Blatantly racist blast for Minstrel show

A WHITE ROCK Theatre performance commemorating a '60s television show has been slammed as "blatantly racist".

Thursday, 30th September 2004, 3:54 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 11:20 pm

The theatre has come under fire for its showing of Memories of the Black and White Minstrels, a musical celebrating the original BBC series.

Featuring the original cast of the show, it comes to the theatre as part of its UK tour.

But deputy council leader Jay Kramer is urging theatre bosses to pull the plug on the performance following comments from offended residents.

She said: "In my opinion, the Black and White Minstrel Show is best forgotten.

"It displayed very stereo-typical views of black people and was blatantly racist. That's not to say this show will do that, but I don't believe memories of the show are something to celebrate.

"People have approached me, especially members of the black community, to tell me they have found this offensive.

"We have a diverse community which we're very proud of. We don't want anything on show that will cause offence to anybody. Usually the theatre consults the council with any shows that may be potentially offensive. If I had been presented with this, I would have said no."

In the original BBC show, white actors would don black facepaint and costumes whilst performing a string of musical numbers. Despite assurances from organisers that this practice no longer occurs, Cllr Kramer is resolute in her opposition.

She said: "I'm certainly not just going to leave it.

"I'd want to call a meeting with the theatre about what can be done as soon as possible. We have a good working relationship with the theatre.

"If Clear Channel has a contract with the group, it could be in breach of contract if it pulls out. All we're asking is it does all it can to cancel it, but if it can't we have to work together to make sure something like this doesn't come up again."

Clear Channel, the company running the theatre, regularly consults with council members about potentially-controversial shows. Manager Paul Ryan said there were no immediate plans for the show to be cancelled.

He said: "As far as we're concerned, it's still going ahead."