Print Room turns on Equity in ‘yellowface’ casting row

The Print Room at the Coronet. Photo: Marc Brenner
The Print Room at the Coronet. Photo: Marc Brenner
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West London venue the Print Room has accused Equity of misrepresenting and misquoting its public statement in the midst of a 'yellowface' casting row.

The Notting Hill-based fringe venue came under criticism for its casting of white actors in a play set in ancient China, however has since defended its decision.

It claimed that the piece, In the Depths of Dead Love, did not tell a Chinese story and its relation to ancient China was "abstract and folkloric".

In a response, Equity claimed the Print Room had failed to engage with the industry-wide discussion on diversity and described its actions as "unacceptable".

The Print Room has now hit back at Equity's handling of the situation, claiming it had been asking Equity to meet to discuss the issue for almost a month following the initial furore.

"It is our opinion that Equity has misrepresented and misquoted our public statement. We only today received dates when Christine Payne, general secretary, was prepared to meet with us. We are not hiding from the issue," the theatre said in a statement.

Equity confirmed yesterday (January 18), that an agreement had been reached between the union and the theatre to meet.

The statement issued by the theatre also apologised for misjudging the offence some would take regarding the show, but rejected claims of racial discrimination.

"Perhaps [this was] the failing to understand an observed pattern of cultural exclusion, and for that we are deeply sorry, as we have said publicly and privately for more than a month. We urge the members of the public to reach their own conclusions," the statement added.

It comes on the day the play, by Howard Barker, opens, and as those who oppose the casting prepare to protest outside the Print Room's home at the Coronet in Notting Hill.

The Print Room statement added: "We can all learn from our shortcomings in this cast and will continue to promote our commitment to diversity and inclusiveness in all we do. We will discuss these issues with Equity and within our artistic community to try to promote understanding – our own and others."

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