Cameron Mackintosh’s comments on casting of trans actors as a ‘gimmick’ are unacceptable and dangerous
He produced Cats, a musical featuring an animatronic singing pig, and even put a real helicopter on stage, and the one thing he can’t wrap his head around is transgender people playing classic roles?
Back once again, then, to Sir Cameron Mackintosh, who is receiving widespread backlash for calling it “gimmick casting” to cast a trans person in an existing role, in a recent interview with Telegraph.
“You can’t implant something that is not inherently there in the story or character, that’s what I think,” he said.
But Mackintosh wasn’t finished. “Just to do that, that becomes gimmick casting. It’s trying to force something that isn’t natural.”
Mackintosh, who owns eight West End theatres, rejecting the possibility of a trans performer in one of his shows reinforces the dangerous idea that there is a right way to be female.
Simply put, his comments are cruel and inaccurate and contradict the message of empathy and understanding found in the stories of nearly all his stage musicals, including Mary Poppins.
His views are damaging to real people – people who are already disproportionately marginalised – and are downright irresponsible.
Mackintosh was very much an untouchable theatre God in the 80s and 90s, at the height of his power. These days, though, the 75 year old producer is increasingly out of touch and unpleasant.
Still, extraordinary wealth and privilege is the story of Cameron’s life. That’s why he has so much spare time to participate in thoughtless interviews.
Indeed, this is the latest in a long line of PR disasters for the billionaire producer. Mackintosh ruthlessly made over 850 backstage and front of house staff redundant (despite furlough), allegedly mistreats his staff and said theatres that received financial aid during the coronavirus pandemic were ones that “were going to fail”.
Hilariously, he recently defended a decision to reduce The Phantom of the Opera’s orchestra by half, arguing actors and musicians should not expect to “keep doing the same thing year after year.”
Anyway, earlier this year, a report commissioned by the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama which looked into trans casting found that commercial or mainstream theatres “very rarely commission trans-led work and that trans roles are limited” and the majority of trans-led productions were currently on at fringe venues or on tours.
We all need to do a hell of a lot more to support transgender, non-binary people, or gender non-conforming actors in commercial and west end theatre and not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.
Needless to say, transgender people in England and Wales are twice as likely to be victims of crime as cisgender people, and 2021 is set to be the deadliest yet in the US for these communities.
Mackintosh concluded his interview by saying: “As far as creating the new genre of musicals, it isn’t going to be my generation that’s doing it, because I know what I know from my generation.”
Oh right. I want that in blood, obviously. But thanks, Cameron. It’s appreciated.
Newsflash: 🏳️⚧️ Trans women are women. 🏳️⚧️
On 30th August, Cameron Mackintosh tweeted an apology and clarification related to his comments about transgender performers.
August 30, 2021