Many of you may have heard of the anger towards Sia and her new movie, or James Corden and his stereotypical acting in The Prom. Due to this, I am going to be discussing the boundaries of theatre and how far people should go when portraying other people or characters, whether that character or actor be part of the LGBTQ+ community or have some form of disability.
When asked ‘should straight people be able to play people/characters who are part of the LGBTQ+ community?’, 72.1% of people asked suggested that they should be able to. One opinion on this was “a straight actor playing a gay person is ok with me, but I am not the main voice which should be heard as I am not gay, and others should be heard before me.”
I personally feel that it is a different case when you are looking at people who are physically disabled versus people who are mentally disabled. It is quite a difficult decision to make and I feel it is situational. Say the character becomes a wheelchair user throughout the course of the play or film, it becomes much more difficult to cast a disabled person as you need someone who is able bodied for part of the play. However, I do not feel that it is right for someone who isn’t mentally disabled to play someone who is if there is someone who is mentally disabled who is capable of playing the role as you do not understand what someone with that condition experiences. If there is not someone who is capable of playing the role, then I feel it is ok to have someone play the character as long as they have thoroughly researched the role and none of their acting is stereotypical or offensive.
When asked about the above, someone said, “I think if people have done the research and understand what it’s like to live with all of the above, then maybe it’s ok, but when there’s so many able people from the categories to play the parts, it’s ridiculous and pretty offensive to choose someone else.”