Arts & Culture News

WaterTower Theatre Issues Apology for Lack of Diversity in Latest Play Casting

Parker Gray and Shannon McGrann star in Hand to God, a past production at the WaterTower Theatre.
Parker Gray and Shannon McGrann star in Hand to God, a past production at the WaterTower Theatre. courtesy WaterTower Theatre
The announcement of the cast list for WaterTower Theatre's upcoming production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time drew quite a few angry comments from its online followers.

The Addison theater posted its final casting on Facebook on Monday, June 21, for its online production of Simon Stephens' Tony-award winning adaptation of the novel of the same name. The announcement sparked a thread of criticism for the lack of diverse choices of actors and actresses in the play scheduled to open on July 21.

"For a theater to make so many statements about diversity and inclusion and then announce a cast like this is extremely disappointing," wrote a commenter on the June 21 post. "Y'all had a wonderful opportunity to produce hugely popular show (a regional premier [sic] of a hugely popular show) with a cast that truly represented not only London, but Dallas as well."

Three days later, the theater issued a  statement apologizing for the lack of diversity.


"We hear you," the theater's statement reads. "We are truly sorry for the harm we caused."
In the statement, the theater says they employed a neurodiverse cast "because of the show's story and message" but acknowledge their failure to portray Black, indigenous and other people of color.

The original cast announcement was accompanied by photos of 11 cast members who appeared to be white.

The play, based on the Mark Haddon novel of the same name, tells the story of a 15-year-old math genius named Christopher who is "exceptionally intelligent but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life," according to Playbill.com.

When Christopher is accused of killing a dog, he sets out on a journey to find the true killer, "which leads to an earth-shattering discovery and a journey that will change his life forever," according to Playbill.com

In the statement, the theater assured its followers and patrons that they are exploring more ways to employ more strategies and requirements to improve its representations of BIPOC in future stage productions.

"This instance has uncovered a deep issue," the statement reads. "WaterTower Theatre has not built enough bridges into BIPOC communities. We have more work to do." 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.