Colorblind casting is one of the techniques that have been used in production of plays and drama to disregard the possible cultural, tribal and racial prejudice in modern theatre. Colorblind casting is described as a situation where characters of a film are cast without any regard to some of their attributes such as race, gender and age (Hopkins, 2018). Most of these cases are usually experienced when producers come up with new ideas. The producers take the initiative of creating characters with a personality but without any physical characteristics. In some special cases, it may lead to black people playing roles meant for white people or women playing roles that were originally meant for men. The use of this technique ensures the integration of various cultures and sexual orientations in drama to avoid instances of discrimination.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella film had a unique set of characters. The play illustrated colorblind casting with characters from diverse groups of people. The black black queen played by Whoopi Goldberg while the white king was played by Victor Garber (Dupont, 2015). A Filipino man played their son’s role. The role of Cinderella was given to a black woman. Cinderella’s stepmother was white while both her daughters were black and white. Quvenzhane Wallis is set to star in various dramas across North America in a classic play called Annie. In the original play, Annie was a young white girl who was an orphan. Just like Quvenzhane, the original Annie had curly red hair. This is one of the many instances when a black actor played the part that was originally meant for white actors.
Colorblind casting worked well in the Cinderella story that was composed of a diverse group of people. The introduction of black characters in a position originally meant for white people made the movie popular. Colorblind casting is focused on giving more opportunities to people of color and illustrates racial inclusion and diversity (de la Rochère, 2016). However, critics have highlighted the weakness of colorblind casting by noting that ignoring the inherent attributes of the characters erases them from the play. Colorblind casting attempts to invalidate the ills in society such as racial inequality.
However, colorblind casting allows plays to cast people of color in vague characters that make them appear progressive (Wood, 2009). It brings people of color from the shadows of small roles to significant and interesting roles. Producers use color blind casting to illustrate that race is not a critical factor in allocating roles to different people. Unfortunately, people do not live in an ideal world, as inequality is still persistent.
Colorblind casting encourages audiences to consider women, people from minority groups and the handicapped as capable of accomplishing anything desired. However, the technique may serve to work against the play because it ignores the character’s original attributes (Hopkins, 2018).
In the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella play, the choices made by the directors seem to defy logic and history. For instance, the audience wondered why a white stepmother could have both a black and white kid. They also wondered how Cinderella turned out to be a black woman. Some audiences had so much trouble accepting the mixed casts because they took the books as literal reality. In addition, some audiences thought that some of the black characters did not belong in the parts meant for white characters (Wood, 2009).
Beauchamp, G. (2016). Identity Aesthetics: Casting. Southwest Review, 101(3), 313.
Dupont, H. (2015). If the Shoe Fits: An Analysis of Historical and Contemporary Adaptations of Cinderella.
de la Rochère, M. H. D. (2016). Cinderella across cultures: New directions and interdisciplinary perspectives. Wayne State University Press.
Hopkins, K. B. (2018). There’s No Business Like Show Business: Abandoning Color-Blind Casting and Embracing Color-Conscious Casting in American Theatre. Harv. J. Sports & Ent. L., 9, 131.
Wood, G. (2009). Ten Minutes and Fifty (Two) Years Ago: the three TV versions of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Studies in Musical Theatre, 3(1), 109-116.