Birmingham Stage Company


13 January 2021

Russell T Davis has recently stated that gay roles should only be played by gay people. I invited people to discuss the topic on facebook and having read all the responses I think I can summarise my company's view as follows: we totally appreciate that if you cast an English person to play a German, there's no doubt that some Germans in the audience would know the actor wasn't really German and might prefer you had cast a German actor to make the role seem more authentic, and to bring out the more subtle characteristics of Germanic people. But that isn't a reason for demanding that henceforth ALL German roles must be played by Germans. It's a preference. It may be in this case the actor had been chosen because he/she brings something more important to the role than the fact of being German. And if he or she is a really good actor, perhaps even the Germans in the audience won't realise the actor isn't actually German. More broadly, the reason most people work in theatre is to explore other lives, other selves, other worlds. If we become restricted to our own particular experiences, it narrows everyone's experience to the point where you might as well produce a documentary if 'authenticity' becomes your primary motivation. It is the antithesis of art.
Producers are entitled to create their productions in whatever way they feel will best deliver their work, but we would not in any way agree this should become a rule that every other producer has to follow. It's our view that such an approach is not in the best interests of the art or the profession of acting.

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