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Equity chides all-white Trevor Nunn production at the Rose

The cast of the Wars of the Roses at the Rose Theatre, Kingston The cast of the Wars of the Roses at the Rose Theatre, Kingston. The production has been criticised in some quarters for the lack of diversity in its casting
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The Rose Theatre Kingston has been criticised over the lack of diversity in its cast for the forthcoming Wars of the Roses.

The 22-strong cast is made up entirely of white, able-bodied performers, a move which union Equity has claimed “locks minorities out of the cultural picture”.

The production, which is directed by Trevor Nunn and brings together four Shakespeare plays not seen together for 50 years, will star Joely Richardson, Robert Sheehan and Rufus Hound.

Equity said it questioned the Rose after concerns had been raised by union members over the theatre’s casting for the show. A statement from Equity added that the Rose had claimed the casting decisions were led “on the basis of historical accuracy”.

Equity president Malcolm Sinclair said: “While wishing every individual actor in the production well, can it be acceptable best practice in 2015 to cast a project such as this with 22 actors but not one actor of colour or who apparently identifies themselves as having a disability?”

The complaints come after the union issued a new, more inclusive casting policy in June, which places a number of demands on the sector in a bid to improve diversity.

The union’s minority ethnic members committee described the Rose’s casting for the show as “disappointing”, adding: “The performance, as a cycle, of these plays together is a rare and special occurrence. To present this benchmark of British heritage in a way that effectively locks minorities out of the cultural picture (literally) flies in the face of the huge conversation taking place in British media at present.”

Equity added that the Rose was “actively considering future productions which are overwhelmingly cast from under-represented groups”.

The Rose Theatre declined to comment.

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