A casting strategy identified by scholar Lindsay Mantoan which works against the common whitewashing of canonical texts. Instead of recasting the same white characters from a specific show with a diverse group of actors, Mantoan suggests that directors can use “recuperative casting” to change the characters’ identities and adapt to the performer who is cast. This revision of character can purposefully change how characters are perceived, affect their relationships with other characters, and complicate the original story that the text is telling. An example of this is the casting of Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2018 production of Oklahoma!: Curly played by Tatiana Wechsler, a queer Black woman; Aunt Eller played by Bobbi Charlton, a trans woman; changing Ado Annie’s name to Ado Andy and casting a male actor, Johnathan Luke Stevens, effectively creating a gay relationship between Andy and Will Parker. According to Mantoan, this show used recuperative casting and minor script edits, changing only characters’ pronouns, to combat Oklahoma!‘s inherent racism and explicit celebration of white, colonialist values.
Sources and Further Reading:
Mantoan, Lindsey. “The Utopic Vision of OSF’s Oklahoma!: Recuperative Casting Practices and Queering Early American History.” Studies in Musical Theatre, vol. 15, no. 1, 2021, pp. 41-56.
“Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!: Pioneering New Ground with an American Classic.” Oregon Shakespeare Festival, 2018, www.osfashland.org/productions/2018-plays/oklahoma.aspx.