UCD Musical Society apologised for its past use of black/brown face in a statement issued on their Facebook page on the 5th of June. The apology was provoked by the society’s members highlighting its portrayal of characters of colour through the use of black/brown face.
The society apologised and noted that “it’s a practice that should be ruled out of all society productions.” They said the best way to approach this is through “transparency and honesty” and they also thanked their members for calling them out on this matter.
The statement continued into a formal apology, “we would like to apologise for our past use of black/brown face”, then they promised that no such occurrence will happen again. UCD’s Musical Society’s new committee was announced on the 2nd of May and this has been one of the first things they encountered in their new roles. The new committee, headed by Auditor, Morgan Moore, denounced the mistakes of the past, going on to say: “As we move into a new committee and new year we want to work hard to educate ourselves and others and ensure that these mistakes never happen again.” The statement ended with a promise to “learn from past mistakes and ensure that that these mistakes never happen again.”
The Society stated that it has partnered with many musical societies around the country to hold a charity event to support the Black Lives Matter movement and educate members of student musical societies about the issues surrounding blackface, casting and show selection.
The most recent incident of this was UCD Musical Society’s use of brownface for their November 2019 production of ‘The Addams Family’. In this production, white actor Roy Geary (pictured) wore brownface to play Gomez Addams, a character most famously portrayed by Puerto Rican actor, Raúl Júlia.
A similar incident followed at Trinity’s DU Players. According to Trinity News, they apologised for their use of blackface and removed an image from 2009 showing four of their former members wearing a black face.
The act of using black/brown faces by typically white actors has a long history of racist connotations, but it was placed under the spotlight in late 2019 when photos emerged of Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, wearing a brown face. The photos were taken at an “Arabian Nights” themed gala. Trudeau apologised immediately after the photos surfaced.
The College Tribune contacted Roy Geary for a comment but have not received any by the time of publishing.
UCD has yet to issue a formal statement regarding the Black Lives Matter protest that took place last Monday in Dublin and racism faced by students in Ireland.
Ahmed Jouda – Reporter