Protesting Opera Australia’s whitewashing of West Side Story

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Dear Opera Australia,

We - the diverse Australia - are very concerned upon hearing of your choice of casting in your 2019 production of West Side Story. Whilst we acknowledge Opera Australia’s contribution to the performing arts and applaud its commitment to providing Australians with work, we cannot quietly sit back and watch a racist tradition continue.

We are tired of hearing people justify the casting of Caucasian performers in roles that were written for performers of colour. Using phrases such as “colourblind casting” and “finding the best people” does not exclude you from this grand tradition. West Side Story is an important story about racial tensions that deserves to be told and is still incredibly relevant today and we are disappointed that you will not honouring the heart of this story by casting a Latina performer as Maria.

It is evident that there are incredibly talented Latinx performers in Australia as we can clearly see in Blue Saints Productions’ In The Heights. Whilst the community may be small, if an independent theatre company managed to cast almost an entire show with Latinx performers, you with your funding and extensive networks can do the same.

We would like you to please reconsider this decision that you have made. Please remember what this story is about and the importance it has in not only sharing a fundamental message on racial relations but also its role in elevating Latinx talent. Our country prides itself on its multiculturalism and we should celebrate it in the art we share and create. Please consider the seriousness of this message and reconsider your casting.


The diverse Australia