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Great Britain: Production of Show Boat is sunk after race row over 'blacked-up' actors
The Daily Mail (U.K.) ^ | October 23, 2007

Posted on 10/23/2007 5:29:14 PM PDT by Stoat

Production of Show Boat is sunk after race row over 'blacked-up' actors

By PAUL SIMMS - More by this author » Last updated at 22:49pm on 23rd October 2007

  An amateur dramatics group has abandoned plans to stage the musical Show Boat with blacked-up actors after a public outcry.

 

Organisers had claimed that heavily made-up white actors would have to be used for the production set in America's Deep South because there were no ethnic minority players in the area.

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Show Boat

Actors in an amateur production of Show Boat will not be treading the boards after the musical was caught up in a race row and cancelled

 

But after criticism that its stance was dehumanising and offensive, Grange and District Amateur Operatic Society has cancelled rehearsals and replaced the show.

Instead of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's controversial 1927 musical - with songs featuring the word n****r - it will now produce Waltzes From Vienna, a stage version of Alfred Hitchcock's 1934 film.

The society had promised to show sensitivity in the frank treatment of race issues in Show Boat and said it would use less offensive phrases such as 'coloured folk'.

But despite the town council in Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria, approving the use of the local theatre, opponents still called for the production to be scrapped. The Methodist church where rehearsals were to be held also came under fire.

Last night Nash Thakker, a 41-year-old regeneration manager in the nearby town of Millom, said: "I'm glad it's gone. The play itself was derogatory to black people and has no place in modern society.

"As a black person I would have found the show offensive."

The society has refused to comment on its change of heart. But at the height of the controversy the show's director Christine Bell said she would stick to her guns.

"It's ridiculous," she said. "We're a small town, there aren't any black actors here."

She claimed the blacking-up plan had the backing of the National Operatic and Dramatic Association.

Mrs Bell also told a local newspaper: "I am not a racist. It's difficult to put on any show these days without offending people."

At the national census in 2001 the population of the South Lakeland area, which includes Grangeover-Sands, was 99.2 per cent white, compared to an average across England of less than 91 per cent.

In 1999, Studley Operatic Society in Warwickshire was banned from performing Show Boat with an all-white cast after the local council ruled that blacking-up was offensive.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: blackedup; blackface; britain; england; greatbritain; race; racialpolitics; racism; showboat; uk; unitedkingdom
Last night Nash Thakker, a 41-year-old regeneration manager in the nearby town of Millom, said: "I'm glad it's gone. The play itself was derogatory to black people and has no place in modern society.

Well gee, the 1951 movie adaptation of it won an Oscar and was nominated for two more.

Show Boat (1951)

"It's ridiculous," she said. "We're a small town, there aren't any black actors here."

Rationales based upon logic and reason are irrelevant in matters of racial politics.

1 posted on 10/23/2007 5:29:16 PM PDT by Stoat
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To: Stoat
"...less offensive phrases such as 'coloured folk'"

Here's a news flash for the Grange and District Amateur Operatic Society -- that is just as offensive.

2 posted on 10/23/2007 5:31:16 PM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: Stoat

“The play itself was derogatory to black people and has no place in modern society.”

It was a milestone in Broadway history, and the “offended” have no business censoring it.


3 posted on 10/23/2007 5:35:14 PM PDT by popdonnelly (Get Reid. Salazar, and Harkin out of the Senate.)
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To: Stoat

I’m offended by lots of movies. I simply don’t go to see them.


4 posted on 10/23/2007 5:36:57 PM PDT by popdonnelly (Get Reid. Salazar, and Harkin out of the Senate.)
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To: Stoat
Looking beyond the surface arguments, which are all pretty weak, it's worth noting that Oscar Hammerstein's father was from a "nonpracticing Jewish family" ~ as they put it in his biography.

Given the way anti-semitism is sweeping Europe these days, it's inescapable that the this relationship is far more important than the blackness or whiteness of the actors.

5 posted on 10/23/2007 5:44:19 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: Stoat

They’d probably still complain if they used an all-white cast without blackening any of the black characters.

“Showboat” tends to bring out the closet racists.


6 posted on 10/23/2007 5:47:24 PM PDT by period end of story (I have a bird that whistles, and I have birds that sing.)
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To: Stoat
Last night Nash Thakker, a 41-year-old regeneration manager in the nearby town of Millom, said: "I'm glad it's gone. The play itself was derogatory to black people and has no place in modern society.

I bet this fool is just fine with rap music that depicts black people as greedy gangsters, whores and degenerates.

And BTW, what the hell is a "regeneration manager" anyway? That sounds like a fancy name for a loafer.

7 posted on 10/23/2007 5:48:59 PM PDT by Argus
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To: popdonnelly
“The play itself was derogatory to black people and has no place in modern society.”

