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Rhode Island Theater Company Injects Racial Activism Into “A Christmas Carol” – Gets Upset At Bad Review

Rhode Island Theater Company Injects Racial Activism Into “A Christmas Carol” – Gets Upset At Bad Review

Trinity Repertory Theatre panned by Providence Journal: “beginning with an opening monologue — inviting people to remember Native American tribes that once populated the state, mentioning slave trade connections and urging support for people of color — there is a layer being added to Dickens’ message of humanity and kindness that feels forced”

Trinity Repertory is a professional theater company in Providence, Rhode Island. They recently returned to live performances with a production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ based on the story by Charles Dickens.

The Providence Journal had some issues with the ‘woke’ aspects of the production in its review, and the company is not happy about it.

Here are some quotes from Susan McDonald’s Providence Journal review:

Review: Trinity Rep’s ‘Christmas Carol’ adds progressive touches to ageless tale

As good as it felt to be back in the seats at Trinity Repertory Company for the annual retelling of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” there was a hit-or-miss feel to the production, highlighting the risk of tinkering too much with a sure thing…

But, beginning with an opening monologue — inviting people to remember Native American tribes that once populated the state, mentioning slave trade connections and urging support for people of color — there is a layer being added to Dickens’ message of humanity and kindness that feels forced.

When the Ghost of Christmas Past escorts Scrooge to Mr. Fezziwig’s business, where he apprenticed as a young man, for example, Christmas Eve festivities are in full swing, colorful and fun. Wilson introduces lively dancing and a funky rendition of “My Favorite Things.”

What proves awkward, however, is an extended segment in which half the actors dance boisterously, stomping feet and banging brooms on the wooden stage, while the others mill about, watching. While wisely advocating diversity in the show, Wilson has created a moment that splits the cast along racial lines, with actors of color dancing and white actors looking on. It seems divisive instead of inclusive.

For anyone who is not aware, theater as an industry has always been liberal but in recent years has gone full woke. It’s not uncommon for professional companies to include social justice messages on their websites.

Trinity Rep has a section on its website about the company’s dedication to anti-racism:

We wish to acknowledge the trauma our country and many of our artists, staff, students, volunteers, audiences, and community partners are experiencing. At Trinity Repertory Company, Black lives matter. We commit to struggle together for equity, diversity, and inclusion. We stand in solidarity with and alongside those who are committed to fighting racism, oppression, and hate. Most specifically, to our friends, colleagues, and partners of color – we see you, we love you, and your lives matter

Anyway, Trinity was so upset about McDonald’s review of their show, that they posted an open letter in response:

An Open Letter to the Trinity Rep Community Regarding the November 14, 2021 Providence Journal Review of A Christmas Carol

Dear Trinity Rep Community,

On November 14, 2021, the Providence Journal ran a review of Trinity Rep’s production of A Christmas Carol. This review contained a number of elements that were problematic from an equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism perspective. Trinity Rep has responded with a letter to the editor that, due to space constraints placed on submissions by the Journal, addresses just one issue – criticism of the theater’s land acknowledgement, which we detail below. In addition, Trinity Rep has written directly to the reviewer and editor to specifically identify the other elements that were in violation of the theater’s content guidelines, designed to protect our artists and staff from harm caused by unconscious bias.

… The elements that we have taken issue with have nothing to do with the artistic quality of the production, but rather the lack of knowledge on the part of a white reviewer and a white editorial staff. Our historical moment demands that greater attention is paid to the subtext of the writing; that if a production is making a concerted effort to center BIPOC voices, that effort is respected; and that stereotyping is avoided…

That “monologue” was Trinity Rep’s land acknowledgement, developed with Native elders over the past several months and expanded to incorporate acknowledgement of Rhode Island’s participation in the Triangle Slave Trade, and will occur in some form before each of Trinity Rep’s performances going forward. It reads as follows:

“We acknowledge the lands where Trinity Rep stands in Downtown Providence today as once the lands of the Masswascut-The Land between the two rivers, and the territory of Meshanticut, which are the ancestral homelands of the Narragansett, Pokanoket and Nipmuc people.

