J. Bernard Calloway has been The Grinch in The Old Globe’s production of the Christmas classic for the last two years. Under all that green makeup, Calloway is black.
The Old Globe’s summer production of “Macbeth” featured several actors of color in leading roles, including Marsha Stephanie Blake, a black woman, as Lady Macbeth.
The Globe’s artistic director, Barry Edelstein, has emphasized “race neutral casting,” and it shows, said Michael Taylor, an Old Globe board member.
Taylor also applauded The Globe’s effort to take its theater offerings off the stage and into San Diego’s diverse neighborhoods. The theater company hired Freedome Bradley-Ballentine in 2015 and tasked him with finding ways to engage San Diego communities through unconventional programs in new settings.
But Taylor, one of two black members of The Globe’s board, is embarking on a new plan: to make sure the theater’s diverse main-stage shows are seen by a diverse audience.
“If you were to go to almost any play there at The Old Globe, the audience doesn’t necessarily reflect the full San Diego community,” Taylor said. “Each time you go into the theater, you look around at the audience and you see just a handful of people who look like me.”
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A generation ago, Mr Taylor would have worn a dashiki rather than an ascot when calling for more "relevance" in the arts. Has our situation improved? Race-neutral casting seems to me to be even more outré than the dashiki … if Jackie Chan might play Othello, then why not get "gender" neutral and cast Ben Stein as Desdemona.
Western culture was a product of Western civilization, and may it return to us someday reborn. Until then, the Globe is going to get more butts in seats only by giving the local market what it wants to see: Snooki and Milo and Netflix. If you're going to do Shakespeare, then do it the way William would have wanted … if you're going to do Ionesco, do it the way Eugène would have wanted … and may political correctness be damned to the hell that it came from.
Are you getting a cut of the federal grants, Kinsee? Better hurry up, because the ones for racist bs like this are going away very soon.
My experience has been, after decades of attending both Old Globe and San Diego Repertory Theater, that there are a lot of black performers and some content that tells stories about black people, so that's not the answer to Mr. Taylor’s concern about the audience.
If Mr. Taylor would attend any "Rap" concert, he might find even greater "disparity" in the substantial black audience. Before we embark on another "inclusiveness" boondoggle, maybe he could consider the factor of personal preference, or as the founders of our nation might put it, "free choice".
@Bill Bradshaw I stopped paying attention until recently, but the majority of "Rap" listeners were and may still be white-skinned. I may be wrong, in the expectation but the attendees should co-relate to listeners. That would still allow for a "substantial" black-skinned audience.
I love this foolishness.
@Bill Bradshaw I'm not sure what disparity you're referring to in the audiences of rap, R&B, etc. NWA owned white suburban teens to the immense horror of 80's parents. The present-day audiences of artists like Rihanna, Kanye, Drake, Jay-Z, Missy Elliott, Beyonce, et al. transcend racial boundaries. That's how they get filthy rich. I tentatively suggest you're projecting your own artistic tastes as typical of your racial demographic when they may be more typical of your age demographic. :) Although by now a lot of old-school rap fans are getting closer to Social Security age.
Last time I went to the Old Globe, I couldn’t help but think that the organization must be just a few years away from financial disaster, given the apparent age and race of the average person in the audience. In fact, I think all of our cultural institutions would be wise to set themselves up for the future by making more inroads into San Diego’s black and brown communities.
I’ve seen diverse audiences turn out to support high-quality theater that reflected the experiences of people of color. Mo’olelo put on some great shows in the past, Kita y Fernanda in particular. Moxie’s The Bluest Eye was amazing. San Diego Opera also put on two incredible mariachi operas. To their credit, they collaborated with Mexico’s best mariachi, Mariachi Vargas de Tecatitlán, who helped pack the house. Culture Clash’s production of El Henry in Makers Quarter a while back was also a hit with the audience, Latino and otherwise.
I’m glad to see the Old Globe explore ways to become more diverse. I’m certainly ready to support works by artists of color. Lots of people are.
@Oscar Ramos You must have gone on Wednesday afternoon, "Geezer Day", which my wife and I attend because the tickets are pretty cheap. Only problem is that you have to show your Medicare card for entry.
What were the things he found as to why a more diverse group weren't coming? I can imagine a few reasons, but what he found would certainly be useful to hear.
The reasons we've dropped our attendance at the Globe has more to the vulgarity of the material they present. From an insider, we've also learned that once a piece is set, say, in a Shakespeare play, the cast take it upon themselves to go for the cheap laughs and emphasize the vulgarity (usually always present in any Shakespeare play) or insert vulgar behavior on their own.
Old. Tired. Boring.
In particular, the Globe has to look to its bottom line. It needs attendees and subscriptions, besides donors. If it gets too much in the way of donations, it can actually ignore its audience, the way the LJ Playhouse has done when they were starting out. Having half the audience walk out of a show, or play to much less than a full house reflects on the material and the theater organization.
The only theater I've been to in San Diego that had a big African American audience is Community Actor's Theater. They do great work there! Maybe Old Globe could do an outreach event there and invite folks with a deep group discount?