the stage, behind the curtain, the playwright, the people who paid to hear the words sing out.

i don't care who you are.

give me your soul.

then we'll talk about what colour you are.

sadly, colour is still important in this world.. i'm in a reverse position in my world... i live in the bronx, and am so white, i wake up saying, "where's the rest of me?" until i see my red toenails.

we don't have the hearts of atticus finch, if we did.. we'd not have this problem.

the arts should be our one area where we have a level playing field... some plays do lend themselves to one race or another, that much is true. but, oh, wouldn't it be grand to just go on talent?