Although the terms “colour-blind” and “race-blind” carry ableist connotations, they are popularly used to describe the practice of attempting to ignore the race of the performers during and after the casting process. In shows that are cast using this strategy, the performers’ race does not change the race of the character they are playing and typically does not affect the world of the play. Some practitioners of colour-blind casting justify their decision by saying they wanted to cast “the best actor in the role” regardless of their race, which has led to debates over the legitimacy of this casting strategy. This debate often includes whether or not audiences can effectively ignore the race of a performer as bodies on stage are visible, and skin colour is identifiable. Attempting to be “colour-blind” can often lead to poor representation onstage and the possible erasure of racialized actors/characters’ experiences. For more, please see Frazer-Carroll, Ingersoll and Selenow, Phillips, Wilson.
Sources and Further Reading:
Frazer-Carroll, Micha. “‘It’s Dangerous Not to See Race’: Is Colour-Blind Casting All It’s Cracked Up to Be?” The Guardian, 11 Aug. 2020, www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2020/aug/11/its-dangerous-not-to-see-race-is-colour-blind-casting-all-its-cracked-up-to-be.
Ingersoll, Karena Fiorenza, and Deena Selenow. “You Want a Diverse Theatre? Prove it.” HowlRound Theatre Commons, 28 Aug. 2015, www.howlround.com/you-want-diverse-theatre-prove-it.
Phillips, Maya. “‘Hamilton,’ ‘The Simpsons’ and the Problem With Colorblind Casting.” The New York Times, 8 Jul. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/07/08/arts/television/hamilton-colorblind-casting.html.
Sumi, Glenn, and Jon Kaplan. “Tomson Highway Believes Controversy is Good for Art.” NOW Toronto, 12 Jul. 2021, www.nowtoronto.com/culture/stage/tomson-highway-believes-controversy-is-good-for-art.
Wilson, Melinda D. “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone: An Experiment in ‘Race-Conscious’ Casting.” Theatre Topics, vol. 19, no. 1, 2009, p. 39-49. Project MUSE, doi.org/10.1353/tt.0.0050.