The Fairy Princess has had a busy week – she was able to go to the Asian American Film Lab’s 72 Hour Shoot Out Party, and hang with some of the very talented filmmakers and cast members. The AAFL is one of those organizations that TFP truly enjoys – under the direction of Jennifer Betit-Yen, the AAFL has it’s own YouTube Channel, which you can easily subscribe to.
AAFL helps bring diverse voices to the forefront – providing them access to information, seminars, screenings, workshops…anyway, it is a great organization, and TFP was thrilled to be able to support them.
She has been a fan a long time, and most recently co-hosted their “Focus On The Philippines” series –
You can watch all the winning films from this year’s 72 Hour Shootout (all the writing, production, and editing has to be completed within 72 hours) on their You Tube Channel, as well as on various local channels in your area.
Congrats to all the participants!
So…yes, TFP was feeling in a good place about Diversity and Representation, after all…ALLEGIANCE has put up it’s banner on a theater and their box office will open September 1, 2015.
HAMILTON is now on Broadway, previews, but….it is up – it opens ‘officially’ on August 6, 2015
not to mention that SCHOOL OF ROCK is coming November 9, 2015 and features a fun, and diverse cast….
Deaf West’s production of SPRING AWAKENING coming back to Broadway, it’s bringing Oscar Winner, Marlee Matlin with it for it’s limited engagement run that starts previews Sept 8, and opens Sept 27, 2015
There is some cool stuff going on on The Broadway, and people are noticing and commenting on it – both on social media and in the mainstream media – PoC are speaking up and asking why are we not represented, and being that there is no good answer, there has been a marked response.
Which is why TFP was chortling at the placement of this particular ‘item”
See that, right there? That on the bottom is an interview with TONY Winner, Lea Salonga, all about how encouraged she is with the diversity of Broadway, sentiments that TFP agrees with, it IS encouraging.
Until you realize that right above it, ABOVE Diversity, there is the announcement of the casting of the revival of NOISES OFF at The Roundabout Theater Company, and as it is the FIRST story, that takes precedence – ie, it was deemed more important.
Lea Salonga is hoping there is a shift, but her hope has been dashed as one can see because although she is a TONY WINNING LEAD ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL, who is opening a new show in the Fall of 2015, her interview was bumped from the ‘top spot’ by an announcement of a cast for a show that will not ‘open’ till January 2016!
Which is…wait for it…NEXT YEAR!
Journey with TFP now, let us take a look at the cast for the revival of NOISES OFF and see why it should be the lead story….
TFP is thinking something….
Now, before everyone gets all up in a tilt -a- whirl about ‘well, King and I is up and Saigon is coming back, and if Allegiance is coming too…you have nothing to complain about if we want to have an all white play up....” and whilst that is a point, there are two issues at hand with this:
1. The above cited pieces are all musicals, not straight plays
2. The Roundabout has an issue with casting minorities.
The Roundabout, in a study cited by Playbill.com dealing with the 2012 season, was the fourth LEAST likely to cast diverse in New York City. So that is the point – if it was another company producing, perhaps TFP would not have noticed (not like there is blinding diversity in straight plays on Broadway) – but it was particularly egregious to TFP that once again, The Roundabout is choosing to not cast minorities. While they did not hold the ‘top spot’, they were fourth down on the list, which is…troubling.
The first was the York Theater.
In fact, the last time TFP had to write about The Roundabout Theater company it was because they thought that brown face makeup was no big deal….
That is Andy Karl and TONY Winner Jessie Mueller all browned up for a production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, where they were portraying 1/2 Sri Lankan characters at The Roundabout.
The kerfuffle over that incident was supposed to lead to a ‘closed door’ meeting on their Diversity in Casting…one can only imagine that it was not quite as successful a meeting as it could have been.
Now, as stated, The Roundabout has little to no diversity amongst it’s castings – but that is a manifold discussion to have and here is what people who want to argue will say about it.
1. The Best Actors got the job.
No one knows if the ‘best’ actors got the job, because no one knows who was called in to audition for the job. In the case, and with this cast, it does seem that quite a few of them would have been a direct offer – which leads to the next argument.
2. They went with ‘stars’.
In the United States we have ‘stars’ of every different hue, and that it would in fact, be smarter to try and diversify the cast to get an influx of new audience members who would be interested in seeing varied countenances.
