Following Casting Controversy; Albee Estate Proves Diversity Is Allowed

Following Casting Controversy; Albee Estate Proves Diversity Is Allowed
Madison Dirks and Amy Morton as 'Nick' and 'Martha' in 2012 Broadway revival
Photo Credit: Michael Brosilow

As BroadwayWorld reported in May, controversy recently erupted over an Oregon production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Shoebox Theatre director Michael Streeter posted the below statement after receiving news from the Edward Albee estate:

The issue launched much discussion in the theatre community about the Albee Estate's justification for those actions, which at the time they claimed were to "ensure that the author's intent [was] upheld." Estate representative Sam Rudy wrote: "Mr. Albee himself said on numerous occasions when approached with requests for non-traditional casting in productions of Virginia Woolf? that a mixed-race marriage between a Caucasian and an African-American would not have gone unacknowledged in conversations in that time and place and under the circumstances in which the play is expressly set by textual references in the 1960's."

Now the Arts Integrity Initiative's Howard Sherman has taken a closer look at whether non-traditional casting has been an issue in other Albee productions around the country. What he found was that plenty of his works are being produced with diverse casts.

Chicago's Pulse Theatre recently took on the same play (approved by the Estate) with black actors playing George and Martha. WME's Jonathan Lomma explained: "The Albee Estate gave Chicago's Pulse Theatre Edward's own script edits that the playwright thought could be useful when George and Martha are portrayed by actors of color, as they are in the current Chicago production. Those approved edits by Edward himself were used in an all African-American production of Woolf at Howard University several years ago."

Click here to read more about other examples of diversity in past Albee productions.

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