De Monfort Hall in Leicester, England, has announced that there will be no dwarves in its Snow White Christmas pantomime because the word “dwarf” is too offensive.
The production will be called “Snow White and her Seven Friends” and feature child actors as the “friends,” according to an article in the Leicester Mercury.
Despite the fact that that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has been around for approximately 9 million years, a spokeswoman for the theater insisted to the Mercury that the word “dwarf” is “generally not a word that people feel comfortable with” and that the play had to be changed.
But Warwick Davis, a dwarf actor who has appeared in movies including Harry Potter and Star Wars, told the Mercury that he’s suspicious of that explanation:
“The profit margins for pantos are not very big and it’s obviously much cheaper to involve schoolchildren than it is to pay lots of professional short actors,” he said.
Davis also said that, as a dwarf, he found the decision to eliminate dwarfs to be far more offensive than the word could ever be.
“Personally, I find it quite patronizing when people are offended on our behalf,” he said. “I’m sure there are those out there who don’t like the term, but as a short actor I want to be given the choice about whether I appear in panto or not. I don’t want someone making that decision for me.”
#share#In fact, Davis said that he would personally prefer if the play used dwarfs:
“It loses something if you don’t have Snow White’s dwarfs,” he said. “I’ve been in a lot of pantos and I don’t think it’s offensive at all.”
“The excuse of ‘people’ being uncomfortable is a poor one — I doubt they’ve questioned the audience about whether or not they think the word dwarf is offensive,” he continued.
And it’s not just Davis who has this opinion. Co-director of Willows Management agency, which Davis started in the ’90s to represent short actors in the U.K., agreed:
#related#”They can employ kids but that takes the living away from some of the dwarf actors so that is the great sadness here,” the co-director, Peter Burroughs, told the Daily Mail.
“It is wrong,” he continued. “I don’t see that the term dwarf as offensive. I am a dwarf actor myself and I have never had any trouble.
Snow White and her Seven Friends will run from December 12 through January 4, 2016.
“Pantos” are musical comedy theater productions performed in England, usually during the Christmas season.