Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Dark Night at the Circus

I read a review of the stage adaptation of Angela Carter's "Nights at the Circus" in the Observer at the weekend which left me stunned.

The bit that got me was the revelation that the lead character in the book, Fevvers, is huge and battered with a face "as broad and oval as a meat dish". In the play this part is played by Natalia Tena, 21, who appears from her photo to be the exact opposite. By way of explanation Emma Rice, the adaptation's director, states that fat actresses have been "drummed out of the business years ago".

My God. I don't know where to begin here. For a start Angela Carter was a famous feminist. Would she really have condoned this traducing of her book's lead character in order to pander to some kind of fascist stereotype?

And what sort of profession is it where people are routinely selected on their body types. We all know it goes on in Hollywood but shouldn't other, less overtly commercial dramatic genres have a few more principles? Isn't that what radical theatre is all about?

I could imagine if I hired people in my own business according to the way they looked, or their body mass index, what a furore I would provoke. Not only that, I'd probably be breaking the law. How do theatres get away with it?

I could go on and on here but I won't. You can work it out for yourselves.

The thing is, it's all so upsetting. What's the moral to this sad tale? I don't know, but I would suggest that if you're a young, plain, overweight aspiring actress you don't go into the theatre.

They don't want you.

1 comment:

  1. Megan4:44 am

    Who cares if Natalia Tena is skinny? I'm a feminist and fat and you don't see me freaking out over it. Nat is a wonderful actress and a very strong woman, and she did great in that role.

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