KENT– A national playwright is speaking out after a Kent State University adaptation of her production featured a white actor portraying Martin Luther King, Jr.
The school’s pan-african studies department began a two-week run of “The Mountaintop,” a play written by Katori Hall imagining the fictional events that may have taken place the evening before King’s assassination in 1968.
Director Michael Oatman cast both a white actor and an African American actor to share the role of MLK during the show’s six performances. Each actor appeared as King for three shows.
“I truly wanted to explore the issue of racial ownership and authenticity,” Oatman said in a statement on the department’s website. “I didn’t want this to be a stunt, but a true exploration of King’s wish that we all be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin. I wanted the contrast…I wanted to see how the words rang differently or indeed the same, coming from two different actors, with two different racial backgrounds.”
But the move didn’t sit well with playwright Hall.
After recently learning about the production’s casting choice, she shared her thoughts in a strongly worded essay published earlier this week on TheRoot.com.
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Article Courtesy of WKYC Channel 3 News Cleveland
Picture Courtesy of KentWired.com and WKYC Channel 3 News Cleveland