Student Research Projects

The Representation of People of Color in the West End

Student Adrian Benn, '17
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Theatre
Course Theatre 370: Seminar in London

Abstract

It is evident that times are changing when it comes to diversity in regards to theatre, but we have to ask ourselves: how far have we really come? While our society has become much better at accepting and integrating people of color into theatre, it is evident that there is still room for improvement. As You Like It and wonder.land are two productions I saw on the West End that made me realize that people of color are still underrepresented in theatre. Both plays were problematic in their representation of people of color. In wonder.land, there is a definite disconnect between the playwright, Moira Buffini, and the main character she created. It is evident the playwright does not understand the struggles women of color go through, therefore she dismisses the issue of what European beauty standards do to young women. In As You Like It, there are people of color in the cast, but they only play the minor roles. It raises the question whether directors actually colorblind cast. The problematic issues with As You Like It and wonder.land relate to the ideas brought up by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak in her post-colonial theory. In her essay \"Can the Subaltern Speak?\" Spivak deals with the Global North, including countries such as the U.S., The United Kingdom, and Russia, not letting the Global South, which are countries such as Africa, Asia, and Central and Latin America, speak for themselves. Both of the plays silence the voices of people of color, just how western countries silenced the voices of non-western countries. Seeing the two productions led me to realize how important representing people of color is.