Over the past several days, you may have heard about James Michael Playwright-in-Residence and Professor of Drama Wendy MacLeod’s play The Good Samaritan. You may have also encountered the discussion surrounding the work’s harmful portrayal of an undocumented Guatemalan minor and the play’s representation of race and sexual orientation more broadly. This is not an editorial about what the play gets wrong — our readers can make that judgment themselves. It is about how those wrongs have been addressed by those in positions of authority.
As of 5:05 p.m. on Wednesday evening, the play, which was slated to open in the spring, has been cancelled. MacLeod cited Sigmund Freud to address those who offered criticism: “I know some struggled with script’s satiric elements, but Freud aptly wrote that humor is about ‘bringing the repressed to light,’” in an email sent to the student body.
The issue here is not one of repression — which can be a self-inflicted act — but of systemic oppression. MacLeod fails to take responsibility for her role in perpetuating damaging stereotypes in a time when profound dangers face those who are undocumented immigrants in this country.
MacLeod’s email states that she will no longer participate in the open forum held today in the Hill Theater, “… in the hopes that the community can get to issues larger than a single play. I welcome the chance to dialogue with students later, in a less public format.”
While the sentiment behind this statement may be sincere, it shows a lack of accountability on MacLeod’s part. She is a lauded figure within the theater community and she holds a privileged position on this campus. Her absence says accountability can only happen on her terms. What else does her absence at this forum say to our Latinx community? What does it say to those of us who are not part of the Latinx community?
In an age when the real lives of immigrants are used as bargaining chips in congressional budget meetings, isn’t it time we take responsibility for our own actions? Isn’t it time that those individuals who hold positions of power are held accountable?
The staff edtiorial is written weekly by the executive editors of the Collegian, co-editors-in-chief Bailey Blaker ’18 and Gabrielle Healy ’18 and managing editor Lauren Eller ’18. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.