Convener(s): Sandra Yee

Participants: Lisa Hammond, Deepa Shastri, Chris, Meenakshi, Anouk, Sheena, Honour, Sarah, Jonny, Charlie F., Gerard, Chris W., Cherylee, Jenny Moule

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Casting Issue:

Should it be colour-blind / not sexuality-specific / disability-blind / etc…?

When specifying requirements for a role, are these specifications of visual appearance (or otherwise) real and true or are these specifications superficial and approximate, or based on perception.

Eg. If a white male is required, does a nearly white male get the job?

If the part calls for a disability, does an able-bodied actor get the part?

(As in ‘My Left Foot’ with Daniel Day Lewis)

Therefore how do we define merit/suitability for a role?

Obviously, we can only work with the people that are accessible. This leads to regional tendencies and decisions. Is this acceptable? 

Does text-based theatre, devised theatre or other theatre have their own tendencies with casting decisions?

Responsibility for ‘political correctness’ and learning about it lies on BOTH SIDES: with the potential discriminatee and the decision-maker.

Example: If a South Asian performer gets the part that was open to anyone, how does that performer feel confident that they did not get the part purely for the theatre company to tick its boxes (by cultural diversity) and not by their own merit?

The motives can be ambiguous, not only for the theatre company but also for the audience who may think that that performer got the part BECAUSE they were South Asian.

Obviously, clarity is needed if there is ambiguity. In Employment Contract, Director’s Note, in conversation.

When ‘Cat On A Hot Tin Roof’ was performed with an all-black cast, is there not a Novelty aspect to hook the punter?

Aim for Political Correctness to be non-existent and not an issue.

Also, Taboo subjects and their treatment in Comedy.

Isn’t Political Correctness just an extension of plain Good Manners? To avoid hurting another person’s feelings.

We may inherit our use of our LANGUAGE, the spoken word, from our parents without knowing the true meanings of certain terms, phrases or WORDS.

We remembered the LANGUAGE used by certain Stand-up Comedians of the past that was definitely not P.C.

Are JOKES aimed at yourself OK or Not OK, if you are a minority, eg. Disabled and/or Chinese? Does it not just reinforce the Stereotypes? Should you take responsibility and avoid making those jokes? 

“We are all different, yet all the same” 

For the Future:

Good to have Post-Show discussions/Q & A sessions to air these topics/issues/matters. 

Avoid Tokenism 

Maybe have sessions called “Don’t Worry – You Can Get It Wrong” where we can speak out loud all the non-PC terms without return (cathartic?)

Need to allow space to Learn what is P.C. or Not P.C.

Sometimes we need permission to laugh. A group can give or not give permission to be non-P.C.

And to laugh at Non-PC jokes, is that a real or false laugh, a laugh at the people who are laughing, or a laugh at the people who are laughing at the people who are laughing, or.……..etc? And can we tell the difference. 

‘Political Correctness’ brings up so much F-E-A-R… 

IT’s not easy! 

Respect each other.

Need to Test P.C. boundaries to find out where they are.

Learn from mistakes.

P.C. gaffes might be done –innocently – and with a Good Heart.

It is all too easy and natural to Stop Speaking/Conversing – to avoid showing ignorance. Eg. “asian” can be too general. Also can be too specific!

Issue of Authenticity.

“England People Very Nice” by Richard Bean at National Theatre. A controversial play relevant to topic.

“P.C.”, the term, has been HIJACKED

“P.C” ???? Or “Why can’t I be racist anymore?” ????

Why are these Discussions / Chats usually with people that are probably Already Converted ? (Chris mentioned ‘white middle-class males’ were mostly missing)