Theatre group spends two years finding enough black actors for new show

Theatre group spends two years finding enough black actors for new show

Theatre group spends two years finding enough black actors for new show

First published in New Forest
Last updated

AN AMATEUR theatre group is finally staging its production of Ragtime – after taking two years to find six black actors.

Milton Musical Society decided to produce the musical, which tackles the issue of immigration and racial prejudice in 1902 New York.

But the New Forest theatrical society had no black people among its 80 members.

And the only black person they knew working in New Milton was the pharmacist – who did not sing or act.

The society’s committee refused to let white actors “black up” or “stand in the shadows”, after deeming it inappropriate.

As a result, members went on a “recruitment drive”, which included approaching black people they spotted at work or shopping nearby.

The society had hoped to stage the show last year but were forced to postpone it when they failed to fill the ten black roles in time.

They finally found their leading man and lady from towns around 30 miles away.

The society now has three black men and three black women among the musical cast of 55 – and would ideally like four more men before the show opens on April 17.

Society member Jonathan Shiner, 61, said: “New Milton and the surrounding areas have largely white populations, which is reflected in our membership.

“When we are looking for a white man or a white girl we have 100,000 options and therefore rarely have trouble filling these roles.

“However, with Ragtime, we need around ten black performers who are able to sing and act to a high standard.

“Unfortunately, there are very few black families in our catchment area to begin with. By the time you take out those who are the wrong age or wrong gender and those who cannot sing and act, we lose a further 90 per cent.”

Leading man Alex Clarke, 48, who plays Coalhouse Walker, said: “I have to travel around 30 miles to get to rehearsals, but it is definitely worth it because it is a great play and a role I am very keen to play.

“Everybody at the society has been incredibly friendly and very welcoming.”

Race and diversity consultant Don John, from Southampton, said: “There are not many black people living in this part of the country, so I understand why the society has had some difficulty filling the roles.

“It’s very brave of the society to stand by their principles and not go down the easy route of allowing white actors to black up.”

Rehearsals for the show are now under way.

Comments (13)

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12:19pm Fri 1 Feb 13

sarfhamton says...

A positive story about the New Forest, a novelty
A positive story about the New Forest, a novelty sarfhamton
  • Score: 0

1:11pm Fri 1 Feb 13

RED & WHITE..RED & WHITE says...

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw
n
Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw n RED & WHITE..RED & WHITE
  • Score: 0

1:44pm Fri 1 Feb 13

MGRA says...

this a pathetic story. Talk about stupid.... You don't have to "black-up" to play a "black" person.... what century are these stupid people living in ?? Instead of wasting two years, they could have invested in some basic prosthetics to make their actors appear to be the correct ethnic group.... they should of just selected the best actors instead of discriminating against white actors...
this a pathetic story. Talk about stupid.... You don't have to "black-up" to play a "black" person.... what century are these stupid people living in ?? Instead of wasting two years, they could have invested in some basic prosthetics to make their actors appear to be the correct ethnic group.... they should of just selected the best actors instead of discriminating against white actors... MGRA
  • Score: 0

2:42pm Fri 1 Feb 13

mickey01 says...

you dont need black people for the roles just another example of the p c brigade ruining this country i guess they wont be putting roots on for a while then
you dont need black people for the roles just another example of the p c brigade ruining this country i guess they wont be putting roots on for a while then mickey01
  • Score: 0

2:49pm Fri 1 Feb 13

cantthinkofone says...

A bit of creativity could have saved them the wait. I completely agree with their decision not to "black up" - that would be horrendous. However, a half-decent writer could have reinterpreted the script to portray the issues metaphorically. Some other difference could have substituted for race. Jonathan Swift demonstrated masterfully how this can be done.
A bit of creativity could have saved them the wait. I completely agree with their decision not to "black up" - that would be horrendous. However, a half-decent writer could have reinterpreted the script to portray the issues metaphorically. Some other difference could have substituted for race. Jonathan Swift demonstrated masterfully how this can be done. cantthinkofone
  • Score: 0

2:51pm Fri 1 Feb 13

cantthinkofone says...

MGRA wrote:
this a pathetic story. Talk about stupid.... You don't have to "black-up" to play a "black" person.... what century are these stupid people living in ?? Instead of wasting two years, they could have invested in some basic prosthetics to make their actors appear to be the correct ethnic group.... they should of just selected the best actors instead of discriminating against white actors...
O. M. G......

I'm going to call you Barney. Y'know, like the dinosaur.
[quote][p][bold]MGRA[/bold] wrote: this a pathetic story. Talk about stupid.... You don't have to "black-up" to play a "black" person.... what century are these stupid people living in ?? Instead of wasting two years, they could have invested in some basic prosthetics to make their actors appear to be the correct ethnic group.... they should of just selected the best actors instead of discriminating against white actors...[/p][/quote]O. M. G...... I'm going to call you Barney. Y'know, like the dinosaur. cantthinkofone
  • Score: 0

3:24pm Fri 1 Feb 13

boobooj says...

