COLLINSTON - By Ellen Cook, Headliner Media Specialist, September 23, 2022
Even after months of rehearsals, scenery construction and wardrobe selection, The Old Barn Community Theatre in Collinston announced on Wednesday, September 22, that they were cancelling the scheduled production of “The King and I,” stating they needed to be “more sensitive to ensure that the roles cast are racially appropriate for those who auditioned.”
The Rogers and Hammerstein production, which is based in the country of Siam (now Thailand), tells the story of Anna Leonowens and her experiences as the teacher for the family of that country’s King.
The director of the show said auditions, which were held in July, were opened to all, but the selection for parts was limited. “Unfortunately, not one person of Asian descent chose to participate,” she said in a Facebook post. “As we rehearsed these lines and songs and prepared to present these experiences for you, we have felt a heavy responsibility to portray the Asian culture with respect and consideration.”
Still, the Board of Directors felt it was best to cancel rather than go on with the production, apologizing in an open letter “to those we have unintentionally hurt or offended. This has been a learning moment for us." They also vowed to “making our theatre a positive and safe environment for all. Moving forward, we dedicate ourselves to making this our policy and mission.”
“The King and I” was slated to run September 30 through October 22.