One of the key theatrical events of the season was the Jan. 27 debate between two-time Pulitzer-winning playwright August Wilson and award winning director and critic Robert Brustein over the issue of race in theatre, and by extension, in American society in general.
Wilson is black; Brustein is white.
Wilson elaborated on his contention that "non-traditional casting" -- in particular, casting black actors in traditionally caucasian roles -- was destructive of true black culture in America. He called for the creation of separate African-American theatres where black actors could find employment playing black characters in dramas created by blacks.
Brustein argued for merit-based casting -- that the best actor for a role be chosen without regard for race. He argued for the strength of a single, albeit diverse, theatre.
More detailed accounts of their many opinions can be found in Theatre News and Theatre Features.What is your opinion on this vital topic? What is the future for non-traditional casting? What form -- if any -- should a separate black theatre take? How well does contemporary theatre serve minorities -- in terms of themes and of employment? Was this a good forum for these issues?
E-mail your advice to Playbill On-Line managing editor Robert Viagas
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