This is a promotional video for the production if you care to watch:

Over the last two years, COVID almost killed live theater. Plenty of smaller companies folded as a result of the shutdowns. Companies like Trinity survived because of government assistance and help from generous donors.

It’s a shame that they have come back from the brink only to embrace the same divisive left-wing ideology parents are currently battling in schools across the country.

Theater artists, who are overwhelmingly progressives, are in many cases, imposing their politics on their art.

As the saying goes, social justice warriors ruin everything.

Featured image via YouTube.

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Comments

2smartforlibs | December 7, 2021 at 7:10 am

That’s the problem with Dunning Kruger. Just because you’re afflicted doesn’t make you right.

“This review contained a number of elements that were problematic from an equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism perspective.”

Forgive me for not wanting to listen to your drivel, I just wanted to attend a well-loved play. Indeed, everything woke does go to sh*t.

    Idonttweet in reply to herm2416. | December 7, 2021 at 10:07 am

    Who knew that local professional theater companies were still a thing outside the “sophisticated” cities, like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles?

    When will these pretentious, snooty, and self-important actors, writers, and directors to understand that most people don’t want to attend a play to be lectured to, preached at, or otherwise told what awful people their ancestors were and they are? There are certainly those self-flagellating, virtue signaling, social justice wokesters who will whine that they deserve it, but there are many more who only want to attend the theater for an evening of entertainment. Nothing more.

    Or they can just stay home.

      Milhouse in reply to Idonttweet. | December 7, 2021 at 10:26 am

      most people don’t want to attend a play to be lectured to, preached at, or otherwise told what awful people their ancestors were and they are?

      Then what are they doing at a Dickens play? Dickens was a “social justice” warrior, “woke” for his day, and his works were designed to push people to the left. So it’s not inappropriate for today’s “racial justice” warriors to do the same.

      But they have to do it skillfully. Dickens knew how to do it without alienating his audience. Give ’em enough of what they like, keep the preaching subtle enough to slip past them, and keep the outright lies to a minimum, Other socialist writers (e.g. the later H. G. Wells) weren’t as good at that part of it, and ended up writing unreadable tracts; I forget who it was that said those writers had sold their birthrights for a pot of message.

        Dolce Far Niente in reply to Milhouse. | December 7, 2021 at 12:08 pm

        Its highly inaccurate to describe Dicken’s work as “left” and “woke”; it was neither. His works were in fact Christian, as was he.

        Its remarkable that the modern Left will claim ownership of charitable actions that we were instructed to do millennia ago. The major difference of course is that the Left takes no personal responsibility for relieving the ills that beset mankind, but instead prefers to use the authority of overweening government and somebody else’s money to do charity quite badly and with many unfortunate consequences,
        .

          Nope. Dickens was a leftist propagandist. By the standards of his day, he was “woke”. He made stuff up to stir up his readers’ emotions in favor of his political cause. And he was good enough at it that it usually worked.

          His religion is irrelevant.

          He was not pushing charitable actions, he was pushing political change. That was the major theme of his work.

          That he believed in redemption isn’t relevant either. The modern left also believes in redemption. Former oppressors can renounce their past and embrace “allyship”. They can even become movement martyrs, like Rosenbaum and Huber.

          Milhouse, “Dickens was a leftist propagandist.” “His religion is irrelevant.”

          Dickens was a follower of Jesus. Some classical liberals are. Leftists are not.

          You are mistaken.

        alaskabob in reply to Milhouse. | December 7, 2021 at 12:13 pm

        Expanding a little:

        1) The play appeals the SJW of any time as they can fit Dickens into their cause… no matter how far flung.
        2) “Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. ”

        Aside from Tiny Tim… did all of his works after that really make a difference? Actions… not outcomes are woke. Again, it is the narrator and those that were in initial conflict with Scooge are the ones determining his outcome and his social value.

        It’s interesting that the Left always talks about being “our brother’s keeper” yet never understand what that dialogue was really dealing with. Cain was avoiding answering G-d’s question… a trick we see today so aptly performed by Psaki and others…. nothing changes in human nature.

        3) Major difference…. redemption. Scrooge was redeemed. Modern SJW do not forgive, forget nor offer/give redemption. It is never enough.

