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5 October 2016, 12:23
Musical theatre cancels production to avoid causing offence, but some students bemoan ‘fear of cultural appropriation’
A student production of Aida has been cancelled over a “racial diversity controversy”.
Bristol University students had earlier voted to perform the musical version of Verdi’s opera about an ancient Egyptian general who falls in love with an enslaved Nubian princess.
The exact nature of the controversy is not clear. However, it has been reported that students "revolted" over the prospect of white actors performing the lead roles.
The Music Theatre Bristol announcement in a Facebook post last week, that it was cancelling Aida “with great sadness”, adding:
“This show that was voted in by our members has since caused controversy in terms of racial diversity.
“To those who had concerns on this we would like to say, the show set in Ancient Egypt is about a war between two countries and as a result the enslavement of one country.
“The two lovers of the story cannot be together due to their responsibilities to their countries as different nationalities and this is reflected in the book, with no comment made on racial discrimination.
“It is a great shame that we have had to cancel this show as, of course, we would not want to cause offence in any way, and that was certainly never our intention. Our intention was to tell this story, one which surely is better heard than not performed at all.”
Conrad Young, who runs the student pressure group Bristol Against Censorship on Facebook, wrote in Tab: “Although MTB seemed to approach a sensitive topic with great humility and care, Aida was not to be. The affect that the fear of cultural appropriation has on modern campuses is a sad affair and in this case has damaged the student experience of the people involved and the prospective student audiences.”