An Australian production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch has been suspended after a petition that described casting star (newly out gay actor) Hugh Sheridan as the the genderqueer East German rock singer Hedwig, “dangerous and offensive.”
The open letter by Queer Artist Alliance Aus said:
This is not about cancelling an individual this is about continuing to address the power structures that allow this kind of decision making to take place within an industry that operates through a heteronormative lens and continues to capitalize, exploit and profit of of LGBTQIA+ stories.
The role has very often been played by CIS men including Neil Patrick Harris, Darren Criss, and the show’s creator John Cameron Mitchell.
Daya Czepanski, the non-binary actor who collected the more than 1,700 signatures called both for the tweaked casting and for the festival to employ trans advocates on its creative team and include “trans advisors and talent” in the production. “People in positions of power in Australia need to take a leap of faith and allow trans, non-binary and genderqueer to tell their stories on the Australian stage.”
The campaign, they stressed, was not designed to sow division or frustration, nor was it to shutter the show completely, but to nurture change.
The show’s producer David M Hawkin responded in a statement:
“In light of recent community conversations and concerns, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the 2021 Sydney Festival season of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”
“In casting Hedwig we auditioned a wide, diverse range of performers and no one from any background was excluded from this process, and were encouraged.
“We wish to assure the trans and LGBTQIA+ community that the issues raised are respected and taken very seriously. We appreciate your patience in giving us time to properly consider these concerns and respond accordingly.”
Similar commitments to more diverse casting were echoed by Sydney Festival, which wrote in a statement:
“The values of equality and inclusivity have long guided the work of Sydney Festival.
“With these values in mind, the Festival supports the producer’s decision to postpone the January season of Hedwig and the Angry Inch as they respond to issues raised around casting in the production.”
Seems like a positive step moving forward. But if we didn’t allow CIS actors to portray non-CIS roles, we never would have gotten the show’s creator John Cameron Mitchell’s brilliant performance. What do YOU think?
(via Pink News; Photo: MediaPunch)