Why the Roundabout Casting of Noises Off is Problematic

Peter J. Kuo

The recent cast announcement for Roundabout Theatre Company's Noises Off is extremely problematic. The all-white casting of a play about a company putting on a production paints the picture that theatre is still only by and for white people. The arguments defending this choice--casting based off of talent or an artistic vision--are equally as problematic.


Okay, so let's just argue the casting of this show was based off the nine actors who were the most talented who auditioned for these roles. However, if the best talent argument is used, why do we stop at disregarding race? Why not gender, too? Why not a male Poppy or female Selsdon? "But the roles are written for specific genders, not for specific races!" So what this tells me is when a role is not ethnically specific the default for someone casting that role is white. I'd be curious to see what the default would be for non-gender specific roles. "What? Non-gender specific roles? That doesn't make sense! Some of those characters are supposed to be in love with each other! Boys can't be in love with other b..." Yeah, I think an organization like SCOTUS is going to disagree with that. 

Fine. Let's disregard the gender restriction and go back to ethnic specificity. Is it to be believed that not one actor of color who auditioned was as equally talented to play any of these nine roles as the person who was cast? And let me remind you that Roundabout states on its website that it is an Equal Opportunity Employer. (Thank you Miki Y.) The implications that there are no talented actors of color are far beyond what I could explain in this blog, so I'm going to create an entire separate blog which I will link here when it's done. 

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