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College play canceled because actors ‘too white’

Student actors at Clarion University in Pennsylvania were informed during the final week of their rehearsals for the play “Jesus in India” that the production had been … canceled.

The reason? The actors’ race. Too many were white.

Playwright Lloyd Suh had informed the college via his agent that he was “uncomfortable with any notion that he supported Caucasians portraying Indian characters in his play.”

“He felt they should be of Asian descent,” said Clarion’s Bob Levy.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:

The Korean-American playwright wanted the parts recast, Mr. Levy said, and ultimately pulled the university’s right to stage the production after being told that finding Asian replacements was not practical given the play was to open next Wednesday on a campus in rural northwestern Pennsylvania where Asian or Pacific Islander students account for 0.7 of 1 percent of the university’s 5,368 students.

Clarion officials said Mr. Suh declined their offers to give him a page in the program to say why Asian actors should have been used and to have a university representative give a “stage speech” on why no such actors were in the cast.

In an email Suh’s agent shared with the Post-Gazette, the playwright says that

Your [Clarion’s] citing of “color blind casting” as an excuse for selecting white actors to portray non-white characters is a gross misunderstanding of the practice, and denies the savage inequities that exist in the field at large for non-white performers, both in professional and educational settings.

I contend that by producing this play in this way, you are contributing to an environment of hostility towards people of color, and therefore perpetuating the lack of diversity at Clarion now and in the future.

Suh message notes he was “hurt to the core,” and “couldn’t stop [him]self from crying” when he saw photos of Clarion’s production.

Read the full article.

h/t to Truth Revolt.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 18 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.