This is a letter I am writing to Sally Cookson, the Director of the production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in December 2017. I cannot find an email for her so I shall send this in a letter to her.
I have also made a video blog about this subject which can be seen here.
Dear Sally Cookson,
I wish to write to you about the current production of CS Lewis’s classic The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
It was in many ways beautifully realised, Aslan and Jadis being both extremely well represented.
However I was most disappointed to find that you had used the play for a crude piece of social indoctrination. I might not have found it so disappointing if I had not already seen exactly the same thing done at another classic tale of the post-War era earlier this year when I saw the Who’s rock opera Tommy at the Playhouse.
As you know, of course, the LWW was written by CS Lewis during the 1940s and published in 1950. The story is set during the evacuation of children from London. I will pass over the presentation of the children having Yorkshire (or what sounded more like Lancashire a lot of the time) accents coming from London, and the Professor’s house being set in Scotland (for which there is no evidence in the book) since these are minor embellishments that don’t affect the story.
However, the choice of casting of the children was clearly influenced, even should I say determined, by political considerations.
There have been several television, film and theatre productions of the LWW that I am aware of over the years, and all have presented the principle characters (the four children) as they were depicted in the book. And that depiction is of four English children of the era. The original illustrations by Pauline Baynes, which have been retained in all editions to my knowledge portray the children as English.
And yet in this production they were not four English children. Three of them were Afro-Caribbean, which is something of an anachronism, since there were no Afro-Caribbeans in London at the time, or if there were, there weren’t many, and given the ages of the children, about eight to fourteen, they must have been born in the early 1930s at the latest. The evidence for there being significant numbers of mixed race West Indians in the evacuation is surely slim, and so we should ask on what rationale this casting decision was made?
There are several unspoken messages here which I believe should be unpacked.
Firstly, this is clearly a story which is intended to appeal to children, and there were a large number of children in the audience. They cannot be expected to know that this is a non factual representation of the children as being of West Indian or mixed race ancestry, since there were few if any of that demographic in the evacuees, so they will be mislead into a false representation of the War years.
Doubtless by now you are saying ‘Why should it matter?’
The reason it matters is because it was clearly a politically motivated choice. It was clearly a political decision to deviate from an accurate representation of the actual characters that CS Lewis wrote, and indeed an accurate representation of England in 1940.
Any significant rewriting needs to be deconstructed and critiqued. Interestingly one reviewer said “this is a daring adaptation which sets itself a number of challenges and finds creative and theatrically magical solutions to all of them” (British Theatre Guide) and one is left wondering if some of these 'challenges' referred to here were the multicultural rewriting of history to make it more 'inclusive' whilst writing out the actual participants.
The days of Olivier or Welles being criticised for blacking up to play a part are long past, and besides, their roles were intended to portray actual Black people in an era when suitable Black actors were scarce. These children were clearly not intended to be playing White people, or were they? In which case what would be the difference from White people playing Black? It seems to me that you have got yourself into a tangle of post modern deconstructions which cannot be congruently sustained through the implications of their contextual referents.
I should interject at this point that should a West Indian theatre group choose to do a version of the LWW with all black actors, I would have nothing to say, since the context would be clear. If Nigerians want to make a production of it in Nigeria, by all means let them.
The wolf Maugrim played by Ira Mandela Siobhan was not problematic in the way that the three children were because anyone can play the part of the wolf.
But it is the clearly political decision to misrepresent English children of the 1940s as being of West Indian or mixed race heritage in a popular mainstream version at a major theatre, with an audience that was overwhelmingly White that needs to be critiqued.
This is exactly what happened with the production of Tommy that I saw earlier this year.
Tommy’s mother was played by a West Indian woman, and thus Tommy himself was played by an actor of mixed race. One might say that if the ethnicity of the actors is irrelevant, then why was it necessary to have the son of the union of an English pilot and a West Indian woman to be obviously congruent with that union and played by someone of mixed race? This was not in Pete Townsend’s libretto, so why was this done? An entirely new narrative was being introduced, something about race which had no place in the original was being overwritten for propaganda purposes.
A further subliminal that was included in your performance was the casting of the eldest boy, Peter, by a White boy, while the rest were West Indian or mixed heritage. So the implication here is that the parents separated after their first child and one of them had three more children by a West Indian. Regardless of race or ethnicity, divorce was extremely rare in the 1930s, and remarriage by an English person to a West Indian was surely unheard of. To seek to rewrite the possibilities of history in this way because British society in 1940 was ‘racist’ is dishonest. This is a modern interpretation of a situation which was entirely different from the present world in which we find ourselves. I think there would be outrage if you suggested that Lewis was a racist. There were few more moral men of that generation that he. And I don’t believe he would object to an entirely Afro-Caribbean reading of his story, because it would be clear that that is what it was. Although they would have a different mythic ancestral relation to long winters than the Northern peoples. (Lewis was preoccupied by what he called ‘Northernness’.) But I feel sure that he would have seen through your crude attempt at social engineering which seeks to turn his story to ends for which it was never intended, the deconstruction and displacement of the English people.
