The Fairy Princess wants you to know there is good stuff going on around the USA, and she is going to make this a ‘feel good’ post – because every now and then we need that.

First off – on the SAME NIGHT – Cinemax premiere’s the new series WARRIOR, which takes place in the United States, at a time not anywhere within recent decades. Why is this important? Well, because – Asian Americans, and the first immigration wave of course was Chinese, were in the United States since 1815.

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1815 was the first ship to arrive in the United States with sailors who became merchants – or one supposes they could have been merchants first, then sailors for the purpose of the trip, and then merchants once again – who knows – the POINT is – how many Asian Americans have been aware that ‘we’ have been here since 1815?

WARRIOR is set among the Tong Wars in the late 1800’s. The concept of placing Asians within America’s history via a series like this was Bruce Lee’s – and he would super proud of his daughter, Shannon Lee for getting this series up and running.

What are the Tong Wars? Basically – gang wars over territory or ‘honor’. They were in every city where there was a Chinese faction, though San Francisco was the most brutal and long running – and only one, the Hip Sing Tong was bi-coastal. Though originally founded by the Chinese, they welcomed the AAPI diaspora – which, when you think about it, was very forward thinking.

The cast includes British East Asian, Andrew Koji in the lead role, and then a roster of badass talent best known on New York stages like, Hoon Lee, Perry Yung, and reunites director, Justin Lin with his Better Luck Tomorrow star, Jason Tobin. Rounding out the main company are Dianne Doan, Olivia Cheng, Joe Taslim, Dustin Nguyen,  and some white people who do not need the promotion.

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Next up – TONIGHT is the 100th Episode of ABC’s FRESH OFF THE BOAT and TFP needs you to turn on your televisions and keep the love going. This is history making – as it, this has never happened before.

That is correct, 100 Episodes of a Television show about an Asian American Family that has made it into the zeitgeist has NEVER happened before.

Let TFP interject a personal story here – her son was sick, and as a result he had to stay home. On the day he stayed home, TFP at a certain point during the day, turned on the television and he was fascinated. Because he was watching FOTB ‘on demand’. TFP had tried before with him, but honestly, he was too young to understand it.

Now, at six years old, he understood. He asked for episode after episode and when he was asked why he was now fixated on this show, he said “Because they look like me.” Even with all the media reluctantly adding an AAPI cast regular, even with as varied as the landscape is now – and as sure as TFP is that that trend will continue – her son was fascinated by Fresh Off The Boat.

Representation matters.

He has seen ‘himself’ on television, he can watch it from his couch. He knows he has a ‘place at the table’ moving forward. Who knows what this does to his brain?

TFP is not sure what that feels like, but she is thrilled that, at age 6, he has that knowledge.

Congrats to ABC and the Cast, Crew and Creatives of FRESH OFF THE BOAT.

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RIZWAN MANJI has been cast in Bradley Witford’s new pilot, PERFECT HARMONY, where he will play Reverend Max, the pop culture loving pastor where Witford’s Ivy League Music Professor comes to take charge of the church choir.

Long may it run!

KILLING EVE Season 2 is coming!!!!!! THIS COMING SUNDAY APRIL 7th!

So much love for Ms. Sandra Oh, who is living her BEST life and getting to do all the things that we, as supporters wish for her, and all the things she wishes to do.

Starring in a show? Check.

Hosting Saturday Night Live? Check.

Winning Awards? Check. (Golden Globes, SAG Award, Critic’s Choice)

You GO Sandra Oh!

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One of the funniest people in the world – ALEC MAPA – has joined the show DOOM PATROL as Animal-Vegetable-Mineral- Man, with an extra Dinosaur Head and some other features on the streaming DC Universe.

TFP doesn’t quite know how to handle this show, but she is known for her love of puppets and the bizarre – so she LURVES it! Also – seeing ALEC MAPA on any screen makes your day better!

GET IT MAPA!

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WAIT – there is MORE!

#StarringJohnCho is yet again, a thing!

He is taking on the lead role in a live action series about a Space Hopping Bounty Hunter, based on a popular anime series,  COWBOY BEBOP for NETFLIX and this is super exciting.

