OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
I have a strong appreciation for the arts. I’m a dance teacher and former theatre teacher, my husband had a painting business that designed murals for homes and businesses before joining the military. We enjoy experiencing and immersing ourselves in various forms of culture.
At the same time, we’re not those people who pretend to “get” the ten foot tall painting of a giant blue circle on a black canvas. Instead I’m just thinking, “what a waste of space”. I don’t like Frida Khalo paintings and I have zero desire to see Hamilton. I did not drink the “all forms of art are worth celebrating “kool-aid”.
Likewise, I do not believe all artists to be creative geniuses. There can be a lack of creativity amongst the so-called creative types. For example, imagine thinking it’s groundbreaking to write a script for Spider-man when 30 different versions of it already exist. Please move on.
Some artists are capable of exhibiting a lack of rumination, divergent thinking, or even intelligence. Some are seriously dumb.
So please picture my face when I read that a dinner theatre in Minnesota canceled its scheduled production of Cinderella because the cast was too white.
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres (which sounds hella white) in Minnesota (which is 83% white, but I perceive as EVEN whiter) canceled its production of the white ass play, Cinderella. Because there were too many white people in the cast. I can not even.
What did they think was going to happen?? Were they hoping a transracial, demisexual, Muslim, one-legged set of conjoined twins would hop into the theatre, dazzle everyone with their audition, and win the role of the two stepsisters? Honestly, I think the answer to that is yes, they were really hoping for a situation like that.
The artistic director Michael Brindisi, creative genius that he may be, must have forgotten that our current version of Cinderella took place in France. France, especially before more recent immigration practices, was decidedly demographically homogeneous. As in, pretty white. The original version of the Cinderella fairytale was written in Italian, not Arabic or Swahili, and some experts think the story may be ties to Greek mythology. What NO version of the story shows is strong ties to minority figures. White white white, super white.
If I buy tickets to Cinderella I know exactly what I’m going to see, I’m merely hoping for it to be performed with extraordinary unique skills and production quality. If I end up at some bastardized version of the classic story, where I have to suffer through beat-boxing Princes battling over the shaven-head, street smart multinational social justice Cinderella, all in the name of inclusion and equity, I may never step foot into a theatre again.
And that’s what all of this is about; equity, not art. If people like artistic director Brindisi want to focus on minority inclusion, it stands to reason that he could write his own damn play instead of cocking up the classics.
Motivated by George Floyd’s death, the theatre company wants to implement strategies that allow them to cast for inclusivity. It’s a good thing they’re not looking for silly things like acting skills. Minorities around the country should flock to Minnesota for their big break.
Beauty and the Black Lives Matter Beast? Oh yeah, I smell Broadway. The Little Mermaid; Fish love is still love. The Sleeping Beau, the Princess has dangly bits. The Emperor’s New Electric Car; be invisible to climate change. The potential for award winning soundtracks, are you kidding? Ah-mazing.