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Playwright Voices Complaint Over Regional Casting

Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis has complained  - via Facebook post  - about the Hartford regional production of his Tony Award-nominated play, "The Motherf**ker With the Hat."

The New York Times reported that Guirgus chastised the theater, TheaterWorks, and the production's director, Tazewell Thompson, for casting white actors to portray the play’s two Puerto Rican leading characters.

Mr. Guirgis was not the only one to complain over that decision. The Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors also criticized TheaterWorks since the show conducted casting calls in New York City where there is a surplus of Hispanic talent.

The executive director of HOLA, Manuel Alfaro, told the Times that he had complained to TheaterWorks last month about the casting but was told that the selection of actors was the “director’s prerogative.”

The Times reported that Steve Campo, the executive director of TheaterWorks, felt “very bad” about the incident. Campo also said that the production's casting descriptions did not specify that the two lead characters were Hispanic. (Though the play's dialogue makes very it clear that they are.)

Campo told the Times, “The actors that ended up being cast were, from the perspective of the director, the two best actors for the roles.”

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That is so typical. It's probably the same director that directed an old indie called House of Spirits , which was about a Latin family but cast all white. I hope people boycott the show.

It's bad enough lead roles for actors of color are very few and very far between in theatre but to have a director blatantly cast these roles with white actors ,that are specific to latin culture, might as well be white actors in black face. #SMH

William Shakespeare expressed how infuriated he was about Pacino acting Jewish in his play!

Freedom of expression I say. There are renditions of plays going on all over the world. There are straight people acting gay and gay people acting straight, so casting in this situation is not a racial issue. I know Mr.campo; that theatre auditions all actors, all races'genders, etc. Mr. Guirgis will have a lot of complaining to do, when he finds out what people are doing to his body of work. One mans vision is another mans reality.

Freedom of expression I say. There are renditions of plays going on all over the world. There are straight people acting gay and gay people acting straight, so casting in this situation is not a racial issue. I know Mr.campo; that theatre auditions all actors, all races'genders, etc. Mr. Guirgis will have a lot of complaining to do, when he finds out what people are doing to his body of work.

Freedom of expression I say. There are renditions of plays going on all over the world. There are straight people acting gay and gay people acting straight, so casting in this situation is not a racial issue. I know Mr.campo; that theatre auditions all actors, all races'genders, etc. Mr. Guirgis will have a lot of complaining to do, when he finds out what people are doing to his body of work.

my problem is not that they cast white actors, but that they pre-cast white actors who were 10 years too young for the parts -- and never even saw any latino actors of the appropriate age to play the LATINO characters in the play. in other words, these 2 roles were written as latinos in their late 30's -- and they never auditioned a single latino for either of those roles! i'm not complaining about it -- i just want the truth to be known. i am going to see the play to support the cast. i look forward to it. people can say; "oh i know mr campo", but that doesn't change the facts of what happened here. now if the director had some "creative vision" about young white folks playing latino's in theri late 30's -- and mr campo supported that vision -- well, all i can say is i look forward to seeing it. perhaps they will teach me something about my play and my characters that i did not know. sincerely, stephen a guirgis

Unfortunately, it IS the director's perogative. This is art, not everyday life. The creators have control. So we need to chill out.

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