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Print Room responds to ‘racist’ casting row

The Print Room at the Coronet. Photo: Marc Brenner The Print Room at the Coronet. Photo: Marc Brenner
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London fringe venue the Print Room has moved to defend itself over casting Caucasian actors in a production set in ancient China, describing the play as a “very English” one.

The theatre was widely criticised for its use of four Caucasian actors in a play by Howard Barker called In the Depths of Dead Love, which is set in ancient China, according to its own website.

Critics called the casting “racist” and questioned the process that led to white actors being selected for characters that have Chinese names.

However, in a response, the venue said the play was a “very simple fable” and claimed it does not tell a Chinese story.

“It is not about Chinese society, culture or perspectives. If it were, the casting would be very different, naturally. Whilst the characters have been given Chinese names, that is to reference the abstract and the folkloric idea of the universal; we could just as easily be in the metaphorical area of Hans Christian Anderson, or, alternatively, the land of the Brothers Grimm,” the venue said.

It added: “It is, in fact a very ‘English’ play and is derived from thoroughly English mores and simply references the mythic and the ancient. It has therefore been cast accordingly.

The theatre went on to say that some publicity materials “seem to have permitted the possibility of a misapprehension arising”.

“Print Room remains committed to diversity and inclusiveness in all we do, as our history shows,” it added.

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