of good conversations going on in the comments of Bitter Lemons. They both revolve around this guy who writes at LA Theatre Review and calls himself Addison DeWitt. Lemons has banned him until he comes out from behind his campy cloak of anonymity, which gets folks going about the nature of anonymous posting on the net. Check that out here.
Sidenote, I'm using male pronouns since DeWitt's chosen a male name for his persona; for all we know the writer could be female, which makes a nice segue into....
The other convo appears to have wrapped up, but it's the one I find the most interesting. It's based on a previous Addison DeWitt column, about how he is sick of your gender blind bullshit. Here's Lemons' post.
DeWitt's column is precious and irritating (much like his namesake), driven largely by a suspicion that a sort of guilty liberal anxiety about equitable casting is driving the decision-making. DeWitt also suggests that he finds the thematic exploration of gender to be academic, more appropriate for a "doctoral thesis." To that assertion I'd reply, "ask any young person in middle-America who doesn't easily conform to gender norms if he or she finds his or her experiences to be academic and get back to me." If I'm taking this a little personally, it's because I'm contemplating going gender-bent with one or two characters in a family play I've been working on, and with very specific, hopefully visceral, emotional (even a little comic) intention. I can't help but bristle at his line of thinking here.
Things open up in the comments, though; it seems the bulk of the conversation veers more towards taking issue with directors messing around with plays by using non-traditional casting (particularly from the playwrights chiming in). What really strikes me is the idea that gender blind casting should be seen as an affront to the play and/or the playwright. That seems a bit reactionary, but then I also don't go into a play with gender-blind casting and automatically wonder why the hell they had to go and screw everything up by doing something like that. I usually just go with it, marveling at the ones who do a good job of passing and getting crabby about those who don't, but doing my best to suspend disbelief in order to engage with the play.
And as for my writing, I can't say I'd be thrilled with gender blind casting of all my plays, but I've had some experiences where I would gladly take an actor of ANY gender, age, race, etc., who actually said the lines I wrote rather than piss-poor paraphrases and/or waited to get high until after the rehearsal was over.