A Classic Reframed: A Diverse Cast Infuses 'The Three Musketeers' With Profound Humor
The words “Three Musketeers” may conjure up images of three white men with fancy mustaches, outlandish hats with feathers and shiny swords. That’s definitely what came up when I did a quick Google search of “three musketeers.”
When I saw the Front Porch Arts Collective and Greater Boston Stage Company’s co-production of “The Three Musketeers” by Catherine Bush, that image completely changed. Athos, Aramis and Porthos were all played by actors of color and two were women. As a biracial woman, there’s something very satisfying about seeing a woman of color brandish her sword and assert, “en garde!”
This silly retelling of “The Three Musketeers” reminds us that funny plays matter. Humorous productions with a cast of diverse actors matter. Actors of color are often offered roles that, despite their depth and complexity, ask the actors to depict some sort of trauma or oppression in order to shift the audience’s perspective or spark conversation. Stories like “Pacific Overtures” and “The Niceties” serve as valuable opportunities for actors of color that weren’t there before. Cultural institutions across the country reflect the wider culture, which is hungry for narratives that have often gone uncommissioned or unnoticed. The state of theater is arguably defined by productions like “Slave Play” or “White Noise” — meaningful and severe explorations of the heavier themes in the zeitgeist.
But, plays that allow actors of color to revel in silliness and offer joy to an audience are just as vital. By putting these stories on stage, we continue to remove the boxes put around people of color and broaden the contexts in which we see them represented on stage.