Friday, December 5, 2008

Content de Jour

Ok….a follow up to the previous post regarding directors and plays. It makes me crazy that there is a linkage to who can direct what. I know that it gets most sensitive when you have a white director directing a non white play and almost never do you have a non-white director directing a white play. But really the idiocy of that is beyond belief.
It somehow makes all black communities into one and that if you have some melanin in your skin then somehow you are entitled and cognoscente enough to direct any black play. And that is hogwash. There are many black communities just like asian communities or native communities and as such sooner or later you have to actually transcend the mundane and figure out that it is about the most perceptive director working with a cast that has the opportunity to create excellent work.

A bit of a case in point. Weyni Mengesha did a fine job in directing Raisin in the Sun at Soulpepper. The only thing lacking, in my estimation, was the visceral understanding of what life in the 50’s and 60’s for a black person in the States was really like. They had a good approximation of it but it was apparent that approximation was all it was. The only reason that stuck out for me was because I was around during that time and kind of lived through it. But so what eh? I mean there are very few people kicking around from pre Stalinist times so who really knows what Russian society was like in those Chehkov plays. And yet they are done and no one blinks an eye.
My contention is that if Weyni can have the insight and talent to direct Raisin then she has those same capabilities to direct pretty much anything and I wonder where she is in the next years season. I mean there are 11 plays 10 of which are directed by cough white guys cough. Are they bad directors? Hell no. But what message does it send when the new big kids on the block can’t see their way past to actually walk the walk.
Well the message is simply the same ole same ole. Touch base with a black play, get a black director and look like you are doing some culturally diverse programming. Anything else well…hmmm step back.

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