Hunchback-Americans Protest Flatbacking Of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
From Fox News:
By Caleb Parke | Fox News
Social justice activists at a New York high school successfully shut down a production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” after a white student landed a lead role.
Hunchback-Americans never get cast in the big roles due to the practice of “flatbacking.”
Oh, wait … The brouhaha is over the lead girl’s role, Esmerelda, of course.
A lot of high school musicals have gone to casting two girls as the female lead, with one playing Thursday and Saturday and the other Friday and Sunday, in part to cut down on the number of theatrical feuds the poor bedraggled drama teacher in charge has to deal with.
Protests of the production began when an African-American student quit Ithaca High School’s musical production due to the role of Esmeralda being given to a white classmate.
“It shows you that theater wasn’t made for you,” the student told the Ithaca Journal. “And it shows you that, if you can’t get the parts that are written for you, what parts are you going to get?”
Student activists then banded together under the umbrella of Students United Ithaca and wrote a letter that included a list of demands, saying that, while the young lady cast as Esmeralda was “a stellar actor, singer, and dancer” any production would be “lucky to have,” she couldn’t be cast in this role because she is the “epitome of whiteness.”
“At best, this is cultural appropriation,” the student group wrote, alleging racial bias within the Performing Arts Program at IHS, and “at worst, it is whitewashing, a racist casting practice which has its roots in minstrelsy.”
While the student activists demanded “brown and black female students” be considered for the role, the character in question is half Roma [Gypsy], half French, according to the novel by Victor Hugo. …
The group points out that the Musical Theater International production guide lists her role as a “Romani woman” who is “an outcast racially and culturally.” …
So Ithaca HS should cast as a Gypsy the daughter of a Cornell African-American Studies Professor. Or something.
In general, a girl who is competing for the lead role in her high school musical is not an “outcast.”
“Stop the racist and openly stated policy of ‘color blind’ casting in the ICSD,” the group wrote, adding “because of institutionalized racism this results in white children being cast in roles written as white parts and also white children being cast in roles that were specifically intended for people of color.”
A black girl doesn’t have any claim to playing a Gypsy girl other than sheer anti-whiteism, which seems to be a popular ideology these days.
Anyway, my view is that putting on a stage show is a lot of work and my sympathies are with the folks trying to get the thing mounted, so I don’t worry much about racial realism in casting, especially not in high school plays. If you have a talented black girl to play Liza Doolittle, fine. If you have a talented white guy to play Othello, fine.
High school musicals are about let’s pretend.