Our View: Where’s the buzz?


Cristal Christian (left) and Robert Branch (right) rehearse scenes from the play, The Mountaintop, on Wedneday, Sept. 23, 2015.  

Stater Editors

In late August, Kent State released a press release announcing Pan-African Studies was set to present a play called “The Mountaintop.” The most important aspect of this release was the unveiling of a theatre experiment: director Michael Oatman double-cast the role of Martin Luther King Jr. with both a white and black actor.

“I truly wanted to explore the issue of racial ownership and authenticity,” said Oatman in the August press release. “I didn’t want this to be a stunt, but a true exploration of King’s wish that we all be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin.”

The play premiered on Sept. 25, running until Sept. 27. The second leg ran from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4. Both took place in the department of Pan-African Studies’ African Community Theatre.

Despite significant time passing since the play’s reveal, no one seemed to be surprised about the double-cast. However, a Facebook trend on Wednesday suggested bigger concern, though the campus was quiet.

“Brown skin carries with it a certain history and experience,” said Katori Hall, the play’s writer, in an article from The Root. “Those who saw ‘the white version’ of ‘The Mountaintop’ were robbed of that opportunity.”

But, there was no letter to the editor sent to The Kent Stater. There wasn’t a big reaction from students on social media when the play first debuted. It seemed as if there was a consensus that the double-role was either art, or people just didn’t notice. This is concerning.

This play was attempting something unusual, but it didn’t work. An important step was missed. The director didn’t consult the playwright and we feel this blowout could have been avoided.

The above editorial is a consensus opinion of The Kent Stater editorial board, whose names are listed above.