Perhaps because of the phenomenon of "school plays" and the relative abundance of girls interested in theater at a young age, I feel like our eyes may be more accustomed to women playing men or boys--as audiences of an earlier time accepted the opposite. What is instructive about this analog is how it was at once--one assumes--used purely as a generic necessity and as a signifier. A boy played Juliet, ah well, we understand. A man played the nurse--hilarious. This is a bit like the program I tried to suggest in my earlier post. "Color-blind" casting can also open avenues for what is really "post-racial" casting, and then the opposite: casting that draws attention to or exploits the significance of an actor's or a character's race. What does it mean to have a black Ariel in a white Tempest, or the opposite? I look forward to watching this worked through, and I'm sure I'll continue to chew it over.
Directing, because it is invisible, is very different from acting as far as race is concerned. Because it is creative and we live in a diverse society the largest possible spectrum of talented voices should be heard at all times. Interesting to me, is that with the rise of the dramaturg, it is insignificant for a Director to be an expert on the subject matter. Research will be done, packets will be compiled, copies will by made. Depending on the production and the ambition of the Director, his/her role can be remarkably malleable. McClinton is right that he understands better the African-American experience better than Sher. It's unclear to me whether that's a substantive claim to be a better director. More to come, almost certainly.