Henry V - directed by Thea Sharrock
" ... it is no reflection on the acting skills of Paterson Joseph to say that it was absurd to cast a black man as Duke of York. For the Duke was grandson of the Plantagenet King Edward III, and on his mother's side, great grandson of Philip III of France. In other words, blanc de blanc.
This was just the latest example of British drama producers being 'colour-blind', though there is actually an agenda here, as identified by Paterson Joseph himself: "The problem with not seeing representations of black British life before 1948 is that it makes young black people feel like newcomers. Television and film have been whitewashed, but I think theatre is well ahead."
Well, there you have it. Theatre's apparent role is now to create a politically correct and racially adjusted history of England. In this, the black population of England did not arrive largely from the 1950s on, but apparently were always present yet invisible because they had been "whitewashed" out.
But that doesn't justify making a black man a medieval noble. Moreover, we know that politico-theatrical agenda at work would never lead to a Japanese or Burmese or Eskimo actor being cast as the Duke of York. And the requisite colour-blindness is mono-directional. No white or Chinese actor may play a black man: Othello, say, or Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela.
On the other hand, a black actor would not be cast an Irishman in -- say -- an O'Casey play, because 'race' is still accepted by the liberal elite to be intrinsic to traditional Irishness. And so, if the BBC were to make a film about 15th century Ireland, it would never cast a black actor as the 15th century Earl of Cork, now would it? That would be absurd -- except, alas, the Duke of York at Agincourt was also the Earl of Cork.
So a black actor would never play Captain MacMorris, the Irish officer in Henry's army. Unfortunately, this part was written out of the BBC production -- no doubt because he was too stage-Irish for modern susceptibilities. But this is missing the point. MacMorris's person represents England's latest imperial acquisition. Who else in Shakespeare ever talks about nationality? "Of my nation?" he cries in rage. "What ish my nation? Ish a villain, and a bastard, and a knave and a rascal. What ish my nation? Who talks of my nation?"
From Ruth Dudley Edwards' Facebook wall:
Ruth Dudley Edwards Myers on political correctness in Henry V
Comments from her impeccably PC liberal male Facebook friends:
Seosamh Ó Beirgin I haven't read any of Kevin Myers's offerings since he thankfully left the Irish Times. God, but he's still a windbag!
Thomas Tallon Also, despite what he says, plenty of white actors have played Othello - e.g. Olivier. His approach would also require him to censure Shakespeare himself for (famously) using a striking clock in 'Julius Caesar'...
George William Callaghan I personally do not object to people of one ethnicity portraying another on stage. Suspension of disbelief and all that.
Fearghal O Boyle The race of the actor playing York didn't bother me at all but jaysus the speech before Agincourt was absolutely dreadful, delivered in a whimper it wouldn't rally an under 12s chess squad!
Claire Khaw I suppose this is the sort of thing that bothers men more than women.
means there is going to be more of the same.
An all-black production of Julius Caesar in African accents.
What they are doing now is simply pretending they are white no matter how much white men gnash their teeth, rend their garments and pull their hair at this policy of deliberately favouring of black male actors against white male actors.
Most of them are too stupid or scared to say anything anyway.
Claire Khaw Maybe when they have enough of black actors and actress they can stage a play entirely using black actors and dispense with the need to have white actors at all.
Claire Khaw What is wrong with Kevin Myers? He seems to be the only white male journalist prepared to make the noises you would expect a white man to make.
Ruth Dudley Edwards Claire, please note from the debate on Down's syndrome that your determined hogging has earned you a yellow card. You have an odd loathing of women which is your prerogative. However, though I tolerate unpleasant views I won't put up with the wrecking of debates.
Claire Khaw I have contributed to the debate, Ruth. How have I "wrecked" it? I think you are just annoyed with me because I didn't go "Awwww, bless" at your status update on Down's Syndrome children in ads.
I don't hate women, Ruth, I merely despise those of them who do not understand the principle of free speech and the men who are too afraid to stand up to them.
Claire Khaw I didn't think you and your liberal friends would like me much anyway. You are all trying to keep on the right side of PC and my presence here does rather spoil things for you.