The reading’s cast includes, in top row: Blair Brown, Michael Cumpsty, Oakes Fegley, Bill Irwin, Kevin Isola and Karl Kenzler; bottom, Bebe Neuwirth, Duane Noch, Gregory Noll, Steven Skybell, Phillipa Soo and Sam Waterston. (Two River Theater photo. Click to enlarge.)[UPDATE: On July 31, the Two River Theater announced a cancellation of this event, with automatic refunds to be made to ticketholders. In addition, the theater said it is “planning a public forum to continue this complex conversation about representation in the theater.”]
Red Bank’s Two River Theater Company issued an apology Tuesday for “not having cast more artists of color” in a star-studded play reading scheduled for next week.
In an announcement on its website, the Bridge Avenue-based venue said it regretted and apologized for the “harm” caused by its casting of a reading of “On Borrowed Time,” scheduled to be performed live online August 5 and 6.
Here’s the full statement:
Two River Theater would like to address the response to the casting announcement for ON BORROWED TIME. We hear you. Thank you for these honest calls for our accountability. We apologize for the harm we have caused and acknowledge we must do better. Regarding our staged reading of ON BORROWED TIME, we take responsibility for our complicity in presenting this play in a manner which upholds, and does not seek to challenge, harmful patterns of representation in American theater. In light of this, and while we recognize and celebrate the work and talent of the artists who are a part of ON BORROWED TIME, there is no adequately defensible reason for not having cast more artists of color in this reading. We are currently working internally to reflect on our decisions regarding this process, our responsibilities, and how we can do better in the future to disrupt these harmful patterns on our own stages, and across our industry.
There is more action to come. This is a conversation we want to continue to engage in, and we commit ourselves to not letting this work end here.
Among the big names slated to perform are Sam Waterston, Bebe Neuwirth, Blair Brown and Bill Irwin.
The Paul Osborn drama, a hit on Broadway when it debuted in 1938, was the career launchpad two years later for Joel Grey, then a nine-year-old, in the role of a boy named Pud.
Grey directed a Two River Theater revival of the play in 2013, and was set to direct next week’s reading as well.
The reading is scheduled to go ahead as scheduled, and as cast, box office supervisor Evan Kudish told redbankgreen Tuesday.
The reading is one in a series slated to raise funds for a number of arts organizations.