Answering questions and respond to two other students responses

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In the last module we discussed the differing relationships we have with one another, the people and situations around us and how our behavior changes based on who we are with, where we are at and the circumstances that tells us the nature of the situation, event or circumstance in which we find ourselves. We have discussed how so much of the way that we view the world and interact with one another is based on our own personal view of the world, our experiences, the way we were brought up, socially, culturally, religiously, politically and our reaction to it. We have discussed our behavior and the way that we express ourselves to one another can sometimes be personal, public and even professional.

When we take a step back from our own lives and relationships and look at the multiple cultures, sub-cultures and ethnic groups that are represented in the American Theatre and cinema, we can see that the influence of their own story telling comes from their own rich traditions, histories, struggles, fights and hopes that those cultures and people groups have been working and striving toward for centuries.

Here in our second discussion, we are working through the history of African American Theatre and its influence on American culture from the turn of the last century to today. You have now read about the rise of African American Theatre, cinema and culture in America, its influences and the direction it has been on.

With all of this background now from your viewing of Wilson’s play “Fences”, supplemental materials provided to you through Titanium and your own personal sense of multiculturalism in the Theatre, T.V., and Film, please read the following excerpt from Brockett and Balls text, The Essential Theatre about August Wilson’s view of African American Theatre.

Race, Funding and Multiculturalism

At the 1996 Theatre Communications Group Conference, August Wilson made an impassioned speech about the lack of support for African American Professional Theatres, which he judged essential if African Americans are to explore their own culture and History in a context that is not dominated by white society. He pointed out that present funding policies reward mainstream white Theatres for occasionally including a minority play in their repertory, a practice that keeps African Americans subordinate by making their lays only a token part of Theatres offerings nut sufficient to divert funds from African American Theatres. He also denounced “colorblind” casting that places African American actors in roles written for whites, “which is to deny us our own humanity.” Overall, he saw these practices as keeping African Americans in a subsidiary role by making it difficult for them to explore their own history apart from the dominant culture.

This speech led to a heated exchange between Wilson and Robert Brustien, Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theatre. Brustien charged that Wilson was advocating cultural separatism. Whereas he himself favored bringing everyone together so we may achieve a “single value system.” Many others were soon involved, and in a January 1997 New York Town Hall meeting, Brustien and Wilson debated the issue. Ideas remained the same but positions remained largely unchanged.

In March 1998, a five day conference of African American Theatre personal was held in New Hampshire; one day of the five was open to others –about 300 people including Theatre personal, and business and foundation executives. At the open Meeting many proposals were made, most of them positive, but few solutions were reached. Future meeting were planned for more detailed consideration of particular issues. In 2002, the controversy was still ongoing. (Essential Theatre, Oscar G. Brockett and Robert J. Ball 8th Edition, 2004)

Questions(s):

Do you agree with August Wilson about Color Blind casting and it denying the humanity of those actors playing roles written for white actors in the American Theater?

Could colorblind casting say that we can look above and beyond race to the nature of what humanity is and how we can experience it?

Can you explore the human condition and experience devoid of the divisiveness and history of race and race relations?

Can the human experience BE voided of race and still be compelling?

Is Brustien’s “Single Value System” a more thoughtful and socially uplifting approach to the way we should be telling stories?

How do you think the “Single Value System” would work in your own words?

Notice that this article was published in 2004. Based on all of your information now and your own familiarity with pop culture, film, entertainment and the Arts, how do you feel we are different now 11 years later with respect to multiculturalism in the theatre, the Arts, entertainment, film and television, pop culture and most specifically with African American actors? In 14 years how do we even feel about saying “African American” as opposed to “Black Actors”?

Start a thread and in subject put “(your full name) – Be sure to copy the questions above and post them with your answers!!! – Minimum 150 words – Use complete sentences and correct grammar.

**Part 2: Your Comments: Read and respond to two other students’ answers. Make sure you are specific and identify who and what you are responding to.

Remember, your answer needs to be at least 150 words total and use proper English grammar and syntax, and you must reply to at least two other students’ posts.

**First student response (Justice R):**

Do you agree with August Wilson about Color Blind casting and it denying the humanity of those actors playing roles written for white actors in the American Theater?

I do not agree wholly with ‘color blind’ casting. When is comes to theater and film, there are certain roles that are intended to be played by a person of a specific nationality. For example, a film about a boy growing up in Beijing, China with his parents who are Chinese and have been native to their land for centuries. If the boy who was cast in the film not of the same nationality as the ‘parents’ within the movie, it would create confusion in the audience.

