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Trevor Nunn defends all-white Shakespeare cast as ‘historically accurate’

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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Trevor Nunn has defended his all-white cast for Shakespeare trilogy The Wars of the Roses, which opens at the Rose Theatre Kingston next month.

The director, who has been criticised for including only white, able-bodied performers in his 22-strong cast, has claimed that a desire to reflect “historical verisimilitude” was behind the decision.

Earlier this month, Equity described Nunn’s casting for the show as “disappointing”, adding that it “locks minorities out of the cultural picture”.

Responding to the criticisms, the director told The Independent on Sunday: “Having been involved since the early 1970s in the movement to cast, wherever possible, according to the principle of diversity, I am, of course, saddened to discover that Equity has criticised the casting for my current project.”

He added: “The connections between the characters, and hence the narrative of the plays, are extremely complex, and so everything possible must be done to clarify for an audience who is related by birth to whom. Hence, I decided that, in this instance, these considerations should take precedence over my usual diversity inclination.”

The production condenses four of Shakespeare’s early history plays, and the cast will be led by Joely Richardson and Rufus Hound.