Actress Aldís Amah Hamilton spoke out about the National Theatre’s lack of diversity on its newest promotional material. In a Facebook post, she calls for cultural leaders to ensure that their institutions are in tune with the times.
She writes about her reluctance to speak publicly about the diversity of actors in theaters this year, for fear of critisism and exclusion but also especially in light of the ongoing dialogue in many areas of society regarding “all kinds of Icelanders”.
“It’s weird to see so many faces, so many of my friends’ faces (whom I love so much, this is not an attack on them), and at the same time not other faces that I thought were necessary to really reflect the society we live in,” Aldís writes in her post.
She goes on to say that, as can be seen in the recent brochure of the National Theatre, she and five of her colleagues with a background in a foreign nationality are working with the theatre this year, but the projects are a study that will not necessarily result in a formal show.
Aldís also points out in her post that in the end, the responsibility to ensure that these public institution reflect society, as it appears to us today, lies with the management in power and adds that she would have a hard time going out of the house and finding situations where such a monotonous group would get together, except in the theatre.
Aldís, who was also Iceland’s Lady of the Mountain last year, has worked with the theatre in the past and points out in a Vísir report that this year’s homogeneity in the promotional material was most likely unconscious, but that it’s up to the management to be vigilant. In her original Facebook post she also emphasises, “This critique is not intended to attack anyone personally and not to promote ‘gaslighting’ or toxic ‘call out culture’. It’s to ensure that more people can see what we see. A lack of role models. And the hope that the future will be more colourful.”
In an interview with Vísir, Aldís says, “What I’m pointing out is that the theatre seems to be a bit behind when it comes to these issues. I think the film industry in Iceland is doing better; there have been great films like Agnes Joy and I have acted in a few series and films where I have only played a traditional Icelander named Dísa or Hildur for example.”
When asked for a comment, Aldís told the Grapevine, “It’s important for us to keep the conversation going so we as a society don’t slowly fall back into our old habits of just ‘going along with the show’. We should aim to support theaters that have diversity as their aim and in that regard I’d like to compliment the Reykjavík Ensemble troupe. They’re independent and very focused on including people from minority groups, giving them a chance to be seen and heard.”
According to a report by Fréttablaðið, the Director of the National Theatre, Magnús Geir Þórðarson, has since agreed with Aldís’ comment and said that a discussion is warranted. Brynhildur Guðjónsdóttir, the City Theatre’s director, is also reported saying that Aldís’ suggestion is justified and necessary and that the theater intends to take the suggestion.
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