The writing staff looks somewhat inclusive and gender diverse – Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Vivian Lee, Jennifer Johnson. Liz Sagal to name a few – TFP thinks this will be a fun watch, she is going to gear up to binge it.

Go John Cho!

(And go @its_willyu for developing this concept and creating art work to show how easily one casts great talent in major films.)

SARAYU BLUE is going to be be in the Jenny Han book inspired sequel “ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE along with star, Lana Condor!

Super Hawt! Wow, this month is LIT and we are only 5 days in!

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Finally, Asian American Film Lab has opened up it’s 72 Hour Shootout Registration – the actual shoot out will take place the first weekend in June 2019. The theme will be announced at the ‘launch’ of it – so not to have to contend with cheating – and then the clock ticks down.

What it is: you and your team have 72 hours to write, cast, direct, film and edit a short film based on a theme, which varies from year to year. There are a bunch of workshops to help you prepare for this adventure and there are a ton of prizes to win, which include mentorships by Entertainment Professionals at NBC and ABC, cash prizes, and so on – with a chance for your winning short to be shown at the Asian American International Film Festival in NYC.

You want more stories – make them yourself!

There you go, this post should make you feel all the feels – #AAPIApril – who would have thought it?

TFP out.

The Fairy Princess should have written about MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG a bit earlier – you now have literally 2 weeks to see it, but see it you should. Tickets here.

The reason you should see it is because Manu Narayan is a friggin’ leading man for our times, and he has his bona fides all in a row, up there, on the stage, for you to see.

 

 

As he said on TFP’s BroadwayCon Panel – he likes being in the show because he is playing a quintessential New Yorker – and of course he is, the part was never written with a performer of Indian descent in mind. Which makes you wonder WHY is an Indian American NOT a quintessential New Yorker? Because once you have seen Manu do the show, it is clear that, he is.

However, that it works so well is a tribute to how it has been written, or in this case, rewritten. The book is the book – people have issues with it, however TFP thinks it works. There has obviously been some pruning, and with new orchestrations by Alexander Gemignani (Soon to go into MY FAIR LADY with Laura Benanti), the show is high polished gem of a musical.

It’s a throwback to a different school of musical, and she is HERE FOR IT!!!!!

It is so refreshing to see how a show that premiered on Broadway in 1981, based on a play written in 1934, and told backwards – seems so modern.

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The Fairy Princess has some news – PROGRESS is being made in the U.K. with The Lams – on Feb 28, 2019, BEATS Org had a sit down with Cheryl Taylor (CBBC Controller), Melissa Hardinge (Comissioner) and Miranda Wayland (BBC Diversity Lead), in a meeting chaired by The Writers Guild.

The good news is that they agreed that “Twenty Twenty will contract as many East Asian Comedy Writers and Off Screen Crew as possible who meet the requirements for the show.”

CBBC has also hired a British East Asian Head Writer – which means, that – the dumplings will no longer be burned in the oven, ‘pickled veg‘ will likely be renamed kimchi and hopefully, as discussed in this podcast They Call Us Bruce hosted by Asian American writers and activists, Phil Yu and Jeff Yang, no one will be called “Chonger’ in any fashion whatsoever.

So- YAY – a guarantee that there will be British East Asians working actively on this show – in line with America’s FRESH OFF THE BOAT, Canada’s KIM’S CONVENIENCE, and Australia’s THE FAMILY LAW.

While the jury is still out on what “Living With The Lams’ will eventually be, at least the British East Asians can rest easier, knowing that there are now BEA’s working on the show in a viable manner.

It’s a WIN – so TAKE it! (Guardedly)

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Also of some excitement in the U.K., is the premiere of the play, PAH-LA by Abhishek Majumdar, which will be show at The Royal Court Theatre, opening APRIL 3 and running till April 27th – grab your tickets here.

PAH-LA is based on real events during the Lhasa riots of 2008, and the playwright consulted, among many others – His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama.

 

PAH-LAH is directed by Debbie Hannan, The Cast is – Paul Chan, Tuyen Do, Zachary Hing, Daniel York Loh, Kwong Loke, Richard Rees, Gabby Wong, Millicent Wong

Break Legs, Kids!

