This fall, both North Shore Music Theatre and San Diego Rep staged productions of Evita featuring an all-white cast. This event was brought to the attention of the Latinx theatre community through the Latinx Theatre Commons. In it, a lively debate was held, most notoriously, on the “whiteness” of Argentines and how pointless a debate about Evita really was. Though this debate never made it out of the Commons, it followed the same pattern as the other examples that have come up recently about whitewashing. Nevertheless, a couple of points: Yes, Evita is the production of two white Englishmen mostly based on a long-discredited book (The Woman with the Whip); yes, Eva Perón was white and Argentine; and yes, whiteness in Argentina is itself the product of a brand of white supremacy. However, this is a production of taking place in the United States, a country whose privileging of whiteness is woven into the first paragraph of the Constitution, and which, since 1790s Naturalization Act, has made it very clear that the standard for citizenship is white, which only changed legally in 1952 with the Immigrant and Nationality Act. It is for that matter that we should talk for a second of what we really mean about whitewashing in the theater of this country. –actor, composer, director and producer JULIÁN J. MESRI
Check out the rest of the blog by Julián J. Mesri in CultureBot, which addresses the casting choices of recent productions of the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical Evita, by clicking here.