It was a milestone in Broadway history, and the “offended” have no business censoring it.

I’m offended by lots of movies. I simply don’t go to see them.

Excellent points all.

Wasn't there a movie just a few years ago that featured two famous black actors putting on 'whiteface' makeup and dressing as women?

I didn't see it because it appeared to be yet another movie that would rob me of two hours of my life that I would never get back, but I would never dream of demanding that such a movie be barred from production in any way.

8 posted on 10/23/2007 5:51:02 PM PDT by Stoat (Rice / Coulter 2008: Smart Ladies for a Strong America)
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To: muawiyah
Looking beyond the surface arguments, which are all pretty weak, it's worth noting that Oscar Hammerstein's father was from a "nonpracticing Jewish family" ~ as they put it in his biography.

Given the way anti-semitism is sweeping Europe these days, it's inescapable that the this relationship is far more important than the blackness or whiteness of the actors.

That may indeed be a factor in this matter and I appreciate your bringing it up.  Killing the production for 'racial' reasons allows the anti-Semites to have their way without coming out of the shadows, although the breadth and scope of anti-Semitism in Europe is breathtaking and severely troubling in its brazenness and cancerous metastasis as well.

9 posted on 10/23/2007 6:03:23 PM PDT by Stoat (Rice / Coulter 2008: Smart Ladies for a Strong America)
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To: period end of story
They’d probably still complain if they used an all-white cast without blackening any of the black characters.

“Showboat” tends to bring out the closet racists.

I'm sure that you're right.

 

10 posted on 10/23/2007 6:05:13 PM PDT by Stoat (Rice / Coulter 2008: Smart Ladies for a Strong America)
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To: Stoat

“Well gee, the 1951 movie adaptation of it won an Oscar and was nominated for two more.”

I don’t recall the ‘n’ word being in any of those songs!


11 posted on 10/23/2007 6:07:47 PM PDT by texpat72 (<><)
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To: texpat72

Maybe the stage play had different music than the movie.


12 posted on 10/23/2007 6:10:27 PM PDT by texpat72 (<><)
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To: BenLurkin

Maybe in some places, but there are still places in North Carolina where if you refer to someone as “black” you’ll offend them.


13 posted on 10/23/2007 6:11:31 PM PDT by wolfpat (If you don't like the Patriot Act, you're really gonna hate Sharia Law.)
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To: wolfpat
there are still places in North Carolina where if you refer to someone as “black” you’ll offend them.

What have you found to be the 'preferred' designation?

14 posted on 10/23/2007 6:15:56 PM PDT by Stoat (Rice / Coulter 2008: Smart Ladies for a Strong America)
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To: Argus
Last night Nash Thakker, a 41-year-old regeneration manager in the nearby town of Millom, said: "I'm glad it's gone. The play itself was derogatory to black people and has no place in modern society.

I bet this fool is just fine with rap music that depicts black people as greedy gangsters, whores and degenerates.

And he would likely be shouting "RACISM!" if anyone were to ever openly suggest taking steps to clean up the rap 'culture' that is so very destructive to a very large part of society.

And BTW, what the hell is a "regeneration manager" anyway? That sounds like a fancy name for a loafer.

LMAO!

From a superficial and admittedly minimal search it appear to be a 'resource manager' for a given region or area.  This is probably one of those job descriptions that is so loosely defined that in practice it ends up being precisely as you suggest   :-)

15 posted on 10/23/2007 6:19:42 PM PDT by Stoat (Rice / Coulter 2008: Smart Ladies for a Strong America)
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To: wolfpat

They’d be better off just putting on the show as written. It is a fine musical with great songs. It actually condemns racism and racists (particularly those who oppose interracial marriages) as an important plot element.


16 posted on 10/23/2007 6:21:03 PM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: Stoat

bump


17 posted on 10/23/2007 6:27:19 PM PDT by lowbridge
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To: Stoat

Today Monty Python would be off the air after one episode - they did gay jokes and used black face etc.

The Thought and Speech Police continue to make strides...


18 posted on 10/23/2007 6:29:18 PM PDT by Scarchin (+)
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To: Stoat
You think Rogers & Hammerstein are becoming a touchy subject? Try being a Jolson fan, as I am. (Today is the 57th anniversary of his death.)

I judge each individual person upon his or her own merits, but when dealing with groups of people I am forced by Reality to make certain assumptions based upon experience. With that understood, I wish black people would stop being so touchy and defensive over stuff like this. Yes, 400 years of slavery and all that, but every ethnic group was oppressed at some point by somebody. Imagine if we German-Americans freaked out every time a Hogan's Heroes rerun came on.

19 posted on 10/23/2007 6:30:05 PM PDT by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: Stoat

The original cast also included the brilliant African-American actor, Paul Robeson.