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Now on to something happening stateside, and it’s honestly – it’s not something TFP likes to go back and talk about because – people are protesting MISS SAIGON again, this time because the OVERTURE CENTER for the Performing Arts in Madison, Wisconsin cancelled it’s panel discussion that was to accompany the show.

As a result, the Academics who were invited to the panel, have assumed their positions outside the theater to lecture people on what they believe the issues with the show are. That is the crux – the Academics had a different view of what educating the public was than the theater did, and so the theater cancelled the panel rather than just hash it out.

Frankly – unless you are going to protest every show that deals with prostitution in musical theater – protesting MISS SAIGON does not get you anywhere with TFP.

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Not. Anywhere.

You want to take a stand about the dehumanizing world of prostitution, then you better be ready to take down 90 per cent of Broadway musicals, all of them, without qualm, equally. You better see the women in these stories – all of them – regardless of color of the skin, regardless of how they identify, and frankly, men too – as being worthy of your consideration and protest.

EQUALLY.

If you go full tilt boogie no prostitution in musicals, period – TFP will stand with you. She will miss the torch songs, the funny songs, the jokes about flexibility, the stories of brutality, compassion, love, and all else – she really does not want to be stuck with 1776 on endless repeat, but again – if eliminating prostitution from the American stage is the goal – she will stand with you.

Rewrite American Musical Theater and all it’s tropes. Get MT to change completely- but we do not just do it for one group.

She understands Asian Americans – particularly of course Vietnamese Americans – like to blame MISS SAIGON for a myriad of ills, but the truth is if you are cherry picking your protests specifically because the Actors who are telling the stories are AAPI, telling a story that revolves around in this case, Southeast Asian People – then TFP is out.

What about Latinx female representation on our stages? What about African American female representation? Are you going after THE LIFE? Are you going after DON QUIXOTE?

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The show premiered in 1989 in the West End, and on Broadway in 1991.

The Vietnam War was undeclared and went from November 1955 till April 30, 1975.

The show was written well after the war, and is not, honestly ‘responsible’ for the stereotypes – it is not that powerful. It was based on Madame Butterfly by Puccini. Have you gone and protested the opera? Because if you have not gone and done that, you are a hypocrite.

The opera premiered in 1904, you have had time….although that was set in Japan, so do you only protest when it directly reminds you of you?

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To TFP, if you want to ‘hate’ a form of entertainment that dealt with Vietnam, you would be better off looking to films like FULL METAL JACKET, which gave us all the hated phrase “Love you long time” and countless, dehumanizing instances of man’s inhumanity to man. THAT film, and all the immature people that saw it – Ask TFP about how many times some a**hole has quoted that movie to her as she walked down a New York or LA street unaccompanied.

Go ahead.

The number is countless. As in, it is unable to be counted because it is so many.

Yes, there were protests of MISS SAIGON originally.

Not because of the storybecause of the casting of Jonathan Pryce as a Eurasian pimp.

Do not combine the issues – the original protest was a casting protest.

We call that “Yellow-face’. We still protest that. That was what the protests were over, the yellow-face. Not over the story. Asian American Actors – and in fact, Playwrights, protested because ‘they’ were not allowed to tell the story and represent it the way they felt it should be represented. The AAPIS wanted to tell that story, they wanted to be the focus of a story that was filled with people that looked like them.

AAPI people are allowed to play ‘bad’ people. They are allowed to play people who are complicated. They are allowed to play villains. They are allowed to play murderers and prostitutes and people on the seamier side of life – and they do without undo protest, in every Asian country in the world – but here it is no go?

But then we all go to film festivals and see dark, messed up films from Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, etc – and talk about how great they are (and they are), but we do not protest them – even though many of them show gritty stories and characters.

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People blame MISS SAIGON for a few reasons – and those few reasons are because there are not enough representations of AAPI peoples on our stages. The lack of variety means that only one kind of story is being told, and in those kinds of stories, Asian women are largely subject to some kind of sexual objectification – whether it is prostitution or not quite clarified existence as a concubine, or being given in marriage to a French planter who drinks – there is a lot of sex, and AAPI women do not seem to come out, er, on top.

