Saturday, October 27, 2012

Blackface and Whiteface in German theatre

White actors playing black illegal immigrants Elisio and Fadoul in play Unschuld
The protest against the use of Blackface in German theatre productions was a hot topic last year. But due to the protest of the German activist group Bühnewatch, the involvement of the Afro-german theatre group Label Noir and other activist groups, the use of Blackface in German theatres has perhaps come to an end. But it appears a creative approach to blackfacing has been found, "Whitefacing".

In December last year, American Pulitzer-winning playwright Bruce Norris withdrew his play Clybourne Park after the theatre gave one of the black lead roles to a white actress.

 In a special of Arte TV members of Label Noir are interviewed about the topic.

Documentary on Arte (the art channel). The video start with message that 40 persons of the group Bühnewatch leave the theatre play Unschuld to protest against the use of Blackface in the play. Bühnewatch is an independent protest group.

Ulrich Khuon says that "we" have perhaps been  to insensitive towards the theme of skin colour. 

Lara-Sophie Milagro, theatre director of the Afro-German theatre group Label noir, says that that it’s not so that the director has the intention to use Blackface in a racist way, but that the use blackface is the problem.

In the next part she says that in the play "Home Bittersweet Home" the group Label Noir wants to show the audience their perspective, because there are hardly any black directors and theatre writers

Actor Leander Graf, says that on the streets in the big cities he sees so much diversity, but he doesn't see that in the theatre.

At the end of the video it is mentioned that the use of Blackface in German theatre has now stopped and that instead of Blackface the white actors now use 'whiteface' to play African immigrants. The voice over questions if that is the answer. And also the word quota is now used.


See Exberliner: Does German theatre have a race problem?
See opinion Guardian: Theatre should turn its back on blackface
See Time: Blackface Clybourne Park Production Cancelled in Berlin

And last but not least, the US petition against Black-face roles in German theatre. You can sign it at


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