Actors Quit L.A. ‘Ferguson’ Play, Question Writer’s Motives

Matt Pearce, Los Angeles Times, April 23, 2015

Veteran actor Philip Casnoff hadn’t read the full script yet when he arrived for the first rehearsal of “Ferguson,” a play chronicling the shooting of Michael Brown by a Missouri police officer.

Casnoff thought he knew what the play, set for a four-day staged reading starting Sunday at the Odyssey Theater, would be about: the wilderness of testimony the grand jury navigated while investigating the day Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot the unarmed 18-year-old. Casnoff presumed a variety of viewpoints, the fog of truth.

Then he read the script, which tells the story that Brown didn’t have his hands up and that he charged at Wilson.

Now, in a case of art imitating life, the play is experiencing the kind of ill will and mistrust that erupted from the city it attempts to portray. Part of the 13-member cast is in revolt–Casnoff and four others have quit–as the playwright and actors are locked in a fundamental disagreement over how to tell the story of Brown’s death.

Though the grand jury declined to indict Wilson after some witnesses and physical evidence supported his account of events, the tone of the play shocked some actors.

“It felt like the purpose of the piece was to show, ‘Of course he was not indicted–here’s why,'” Casnoff said. He said that after he learned who the play’s author was, Casnoff, who describes himself as “very liberal, left-wing-leaning,” thought, “Whoa, this is not the place for me to be.”

Through testimony taken from grand jury transcripts, the play ends with a witness telling a prosecutor that Wilson was justified in killing Brown. The audience is then supposed to vote on whether Wilson should have been indicted.

The cast members who quit questioned the motivations of the playwright, Phelim McAleer.

McAleer, a conservative filmmaker and journalist from Ireland now living in Marina del Rey, said he’s just interested in the truth.

“The truth is the truth. If it doesn’t fit in with their beliefs, they need to change their beliefs,” said McAleer, who declined to say whether Wilson should have been indicted but said his research shows the hands-up claim is bogus. “All the people who testified that he had his hands up, it was pretty much demolished in grand jury testimony.”

If the rest of the decidedly more liberal cast resigns–some actors are leaning that way–McAleer said he’ll find a new cast. He also hopes to put the show on YouTube and bring the production to Ferguson itself.


During the “Ferguson” rehearsal, the performers balked after realizing the only witness in McAleer’s play who says Brown had his hands up is immediately discredited by an FBI agent.


McAleer’s play also ends with a damning exchange between a witness and prosecutor.

“Do you feel like this could have ended up any other way?” the prosecutor asks.

“Yeah, it could have, if Michael Brown had just stopped running” toward Wilson, says the witness, who is identified as Witness 48 in the grand jury transcripts, but who is given a pseudonym in the play and cast with a young black actress. “It could have ended another way. The officer had no other choice.”


McAleer was unapologetic, and waved away criticism.

“These are people who claim to love diversity, and they don’t love diversity–they just want people to agree with them,” he said.

So with or without his cast, McAleer said, the show will go on.

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  • AmericanCitizen

    Four hundred years ago William Shakespeare created some of the greatest works in the English Language using historical episodes and Ancient Rome (among others) as his base of material.

    Today a modern playwright uses a police/thug fatal interaction in a slum as inspiration.

    How far the West has fallen.

    • TruthBeTold

      Years ago in the old print version of AR there was a story about a black writer re-writing The Tempest from the perspective of Caliban. Lots of ranting about slavery and oppression without subtly or art.

      • Robert Binion

        “The empty vessel makes the loudest sound.”–Shakespeare

      • Cid Campeador

        Blacks are the true “Johnny One Notes”.
        Do all Jewish play writes use the Holocaust as the theme of their work”

    • Chip Carver

      The “actor” Casnoff is nothing but a poseur, hoping his “stand” will gain him favor with the anti-white monsters who run Hollywood.

      • pwnful truth

        It will gain him that favor. If he can act at ALL and his looks are decent we can expect his career to take off, now that he has proven himself a reliable liberal

        • bv

          This is a way to curry favour that’s for sure.

          • Lexonaut

            ” … curry favour …”

            That’s racist. I’m offended.

      • Speedy Steve

        Casnoff, that’s an Eskimo name, isn’t it?

      • carriewhite64

        It’s hard to believe a relatively unknown actor would turn down a part in a play that will probably get a lot of attention, but his whole career would be destroyed if he took it.

