As a group of concerned citizens in Metro Vancouver, on unceded and occupied Coast Salish Territories, it came to our attention that the Bell Performing Arts Centre was hosting a play titled “Double Trouble Im Hussein ” on Nov 2nd, 2019. We requested that this play not be staged due to its clearly advertised use of:
- the perpetuation of racist, anti-Black, anti-African (anti-Nigerian) and Orientalist narratives and tropes; and
- the inappropriate use of stereotypically exaggerated African and Chinese costume.
As a multicultural Metro Vancouver population, we recognize the importance of hosting diverse artistic productions. However, the American-based Im Hussein & Ajyal Theatrical Group website and social media pages for “Double Trouble Im Hussein ” have a clear track record of using blackface and culturally appropriated traditional costumes, which is unacceptable and reinforces harmful racial hierarchies. It was clear that any attempt by the Group to portray racism in a humorous light or satirical light fell short of the productive anti-racist work that was intended and, in fact, minimized the harmful impacts and forms of violence that directly target our racialized communities.
On November 1st 2019 the Surrey School Board of Education and the Bell Performing Arts Centre announced the cancellation of the play in question.
On November 5th No Blackface Vancouver and Ajyal Theatrical Group released a joint statement addressing the play’s cancelling and community efforts moving forward. The joint statement can be read here in English and here in Arabic.