Let TFP name some of the most definitive “AAPI” musicals, ready?

THE KING AND I

FLOWER DRUM SONG

SOUTH PACIFIC

ALLEGIANCE

PACIFIC OVERTURES

Without MISS SAIGON there are 5.

With it, there are 6.

(Don’t start with THE MIKADO – even Theater Mu is doing it now, (and they have hated musicals for YEARS)  so yes, it can be done, but again, as people tend to NOT use AAPIs to do that show, TFP is only going to count THE MIKADO when it gets a professional Broadway Production, and ALL AAPI cast.)

Three of those listed were written by the same team. FLOWER DRUM SONG and ALLEGIANCE do not have any sort of sexual coercion, but FDS does have the ‘bad girl’ in Linda Low who dates around, and then Helen who has sex with Ta, and then kills herself because he doesn’t want to marry her in the original book.

White People often do not see a need to have AAPI people in PACIFIC OVERTURES playing Japanese people because…SONDHEIM.

That is the whole reason ‘they’ feel it is ok, on occasion, to do a non AAPI PACIFIC OVERTURES – one word, SONDHEIM. (And frankly, he would agree with them, he does not feel that it needs representative casting. He’s been quoted on that. He’s 89.)

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Have there been more musicals that feature AAPIS but cannot be called an AAPI Musical?

Yes – AVENUE Q and THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE – both of which have been produced in regional theaters without Asians in the roles that were created by Asian Americans.

SPONGE BOB the musical had 2 – Kelvin Moon Loh and Stephanie Hsu – were those roles written for AAPIs? Not according to Kelvin, who said on the BroadwayCon panel that when casting that show, the team was looking for “Unicorns“. (Unique performers who were all outstanding)

SPONGE BOB can be cast any which way. As can BE MORE CHILL, and DEAR EVAN HANSEN, and HAMILTON – and truthfully, that is the way American Musical Theater is going – but even with all that, MISS SAIGON gets the most backlash. More than THE KING AND I, which has sexual slavery as a plot point. Not ‘for hire’, Tuptim is given to the King as a gift.

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The King brandishes a ‘effin BULL WHIP ostensibly to beat her with and people say nothing.

Even if you tried, someone would start March of the Siamese Children and they would all be so damn cute, you could not go on. Hoop skirt magic.

When was the last time a group of people stood outside a production of THE KING AND I and yelled and screamed at both the patrons and the cast?

Never.

Heck, RuthieAnn Miles won a TONY Award the last time it was on Broadway.

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So what is it about the five to ten minute montage in the beginning of Acts One and Two during MISS SAIGON that sets everyone off? Besides the fake Vietnamese, that was not cool, and it was fixed. They wore bikinis tops with shorts, and they danced on a pole set on a bar. Seems to TFP there is a similar scene in another musical…..takes place earlier…hmmm she can hear it…

“Lovely ladies, waiting for a bite.

Waiting for the customers who only come at night

Lovely ladies, waiting for the call

Standing up or lying down or any way at all

Bargain prices up against the wall”

Not MISS SAIGON – it’s Les Miserables.

Written by the SAME men. Also -Prostitutes. Also -Mothers giving up children for them to have a better life.

No French people protesting this show. Heck, it was written BY French people.

IT IS ALMOST THE SAME SHOW!

THEY ARE JUST IN BIKINIS AND NOT PANNIERS!

The only reason people protest MISS SAIGON when they do not protest other musicals about prostitution, or with prostitution as a plot point is because that one show has people in it that look like them.

But that is not the way theater works – you cannot protest just the Asian prostitutes – that is inherently an issue. You are fine with shows that portray women of every other skin tone, but you lose it when they are Asian?

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If Asian Americans want to have more stories to tell, other than this one – by all means, please write them.

Write us crazy and rich, write us turning 35 and unable to commit, write us as demonic hairdressers, as Mothers on the Verge and Fathers who cannot show up to the church/temple/mosque on time, write us at weddings and at funerals, write for Trans AAPIs and write for LGBTQ and Gender Non Binary AAPIs – but do NOT protest us only because the performers are AAPI and you are AAPI and you do not ‘like’ the story.

