London's Print Room has defended the all-Caucasian casting of its world-premiere production of Howard Barker's In the Depth of Dead Love, which begins performances January 16, 2017, prior to an official opening January 19.
Responding to a protest that claimed that it was “unacceptable and racist” for the cast of the play, set in ancient China, to be made up entirely of Caucasian actors, the theatre stated the following about the play that they have developed with the playwright: “It is not about Chinese society, culture or perspectives. If it were, the casting would be very different, naturally. Whilst the characters have been given Chinese names, that is to reference the abstract and the folkloric idea of the universal; we could just as easily be in the metaphorical area of Hans Christian Anderson, or, alternatively, the land of the Brothers Grimm. It is, in fact a very ‘English’ play and is derived from thoroughly English mores and simply references the mythic and the ancient. It has therefore been cast accordingly.”
Responding to this, Howard Sherman (interim director of the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts and director of the Arts Integrity Initiative at The New School College of Performing Arts) has written in a feature for The Stage, “The Print Room would do well to consult with Asian artists and indeed many BAME artists if they wish to remedy this situation, rather than forging forward with abstract, disingenuous excuses that fool no one who actually understands what diversity and inclusion genuinely mean.”