I do believe that people of every color and every nationality are to be given opportunity to take part in films/plays. But also, people from specific nationalities should be given the opportunity to embrace their culture and create films specific to a nationalities history and have people of that nationality take major roles in those films.

Could color blind casting say that we can look above and beyond race to the nature of what humanity is and how we can experience it?

Color blind casting is the way of the future in my opinion. When I watch films and television shows, I find myself being more intrigued by those in which there is a large amount of diversity. I believe this stems from my upbringing in Southern California, specifically in Los Angeles.

Can you explore the human condition and experience devoid of the divisiveness and history of race and race relations?

It is hard to explore the human condition and experience without considering the race in which someone is and the environment in which they are subjected and surrounded by. In film, without understanding someone’s racial background and the experiences that formed that individual, it is hard to find some kind of common ground to relate to that individual.

Can the human experience BE voided of race and still be compelling? Is Brustien’s “Single Value System” a more thoughtful and socially uplifting approach to the way we should be telling stories?

I believe that it can still be compelling especially when it comes to film and theater. Creativity is what drives film and theater. This is the perfect forum for creative minds to portray the human experience without an emphasis on race. I believe that Brustien’s ‘Single Value System’ is a much more socially acceptable concept when it comes to the way that theater and films are to be casted and performed.

How do you think the “Single Value System” would work in your own words?

“All people are given equal opportunity to any role that has yet to be filled in a production.”

Notice that this article was published in 2004. Based on all of your information now and your own familiarity with pop culture, film, entertainment and the Arts, how do you feel we are different now 11 years later with respect to multiculturalism in the theatre, the Arts, entertainment, film and television, pop culture and most specifically with African American actors? In 14 years how do we even feel about saying “African American” as opposed to “Black Actors”

Film, especially for those of African American race, has proceeded to give opportunities and roles to people of all color and nationalities. The film industry is now providing opportunities for people of African American decent to tell and show their stories, which most often are quite powerful and emotionally uplifting features. The use of the word ‘African American’ opposed to ‘black’ can be debated by others. I have grow up and been surrounded by the term “African American”, so that is the word that comes to mind when I think of their race and culture

** Second student response (Dennis H):**

Do you agree with August Wilson about Color Blind casting and it denying the humanity of those actors playing roles written for white actors in the American Theater?

I do not fully agree with August Wilson about Color Blind casting and it is denying the humanity of those actors. I do understand that the cultural part is lost because African American actors are playing roles written for white actors. However, I think that not all theatre production is written for white actors and some are written for African American actors.

Could color blind casting say that we can look above and beyond race to the nature of what humanity is and how we can experience it?

I think the main goal is to do color blind casting, but some roles fit a certain race better. This doesn’t mean that a different race can’t play the other race. For example, in the movie Tropic Thunder the Robert Downey Jr. played the African American role just fine.

Can you explore the human condition and experience devoid of the divisiveness and history of race and race relations?

I don’t think you can explore the human condition without experiencing the devoid of divisiveness, history of race and race relations because we learned about it and we are still exposed to it, so we still notice it in our everyday lives.

Can the human experience BE voided of race and still be compelling?

Yes, I think the human experience be voided of race and still compelling because the story itself can be very interesting and I don’t think we need to always think about race while experiencing something.

Is Brustien’s “Single Value System” a more thoughtful and socially uplifting approach to the way we should be telling stories?

I think there is the time to use the “Single Value System” and a time where August Wilson is right about culture. I think currently most theatre production is using the “Single Value System” because it is a good thing to not concentrate on race so much and just create an entertaining film. However, for learning purposes or documentary, I think August Wilson has a point.

How do you think the “Single Value System” would work in your own words?

I think the “Single Value System” will work if everyone likes the film itself without considering cultural race too much.

Notice that this article was published in 2004. Based on all of your information now and your own familiarity with pop culture, film, entertainment and the Arts, how do you feel we are different now 11 years later with respect to multiculturalism in the theatre, the Arts, entertainment, film and television, pop culture and most specifically with African American actors? In 14 years how do we even feel about saying “African American” as opposed to “Black Actors”

I feel that we are now different from 11 years ago because there are more African American films and that today’s entertainment is very multicultural. I think that it is just right to say African American as opposed to “Black actors”.

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