Playing a character of a different cultural background requires actors to delve into that culture’s social and political contexts in order to play that character fairly without falling into caricature (unless that is the explicit point). A piece of art becomes problematic, however, when it chooses to adopt very a specific culture but ignores its contextual integrities and nuances (a famous example would be British director Peter Brook’s adaptation of the sacred Indian epic the Mahabharata). In its most extreme form we might call this cultural appropriation. While I don’t think that pachiv!, presented by Hymns and Hearses theatre at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, is by any means a display of appropriating culture it does come across as a very shallow portrait of the Romani people.
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