Friday, July 09, 2004

Naeema White-Peppers lashes out at Will Stackman

Well, it looks as if Naeema couldn't take anything but glowing reviews any longer and lashes out at Will Stackman with an articulate letter about Stackman's preoccupation with her race. She sent it snail mail, but copied Larry Stark and he posted it it on Mere Opinions.

I have to admit, his little reference in his Popcorn review about Naeema being african-american did seem a little out of line at the time I read it.

Naeema does herself a little damage by misqouting Stackman. The whole quote from the quick-take review is..."Naeemah A. White Peppers, in her last Zeitgeist role for a while, doesn't fit the part of a Playboy centerfold/now actress and hasn't found a way to make being African-American add anything to the piece."

Naeemah quotes it as "Naeemah A. White Peppers hasn't found a way to make being African-American add anything to the piece." I have a feeling she left out the first half for reasons other than her wanting to focus on the second half. (Naeemah, darling, if you are going to parse quotes at least remember the ...'s.)

If you actually read Stackman's longer review on Aisle-Say, his paragraph about his feelings on this issue read as follows:

"The weakest part of the play begins when Bruce returns with Brook Daniels, a Playboy centerfold turned actress-- the show's stalest running joke--and a predictable seduction ensues, which includes an entertaining pantyhose stip-tease routine. It was inevitable that Zeitgeist regular Naeemah A. White-Peppers play this role. While there's nothing beyond her repertoire in the part, there's nothing in the script to capitalize on her African-American presence either, even when Brook draws a gun on Bruce to prove she can be scarey and should be in his next picture. It would have been more interesting to cast some pneumatic blond as this ambitious nude model and have White-Peppers play the avaricious wife. The part of Velvet could easily have been done by any one of several talented young local actresses of color."

Naeemah may have a point, because although Stackman seems to be advocating for the better roles for African Americans, he does seem to be overly preoccupied with the subject. It reminds me of the recent book, Redneck Nation, in which the author said that nowhere in the country is the color of people's skin so much a part of the dialogue than in the so called Liberal Northeast.

However, Naeemah then veers off in a strange direction. Her paragraph about Circle starts off OK, she is on message with the fact that African Americans should be able to play parts of hispanics, but then she goes sideways. She immediately channels August Wilson from the great Town Hall debates with Robert Brustein, and says that it is ridiculous for whites to be playing characters in plays written about the black experience.

Naeemah seems to adhere to "author's intention." If the author isn't specific about ethnicity, then it is all right to use color blind casting, but if the situation or the author's notes are indicative, then that is the law.

It is a legitimate viewpoint, but it is frighteningly limited when you expand it.

What does Naeemah think of the recent True West in New York where the brothers were played by two women? What does she think of black actors playing the majority of Shakespeare's parts?

Her criticism of Stackman is an interesting question, though.

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