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Racial Switch Halts 'Huck Finn' Production
Yahoo ^ | 5/22/2005 | Associated Press

Posted on 05/22/2005 9:04:39 AM PDT by FreeManWhoCan

GLENELG, Md. - A black Huck Finn and a white Jim might be OK for a high school production of Mark Twain's classic tale — but those performances had to be edited out of a C-Span talent show after the copyright holder objected to the cross-casting. ADVERTISEMENT

Jay Frisby, a black student who played Huck, and Nick Lehan, a white student who played Jim, taped their performance of the song "Muddy Water" for "Close Up," a weekly show that highlights high school excellence.

When the program aired Friday, the two Glenelg Country School seniors were introduced, but viewers were told that "Close Up" could not show their performance because of "copyright restrictions."

Lehan and Frisby had played the roles of Jim and Huck in the school's production of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" without complaint. But when the show's executive producer asked for the right to air the students' performance, permission was denied.

Bert Fink, a spokesman for R&H Theatricals — the Rodgers & Hammerstein organization, which holds the license to the play — said his organization is not against cross-casting in general.

"But when you're dealing with a theatrical work and race or ethnicity is a key factor, many authors or playwrights feel strongly that ethnicity has to be reflected in the actors who portray the characters," he said.

"In the books, Jim is a runaway slave. He is clearly in the novel an African-American man. And Huck is a free white man — that is central to the story. To ignore that component or to comment on it by switching is not faithful to the story."

Frisby's father, Washington attorney Russell Frisby, said he was appalled by the decision.

"The only rationale for it is that someone in New York believes Huck Finn can't be played by an African-American. I thought we were past the days of 'whites only' clauses," the elder Frisby said.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: alangribben; auburnuniversity; huckfinn; huckleberryfinn; marktwain; pages; samclemens; samuelclemens; tomsawyer
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To: Eeper

Maybe you are taking this too personally. Interesting discussion though


81 posted on 05/22/2005 10:19:44 AM PDT by Kokojmudd (Today's Liberal is Tomorrow's Prospective Flying Saucer Abductee)
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To: GOP_Proud

The play could become a real farce if all the black actors played whites in whiteface and the whites played balcks in balckface. I just can't quite figure out what kind of a message that would send.


82 posted on 05/22/2005 10:20:01 AM PDT by libstripper
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To: Eeper

what part about using the Lord's name in vain DON'T you understand?


83 posted on 05/22/2005 10:20:26 AM PDT by MikefromOhio (Is anyone else ready for football to begin again?)
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To: MikeinIraq
You tell us. You KNOW that word is offensive to some and certainly catches the attention of those willing to use it against Conservatives and the like.

It's the name of the character under discussion. No, I really didn't know I couldn't say it. If I were to refer to someone in such a fashion, which is the pejorative, I could understand your indignation.

You know just about everyone reads this book between the ages of 8 and 12.

So...children read this book, including the character's name, in type...but when discussing the character, I'm supposed to refer to him differently. I get it. I'm abiding by it at this point. I still disagree.
84 posted on 05/22/2005 10:22:31 AM PDT by Eeper
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To: Kokojmudd

It's possible. I'm honestly just agog, though.


85 posted on 05/22/2005 10:23:13 AM PDT by Eeper
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To: Eeper; FreeManWhoCan; BenLurkin; freebilly
"A black Huck Finn and a white Jim"

I think its a great idea. Adds some interest to an otherwise stale story

The Closeup Foundation is for high school students. I was once in a high school play in which a black student portrayed an Irishman in rural Ireland. He was excellent. The copyright holder (of this derivative play) should lighten up.

One of the greatest, funniest, most poignant stories in American Literature and you think it's stale?

I read it to my son and one thing I noticed about Twain's writing made me feel that this is not a perfect literary work. There were places in the story that are less well crafted, where he seems to be just filling up space with irrelevant material. It is as if he rushed though these parts just to fill some sort of daily quota of words and never came back to polish them.

86 posted on 05/22/2005 10:23:43 AM PDT by wideminded
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To: MikeinIraq
what part about using the Lord's name in vain DON'T you understand?

You didn't answer my question. What deity would you prefer I call on in times of frustration if not Jesus Christ?
87 posted on 05/22/2005 10:23:59 AM PDT by Eeper
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To: Eeper

< See how easy it is to offend? >

I normally would not have pointed it out. I would have just gone on my merry way, however it's perfect example of how "words mean something" just as we are discussing.