    • 李冠毅

      You’re cherry picking. William Shakespeare was an exceptional writer. There were many other writers of his time that produce poor quality plays. Also, since the dawn of entertainment, first stories and novels, then plays, and now films and video games, writers have been producing lots of poor quality works and often plagiarize more famous works. Its just that most of us only know about the great ones, which is why modern works appear to lack quality. Just take a look at the number of Dracula films made over the last century; its the same story, told over and over again, back in the so-called “good old days of originality”.

      • Lexonaut

        “Its just that most of us only know about the great ones, which is why modern works appear to lack quality.”

        Nicely put.

      • BlueSonicStreak

        Very true. It’s harder for us to predict what is being produced now that will stand the test of time.

    • Maurice Miner

      AmericanCitizen, I suggest that you Google Phelim McAleer, in order to establish the bona fides of the “playwright”.

      Yes, Phelim has indeed used the police/thug interface as a basis of his stagecraft, but it is bleedingly obvious that he is seeking a rational discourse based upon the evidence presented to the Grand Jury.

      Only that evidence, and nothing else. Nothing else matters. The Grand Jury was the ultimate effort of the authorities to convict Darren Wilson, which of course failed.

      If the actors scripted are persons of color, then it will surely create an artistic dichotomy between truth and lies, especially if they all refuse to partake in the scripted portrayal, being the actual evidence and testimony of the Grand Jury participants.

      McAleer is an incredibly brave individual, and is exceedingly courageous bringing this episode to life with actors but no ultimate conclusion, dependent solely upon audience vote after the “evidence” is presented, as if the audience were on the Grand Jury.

      This “playwright” has a huge set of gonads, that’s for certain.

      AmericanCitizen, I’m on your side, but perhaps you should reassess your comment above.

      • AmericanCitizen

        It seems like ideologically the playwright is conservative – which is good – but the concept that an incident like Ferguson makes for a good play is not quite so clear to me. Controversy for controversy’s sake does not make art.

        • Maurice Miner

          Well, “artistically” the concept is of interest, where the audience votes at the end, upon the evidence shown in the course of the play. That evidence, of course, encapsulates the evidence given before the Grand Jury.

          Yes, it is a bit of a complicated message, but I can see the rationale behind it. The controversy surrounding the Ferguson issues needs to be part of societal discourse. At present, there is little or no significant analysis of the events following Brown’s death, and subsequent events.

          Was it an apposite use of lethal force or not? The play extends the evidence well and truly beyond the sound bites of the breathless MSM reports following the Grand Jury decision, towards an arena that most readers of the MSM may not have been aware of – the actual decision of the Grand Jury, referencing evidence provided in its deliberations.

    • Hilis Hatki

      To thug, or not to thug, that bees the quizzy-quiz.

    • Cid Campeador

      How right you are!

  • “The truth is the truth. If it doesn’t fit in with their beliefs, they need to change their beliefs,” said McAleer, who declined to say whether Wilson should have been indicted but said his research shows the hands-up claim is bogus.

    Actually, that’s not the way things work in modern Amurrika.

    The truth is the truth. If it doesn’t fit in with their beliefs, they will work to change the truth.

    • Steve_in_Vermont

      It’s all explained in Orwell’s “1984” and the Ministry of Truth where “truth” is whatever the government says it is. Truth, rather than being something objective, is subjective and depends on ones point of view.

      • This is why I chuckle at the notion that people are going to “speak truth to power.” The reality is that power creates its own truth.

    • 1776commence

      I think you mean “da truuff”!


    “Casnoff, who describes himself as “very liberal, left-wing-leaning,” thought, “Whoa, this is not the place for me to be.” – The truth must never get in the way of creating racial hatred through inflamed narrative. – Sincerely, Liberalism.

    • Oil Can Harry

      McAleer should do this as an independent movie, not a play.

      The reason? Black militants and bed-wetting leftists will repeatedly disrupt the play, screaming their heads off during performances.

      • TruthBeTold

        McAleer was unapologetic, and waved away criticism.

        Hats off to Mr. McAleer for sticking to the basic facts.

  • Katherine McChesney

    Casnoff is a C actor.

    • anony

      But, he’s trying so, so hard to raise his grade.

    • Susannah

      Philip Casnoff portrayed the odious and psychopathic Elkanah Bent in the 1980s “North and South” miniseries, attempting one of the most cringe-inducing abominations of a Southern accent I’ve ever heard on television, which is no small feat.

