Columbia College Theater Students Feel Unsafe About White Students Getting Parts Written for Palestinians After None Tried Out

"It got to a place where nobody felt safe."


The theater department of Columbia College in Chicago attempted to stage a production of "HOME/LAND," which is about the experience of Palestinian and Latino immigrants in America. But no students of Palestinian descent tried out for the play, and so white actors were cast in these roles.

That was just one of the terrible injustices visited upon the minority community by the play's director, Catherine Slade, according to aggrieved students who told the campus newspaper, "It got to a place where nobody felt safe." Yes, their very safety was affected by the director's habit of "being aggressive and speaking badly" about the cast.

Perhaps Slade—a black woman, theater professor, and vocal coach—was critical of the cast members because they were insubordinate and easily offended, quickly bringing their issues with her to the Mosaic Theater Collective, Asian Student Organization, Black Student Union, and Muslim Student Association.

"There was no trying to collaborate with us," one actress, Sophia Alonzo, said of Slade. "There was no trying to see if [she was] doing the right thing. It almost felt like we were just being used as pawns. It's hard because these are real stories to our families and our background that were [not treated as] valid."

It sounds to me like these students objected to being directed at all. They also objected to white actors reciting their lines in Spanish and were offended by Slade's suggestion that several white members of the cast could pass as Latin or Palestinian.

The paper has more:

The Chronicle contacted Slade on Saturday, April 20 and requested an interview, to which she initially agreed. On Monday, April 23, the News Office intervened and eventually denied interviews with Slade, Theater Department Interim Chair Peter Carpenter and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Scholar-in-Residence for the Theater Department Khalid Long. After repeated requests for a statement, the News Office supplied one Friday, April 26, in the evening shortly before The Chronicle's deadline.

"The Theatre Department is committed to providing students with opportunities to perform in diverse theatre productions," the statement read. "The 'HOME/LAND' script called for Latinx, Palestinian and Caucasian characters. All students who auditioned were cast in the production. However, not all of the students who auditioned were of the same race and/or ethnicity as the characters identified in the script. Indeed, no Palestinian students auditioned for the play, and as such, non-Palestinian actors were assigned to those roles. Several Latinx students who initially auditioned for the production didn't pursue participation."

Recall that for the modern intersectional left, race is a fundamental, immutable building block of identity. This puts the craft of acting in a tough spot—any attempt to depict or portray people of other races is essentially forbidden. My forthcoming book, Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump (pre-order here), contains several examples of theater professors giving up in frustration after their student actors and actresses object to playing anyone different from themselves and revolt against negative feedback, which triggers their mental health issues.

Hat tip: The College Fix