Theaterworks, the Hartford based theatre company whose production of Stephen Adly Guirgis' THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT was brought to the spotlight when the playwright questioned the casting process, has responded to the controversy.
Guirgis originally stated: "The two romantic leads in my play were written very specifically as Latinos in their late 30's...I saw Theaterworks' character breakdowns for the roles that went out for the auditions, and there was no mention of the ethnicity of the two characters in question. It became clear to me that perhaps Theaterworks had no intention of casting Latinos in the first place since they weren't asking agents to submit Latino actors for these Latino roles."
TheaterWorks' breakdown for the characters of Jackie read: "Man, late 20s. Recovering alcoholic, recently released from prison. Volatile and puppy-dog vulnerable. Tough-talking bravado. Self-destructive," while the breakdown for Veronica read "Late 20s - early 30s. Attractive. Complicated. Lack of self-esteem. Feels unloved. Sorry for herself, yet tough and assertive. Smart. Funny. Needy." However, Cousin Julio was described as "Late 20s, Puerto Rican. Fastidious. Effeminate. Health nut. Has a great body. Great sense of humor."
TheaterWorks' artistic director, Steve Campo, shared an email with the Hartford Courant in response to the controversy. He stated: "It is a tribute to his skill that Stephen Adly Guirgis, though not Hispanic, is able to so credibly depict a culture not his own, as he does in The Motherf[------] With the Hat. How gracious it would be of him to allow that actors (of whatever heritage) might succeed in acting, much as he has in writing."
THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT, nominated for a 2011 Tony Award for Best Play, opened on Monday, April 11, 2011 on Broadway. It closed July 17, starring Bobby Cannavale as Jackie, Chris Rock as Ralph D, Elizabeth Rodriguez as Veronica, Annabella Sciorra as Victoria and Yul Vázquez as Cousin Julio.
TheaterWorks' production, which began in October, runs through tomorrow, December 4.