Against Black-Face Roles in German Theatre

Against Black-Face Roles in German Theatre

Avaaz: Community Petitions

Gyavira Lasana

Last January Schlosspark Theatre in Berlin opened “I’m Not Rappaport” by Herb Gardner. The production featured a white actor in black-face in the role of Midge Carter, portrayed in New York by Ossie Davis. When concerned theatre professionals complained on the website of Schlosspark, they were blocked; yet neo-Nazis, who charged that the “niggers should go back to Africa,” were allowed access. Schlosspark insisted the production was not “racist,” that they cast a white actor because they could not find a “qualified black actor.” The widow of Herb Gardner has deflected inquiries about the rights to “Rapport” to the agent in Germany. And she points to a 1986 conversation in which Gardner agreed to black-face “if a suitable black actor could not be found.” That time and circumstance have passed. I am asking Actors Equity and the Dramatists Guild to decline participation in productions featuring black-face and condemn its use in Germany.

Why this is important

The German theatre use of “black-faced” white actors in roles written and designed for blacks subverts the intentions of the dramatists and denies work to black actors. On a broader scale, black-face demeans black Germans and reinforces racist societal and political positions of power.

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