        I am reading the Cervantes book on the Spanish conquest of the New World, In the past I have pointed out that the outcome for the average native prior to Columbus was “serf, slave or sacrifice”… I was shortsighted…. it was “serf, slave, sacrifice and/or supper”. Even in the early stages of conquest there were concerns, not only for the souls, but why the depopulation that the Spanish had no clue about. The Spanish could be equal to the natives in cruelty, but also (through the Church) more concerned for their welfare.

        I will play George C. Scott’s version of Dickens this year, as I do every year, We can be better but we need to understand what the real yardstick it is measured by.

          Excellent retort to the ideologically slanted millhouse spin. Whenever I am confronted by the absurd proclamations and promoted policies of leftists that demonize America as some sort of historical bastion of evil, I defer to Thomas Sowell’s sage advice and ask of them these three questions: Compared to what? At what cost? Where is your hard data? Doing this usually elicits a momentary slack-jawed silence, followed by spasms of sputtering obtuse talking points!

        Idonttweet in reply to Milhouse. | December 7, 2021 at 9:10 pm

        Keep the preaching subtle as opposed to hitting people between the eyes with it, right?

        Another reason I don’t go to movies anymore. I’ll be darned if I pay to be insulted, slandered, lied about, or propagandized.

        DaveGinOly in reply to Milhouse. | December 8, 2021 at 3:10 am

        Scrooge was taught to recognize and award merit (Bob Cratchit’s work), to consider the plight of the less fortunate and to voluntarily donate to their support. All done in the spirit of giving evoked by Christmas. That doesn’t seem very leftist/socialist to me. In fact, is government even mentioned in the play? Scrooge had a spiritual crisis, and none of the solutions to that crisis involved government, taxes, enforced “charity” (entitlements), or hand-outs to underserving people.

    UserPeabody in reply to herm2416. | December 7, 2021 at 12:48 pm

    “Indeed, everything woke does go to sh*t.”

    Doesn’t go to sh*t. Everything woke is sh*t to start with. Starts with sh*t. Ends with sh*t. And everything in between is pure unadulterated Grade A sh*t.

I read the review, and overall it seemed pretty positive to me..

Nevertheless, audiences are sure to leave lighter and feeling festive, because Dickens’ main message shines through.

But, with woke people, even the slightest criticism is viewed as a violent attack. They are thin skinned. Very.

A Christmas Carol has a message.. it is powerful, it is magical. In my mind it goes way beyond the traditional Christian “reason for the season”, and celebrates the human spirit. Trinity Rep may have messed with the message a bit, but they did not ruin it entirely. The message is bigger that Woke is.

That being said, I would not waste my money on this performance.

That “monologue” was Trinity Rep’s land acknowledgement, developed with Native elders over the past several months and expanded to incorporate acknowledgement of Rhode Island’s participation in the Triangle Slave Trade, and will occur in some form before each of Trinity Rep’s performances going forward. It reads as follows:

“We acknowledge the lands where Trinity Rep stands in Downtown Providence today as once the lands of the Masswascut-The Land between the two rivers, and the territory of Meshanticut, which are the ancestral homelands of the Narragansett, Pokanoket and Nipmuc people.

I would say to the people running this screwed up company, if you feel guilty that you work and live on Indian tribe lands, fine. Pay the tribes rent from your salaries. And put them in your wills so when you pass, the tribe will get a piece of their land back. You and your families can atone for everyone else.

    Ben Kent in reply to Mike Thiac. | December 7, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    AN OBLIGATION TO ACKNOWLEDGE PROPERTY HELD BY OTHERS ?

    Why stop with land ? Add acknowledgement that most slaves brought to America were previously the property (slaves) of rulers of African fiefdoms. Those African rulers sold their slaves to the slave-traders for guns and ammunition and other goods. The “trade” in slave-trade was for goods manufactured in Europe (mostly weapons that could be used in the battles between tribes).

    But no. The real purpose of these “property acknowledgements is not to educate others about actual history — it is to shame whites. As such it is another form of neo-racism.

