London: One of Britain's most distinguished actors, Janet Suzman, has been slammed for calling theatre "a white invention."
The 75-year-old actress responded to the actor and writer Meera Syal's recent appeal the theatre industry to do more to cater for Asian audiences by claiming that theatre is a European invention and white people go to it because it's in their DNA and it starts with Shakespeare, reportedly
Syal said that she doesn't think she has ever heard any single race or culture claim theatre as their invention before and the sharing of stories between performers and audience stretches across every single civilisation beginning with the oral tradition of re-enacting folk tales or religious myths, graduating into more formalised forms of structured staging.
Syal added that this shouldn't be an argument about what theatre is or who "invented" it as this is a more profound discussion about the relevance of the stories we tell and for whom we tell them.
Ben Okri, the Booker-prize winning novelist, said that Suzman's ill informed about the very old traditions of African and Indian cultures which go back thousands of years and it's sad that she thinks that.
Stephen Poliakoff, the acclaimed creator of a TV drama 'Dancing on the Edge' said that theatres have become sexier, young people go to the theatre a lot more than they did 20 years ago and the idea that they're all white is ridiculous.
Dawn Walton, the founder and artistic director of the Sheffield-based Eclipse theatre, a black-led touring company, said Suzman's comments were "ludicrous."
David Lan, artistic director of the Young Vic, said Suzman was wrong and her comments raised all manner of questions.