Has a Danish Theatre Company Gone Too Far with Blackface Play?

Untitled+collage+(1)+(1).jpg

While the folks at Sort/Hvid in Copenhagen have never shied away from the more avant-garde material and controversial material, it looks like they have crossed a line with their production of "Black Madonna", which was originally titled "White N*gger, Black Madonna"

In response to the outrage the title of the play cause, Sort/Hvid changed it. However, the play itself seems to be an issue because it's about a woman donning blackface in order to live her life as a black woman. "Black Madonna" could very well be titled The Rachel Dolezal Story. 

The description of the play is as follows:

"A person gives up everything to become someone else. Her hope is to become a black Madonna, her fear to just become a white nigger.

On stage is a woman. She paints her face black. Since she was a little girl, she has always known that she was someone other than the person she was born as.

She dyes her hair black and curls it. She travels to the USA and begins her life as a black woman. She gets involved in the black fight for freedom, becomes the spokes person of a black human rights organization and falls in love with a Black Panther.

Black Madonna is a vision of the future. A woman slowly changes her race. In the transition she tells us her life story mixed with songs about race war, race lust and race fear. A personal story inspired by reality. Told in a world where questions about race take up a more and more crucial part in public debate."

 The original title and posted for "Black Madonna"

The original title and posted for "Black Madonna"

While I would be hard-pressed to believe a show like this would be produced here in the U.S., especially right now, I do find it interesting it's being performed in Denmark. While the n-word originated as hate speech here, it's generally accepted as one internationally. So seeing it being used so freely in Copenhagen is more than a bit off-putting. 

According to local reports, "Lollike and Sort/Hvid – which received funding from Statens Kunstfond, the state art foundation, to put on this production – is no stranger to controversy.

They previously staged ‘Manifesto’, a play based on the writings of mass murderer Anders Breivik, as well as an exhibition about martyrdom that included several of the terrorists who took part in the Paris Attacks on November 15."

If the show is trying to ask questions about race relations, especially in the U.S., can't those questions be asked without white people having to transform into black people to understand their experience? 

Either way, the play is set to perform on June 8th.