We are shocked and appalled by the unacceptable and abhorrent phrase used in a Sunday Times listing this week, describing our 2018 production of Macbeth as “less garishly diverse in casting” than our 2018 Romeo and Juliet.

The comment (published 14 June), in a preview of Polly Findlay’s 2018 RSC production of Macbeth, compared it to Erica Whyman's Romeo and Juliet. Such deliberate and offensive use of language demonstrates clear prejudice and devalues people, in this case specifically devaluing the work of RSC Artists.

The reference has since been removed from the online edition of the article. 

Romeo and Juliet embrace.
Bally Gill and Karen Fishwick as Romeo and Juliet
Photo by Topher McGrillis © RSC Browse and license our images

Our purpose at the RSC is to ensure that Shakespeare is for everyone and we aim to reflect the nation’s talent in all its diversity, such that the audiences which we serve are all able to recognise themselves on stage. Hamlet says that the purpose of playing is to hold “the mirror up to nature”. We believe that when you watch these great plays, you should see yourself reflected in what you see and that the most effective productions are those that celebrate the widest range of skills and talents.”

Gregory Doran, Artistic Director
Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director
Erica Whyman, Deputy Artistic Director

Letter to the Sunday Times

Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, has written the following letter to the Sunday Times:

John Dugdale previewing last night’s broadcast of Polly Findlay’s 2018 RSC production of Macbeth in The Sunday Times, describes it as “less garishly diverse in casting” than Erica Whyman’s production of Romeo and Juliet the previous week.

I would appreciate understanding what Mr Dugdale means by “garishly diverse”. When Juliet uses the word garish (“All the world will be in love with night/And pay no worship to the garish sun”) she means the sun is too self consciously dazzling, vulgarly obtrusive perhaps, or tastelessly showy. Is Mr Dugdale implying that the diversity in the casting of this production is obtrusive or inappropriate in some way?

Does he object to a British Asian actor from Coventry playing Romeo, or a Glaswegian playing Juliet, or is his objection that Mercutio was played as a woman? By all means challenge us on the quality of performance, but to object to the right of these actors to play these great roles, because of their regionality, their ethnicity, or their gender is surely unacceptable and insulting. 

Hamlet says that the purpose of playing is to hold “the mirror up to nature”. If as a young person you watch these great plays, but do not see your own face reflected in what you see, why should you engage? Our purpose at the RSC is to ensure that Shakespeare is for everyone, whatever your class or colour, and that we reflect the Nation in all its diversity. 

And if that seems garish, then I can make no apology for that. 

Sincerely

Gregory Doran
Artistic Director 
Royal Shakespeare Company