An article on the arts combined with issues of immigration and racial prejudice?

I can just picture your average Daily Echo commenter scratching his flea ridden scalp in confusion, trying to work out what part of the story to attack first.
An article on the arts combined with issues of immigration and racial prejudice? I can just picture your average Daily Echo commenter scratching his flea ridden scalp in confusion, trying to work out what part of the story to attack first. boobooj
  • Score: 0

4:15pm Fri 1 Feb 13

mickey01 says...

cantthinkofone wrote:
A bit of creativity could have saved them the wait. I completely agree with their decision not to "black up" - that would be horrendous. However, a half-decent writer could have reinterpreted the script to portray the issues metaphorically. Some other difference could have substituted for race. Jonathan Swift demonstrated masterfully how this can be done.
is radio 4 off air or something??
[quote][p][bold]cantthinkofone[/bold] wrote: A bit of creativity could have saved them the wait. I completely agree with their decision not to "black up" - that would be horrendous. However, a half-decent writer could have reinterpreted the script to portray the issues metaphorically. Some other difference could have substituted for race. Jonathan Swift demonstrated masterfully how this can be done.[/p][/quote]is radio 4 off air or something?? mickey01
  • Score: 0

5:23pm Fri 1 Feb 13

kingnotail says...

Welcome to Backwater Britain........
Welcome to Backwater Britain........ kingnotail
  • Score: 0

10:57pm Fri 1 Feb 13

jonnyx says...

mickey01 wrote:
you dont need black people for the roles just another example of the p c brigade ruining this country i guess they wont be putting roots on for a while then
you really are a pigs**t thick class A moron aren't you mickey01.

also MGRA 'prosthetics' to play an ethnic group? what do you actually mean by that - go on i dare you.
[quote][p][bold]mickey01[/bold] wrote: you dont need black people for the roles just another example of the p c brigade ruining this country i guess they wont be putting roots on for a while then[/p][/quote]you really are a pigs**t thick class A moron aren't you mickey01. also MGRA 'prosthetics' to play an ethnic group? what do you actually mean by that - go on i dare you. jonnyx
  • Score: 0

7:57am Sat 2 Feb 13

mickey01 says...

jonnyx wrote:
mickey01 wrote:
you dont need black people for the roles just another example of the p c brigade ruining this country i guess they wont be putting roots on for a while then
you really are a pigs**t thick class A moron aren't you mickey01.

also MGRA 'prosthetics' to play an ethnic group? what do you actually mean by that - go on i dare you.
id stay off the vino if i was you that chip on your shoulder is getting heavy
[quote][p][bold]jonnyx[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]mickey01[/bold] wrote: you dont need black people for the roles just another example of the p c brigade ruining this country i guess they wont be putting roots on for a while then[/p][/quote]you really are a pigs**t thick class A moron aren't you mickey01. also MGRA 'prosthetics' to play an ethnic group? what do you actually mean by that - go on i dare you.[/p][/quote]id stay off the vino if i was you that chip on your shoulder is getting heavy mickey01
  • Score: 0

1:36pm Sat 2 Feb 13

cantthinkofone says...

mickey01 wrote:
cantthinkofone wrote:
A bit of creativity could have saved them the wait. I completely agree with their decision not to "black up" - that would be horrendous. However, a half-decent writer could have reinterpreted the script to portray the issues metaphorically. Some other difference could have substituted for race. Jonathan Swift demonstrated masterfully how this can be done.
is radio 4 off air or something??
:-D
[quote][p][bold]mickey01[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]cantthinkofone[/bold] wrote: A bit of creativity could have saved them the wait. I completely agree with their decision not to "black up" - that would be horrendous. However, a half-decent writer could have reinterpreted the script to portray the issues metaphorically. Some other difference could have substituted for race. Jonathan Swift demonstrated masterfully how this can be done.[/p][/quote]is radio 4 off air or something??[/p][/quote]:-D cantthinkofone
  • Score: 0

9:57pm Thu 7 Feb 13

alexander's entertainment says...

Some of the comments are what I expected. What you failed to realized is that the producer wanted to keep it in it's entirety. The show being a Broadway sensation would have been compromised if he had changed it. I am glad they took this long to find what they wanted. The problem with society nowadays is we are so impatient we want instant gratification. For that we miss out on the authentication of life and we then get a cosmetic version. Art is not like the women who wants a flat stomach and gets lypo suction. You have to work at it to achieve your goal.
Well done John Teather for sticking with the original format and thank you for picking me to play Coalhouse walker Jr
Some of the comments are what I expected. What you failed to realized is that the producer wanted to keep it in it's entirety. The show being a Broadway sensation would have been compromised if he had changed it. I am glad they took this long to find what they wanted. The problem with society nowadays is we are so impatient we want instant gratification. For that we miss out on the authentication of life and we then get a cosmetic version. Art is not like the women who wants a flat stomach and gets lypo suction. You have to work at it to achieve your goal. Well done John Teather for sticking with the original format and thank you for picking me to play Coalhouse walker Jr alexander's entertainment
  • Score: 0

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