      • carriewhite64

        There are some really atrocious Southern accents on tv. I’ve stated here before that a Southern accent is very hard to mimic, as anyone who watches The Walking Dead knows. It’s easier for Southern actors to mimic other accents than the opposite. It always sounds wrong. And don’t get me started when actors attempt a Louisiana Cajun accent.

        • Susannah

          Yes, most non-Southern actors do not do Southern accents very well, to say the least. They tend to exaggerate them, and they generally just sound “off.” But sometimes they are so bad they make me wince.


    “These are people who claim to love diversity, and they don’t love diversity–they just want people to agree with them,” he said.
    It’s refreshing to see at least one individual that’s willing to state the truth in the entertainment industry.

    • TruthBeTold

      Yes, Mr. Acleer is to commended for standing his ground.

    • pascal behr

      What a novel concept that will never happen. The lies are amazing. Diversity – they know nothing about it. Let them live in an all black neighborhood for a month and then express themselves about how much diversity there should be. Could re-arrange their dendrites and brain chemistry if their brains haven’t been crushed by some weapon wielded by an afro centric person. People are so stupid.

  • Frank_DeScushin

    ““The truth is the truth. If it doesn’t fit in with their beliefs, they need to change their beliefs,” said McAleer.

    I remember when people thought honestly and logically like that. I miss those times.

    • bv

      Takes a foreigner to see things for what they are.

      • Guest

        <<><Amy>>>< Google is
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    • He’s not from the US. A US producer would be blacklisted for acting like that.

    • Yeah, but to the Left, if the truth doesn’t fit their beliefs, then, they need to change the truth. It is all about ideology; truth be damned.

  • Truthseeker

    It’s all about the narrative, nothing more. They’d sacrifice human lives to maintain their worldview of poor innocent Blacks oppressed by evil Whites.

    • LHathaway

      They do.

  • guest

    The preferred form for an immediate literary treatment of Ferguson and “Fergie” Holder (see
    comments on April 09 under the “Rwanda” posting ) would be a creative presentation of “Fergie” by way of a dramatic monologue. Certainly, at least three phone calls to and from should be woven into it–one from Barry Obambi. After asserting copyright, it could be online in youtube format within two weeks.

  • Luca

    Casnoff, who describes himself as “very liberal, left-wing-leaning,”

    Very “mentally disturbed” is what that tells me.

  • DaveMed

    *Who cares if Michael Brown didn’t have his hands up? The point is that somewhere, at some point in history, a Black man was shot with his hands up! So, the play should incorporate that reality with the Brown/Wilson story! Just like Obama’s “composite characters” in Dreams from My Father.*

    /anti-White justification

    • TruthBeTold

      For blacks, the truth is fluid.

      • They think on emotion. Logical thinking is a White trait, not African.

  • guest

    “The truth is the truth. If it doesn’t fit in with their beliefs, they need to change their beliefs,”

    It used to be that telling the truth was seen as a good thing. It was an example of a good moral character when a person is honest and they tell the truth. Now the truth is seen as wrong and immoral and must be changed if it offends some people.

    They can change what they believe (even though they never want to), but they can never really change the truth. All they can do is try to hide it but sooner or later, the truth that these people try so hard to keep in the dark will eventually come to light in one way or another.

    “These are people who claim to love diversity, and they don’t love diversity–they just want people to agree with them,”

    Right. They don’t love diversity, they just want the rest of us to love it so it won’t be a problem to them like it is for everyone else.

    • Seems people miss the POSITIVE example of the film maker. We all should get in touch with him, encourage him, even donate.

      These are the very rare people who actually dare to say the truth. One great movie like this could impact 100 Million People that never would read Amren or Vdare or isteve.

      The MSM manages to distort the truth, even if proven wrong. Zimmerman has never been depicted as PROVEN innocent, nor has Darren Wilson. It always looks that the proof was not quite strong enough to convict. “Acquitted for lack of proof”, never acquitted for INNOCENCE proven beyond reasonable doubt.

      Also, never ever can the liars be prosecuted. Or else Obama would have to prosecuted, too. Or could he fool anyone that the entire secret service could not have found out the truth? And why did Obama never apologize to Zimmerman, to Wilson?

  • They’re quitting because they would rather participate in the foisting of a lie onto the paying public.

    • TruthBeTold

      Wait for a black playwright to tell it like it’s supposed to be.

