When an actor is given a role that was not originally written to be that race, sex, ethnicity, or degree of disability, is that a violation of the original vision of the play? Is that an example of fair hiring practices for the actors? Does the law hinder or protect nontraditional casting?
The University of Maryland School of Law Linking Law and Art Series is collaborating with the Hippodrome Foundation to present a unique program on this topic. Moderated by WYPR's Marc Steiner, the evening will feature a panel discussion punctuated by three performances by area theater groups to demonstrate nontraditional casting. The program starts at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 16, 2005 at the M&T Pavilion at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center (Hippodrome Theatre, 12 North Eutaw Street).
"Whose Role Is It Anyway?" will be a free lively panel debate featuring artists as well as theatre and legal professionals. Panelists for the discussion include Donald Hicken, Baltimore School for the Arts; Clayton LeBouef, actor/writer, "Homicide Life on the Streets;" Pat Moran, Pat Moran Casting; Otis Ransey-Zoe, literary manager, CenterStage; Robert E. Suggs, JD, professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, and Rosemary Toohey, playwright. Performances staged to illustrate points about this eternal debate will be put on by Arena Players, Audrey Herman's Spotlighters Theatre and the Vagabond Players.
This website supplements the program by providing background information and resource materials on the topic.
"The arts can provide a distinctive window into the law. This collaboration between the Hippodrome Foundation and the School of Law explores important issues of race, creativity, and author's rights from a new perspective, through a new media and between new partners," says Karen Rothenberg, JD, MPA, dean of the University of Maryland School of Law. "This program is unique in the country in that we are using theater to teach about the law. Through it we are fulfilling our mission as a public law school and reaching out to the broader community."