One of the biggest shows on Broadway right now – PRETTY WOMAN.

Anyone protesting? Any academics going to have a sit in? Because the women in that are definitively for sale, and the men are weak – except for Richard. Or are you not protesting because that is a white lady up there? Who, coincidentally portrayed Eponine in the film version of Les Miserablesas well as on the UK stages which was written by…the guys who wrote MISS SAIGON.

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IF YOU GO TO PROTEST MISS SAIGON, PROTEST THEM ALL.

But you cannot hold this one show accountable for something that, statistically, it would be impossible to achieve- you cannot hold it accountable for anti-Asian racism simply put- very few people in this country have seen.

It is a friggin musical – how many Americans regularly go to musicals?

As TFP states previously- it is just not that powerful a show. Do not give small scenes within a two and a half hour show THAT much power- it has not been earned.

The point of it is that people can come together no matter what is going on in the world- or is the ‘protest’ somehow combined with the issue of mixed race children being born?

Just sayin’- as one Mixed Race person to those whose country put them in camps….

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TFP understands the issues with this show. Academics and Protestors say that the show is responsible for showing Asian women as prostitutes – which it does, and for portrayals of Asian men as ‘weak’, which she doesn’t quite get, because Thuy is scary AF.

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The weakest man in MISS SAIGON is Chris.

The Engineer is a marketing genius who always survives, Thuy is a badass in the Army who has to be shot close range to be stopped, John goes back and takes care of the Mixed Race kids left behind and is a friggin’ hero, while Tam probably grows up to be in Crazy, Rich Asiansthe weakest man in that show is the white guy.

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This is the Jurassic Park of Musicals – proving life will find a way. TFP knows of NO weak Vietnamese men or women. She knows plenty of Vietnamese people though- and they are a bunch of fearless badasses.

PTSD about the Vietnam War and it’s aftermath is a real thing, if this show triggers you, do not go. You do not have to be put in that head space. You do not like the thought of prostitutes, then do not go. They are truly a small part of the show, but if that is the sticking point – give it a pass.

There is a lot to unpack about America – especially if you are an immigrant or a child of immigrants. If you have been a survivor of violence, or adoption (which is it’s own kind of violence), or war, or rape, or beatings or murder, you have the right to feel some sort of way about seeing that portrayal or a reasonable facsimile on the stage – but the ills of the world do not fall at the score of a musical.

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This country, America 2019 is a friggin mess, ok?

We have an orange madman intent on dismantling the country and we all have to get out and vote for SOMEONE ELSE WHO HAS A MAJOR PARTY NOMINATION in the next election – but in the theater we vote as well – we vote with our tickets.

TFP would not go and protest you at your job, just because she did not like that that job existed. If everyone did that, there would be no dentists or proctologists.

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If this is not the show for you, if you are ‘too close’ to be able to view it dispassionatelydo not go. Practice self care. Take a break from having to relive the nightmare of what happened to your country of origin- it is fine – do not see it. Do not take your kids, do not take your parents, just give this show a pass because you do not need it in your life.

It’s ok to never, ever see it for you as an individual – you just do not get to decide that a show should never be done, based on your own trauma. Your trauma is real – you do not have to go. TFP absolves you of that – some people want to see this show, some people want to be in this show – let them see and be, and you do YOU.

Does TFP think that the OVERTURE CENTER should have cancelled their scheduled panel that was to accompany their production of MISS SAIGON?

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No. That was some bullshit.

If you schedule a panel, you do a panel. DO you think that La Jolla Playhouse liked getting their face pushed into the sand when they had a panel on “The Nightingale“?

No, they absolutely did not.

But they took it. (Moises Kaufmann, TFP is available, you can call her)

If you want to do MISS SAIGON and you have Vietnamese American scholars who want to come and participate in a panel, and you schedule it?

YOU HAVE TO DO IT – EVEN IF YOU DO NOT LIKE WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO SAY.

YOU INVITED THEM!

It is not up to Vietnamese Americans to make white people comfortable about this show. It’s not their job. If they are invited to a panel, and they are going to talk about what has shaped them as a person and what this show does to them, well then….that is their right.