88 posted on 05/22/2005 10:24:21 AM PDT by GOP_Proud (...stumbling across Bill Bennett on the radio is like bumping into Socrates at Starbucks.-K.Parker)
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To: Eeper

LOL!!! nice turn around of the phrase there....


89 posted on 05/22/2005 10:25:31 AM PDT by MikefromOhio (Is anyone else ready for football to begin again?)
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To: Eeper

< No, I really didn't know I couldn't say it. >

No, you can say it and did. You're just having trouble accepting the baggage that comes with using it.


90 posted on 05/22/2005 10:27:07 AM PDT by GOP_Proud (...stumbling across Bill Bennett on the radio is like bumping into Socrates at Starbucks.-K.Parker)
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To: GOP_Proud
You're just having trouble accepting the baggage that comes with using it.

Baggage? Yes, I'm having trouble accepting that I'm some manner of racist because I didn't think twice about mentioning the character's name in a discussion of said character. It's strange. I know it doesn't seem that way to you.
91 posted on 05/22/2005 10:30:03 AM PDT by Eeper
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To: Eeper

< You didn't answer my question. What deity would you prefer I call on in times of frustration if not Jesus Christ? >

"Calling on" and "cursing" are two different things. Note the "in vain" part.


92 posted on 05/22/2005 10:30:04 AM PDT by GOP_Proud (...stumbling across Bill Bennett on the radio is like bumping into Socrates at Starbucks.-K.Parker)
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To: Old Professer

In this case, a delegating fool who knows not what he's delegating about. Everybody who's on this thread who hasn't read the novel (no insults to those who have) and who's passionately arguing about the "N" word, is really going to be scratching his/her head about what we're discussing. I finally got around to reading the novel because I'd seen one or two movies based on it, had heard all the bitter discussion about it, and just wanted to know what it really was all about.


93 posted on 05/22/2005 10:30:39 AM PDT by libstripper
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To: Eeper

Again, not one person here has called you a racist. You are the one who keeps mentioning that.


94 posted on 05/22/2005 10:31:58 AM PDT by GOP_Proud (...stumbling across Bill Bennett on the radio is like bumping into Socrates at Starbucks.-K.Parker)
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To: GOP_Proud
"Calling on" and "cursing" are two different things. Note the "in vain" part.

This is just getting bizarre. What incantations do I have to use to call on rather than curse the deity in question? You've not the ability to judge whether my cries to said deity are "in vain" or not.

If this is some weird American Protestant interpretation of what "cursing" and "in vain" mean, I'm really not interested. This is getting rather surreal.
95 posted on 05/22/2005 10:33:57 AM PDT by Eeper
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To: GOP_Proud
Again, not one person here has called you a racist. You are the one who keeps mentioning that.

So...what's offensive about the word I used, again? You're one of the ones that keeps implying something of the sort.
96 posted on 05/22/2005 10:34:36 AM PDT by Eeper
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To: BenLurkin
Except for the fact that it MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO DAMN SENSE to have a white Jim and a black Huck, it's a splendid idea.
97 posted on 05/22/2005 10:36:18 AM PDT by Xenalyte (End women's suffrage! Hasn't the country suffered enough?)
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Seriously, guys, I give up on this one. That is all.


98 posted on 05/22/2005 10:39:40 AM PDT by Eeper
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To: libstripper

Anybody who thinks Twain was making a bleeding heart plea for the improvement in the status of the Negro is misleading himself; Twain was a colloquialist, a narrator of soft-tales from light-hearted and dark, worried places, a student of the strained soul.


99 posted on 05/22/2005 10:50:50 AM PDT by Old Professer (As darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of good; innocence is blind.)
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To: Eeper
Come on, boys. Can't we stop niggling* over the PC issues and look at the production with some degree of mature objectivity? The book was written in the 19th century and slavery was very real recent history. Whites weren't slaves, they were indentured servants. It would be equally insulting to replace the Black characters in Uncle Tom's Cabin with white actors, undermining the integrity of the story and demeaning the suffering of American Blacks. It would furthermore diminish the respect due to our Black citizens in overcoming and succeeding after such an experience. *Before you go into paroxysms of PC correctness, look the word up.
100 posted on 05/22/2005 10:50:53 AM PDT by ArmyTeach (Pray daily for our troops.)
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