The producers of Hedwig and the Angry Inch have postponed the 2021 Sydney Festival production and committed to recast the show in response to community feedback.
The season was initially due to re-open the dormant Enmore Theatre from January 2 - 17. Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a musical comedy-drama written by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask, is the story of a genderqueer punk singer who undergoes what turns out to be a botched sex-change operation to escape to America from Socialist East Germany.
An open letter from the newly formed Queer Artists Alliance, addressed to Sydney Festival, the producers of the show (HedwigInOz) and actor Hugh Sheridan, who was initially cast in the title role, expressed concerns relating to the casting of Hedwig as well as the predominantly cisgender cast and crew telling a story about a transgender experience.
The letter states: “The choice to cast a cisgender male as a transgender character is offensive and damaging to the trans community, and continues to cause genuine distress and frustration amongst trans and gender non confirming performers all across Australia.”
In a statement announcing the postponement of the show on November 17, the HedwigInOz team wrote: “In casting Hedwig we auditioned a wide, diverse range of performers and no one from any background was excluded from this process, and were encouraged. We wish to assure the Trans and LGBTQIA+ community that the issues raised are respected and taken very seriously. We appreciate your patience in giving us time to properly consider these concerns and respond accordingly.”
Sydney Festival followed up with its own statement, supporting the producers’ decision to postpone the season: “Sydney Festival is an important platform, and we have a responsibility to use this platform in a way that is beneficial to all members of our community.”
Current ticket holders will be contacted, and further announcements about casting and production dates are forthcoming.