Overly restrictive?

A reader writes in:

I thought you might be interested in this one… an NZ secondary school was looking at Hairspray for their theater production.  Turns out, to licence this play you have to agree that cast members in the show must accurately reflect the character descriptions as written in the script.  

Apparently Maori and Pacifika kids won’t do… they were told that the relevant characters must  be African American.  

See for yourself:  https://www.mtishows.com.au/hairspray  

Who next?  Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice performed only by Italians and a Jew?  Or should it only be Venetians?


It’s an interesting issue. My thoughts are:

  • The creators of the production of course have the rights to set conditions for use
  • I can absolutely understand not allowing blackface
  • I can also understand requiring productions in the US requiring actual African-Americans to play African-American parts
  • It does seem over the top to have the same requirement for productions in other countries like New Zealand
  • Such a restriction actually means fewer people get to see its core message against racism

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