20 posted on 10/23/2007 6:40:07 PM PDT by popdonnelly (Get Reid. Salazar, and Harkin out of the Senate.)
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To: muawiyah; Stoat

Jerome Kern ....
What is he? Chopped liver? He was Jewish too


21 posted on 10/23/2007 6:43:32 PM PDT by dennisw (Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.)
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To: Stoat

22 posted on 10/23/2007 6:49:12 PM PDT by Bubba_Leroy (What did Rather know and when did he know it?)
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To: Argus
http://www.bbc.co.uk/videonation/articles/c/cumbria_elmina.shtml

Guy's a Moslem ~ the Jewish angle is paramount in his statement.

23 posted on 10/23/2007 6:52:48 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: texpat72
I don’t recall the ‘n’ word being in any of those songs!

The verse to 'Old Man River', in the version I heard went:

'Darkies all work on the Mississippi,
Darkies all work while the white folks play
'

I suspect it originally used the 'n' word, but the only way you would here it would be if you had access to the original cast recording from the original production. I'd love to hear it with Robeson and the great Helen Morgan (singing 'Bill')

24 posted on 10/23/2007 7:18:42 PM PDT by Lucius Cornelius Sulla (No Covenant with Death: Giuliani Shall Not Pass!)
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To: texpat72
I checked Wiki, and they say, referring to William Warfield, who did the role after Robeson:

'The section that Warfield omitted begins:

N-gg-rs all work on de Mississippi,
N-gg-rs all work while de white folks play...

In the 1936 film, the word "n-gg-rs" was changed to "darkies". Ever since the 1946 revival, the term has been changed to "colored folks", although there have been revivals that change the line to 'Here we all work on de Mississippi.'

25 posted on 10/23/2007 7:29:57 PM PDT by Lucius Cornelius Sulla (No Covenant with Death: Giuliani Shall Not Pass!)
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To: Stoat
"It's ridiculous," she said. "We're a small town, there aren't any black actors here."

Good thing Laurence Olivier isn't around doing 'Othello' any more, I guess.

26 posted on 10/23/2007 7:34:01 PM PDT by Lucius Cornelius Sulla (No Covenant with Death: Giuliani Shall Not Pass!)
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To: Stoat

The folks I’ve talked with prefer “colored person”.


27 posted on 10/23/2007 7:36:04 PM PDT by wolfpat (If you don't like the Patriot Act, you're really gonna hate Sharia Law.)
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To: popdonnelly

Wasn’t Paul Robeson a singer? Wasn’t he accused of being a communist?


28 posted on 10/23/2007 7:39:29 PM PDT by ladyjane
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To: Stoat

I liked the 1929 version of the film starring Joseph Schildkraut.


29 posted on 10/23/2007 7:54:38 PM PDT by Fiji Hill
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To: Stoat
Whoa! Did not... see that coming!

We... are so confused!

30 posted on 10/23/2007 8:09:31 PM PDT by Bender2 ("I've got a twisted sense of humor, and everything amuses me." RAH Beyond this Horizon)
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To: ladyjane

Paul Robeson, an all-American football player from Rutgers University, began a career as an actor and popular singer in the 1920’s, which lasted into the 1950’s. He was especially known for his deep baritone voice.

During the 1930’s, Robeson became active in left-wing causes, became an outspoken, hard-core Stalinist, and wound up as the Stalin Peace Prize laureate for 1953.

My record collection includes a recording from 1928 of him singing “Old Man River,” backed by Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra, as well as two Soviet patriotic songs from the 1940’s, “Shiroka Strana, Moya Rodnaya” (Vast Nation, My Homeland) and Ot Kraya i do Kraya” (From Border to Border), each sung in Russian and English.


31 posted on 10/23/2007 8:29:19 PM PDT by Fiji Hill
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To: B-Chan
Imagine if we German-Americans freaked out every time a Hogan's Heroes rerun came on.

Ja, ja... especially with all that martial music. :-)

Say, that reminds me... one of the funniest stage productions I've ever seen was The Sound of Music performed as a comedy. Imagine the "gazebo dance" with Liesl played by the oldest women in the cast, and Rolfe by a young skinny black guy (who also appeared later as the goatherd).

And they say Germans are humorless. Why, I didn't even reach for my Luger once.

32 posted on 10/23/2007 8:30:27 PM PDT by Charles Martel (The Tree of Liberty thirsts.)
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To: Stoat

Millom is in one of the least-known corners of England, the coastal strip which fringes the Lake District to the West and South. The area had a thriving economy based on coal and iron until the latter half of the 20th century, but has been severely depressed since the collapse of those industries, its dereliction the more striking because if its close proximity to some of Europe’s most beautiful countryside. Recently there has been some success in the economic regeneration of the area, with a lot of EU regional development money pouring in. Doubtless this gentleman is involved with one of these schemes, which from my own experience are often stifled by bureaucracy but sometimes produce startling impressive results. The local community website, www.millom.org.uk , tells a generally positive story. From my own experience I can also say that this is one of the parts of England where you are least likely to see a face other than white, so it’s not surprising that people hereabouts are a little, shall we say, confused about these matters.


