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Warner Theatre Cancels I AM MY OWN WIFE After Backlash For Casting a Cisgender Man as a Transgender Woman

Rufus de Rham, the new executive director of the Warner, said he will use this situation as an opportunity to use the discussion as an opportunity for education.

Warner Theatre Cancels I AM MY OWN WIFE After Backlash For Casting a Cisgender Man as a Transgender Woman

The Warner Theatre has cancelled its previously announced production of "I Am My Own Wife" after it received backlash over the casting of a cisgender male in the lead role, The Hartford Courant reports.

The play tells the true story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, who lived openly as a transgender woman through the Nazi and East German Communist regimes.

The theatre faced several complaints through Facebook and email, which said that trans voices should be telling trans stories.

Rufus de Rham, the new executive director of the Warner, said he will use this situation as an opportunity to use the discussion as an opportunity for education.

"The intent was to tell this story from a sympathetic and respectful place. But this is a changing conversation that is happening in the world. It wasn't just because five people were calling us out on Facebook," de Rham said. "We're taking this as an educational moment, and looking at ways to have a broader discussion. How we do this, when we don't have the resources a professional theater might, is what we are working on."

de Rham said he has spoken to trans consultants and that there will be staff training on cultural sensitivity.

T. Sean Maher, who was originally cast in the piece, said the decision is "a kick in the teeth."

"I was told in advance there had been discussions, but I was told they were not going to cancel," he said. "I'm not looking for sympathy - I'm a worker and I lost my job. But I felt they were also saying 'This wasn't worth doing.' Is [casting only a trans actor] a viable argument? Absolutely. Wouldn't it have been best to use this as an opportunity to educate?"

Doug Wright, the playwright of the piece, also spoke about this.

"Since I wrote the play twenty years ago, the trans community has gained enormous visibility. It has been inspiring to witness, and I am thrilled that they have embraced my play and its heroine," he said. "I support (and celebrate) the impetus of trans people for greater representation. I also empathize with the actor who prepared for the role only to see the production canceled. In the future, I hope theaters considering the play will first reach out to the LGBTQ+ community for open, transparent conversations about casting expectations around 'I Am My Own Wife.' "

Read more on The Hartford Courant.


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