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.
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