      • ejXinMI

        He’s started. I hear the drumming…

      • I’m sure the major motion picture is already in production. It has to be funded by something as box office sales will be dismal. It’s expected to win several acedemy awards and may be nominated for best picture of the year.

        • Ron Cheaters

          I get your sarcasm…. but I believe exactly what you wrote will occur.

          • Lexonaut

            It will be funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and will run as a highly acclaimed PBS special.

        • Hilis Hatki

          “Passion of the Thug”.

  • Fed Up

    A question: Would YOU be willing to pay to see a propaganda “play” about a Black thug attacking a White police officer? Me? I can come up with far better ways to spend my money.

  • Biff_Maliboo

    Welp, I guess our culture will just be that much poorer…

  • Petronius

    Whenever there is conflict between Liberal doctrine and reality, then reality must always be swept aside.

    This is a characteristic of ideological thinking in general, and of Liberalism in particular. There is no conceivable amount of evidence or logical analysis, no observation, no experiment, no quantity of facts, that will shake a Liberal from his or her belief. When the evidence of reality is so overwhelming that it cannot be refuted by a sane mind, the Liberal — like Philip Casnoff — simply closes his eyes and tunes out.

    • The main stream meadia has never clearly explained that Hands Up Don’t Shoot was PROVEN a hoax. Nor have Obama and Holder apologized.

      So it is easy for the average liberal to still maintain that hands up Don’t Shoot is the truth. Similarly the truth about 100 years of armed forces IQ testing, Rushton, Jensen, (and James Watson) has never been clearly told..

      Pegida calls MSM the lying press.

  • MekongDelta69

    Sooooo – Don’t take the job dummy.

    Continue to be a oh-so-righteous ‘starving artist.’

    We don’t care

    • jim

      As far as the “starving artists” go I like to go down and eat in front of them.

  • A Freespeechzone

    In the world of race baiting; liberals and many negroes get angry and defensive when facts and the truth don’t support their lies.

    Fact is, the truth to liberals is only relevant when it supports their position—which isn’t often.

    • Lexonaut

      “In the world of race baiting; liberals and many negroes get angry and
      defensive when facts and the truth don’t support their lies.”

      All we have to do is arrange our lives so as to achieve racial separation in fact rather than by law. Then it won’t matter what they do or don’t think.

      I’ve come full circle in my thinking. Let’s have no more whites policing minority communities. Let’s have no more whites in the city governments of those communities. Those who don’t want to live in the resulting conditions are free to move.

      Let’s give them what they want — zones that have become white-free voluntarily.

  • phillyguy

    I propose for casnoff to work for the Hindu who store was robbed of cigars by the gentle black giant, after two days working there , he will be found wandering the streets in a white robe babbling every N word in the book.

  • It was never about the facts. Not to the protestors, and not to Obama or Holder, or even the media. It was about supporting the narrative, the storyline.

  • Caucasoid88

    Here’s a “reenactment” of the Michael Brown shooting on YouTube: /watch?v=-kz2_oxv-SU

    If you want to feel your heartbeat in your toe, I suggest you watch it. As the “filmmaker” says in the description, “No matter what the officer says happen,the truth is that Michael Brown was unarmed! let’s talk about the facts of the story because that’s all that matters.”

    • TruthBeTold

      “This is BASED on a true story”.

      Translation: The FACTS have been altered.

      And I really like how they gloss over the Quicky Mart part of the story.

    • mikey7777

      he was a criminal ,who cares about the degenerate mike the thug brown…wait, I know the cop should have just let him take his gun in the first place and Officer Wilson would be dead and his child fatherless and wife a widow.Then the black community would have a parade and Obama could set a national holiday for the Black patriot mike degenerate brown for oppressed blacks everywhere.

  • Hammerheart

    Let’s not let reality get in the way of our feelings.

  • drattastic

    Since when does the truth matter to one single liberal?

    • Lexonaut

      Married liberals have the same problem.

  • TruthBeTold

    A bit surprising and not.

    The reaction certainly sounded like that of a black actor but progressive white liberals can be just as irrational in their beliefs.

  • bubo

    Casnoff, who describes himself as “very liberal, left-wing-leaning,” thought, “Whoa, this is not the place for me to be.”

    Looked this guy up. Geeze, a 65 year old white man? Still a “flaming” liberal at that age?That’s some industrial strength libtard. I bet he was relishing getting to play the evil white male prosecutor who belly laughed at Saint Swisher’s crying parents.

