I don’t remember there being two Egypts in my World Geography class, but I obviously missed something.
Bay Street Theater and DreamWorks Theatricals tried it with their casting choices for the lead roles in the upcoming reading of The Prince of Egypt. And when I say “tried it,” I mean every single lead character would pass the paper bag test with flying colors. I mean the melanin deficiency is off the charts. It’s almost like none of them are of African descent. Wait.
Ok, there is Solea Pfeiffer. *blank stare*
There is no need to go into listing every single actor or talking about how they shouldn’t have taken the roles. I don’t know these people. Maybe they have rent to pay. Maybe they haven’t eaten in weeks. Maybe they haven’t worked in months. Maybe there aren’t an immense number of three-dimensional characters for people who lack color.
I. DON’T. KNOW.
What I DO know is that the real problem started at the top.
How ignorant and downright disrespectful does one have to be to go out of their way to miscast? There could not have been a greater opportunity to cast non-white actors, yet here we are with a Moses the color of mayonnaise! WHY.
What really gets me is the fact that we just had an incredible season of beautiful stories centered around varying degrees of color. The theatre world nearly pulled a muscle trying to pat itself on the back for being so “diverse.” Yet here we are with Milk of Magnesia in Egypt. Leslie Odom Jr. said that we “shouldn’t be so quick to praise” and to look to the next two seasons to see if there has actually been change. Lin Manuel-Miranda simply called last season a “fluke.” Both men seem to have been correct.
I get it. There are times when ethnicity isn’t essential to the story. This is not one of those instances.
“Well, Hamilton cast real historical figures as a different race!” SHUT UP! Stop being willfully ignorant and obtuse.
Hamilton’s casting created opportunities for POC, because there are significantly fewer fully fleshed out roles for them. And even when there are opportunities the roles are STILL given to white people. I bring your attention back to The Prince Of Egypt.
There is no reason why a theatre that has employed POC in the past missed the mark on this. How does one go from Norm Lewis and Patina Miller to every shade of milk? It is not only disappointing, it is infuriating! The blatant disrespect is unacceptable and something needs to be done.
This is the part where I usually wrap it up by offering solutions to the problem. There’s only one solution.
- CAST PEOPLE OF COLOR.