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The American Theatrical Canon and the Struggle for Racial Equality in British Theatre

Abstract

In British and American theatre, conversations about the lack of diversity are also inherently about the race of characters and who is allowed to play roles within the dominant theatrical genres. These struggles are about “Britishness” and “Americanness” with a toxic undertow of racism protecting the dominant (“white”) culture. This chapter considers the emerging shift to inclusive casting in British productions of plays by Arthur Miller, Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams. After providing an overview of integrated casting on the British stage, the chapter examines the use of inclusive casting in recent productions of American drama in Britain, namely Streetcar Named Desire in Manchester and Desire Under the Elms in Sheffield, to then focus on how all-black casts have been employed by Talawa Theatre for their productions of Miller’s All My Sons and the musical Guys and Dolls to provide black performers with leading roles in the American canon.

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Rogers, J. (2021). The American Theatrical Canon and the Struggle for Racial Equality in British Theatre. In: Morosetti, T., Okagbue, O. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Theatre and Race. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-43957-6_2

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