Ari’el Stachel, the actor who won a Tony Award for his performance in Broadway’s The group’s visit, has left the highly anticipated production of the Public Theater’s Off Broadway World Premiere of The visitor Just weeks after the cast, the creative team and audience management delayed premieres to address the racial representations and Arab-American representation of the new musical.
In a brief statement, the theater company said: âThe Public Theater and Ari’el Stachel have mutually agreed that he will move away from The visitor and its role in production. We are grateful for his artistry and participation over the past six years. We wish Ari good luck in his future endeavors.
The new musical, written by the Pulitzer Prize winner Next to normal Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s team, with a book by Kwame Kwei-Armah and staging by Tony-winner Daniel Sullivan, is based on the 2007 film of the same name in which a white college professor stands travels to New York for a conference and befriends an immigrant couple Tarek and Zainab (Syrian and Senegalese respectively). The production stars David Hyde Pierce as the university professor and Alysha Deslorieux as Zainab.
Stachel, whose TV credits include Law and Order: SVU and Billions, was to play Tarek, who in the film speaks with a noticeable accent. Although he played the role on stage with an emphasis during production development, Stachel more recently questioned the approach, explaining in an interview with Playbill that the character was written as having passed his formative years. in the United States and therefore, in Stachel’s opinion, would not have a Syrian accent.
âI got to the point where I couldn’t separate the experiences I had in the world from what I was doing on stage,â said Stachel, who was born and raised in California and whose father is the son of Yemeni Jewish immigrants. âIt’s not enough to play a role and have fun, it really has to exist and align politically, spiritually, artistically, for meâ¦, ‘so I’m actually trying to transform that opportunity.
According to the Playbill article, the creative team agreed that Stachel’s character doesn’t need to speak with accent. âTarek’s focus was tied to the timeline of his coming to the United States with his mother,â Sullivan told Playbill. âIt was assumed that he came as a teenager and that much of his education took place in Syria. It took Ari’s request to drop his character’s accent for us to examine this timeline and realize that less perceived “otherness” would add to the play’s dramatic impact.
But late last month, just a week before production was scheduled to start on October 7, audiences announced that the first preview of the musical would be delayed until October 14 to allow the creative team to respond. concerns raised by members of the company regarding the representations. of race and representation. âWe took the time as a company to listen to each other and discuss, respond to these issues and continue to develop The visitor with changes that reflect the growth of our culture at large, âa statement read. At least one concern among the cast would have been the musical’s emphasis on the White Professor in a story about the immigrant experience.
A public spokesperson today declined to elaborate on the reasons for Stachel’s departure; it is not clear whether the âmutual decision that he will step downâ was related to his earlier concerns. The deadline could not reach Stachel for comment.
Tonight’s performance of The visitor stayed on schedule as planned. It has not been announced who will play the role of Tarek.
The Public Theater and Ari’el Stachel have mutually agreed that he will move away from THE VISITOR and his role in the production. We are grateful for his artistry and participation over the past six years. We wish Ari good luck in his future endeavors.
– The public theater (@PublicTheaterNY) 20 October 2021