The Yale Dramatic Association (Dramat) at Yale University has issued an apology and held new auditions for a play after students complained that a white woman was cast in a role typically given to a black man.
It is routine for theater departments around the country to engage in race or even gender-blind casting, assigning people roles regardless of their physical characteristics. Dramat followed just such an approach for its upcoming production of the musical “The Wild Party,” set during the hedonistic days of the Roaring Twenties.
But things started to go awry when Sarah Chapin, a white female student, was cast for the role of “Mr. Black,” who as his name suggests is intended to be a black male in the script. The casting choice caused a spasm of outrage at Yale, with activists claiming the school was shutting non-white students out of the production even though two of the play’s 14 roles were given to black students.
Now, Dramat has apologized, booted Chapin from the play, and recast the part. (RELATED: Students Protest Use Of Blackface In Play Written By Black Man)
“For much of its history, the Dramat has provided too few dynamic roles for people of color on stage,” Dramat said in its apology. “Thus, this missed opportunity for a black actor to take on an exciting and challenging role was felt all the more deeply. We recognize the pain that this situation has caused and that this new decision may come too late for some and may hurt others.”
In Dramat’s follow-up auditions, held Monday, only black people were allowed to try out for the role of Mr. Black. Dramat also held new auditions for the parts of Madeleine and Oscar, whose original actors decided to quit the production over the controversy.
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