      DaveGinOly in reply to Ben Kent. | December 8, 2021 at 3:16 am

      The first slave in what was to become the United States was held in the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. And was owned by a black man.

    JoAnne in reply to Mike Thiac. | December 8, 2021 at 1:59 pm

    Nailed it.

The wife and I used to attend Trinity all the time when we were dating, and our high school used to take occasional field trips there to see plays for English class.. Meaning, they’ve been operating successfully for well over 50 years.

No more. This is nothing but more pretentious, racist bullshit. If they stupidly press this issue like they apparently have decided to do, they’re going to be lucky to survive much longer.

    herm2416 in reply to henrybowman. | December 7, 2021 at 9:14 am

    We used to have season tickets at The Goodman Theater in Chicago for many years. When Obamalamadingdong was in office, the Goodman started doing social lectures in all of their play offerings. We quit our subscription then, and never looked back. Entertain me, don’t lecture me.

Let me sum “woke” up in the left’s viewpoint: “Please don’t beat me up, Mr Scary Black man….see me virtue signaling?”

Violence in responce to their tyranny is what scares them. They stand on their soap boxes and yell at us, saying how awful we are without introspection. How do you expect people to react to lectures, especially when a Christmas play is hijacked?
It’s not time for bloodshed, but a few well-placed punches to their mouths and noses would get their attention and perhaps quell their tone-deafness.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to scooterjay. | December 7, 2021 at 9:28 am

    Maybe a group should go to one of their performances, one last time, and shout them down, never to return? Bankruptcy is better than punching them, put them out of business.

      scooterjay in reply to JohnSmith100. | December 7, 2021 at 10:03 am

      That’s racist!

      henrybowman in reply to JohnSmith100. | December 7, 2021 at 4:15 pm

      Indeed. It would be quite effective in this venue if the audience simply began a chant of “Get Woke, Go Broke” until they shut up and started the play.

        How about a chorus of “Let’s Go Brandon”, but the uncensored version. Loudly and repeatedly until they either shut up, leave the stage, or both. Any theater putting on a public performance invites criticism. These clowns not only couldn’t stand that, they went public with their “dismay” at the evil white people reviewing the play. If they wish to speak of the “Triangle Slave Industry”, let it be the truth. Acknowledge that the slaves brought to America were actually purchased from black African warlords. Whites have no hold over slavery. Blacks who were brought here by and large lived a better life than that of those remaining in Africa. The vast majority of slave trade wasn’t between whites and blacks, but between the Saharan Muslims who bought blacks as slaves from black warlords in sub-Saharan Africa to be worked to death in the Saharan salt mines. The fact that the triangle slave trade was in fact a square is the one fact we never hear about.

          JoAnne in reply to Kevin. | December 8, 2021 at 2:06 pm

          Yep, slavery wasn’t unique to the colonies. The sad thing is it’s still going on all over the world. Why aren’t they screaming about the sex trafficking going on as we speak?

          henrybowman in reply to Kevin. | December 9, 2021 at 1:56 am

          In the ’60s, the Almacs (local chain) supermarket in Bristol dedicated the entire long wall space high over their produce counter to a semi-cartoon mural of the Triangle Trade. Not in a scolding way, mind you, but in a “this is part of the interesting history of this region of New England, this is where a lot of this area’s economy came from 300 years ago” that all their patrons (including us young’uns) learned from. We didn’t have to be reminded constantly that “slavery was wrong” any more than nuclear physicists need to be reminded constantly that “shit blows up.”

Dwayne Diesel | December 7, 2021 at 8:48 am

This guy Jessie….remember, there are millions like him. Millions- white, brown, yellow, Puerto Rican, or Haitian (shout out to Phife dawg)…and that’s the scary part.

Wait. Did this theater company take an English author’s work and appropriate it for their own uses?

    scooterjay in reply to sisyphus. | December 7, 2021 at 10:04 am

    I say that every time I see a black woman with a long platinum ‘do

    Lucifer Morningstar in reply to sisyphus. | December 7, 2021 at 10:53 am

    <i.Wait. Did this theater company take an English author’s work and appropriate it for their own uses?

    Yep. And I wonder what the copyright holder to the script actually thinks about their bastardization of the script with such woke nonsense and whether or not they gave permission for that to be done.