33 posted on 10/24/2007 1:25:24 AM PDT by Winniesboy (Caution: Occam's razor carelessly applied can cut your own throat.)
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To: Fiji Hill

I’m always learning something here on FR. Thank you.

I had no idea that Robeson was a big time football player - and a popular singer.

He must have done well - at least for a while - because he had a big estate outside of Hartford, CT at one time. Later he was boycotted because of his connections with communism.


34 posted on 10/24/2007 6:00:31 AM PDT by ladyjane
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To: wolfpat
The folks I’ve talked with prefer “colored person”.

That's interesting and good to know, thank you.

35 posted on 10/24/2007 6:45:21 PM PDT by Stoat (Rice / Coulter 2008: Smart Ladies for a Strong America)
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To: Winniesboy
Millom is in one of the least-known corners of England, the coastal strip which fringes the Lake District to the West and South. The area had a thriving economy based on coal and iron until the latter half of the 20th century, but has been severely depressed since the collapse of those industries, its dereliction the more striking because if its close proximity to some of Europe’s most beautiful countryside. Recently there has been some success in the economic regeneration of the area, with a lot of EU regional development money pouring in. Doubtless this gentleman is involved with one of these schemes, which from my own experience are often stifled by bureaucracy but sometimes produce startling impressive results. The local community website, www.millom.org.uk , tells a generally positive story. From my own experience I can also say that this is one of the parts of England where you are least likely to see a face other than white, so it’s not surprising that people hereabouts are a little, shall we say, confused about these matters.

That's very interesting, thank you very much for your thoughtful and informative post.  It appears to be a lovely area from the photos at the page that you kindly provided the address to,...a place I certainly would enjoy visiting one day

I can only recall two other recent news stories that I've posted pertaining to the Lake District, and oddly enough one of them has to do with race issues as well.

Lakeland walkers 'wrong colour'(British Park to axe program because it attracts white people)

Great Britain Top Lakeland restaurant serves up Peking duck-style squirrel pancakes

 this is one of the parts of England where you are least likely to see a face other than white, so it’s not surprising that people hereabouts are a little, shall we say, confused about these matters.

And in such areas it's also commonplace to hear particularly strident voices when issues of race do pop up.  To say that Show Boat "has no place in modern society" is a bit much.

36 posted on 10/24/2007 7:04:26 PM PDT by Stoat (Rice / Coulter 2008: Smart Ladies for a Strong America)
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To: BenLurkin

A fine point, and one almost universally overlooked by the race-baiters who would eviscerate our history (both cultural and political) to suit their own prejudices.


37 posted on 10/24/2007 7:57:10 PM PDT by Tenniel2 (Borders, language, culture. In that order.)
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To: Lucius Cornelius Sulla; texpat72; Stoat
Oh, it gets better. That song opens the show, and those lines open the first verse. So the very first human utterance that the Broadway audience heard after the curtain went up -- this in December 1927 -- was "n*gg*rs," twice in rapid succession and with the full emphasis of the downbeat:

DEE-da-da dee da-da dee-dee-DEEE-dee,
DEE-da-da dee da-da dee-dee-DEEEEE ...

Despite this sign that the evening might not be the frothy mindless musical romp they were expecting, the opening-night theatergoers did not walk out in protest. They left quietly (Jerome Kern hadn't written any exit music, and he and Hammerstein agreed that there would be no curtain calls), and then woke up to reviews confirming the arrival of a most palpable hit. It's a critical axiom now that American musical theater can be divided into two eras: pre-Show Boat and post-Show Boat.

38 posted on 10/24/2007 8:38:56 PM PDT by Tenniel2 (Borders, language, culture. In that order.)
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To: Tenniel2
And the next major change also involved Hammerstein, with Richard Rodgers, with Oklahoma. The next was Sondheim and Bernstein's West Side Story.
39 posted on 10/24/2007 8:50:50 PM PDT by Lucius Cornelius Sulla (No Covenant with Death: Giuliani Shall Not Pass!)
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To: Scarchin
Today Monty Python would be off the air after one episode - they did gay jokes and used black face etc.

The Thought and Speech Police continue to make strides...

YouTube - Monty Python's Bruce Sketch

40 posted on 10/24/2007 9:31:24 PM PDT by Stoat (Rice / Coulter 2008: Smart Ladies for a Strong America)
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