Another Spanish-Language Play In Miami Removes Character In Blackface

Sep 21, 2018

Another producer of a Spanish-language play in Miami is apologizing for showing a character in blackface.

The play “Noche Cubana” is scheduled to premiere at Teatro Bellas Artes in Little Havana on Sunday. On it’s promotional material, a non-black actor is shown with his face painted black and exaggerated red lips.

Maria-Victoria Ramirez saw the promotional material and took to Facebook, calling it anti-black and asking people to call the play’s organizers to tell them the actor’s portrayal “reduces Afro-Latinos to a stereotype and a caricature while also seeking to ridicule their race.”

“Let them know our community does not stand for this kind of ridiculing of black people,” she wrote.

The producer, Roberto Marrero, got the message. When reached by WLRN, he said he did get calls requesting that he eliminate the character with blackface. Marrero said the actor will no longer play the part with his face painted black.

“We don’t want to harm anybody’s feeling and this was not our intention,” he says, “Our show is about funny people, comedy and music.”

Marrero says the character with blackface is rooted in traditional Cuban “Teatro Bufo” -comedic theater- but he added that the character can still be funny without the black paint.

Earlier this year, a long-running play in Little Havana  drew criticisms from Afro-Latinos in Miami who took issue with a woman character in blackface and jokes about gorillas.  After media stories ran, the play’s organizers stopped portraying the character with her face painted dark brown and later held a town hall discussion about Afro-Latino representation in the arts.

Marrero says he was unfamiliar with the controversy from the previous play and he was surprised by the phone calls about racism.

“This kind of character is not a put down at all. It’s not about racism, it’s not about discrimination,” he says, adding: “I don’t think there’s ever been discrimination in Cuba.”

Listen to Afro-Latinos in Miami address race and blackface: