top of page
  • Writer's pictureMaygan Forbes

CASTE-ING review: A Cast/e That Matters

**** 4 STARS

What happens when your big break is determined by your skin tone? When the only defining quality people see about you revolves around your complexion? Three aspiring actresses, 60 minutes, the inner most workings of a prejudice brain, and a lifetime of colourism disguised as "just how the industry is". CASTE-ING takes the audience on a journey through what the casting process looks like for women of colour, women who are black but of different castes. Where do you go when the judgement is upon you before you've even stepped through the door?

From a young age, I was overwhelmed with the belief that I was "the wrong type of black girl", a sentiment I found hard to explain without feeding into the prejudice narratives that determine what the "right type of black girl" is. I struggled to define it whilst studying drama in secondary school, I struggled to define when I went to university, I struggled to define it when I was out in the working world. But at 28 and after watching CASTE-ING, I feel as though I am no longer struggling to come up with a definition. It goes without saying that the right type of black girl is one that is accepted in society by way of the box they fall into. What box is that you may ask? Who knows. The boundaries shift at any given time on any given day. It ranges from the diva trope, to the sassy queen, to the tough as nails, strong black woman, to the type who has an "attitude problem" and kisses their teeth. All tropes, shrouded in racism, only serve to minimise what our own sense of self is, so that we no longer are able to know truly deep down who we are, without opting to put ourselves in the box created by racism to pacify a prejudice society. It's a chase that black women always stand to lose so long as colourist based aesthetics are upheld and these narratives remain unchecked and unchanged. Written by Nicole Acquah and Nouveau Riche, CASTE-ING is a powerful musical that displays what goes through our minds before, during, and after the casting process. It's uncomfortable because it's real.

Just taking a moment to hail the talent on stage, but wow. Rima Nsubuga, Yemi Yohannes and Stephanie Da Silva star as the three actresses, through beatboxing, rapping, singing, and spoken word, they use the audience as their own private journal expressing their frustration on an industry that is intent on breaking their sense of self and faith, all to fit into what an idea of "the right type of black girl" for the role. The stage was on fire, from the moment you walk to your seat to the end, the room is electric and ready for action. The colour green is important here, as the cast rock green outfits consistently throughout and there is a green haze that floods the stage, it's a reminder of the envy and jealousy that intertwine with an industry seemingly intent on pitting women of colour against each other. But green is also associated with refreshment and peace, rest and security. A renewal of faith and energy and the notion of "we go again". Green helps people feel rested and secure. People are invited to wait in the “green room” before going on camera, in order to calm any nerves. This is one of the many great directions from lighting designer Holly Ellis and director Shakira Newton. Yes, the industry can contribute significantly to a sense of self-hate and unworthiness but there is hope and there is security when you're around your sisters to birth a sense of new life and direction for a path in the creative industry. One size doesn't fit just all, and there is so much positive happening in the industry now. Cowritten and produced by theatre Nouveau Riche, part of their ethos is setting out to create and nurture new writing that is thought provoking, challenging and culturally inclusive.

Newton is a wonderful director. The way the actresses just flowed on stage was both moving and motivating. She captured one day of the casting experience and turned it into something memorable and charged. The song choices are well thought out and just hit at the right moments in the play, with the support of composer and sound designer Vanessa Garber, the music and the tenacity of the actresses delivering the songs is what causes your ears to perk up and pay attention. Everything about this play is done with intent, I really hope it has a stage revival outside of the fringe because it deserves to be seen everywhere.


Rima Nsubuga

Yemi Yohannes

Stephanie Da Silva

Creative team:

Producer - Nouveau Riche

Writer - Nicole Acquah and Nouveau Riche

Director - Shakira Newton

Composer/ Sound Designer - Vanessa Garber

Lighting Designer - Holly Ellis

Production Manager - Misha Mah (Edinburgh Only)

Stage Manager - Stacey Nurse

bottom of page