These are not how CS Lewis or Pete Townsend envisioned their stories, which were rather set in very English contexts and so we must ask the motivation for these changes?
When we have got past the deflection of ‘Why should it matter?’ it will be grudgingly admitted that this is because these productions are designed to be ‘inclusive’ or some such justification. Perhaps that we, as people of traditional English ancestry, should move over and make room for the ‘new British’.
But these, perhaps well motivated, intentions do not come without a price.
The displacement of English children from their story, and the misrepresentation of the historical context are facts which we should not ignore. This predictable trope has now become de rigueur in theatre and television these days. A queen of France from the fourteen century was recently played by an African woman in a BBC historical drama, which received quite a lot of criticism for its historical inaccuracy, and to my own complaint they replied that there this was a casting decision based on the available suitable actors, an explanation somewhat lacking in credibility.
The anti white racism of the BBC was also recently demonstrated in their advertising for an internship from which White people were excluded from applying for.
It seems that at every turn White English people are to be displaced, not only from the present, but even from our own past. It has become quite the fashion with the liberal elite who seek to virtue signal that they have abandoned their people.
You may not know that Orwell’s 1984 was inspired as a response to CS Lewis’s That Hideous Strength, a book in which he demonstrates the insidious influence of Marxist ideology on education and society.
Orwell in his turn wrote in 1984 “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
So what you are engaged in is exactly what Orwell himself described. You are rewriting the past in order to control the future.
When you say again ‘What does it matter?’ I reply ‘Why shouldn’t it matter?’
If T’chaka Zulu and members of his tribe were represented by White actors in a theatre or screen production, I think there would probably be outrage, and quite rightly. The cultural appropriation of iconic figures from the past of any group by another if done without a suitable degree of acknowledgement of how it is being presented is indeed outrageous.
If Black historical and literary figures should be played properly in context, then why can’t White historical and literary figures be correctly portrayed too?
Yes, I know you want to make it accessible to other groups than those ‘privileged’ White people, but the vast majority of the audience, at least at the performance I attended last Saturday, were White. Thus the impact that will have been made was one in which the cultural and historical heritage of our people has been appropriated by you and given to another group. You cannot expect all the parents to explain to all the children that there were no West Indian children in the evacuation, the children will just see it and construct in their minds the idea that West Indian and people of mixed heritage were a part of the world of evacuees and of our society then, which they have not.
I have no animosity towards the three children whom you exploitatively used for this, they doubtless have no understanding of what you were doing, and may even have been indoctrinated themselves into believing that there were West Indian children in the evacuation.
Taking this in context with the production of Tommy I can only describe the casting decision made to include these children as an entirely predictable cookie cutter exercise mandated for the deconstruction ~ and the destruction ~ of our society.
It now seems that it is no longer acceptable to portray English people by, well, English people. The influence of cultural Marxism in which every past assumption of our society has to be mixed up and overturned has now become so pervasive that you probably don’t even realise that you are doing it. You just know that you cannot have a cast in which all the White characters are played by White actors. White people can no longer be permitted to occupy the cultural space which our ancestors actually created for us, their posterity.
An immensely successful and influential cultural myth which is a conflation of the Norse, Graeco-Roman and Christian influences that made European civilisation cannot be allowed to stand in its appropriate context with the people to whom these mythologies belong, is the message we are to be given. The four Kings and Queens of Narnia who were always English (their surname is Pevensie, after a place in Sussex) and ruled over Narnia, which is a mythic version of a magical England, are now to be people of a mixed heritage, and the traditional owners of this mythology, our people, are to be displaced.
We hear repeatedly these days the absurd lie that White people, the English in particular, have ‘no culture’, a suggestion that CS Lewis would have contested vigorously.
However, we will certainly have none left before long if we allow it to be culturally appropriated from us in this way.
I will leave you with a reference to the Kalergi plan. Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi was a European aristocrat from the first part of the twentieth century who is considered the ‘spiritual father’ of the EU. He wrote that he envisioned a future in which the European peoples ceased to be identifiable and became mixed with African and Asian peoples.
The man of the future will be of mixed race. The races and classes of today will gradually disappear due to the elimination of space, time, and prejudice. The Eurasian-negroid race of the future, similar in appearance to the Ancient Egyptians, will replace the current diversity of peoples and the diversity of individuals. (Practical Idealism, 1925)
We should recognise that even if this insane plan is achieved, the Black peoples of Africa, and the Han people of China are so numerous in their own lands that such a plan would have little impact on their demographics, it is only Europeans who would be blended out, because we are a relatively small population which is receiving a massive influx of foreign peoples at this time.
So the social indoctrination in which you are participating is actually one of the early stages of the genocide of the European peoples, by seeking to socially program our children into having no ownership of their past, to not even know what that past was, that their ancestors built and occupied this land for thousands of years before West Indians came here, but rather to culturally appropriate our heritage and give it to others so that we have nothing and become no-one.