Six years ago, a white man was cast to play King Mongkut with a Thai accent in the Sydney production of ‘The King and I’.
The work was considered racist and was accused of snatching already limited job opportunities from minority actors. Now it’s 2020, and we ask: Is the Australian musical theatre scene any better at diversity?
Short answer is not really.
Last month, prestigious theatre scholarship Rob Guest Endowment (RGE) (which provides a near $50k cash prize) was called out for overlooking artists of colour when it announced its 2020 semifinalist list, a lineup that appeared to be all white.
Followers said the lack of diversity was “inherent racism” and “hugely disappointing,” which led the organisation to post a lackluster apology that stated the competition’s metric of success was based purely on “talent” and that “race and colour was not considered.”
“This response isn’t good enough,” wrote one follower.
“The only metric was ‘talent’ so you think only white people are talented,” posted another.
Writer Benjamin Law explained on Twitter that the problem comes from the top and that RGE has simply blamed artists of colour for not submitting applications:
Deleted an earlier tweet about this endowment.— Benjamin Law 羅旭能 (@mrbenjaminlaw) August 20, 2020
Some of the 30 shortlistees have criticised the non-inclusive result themselves and they rock. I don’t want a discussion about racial exclusion in the arts to be about them. It’s about judging panels and explanations like this. pic.twitter.com/Gn6sSfkGy7
But it’s your job to initiate outreach and headhunt talent. Don’t blame your shortcomings in this task on others.
And to argue an ostensibly all-white lineup of 30 are...