|Fiona Bell as Queen Margaret and David Oyelowo as King Henry VI. Photo by Manuel Harlan, courtesy Royal Shakespeare Company|
Michael Boyd, director of the RSC productions, and other directors contend that it is not the color of an actors skin that is important in casting a production, but the quality of performance. David really is a bit of a genius, Boyd says. It is colorblind casting. His son will be white, and there is no hint of illegitimacy.
Oyelowo, 24, whose family is from Nigeria, and other ethnic actors have endured stereotyping by those in the industry who feel that nonwhite actors have to act their skin color. British actor Karl Collins says, With too many TV roles, there is still a sense that Black is a character in itself.
Oyelowo told a British paper, Shakespeare did elaborate the facts in his historical plays, but I dont think were meddling with history. After all, everything you see on a stage is only make-believe.
When traditionalists exhibited outrage that a Black actor was going to play a British king, Oyelowo responded, Theater by its very nature is make-believe. If Im on stage and I say Im in tears, you believe me. If I say Ive got an army of 30,000 off stage, you believe me. I dont know why if I suddenly say that Im the king of England that is so much more controversial.
Events celebrating the Michigan Residency of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) are in full swing.
UMTV will broadcast replays of English Prof. Ralph Williams popular lectures on the Henry VI/Richard III tetralogy, Now Here a Period of Tumultuous Broils.
Dates and topics are:
There Comes the Ruin, There Begins Confusion (Jan. 29), 4 p.m. March 5 and 8 p.m. March 6.
Death in the Garden of Eden (Feb. 5), 4 p.m. March 6 and 8 p.m. March 7.
I Am Myself Alone (Feb. 12), 4 p.m. March 7 and 8 p.m. March 8.
God Say Amen (Feb. 19), 4 p.m. March 8 and 8 p.m. March 9.
On March 11, UMTV also will carry a live broadcast and Web simulcast from Rackham Auditorium of keynote interviews with RSC Director Michael Boyd (2 p.m.) and Artistic Director Adrian Noble (3 p.m.). The interviews will be conducted by President Lee C. Bollinger and Williams. The programs will be replayed on UMTV throughout March.
UMTV can be seen on Comcast cable throughout the Ann Arbor area. A full schedule and details are on the Web at www.itd.umich.edu/umtv/.
Michigan Radio will air programs March 58 on The RSC Residency, the Actors, the Production during Morning Edition (7:50 a.m.) and during All Things Considered (4:50 p.m.). Topics are A Look at the Plays, today (March 5); Portrait of David Oyelowo, March 6; Staging the Histories for Today, March 7; and RSC: Reaching Out to Michigan, March 8. Henry VI: What You Need to Know, with Williams and Michigan Radio Manager Donovan Reynolds, will air 89 p.m. March 9.
Michigan Radio can be heard on WUOM, 91.7, Ann Arbor; WFUM-FM, 91.1, Flint; and WVGR, 104.1, Grand Rapids.
Two special exhibitions also have been mounted, one at the Special Collections Library and one at the Bentley Historical Library.
A sampling of public events was published in the Feb. 12 issue of the Record. A full schedule is on the Web at www.umich.edu/pres/shakespeare. Additional information is on the University Musical Societys site, www.ums.org, and the RSC site, www.rsc.org.uk.