    • Exuberant Auditor

      A baby-booming hippie who never ceased to be one.

    • Lexonaut

      “… industrial strength libtard …”

      As I write this it’s 2:10 am, but the TV is off. What’s going on here? Why am I seeing commercials on Disqus?

    • Speedy Steve

      We’ll, he did attend Wesleyan University. Oddly enough, I’d heard it was for lesbians only.

  • Lexonaut

    ““It felt like the purpose of the piece was to show, ‘Of course he was not indicted–here’s why,’”

    And we certainly can’t have that. Plays are supposed to be inspiring fiction, not boring documentaries.
    … …
    What’s that?
    … …
    Am I being facetious? Why yes. Yes, I am.

  • Hilis Hatki

    Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.

  • MooTieFighter

    So they will only play the part if it’s a lie.

  • Speedy Steve

    Casnoff, who describes himself as “very liberal, left-wing-leaning,” thought, “Whoa, this is not the place for me to be.”

    That’s because actors don’t need to think. The director does that for them. Actors only need to be pretty boys.

  • Realist

    “Veteran actor Philip Casnoff”


  • Tony Murphy

    Great career move, guys.

  • Epiminondas

    Not to worry. I’m sure Spielberg or Cameron already have a leftist-friendly screenplay ready to go. It’s only a matter getting the perfect chubby, angelic, magic negro cast for the role.

  • Michigan Patriot

    Amen to the truth & justice !

  • BlueSonicStreak

    This just confirms for me how much Ferguson drove me away from liberalism. The position of acceptance of the facts is “conservative,” and the people suggesting the factual account is biased – that there is some “foggy” confusion here, and you could just decide the truth is whatever you want it to be – clearly identify themselves as “liberal.”

    You can be liberal, or you can face reality. But increasingly, you can’t do both. And liberals prove it every day.

    When I last announced on my liberal blog that I didn’t consider myself liberal and was quitting my blog, I received a bunch of private messages telling me, “I feel the same way. It feels like the left is getting crazier and crazier, and I don’t want to associate with it anymore. It’s not what it was years ago.”

    The emperor has no clothes.

  • InAFreeCountry

    This play is telling the truth? Exit, stage left!

  • Fr. John+

    This is why my friends who are conservative and in the arts, (Yes, Virginia, they exist!) have pretty much written off careers in their chosen fields. The Leftist, Liberal, Sodomite (and Jewish, let’s be blunt) overtaking of a field once dominated by Anglo Actors, have made it so much a political exercise in denying reality (even to casting ‘multi-racial families for the von Trapps in Sound of Music, I ask you!!??) that people like myself, my parishioners, and family WON’T go to the touring musicals, the ‘edgy’ productions, and the vile excuses for theater (e.g., RENT, Vagina Monologues, The Producers, Cage aux Folles) and confine ourselves to HS productions of Gilbert and Sullivan, and R&H musicals. At least they portray the White, Right worldview. Federal Funding for the garbage ‘art’ should be excised from the budget, immediately- [and that includes NPR -National Propaganda Radio].

  • mikey7777

    I don’t care Walter was running away,these sick degenerate liberal so-called news programs,basically the groupon school of journalism , tried to manipulate people once again.The clown was put under arrest and and ran so he was an escaping felon…never mind the FACT that he was wrestling with the cop and took his taser and shot the cop with his own taser..which of course the lib media conveniently left out.As far as I am concerned I am done with this Bs like the criminals ,especially these life long degenerate criminals,have no rights.He decided to infringe on the police officers human rights but that’s ok and everyone is supposed to be concerned about the 50 old thugs rights lmfao NOT.This is only leading to thugs,especially black thugs,which is the norm,too attack and assault cops all the time.Look what has happened in CT where I live.Some thug punk decided to assault the officer and put the officer in a choke hold and all the idiot libs around here and across the country and the blacks are trying to say it is a case of police brutality BS…no more am I going to listen to this nonsense.Time to get in these blacks faces and these dumb libs.UNREAL what this admin and the sick idiotic blacks and lib whites are doing to this country.Keep defending the perps and telling the cops to cuddle the perps …look what happened ,punk puts cop in chokehold .Keep defending the indefensible thugs keep it up.Look up the video .it’s online somewhere.This just happened a couple days ago.

  • Paleoconn

    So the leftie actors were elated to be part of what they thought would be a SJW propaganda piece, but no so much when they realized McAleer had an inconveniently truthful script in mind.