      A HAMMER THAT CAN ONLT BE USED TO BASH WHITES

      “Cultural Appropriation” is only used to bash white people. You never ever see a POC get called out for it.

      This is a not-so-subtle form of neo-racism.

      There’s a YouTube clip of an Australian theatre company who added a verse to HMS Pinafore mocking Australian politician Pauline Hanson, who is more or less their version of Marjorie Taylor Green but with Trump’s orange hair. I was appalled when I first saw it, but it’s mild compared to what I’m sure is coming.

        Milhouse in reply to henrybowman. | December 7, 2021 at 6:22 pm

        Adding contemporary commentary to G&S is traditional and common. Nothing appalling at all about it.

        And Hanson is a bigot and a moron. She differs from MTG in that during her first election campaign she was expelled from the Ozzie equivalent of the GOP, and has been an independent (or the leader of her own mini-party) ever since.

“beginning with an opening monologue — inviting people to remember Native American tribes that once populated the state, mentioning slave trade connections and urging support for people of color”

Nah, I’d rather remember the thousands of Americans who died 80 years ago today at Pearl Harbor.

If they weren’t simply virtue signaling, they would give the land back to the ‘rightful’ owners.

This review contained a number of elements that were problematic from an equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism perspective.

What the reviewer should write, but unfortunately won’t: Good. My words were intended to be “problematic from an equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism perspective”, so I’m glad you saw that. You can take your “equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism perspective” and shove it where the sun don’t shine.

In addition, Trinity Rep has written directly to the reviewer and editor to specifically identify the other elements that were in violation of the theater’s content guidelines, designed to protect our artists and staff from harm caused by unconscious bias.

Say what?! The theater has “content guidelines” on what outside people may say about it?! WTF is that? That may be one of the most absurd things I’ve ever heard in my life, and I’ve heard a lot of absurd things.

    Lucifer Morningstar in reply to Milhouse. | December 7, 2021 at 11:02 am

    Press guidelines were created and distributed to critics, editors, and feature writers to ensure that harmful biases and microaggressions are not included in reviews and articles about our work.

    Found the above on their websites. Under the section labeled “Anti-Racism Update – November 2021”. So they presume to dictate to reviewers/critics of their “work” what they can include in their articles or reviews.

    And I’m guessing anyone who doesn’t toe their woke line and writes unacceptable reviews will no longer be allowed access to the theater or its productions.

    Source:
    https://www.trinityrep.com/engagement/antiracism/

      Joey Williams in reply to Lucifer Morningstar. | December 7, 2021 at 11:13 am

      “And I’m guessing anyone who doesn’t toe their woke line and writes unacceptable reviews will no longer be allowed access to the theater or its productions.”

      Sounds to me like the punishment is preferable to the privilege.

      So if the play really sucks and the actors/actresses (actrx?) are terrible and talentless, we wouldn’t want them to feel bad for their craptacular performance.

      This the live theatre version of the social media echo chamber. We do our plays for our own benefit and charge you for oxygen and time.

      The reason theaters give out comp tickets to the press is that reviews help them promote their productions and add an air of legitimacy to their company.

      Picking a fight with the local paper is foolish. Accusing reviewers of racial animus is worse. Threatening to exclude the press is idiotic.

    geronl in reply to Milhouse. | December 9, 2021 at 2:22 pm

    I agree

Our dominant culture once again shows how worthless it is.

I can’t wait to not watch Santa Inc.

I wonder what the racial composition of the audience was that evening. Based on my personal experience of attending cultural events, my guess is that the only members of the “BIPOC” community present were directing ticketholders to their seats.

I’d also suggest that the show’s producer and director resign so a member of a “disadvantaged community” can take it over. The same goes for the management of the Trinity Repertory Company.

    Dwayne Diesel in reply to NYBruin. | December 7, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    Bruin, it’s the only equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism perspective thing to do- all for the white actors, stage hands, producers, directors, etc. need to step aside and live up to what they preach to others.

