CALGARY â€” A director has walked away from the Calgary Opera’s production of “South Pacific” saying his understanding was that a white actor was going to be cast in the role of a Polynesian character in the Second World War musical.
Mark Bellamy says the production includes themes of racial intolerance and the lead charactersâ€™ struggle with bringing Polynesians into their lives.
He says he felt strong the show should be cast in a way that accurately represented the characters.
Bellamy says he resigned after being informed a white actor would play Bloody Mary, a Tonkinese woman from what is now northern Vietnam.
He says he made several suggestions for actors he believed had a more appropriate ethnic background for the character, but whose singing abilities didnâ€™t quite satisfy the Calgary Opera.
Bellamy says he understood why thatâ€™s the operaâ€™s focus, but thatâ€™s not what the musical is about.
â€œOscar Hammerstein created this piece of theatre to have this discussion about racism, (he) didnâ€™t create it to showcase voices of sopranos and mezzo-sopranos necessarily,â€ Bellamy says.
A designer and a performer also quit in reaction to the casting decision, and Bellamy says other colleagues wonâ€™t sign contracts to be part of the production.
The Canadian Press