One would also have to point out, that not everyone in the cast – while all very talented one is sure – qualifies as ‘stars’ (that is not a diss, it’s a career trajectory point of fact) so the ‘stars’ thing is not a valid rebuttal.
3. The Actors require British Accents
Has one looked and seen the racial diversity of Britain?
Not everyone in London looks like any odd Royal in a Can anymore – there are diverse faces in the UK, or have you not heard Lenny Henry’s speech recently?
You may need a refresher….
Plus which, they might decide to do it sans British accents. Regardless, ethnic minorities in the UK have accents from the UK, and that is not a valid rejoinder.
The interesting thing is that in London proper at the Finborough Theatre, they are mounting the new play- WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE, written by Steven Hevey and directed by John Young, and…well….take a look at the cast…Rita Arya, Gary Beadle, Ross Hatt, Paddy Navin, Matt Whitchurch, and Daniel York, yes, a world premiere.
They are in rehearsal and opens in August, full production….look at that, everyone working together, innit?
And what is this new play, this very exciting, very promising looking play about?
“In a city buckling under the weight of a severe housing crisis, Ben and Asma have discovered a borough in London they can finally call their home. However with it’s earthy character and village feel, it isn’t long before this hidden gem becomes the prime location for every other trendy urbanite in the city. As they find themselves under siege from a brutal wave of gentrification, powerless to stop the many charms that had attracted them to the area from being erased, Ben and Asma reach out to the local community for support, but start to question whether or not the damage has already been done.
A timely and important play about the changing face of London.”
Well DONE oh Finborough Theatre! London’s leading Off West End Theatre Company, and one can see why!
Sadly we of The Broadway are casting London in 1982 still, she is gutted she cannot see this one.
Look, TFP loves this play, NOISES OFF, she truly does – but this was a ‘no brainer’ in terms of what could be done to embrace the changing world we live in, and the world that this faux theater company is supposed to represent. The last time she saw NOISES OFF, she could not catch her breath from laughing so much, it is honestly that wonderful. She also knows that the playwright, Michael Frayn has gone back and rewritten things in the past in regards to this play, so the play itself is not set in stone, adjustments have been made in the past, and one assumes that he could make them again if he so chose.
Now, one of the things necessary to know about this play, if you are unaware of it, is that some of the actors play the crew of a theater company, and the truth is, the production crews of a play are diverse. People who work in theater ARE diverse.
Here, this is a photo from an anniversary of a show about puppets, and there is Producers, Cast and Crew in it, ahem.
In fact, one could argue that there is reason to have a strong South Asian contingent playing the crew based on the changing demographics of the United Kingdom.
4. It is what their subscription base wants
Well TFP wants constant rainfall in California to fill the reservoir, but she understands that she cannot control the weather. In the case of the subscription base, arguing that people only go to theater to see themselves actually brings the argument back to the need for diversification. Also, one should give the subscription base more credit – they would still buy a ticket if the work was good, even if there was a face or two that did not look like they could share the same foundation shade.
No, no, there is no valid argument to ‘defend’ the lack of diversity in this casting except that it is what the director, Jeremy Herrin, coming from the UK and the director of the esteemed WOLF HALL, Parts 1 and 2, wanted. It is his right, he is the Director, and he had a vision. It is a classic British play, it is a farce, and he cast it as he saw fit – a ‘classic’ fit for a UK that existed in 1982, when the play was first presented.
TFP was curious about Mr. Herrin, and his background, so she did take a look.
Mr. Herrin hails from Scotland and has worked on several things with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Ah, the RSC…. they are the ones that produced The Orphan of Zhao, a play adapted from the oldest play in China – and did not have East Asians play Chinese people.
TFP wrote about that once upon a time.
Once can say this for RSC AD Gregory Doran….his point of view is as strong as it is alarming – and as invasive as Asian carp.
Anyway, it did make TFP laugh that here we are, we pesky minorities, feeling like perhaps we are getting somewhere and things are changing, and yet…Diversity never made it to top billing….not even if the one talking held a TONY Award in her hand.
Fifty smacks of the wand to the Roundabout Theater Company -continuing on in your own grand tradition….
TFP knows people vote in theater by purchasing a ticket….or NOT…she knows which one she will be doing.
As for Playbill.com – TFP is going to hope this was just some alphabetical, random kind of thing…but the irony was definitely there….most definitely.
Thanks for the reminder.