Saturday, December 3, 2011

Casting Director Stands With HOLA Regarding Controversy in Casting THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT at TheaterWorks Hartford

Press Release

December 2, 2011

Contact: María F. Nieto
(212) 253-1015 •


(New York, NY) – The Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA), which has denounced the inappropriate casting of two non-Latinos in the Latino-specific roles of “Jackie” and Veronica” in TheaterWorks of Hartford’s current production of The Motherf**ker with the Hat, has received additional information from Pat McCorkle that clarifies the highly respected casting director’s level of involvement in the casting of this production.

Especially troubling to HOLA was the fact that the casting breakdown for the production did not state the ethnicity of the play’s two lead characters, Jackie and Veronica, as Latinos-- despite having been written as specifically Latino-- an omission that stands in stark contrast to the accurate description of the character of “Cousin Julio” (who is Jackie’s cousin) who was cited as specifically Latino, most probably by virtue of the fact that his name makes his ethnicity hard to avoid. Given that the two actors hired to play Jackie and Veronica are also former students of the director, Mr. Thompson, it seems to indicate that the casting efforts made for this production may have been disengenous at best and exclusionary of Latino acting professionals at worst.

TheaterWorks Executive Director Campo’s statement to the New York Times, in which he names McCorkle as the theater’s casting director, read “... the decision not to specify any ethnicity for actors to play Jackie and Veronica was made by Mr. Thompson and the theater’s casting director, Pat McCorkle.... I know they deliberated hard on the casting breakdown language and on the casting decisions.” In her statement to HOLA, McCorkle states, “The entire casting breakdown was written by Tazewell Thompson along with Theaterworks Hartford without our involvement. I was in no way involved in writing the breakdown for The Motherf**ker with the Hat, and no actors were seen for the roles of ‘Veronica’ or ‘Jackie’ in our New York auditions. Offers had been made by the theatre prior to our appointment auditions. At the director’s request, we saw one actor for the role of 'Ralph’, even though the role was pre-cast with Royce Johnson. Other than that, we only saw candidates for the roles of ‘Victoria’ and ‘Cousin Julio’. I have gone through all of my notes, all of my session sheets, and all of my availabilities, and I am 100% certain that all of the information that I have given you is accurate.” McCorkle goes on to state, “I am very disappointed that my name was included in the New York Times article as I had no participation in the casting of ‘Jackie’ or ‘Veronica’.... the final decision on all the actors comes from the director and the theater.”

In addition, McCorkle states,“This situation has disappointed me greatly, because in my thirty plus years of casting, I have built my name and prided myself on my integrity and my belief that the playwright’s vision comes first.” HOLA is gratified at the casting director’s clarification of the casting procedures employed on this production and, further, at her support of HOLA’s efforts to advocate on behalf of the Latino acting community.

As the nation’s longest running arts service and advocacy organization, HOLA is dedicated to expanding the presence of Latino artists in entertainment and media through the cultivation, education and recognition of emerging artists. HOLA strives for accurate, informed and non-stereotyped portrayal of the full spectrum of Latino culture and heritage in all entertainment and media industries. As a trusted organization of the Latino community, HOLA was contacted by audience members were outraged at the casting choices made for the TheaterWorks’ production of Guirgis’ play at which time HOLA contacted TheaterWorks’ director of communications Fred McInerney, its General Manager Nicole LaFlair Nieves and its Executive Director Steve Campo as well as the production’s director, Tazewell Thompson, and the playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis to inquire into the casting of the production. HOLA has also contacted Actors’ Equity and the Casting Society of America to request that formal inquiries be made into the casting practices employed on this production and is awaiting their final determination.

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