De Tocqueville in Democracy in America wrote in relevant part:
“Although the vast country just described was inhabited by numerous tribes of native peoples, one can justly say that at the time of its discovery it was still no more than a wilderness. The Indians occupied it but did not possess it. It is through agriculture that man takes possession of the soil, and the first inhabitants of North America lived by hunting. Their implacable prejudices, their unbridled passions, their vices, and, perhaps most of all, their savage virtues marked them out for inevitable destruction. The ruin of these tribes began the day that Europeans landed on their shores. It has continued ever since and is even now being carried through to completion. Providence placed these people among the riches of the New World but made their enjoyment brief. They were there, in a sense, only in anticipation. These coasts, so well suited to trade and industry, these rivers so deep, this inexhaustible Mississippi valley, this whole continent, in fact, seemed but an empty cradle awaiting the birth of a great nation. Here civilized men would attempt to build society on new foundations. Applying for the first time theories either previously unknown or deemed inapplicable, they would stage for the world a spectacle for which nothing in the history of the past had prepared it.”

It is a sad state of affairs in American universities when Land Acknowledge Statements are substituted for history

    So true. And there are still tribes in South America living like that. Remember when we used to study them? Have you heard of any studies lately? Do the WokeScolds care about those people or are they afraid to acknowledge their existence?

“The elements that we have taken issue with have nothing to do with the artistic quality of the production, but rather the lack of knowledge on the part of a white reviewer and a white editorial staff.”
———-

This is such noxious stuff — an utterly infantile and racist dig at the critic’s race, as a means of undermining his critique, without substantively addressing any of Ms. McDonald’s criticism. Such an obnoxious and cancerous response, but, this is where the vile Dhimmi-crats are at, today. Predictably and reflexively playing the race card from the bottom of the deck, in the most dishonest, underhanded and toxic manner, possible.

“BIPOC” voices — I don’t use any of the Dhimmi-crats’ ridiculous and totalitarian lexicon. Orwellian stuff. To hell with them.

Dolce Far Niente | December 7, 2021 at 11:57 am

It is intensely ironic that these lightweight activists pretending to be actors fail to understand that Dickens, a master of the literary craft, was instrumental in easing some of the burdens of the Victorian era poor.

A period a rending poverty and cruel laws, 100 times worse than anything anyone in America has faced for 100 years.

Yet these intellectual midgets seek to “improve” on his play with sloganeering and petulance.

Good luck with that.

    Dwayne Diesel in reply to Dolce Far Niente. | December 7, 2021 at 12:05 pm

    Yes, and if you are white and do that to any of Maya Angelou’s writings….you will be accused of cultural appropriation.

    So, do the same back. Play their game but better.

Real American | December 7, 2021 at 1:48 pm

“…adds progressive touches…”

AMAZING how everything Progressives touch turns in to crap.

Real American | December 7, 2021 at 1:49 pm

i.e., white people aren’t allowed to have opinions?

When I go to a Christmas production, I don’t expect to be lectured on climate change, racism, white supremacy or any of the other woke causes. Rather than ruin A Christmas Carol, let them write some original drivel that will be put on once and then kicked to the ash heap of history, where most of this nonsense goes.

Thin skinned whiners. So they got a negative review. Tough shit.

so they “sampled” dickens?–not quite the youtube audience, what?–one thing to do a “cover”–another thing to ruin the original in an attempt

Why don’t these people go back from where their ancestors came from if they’re so damned woke? Leave the land to the tribes that stole the land from others and hand over enough money for the people of color to go back to their ancestral land via first class one way airline tickets.
Quit virtue signaling and show us some concrete action pussies.

If they are serious about occupying indigenous land, they ought to deed it back.

Hope the donations end.

Many leftists do not grasp he concept of freedom of thought, freedom of opinion, freedom of speech and things like that

The theater’s choice to publicly address only the “land acknowledgement” is surely intended to sidestep issues raised by the newly-added racial elements of the production; and especially to dodge the reviewer’s observation that “[i]t seems divisive instead of inclusive.”

Of course it is divisive, and intentionally so. The point of this sort of activism is to provoke the audience.

Admitting this would kill sales to ordinary people who simply want a traditional family outing to an entertaining play with a heartwarming ending.

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