I wrote the article linked above for Theatre Bay Area Magazine’s Jan/Feb issue, and it was just posted online. Click on it and check it out!
I’ve really come to dislike the term “color-blind” casting, because it implies that the highest good is to be “blind” to race and ethnicity, and I just reject that out of hand. The highest good, in my opinion, is to both SEE difference and CELEBRATE it. Not “accept” or “tolerate”– those weak words can take a seat.
While the point of this article is race and ethnicity, I think we also need to start thinking of diversity in terms of body size, age, disability, and gender– and not just gender as in “male/female,” but recognizing the true range of gender, gender expression, and the 1000 ways in which cisgendered people enjoy privileges that transgendered people do not. As a cisgendered woman, this was invisible to me until fairly recently. Over the past ten years (after the death of Gwen Araujo, practically in my childhood backyard), I’ve paid a lot of attention to how transgendered people are treated in our culture, and while the cisgendered can never truly understand, it’s crucial for us to try.
My own company is in no way perfect. Far from it. We have a long way to go with all of these issues. But it’s something I think about literally every day of my life.
UPDATE 5/20/13: Please read this account of a Filipino American actor who auditioned for a character of color, made it to the second callback, and then discovered the “Big New York Theatre” (his generous psuedonym) cast a white actor instead. It’s a great read for a ton of reasons.