So, as some of you may or may not know, I tend to dabble in the world of theatre here at Muhlenberg College. My dabbling in this world has led me to a lot of wonderful friends, valuable learning experiences, and, really, just a lot of great times. Of late, however, it has provided me with an interesting window into the world of contemporary racism.
Let’s start with an honest fact: the world of theatre has been littered with racism since the dawn of its existence. From the concept of “minstrel shows” to the prevalence white performers performing in black face the old world of theatre has not been particularly friendly to non-white members of society. Now, of course, we have moved into an age where, overt, old-fashioned racism is no longer acceptable. This rule, to an extant, has applied to the world of musical theatre. In fact, many contemporary works of theatre, even musical theatre, have focused on racial issues and the problems they have caused within society. This summer, Muhlenberg College’s Summer Music Theatre program (MSMT for short), is putting on one of those productions, Shaiman, Wittman, O’Donnel, and Meehan’s Hairspray.