Orono Theater Company Cancels Show Due to Lack of Diversity
Last week the Orono-based theatre company, Some Theatre Company, chose to forgo a planned show called 'Avenue Q'.
What makes this action unusual? The theatre chose to not continue because they couldn't find the ethnically accurate actors to fill a few of the roles.
Check out the post that stated the cancelation of the show:
The post states that they just couldn't fill a role when comedy would become offensive to the ethnicity the role was meant to have:
"Avenue Q celebrates what brings us together by satirically poking fun at what keeps us apart.
While we had no lack of talent in our auditions, we were not able to achieve the diversity that would match the spirit of the show as we hoped to produce it.
In many plays and musicals, you can open the roles to different genders, ages, or races, and the story that's told can benefit greatly from that flexibility. But in a show like Avenue Q, when you need to decide whether to go from having an actor making fun of his or her own ethnicity to an actor of one race making fun of the stereotypes of another, the satire becomes less tangible. The message falls out of reach, and the result comes too close to portraying the same intolerance that we would be trying to skewer comedically.
In talking this through with the board of Some Theatre Company as well as with the wonderful auditionees that offered their time and their talent for this production, we concluded that we would not settle for something that could be misconstrued as an endorsement of intolerance. If you know us at all, you know that we will continue to embrace the controversial. We will do everything we can to bring you shows you won't forget. But we won't continue with a production when it carries the risk of alienating our audience by sacrificing the show's message of inclusion.
We thank you for your understanding, and hope you get excited by the replacement that we'll be announcing soon!"
Elaine Bard of Some Theatre Company got a little more specific on the roles that they were unable to fill: "Our small local community theater decided to cancel their production of Avenue Q after they couldn’t find the right people for Christmas Eve and Gary Coleman." Bard continued saying technically they could have gone ahead with the show but, ethically, didn't feel like that was the right decision.
Reaction to the Facebook post garnered lots of 'Bravos' and agreement in the tough decision.
Meanwhile, the cancelation of the show has gotten lots of local and national attention including getting a lot of props from Broadway actors, including actors who have played these roles themselves.