It is understood that there were protests amid fears that white students would be cast as leads and expected to portray Ancient Egyptians and slaves.
The musical, by Tim Rice and Elton John, is based on Verdi’s opera of the same name. It centres around an Ethiopian princess, Aida, who is held prisoner in Egypt, where she serves as a slave but falls in love with an Egyptian general.
One student commented: “White washing still exists, it’s been done enough in Hollywood, look at Liz Taylor in Cleopatra.”
Here’s the “explanation” by the theater group:
. . . In its statement, the theatre said: “It is with great sadness that we are announcing the cancellation of Aida in this year’s MTB show calendar.
“This show that was voted in by our members has since caused controversy in terms of racial diversity.
“It is a great shame that we have had to cancel this show as, of course, we would not want to cause offence in any way, and that was certainly never our intention. Our intention was to tell this story, one which surely is better heard than not performed at all.”
Now clearly theaters should strive for racial diversity within the pool of qualified actors, and the time has long gone when actors must play “race-appropriate” characters. After all, look at the success of “Hamilton” on broadway, with many of America’s founding fathers played by people of color. We go to plays, after all, to suspend disbelief. But it’s unconscionable to simply cancel a play because, due to lack of actors, you can’t find enough people of color to play Nubians and slaves.
Once again, we see people deprived of a good artistic experience because of the college Offense Culture. Bristol University and its theater department should be ashamed of themselves.
“We would not want to cause offence in any way”: the touchstone of censorship in our age.