The Broadway show “Hamilton” has been accused of discrimination – against whites. It’s a bit of an ethnic reversal on intolerance, but the hottest Broadway ticket in town is dealing with racist allegations after issuing a cattle-call for all “non-white” actors.
According to the Wall Street Journal on March 30, although the casting specificity is “common and legal in theater,” the problem was the invitation “failed to include standard language used by the union Actors’ Equity to encourage any and all performers to try out.”
The audition call was released directly on the play’s website, advertising an open call for NYC and California. The announcement reads: “Seeking NON-WHITE men and women, ages 20s to 30s, for Broadway and upcoming Tours.” The ad also asks for “singers who rap,” which one might assume precludes white folk anyway.
So now social media, ever eager to serve as a platform for perceived narrow-mindedness run amok, is lashing out at Hamilton producers. Of course, the fact that the play is based on Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and a number of African American supporting roles seems to be lost in the fact the casting call didn’t use impartial fine print language – calling for every sort of skin who wouldn’t get hired anyway.
Producer Jeffrey Seller said the play is “essential to the storytelling of ‘Hamilton’ that the principal roles—which were written for non-white characters, excepting King George—be performed by non-white actors.”
Adds civil rights attorney Ron Kuby: “Hamilton is about having minority actors in the position of founding fathers,” Kuby said. “It’s almost always illegal to advertise on the basis of race, but when you’re casting… it can be a bona fide occupational requirement. Same issue on age. I don’t have to cast an elderly white guy if my project is about a young black man.”
But the all-caps announcement is especially drawing criticism from the Actors’ Equity guild. “The language… is inconsistent with Equity’s policy,” commented spokeswoman Maria Somma.
If it was the situation was reversed, perhaps the backlash would be even greater, some suggest. According to the Daily News, a stagehand for the show said he was “surprised” by the ad, but “if it was the other way around, Rev. Al Sharpton would be down here in a frenzy,” he said.
Adds NewsOxy: “At the end of the day, the Hamilton producers said that they would change the posting that had drawn criticism, to make it clear that people of all ethnicities are welcome to audition, but would not back away from the show’s commitment to hire a diverse cast.”
What are your thoughts on this so-called Hamilton discrimination?