by Remy Bee
they/them, demigender, queer, white priv.
In a stunning and brave turn the Court Theatre in Christchurch has decided to completely change how it casts plays.
The awakening came when Christchurch’s Court Theatre got called out by queer activist, agender Rosemary Mitford-Taylor after casting a cis actor to play a trans character in “Things I Know To Be True”. Mitford-Taylor spoke truth to power, what the Court Theatre did was immoral, enabled real life violence, and was literally dangerous. “Trans women ARE women and it is non-negotiable that trans characters should be played by trans actors” said Mitford-Taylor.
It was only when Mitford-Taylor spoke their truth, and by punching up, that the actor was dropped. There’s something very righteous about getting people dropped, sacked or cancelled. But this was just a start on an enlightening journey.
We can recognise that systemic transphobia is the biggest problem in the world while also acknowledging the importance of smashing cultural appropriation, especially in the arts where it is so rampant.
The Court Theatre have now cancelled Things I Know To Be True because when they did some research they found that it was an Australian play and they had to face up to colonialism and how the play would perpetuate that.
Hamlet and Richard III have been cancelled too. The theatre couldn’t get a Danish prince for the role, and hunchback kings are even more rare. All good though, as when they EDUCATED themselves they realised that producing a play written by a white male is just perpetuating white supremacy and one step removed from Nazism.
The Court Theatre has promised to do better and all plays will be cast with people who are from the groups portrayed. It won’t always be easy but DOING BETTER never is. There have been problems with casting ET so that is cancelled.
Things are looking promising for the future. Just this week the Court Theatre have put out a call for cast for the play Serial Killers. It is proving a challenge with cast disappearing, but the theatre is determined to get this right.