That is the ‘woke’ tax. You pay it. No Asian American scholar is going to get on the stage of a theater, in front of a crowd and say that MISS SAIGON does not have it’s problems – because it does. It has tropes and it has scantily clad women, men behaving badly, orphans, the whole deal – as do about 90 per cent of the rest of the musicals in the American MT canon.

So if you are interested in doing this show and having a panel and the invitations are sent? Gurl – you are attending that wedding. Bring flat shoes in case you need to run away, but showing up is part of the bridge building that needs to happen in America.

However, the fact that these scholars do not regularly get up on panels and talk about the ills of portraying ALL women and men as ‘for sale’ on our stages, is an issue for TFP.

It reeks of, well…

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They do not want to see it because they personally, do not want it to exist.

We do not get to decide for other people, only for our kids, and then only until they stop relying on us for rides. TFP does not get to stop you from indulging in porn, and you do not get to stop her watching reality television – that is ….what’s the word?

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However even if this particular show went bye bye, FULL METAL JACKET is still available to rent. As are several other films about the war in Vietnam. The harm of films, coming in to people’s homes, is far greater than a musical – which is clearly set against the backdrop of a situation. It does not glorify the war, nor does it glorify prostitution – it portrays a desperate time and desperate measures taken.

If you do not want to see it, do not go. If you invite people to a panel, have the panel.

That’s it. If you want to tilt at the windmill of American Musicals then proceed – but bring lances for everyone, not just the ones that look like you.

Overture Center for the Performing Arts – what you did was cowardly – and if you are in the theater you have to be brave. You make a choice, stand by it. Tell us why you did this musical. Was it to diversify your audience? Was it to highlight talent that you liked working with before? Was it to address the love of a mother for a child?

You do not get to walk away from this bad decision about cancelling due to white panic.

Now, TFP really does not trust you with this show – she is sure that the talent is great, but if this was your breaking point, a panel?

Then you should not have done it in the first place.

But to the Academics who think AAPI women can be brought down by a musical? Not to mention a musical where the lead is, de facto, someone of Asian descent and someone who takes a gun and kills to protect her kid?

A MUSICAL CAN BRING US DOWN?

You think badass Vietnamese American women cannot stand tall and stare down at a musical?

You must not know the ones TFP knows.

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TFP out.

 

 

 

 

The Fairy Princess has been contentedly watching Sandra Oh win all the awards – and she was very, very happy. Life was good. She attended Royal Family‘s Off Broadway adaptation of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES starring Ali Ewoldt, and life remained good.

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However then she took a gander at a open letter written by BEATS Organization, which is founded by and looks to support British East Asians working in theater and film and well…all good things come to an end.

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Now, just to give a brief summary of the situation for those NOT in the UK – here’s what – in light of Canada going into it’s 3rd blazing season of the brilliance that is Kim’s Convenience

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and American’s historical 5 seasons of FRESH OFF THE BOAT on ABC...

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and the tsunami that is Oz’s new fav Family sitcom, The Family Law,

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The BBC thought, well, “Let’s get me some of that”, and they commissioned a new show called LIVING WITH THE LAMS, about a British Chinese family that runs a restaurant in Manchester.

Jolly good, pip pip, what, what!” everyone thinks – the Brits are FINALLY getting it!

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Until one realizes that the Production Company behind this show, TWENTY TWENTY, has no British East Asians in any position of power.

Which means...shenannigans!

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Here is the woman leading the charge for representation for British East Asians, Ms. Helen Sodon, Head of Childrens at TWENTY TWENTY Production.

 

 

Yassss Hunties, this show is intended for children!

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Nah, Kid – it is because they wanna make them…

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Let’s be clear – in as much as Children’s programming is geared towards education and cultural understanding – that is an ideal. Does not always happen, and as it seems, it is not happening in this case.

What is happening is that they are taking the Panto to Prime Time, and Asians have not always fared well in this ‘traditional’ British art form. Usually the Asian characters – South, East, West and Central – are played for cheap laughs and stereotypes.

 

 

There in fact ARE experienced Children’s TV writers in the UK who are British East Asian, who have a list of show credits – the problem is, Ms. Sodon did not think it was ‘enough’ for her. In fact, of the several writers of British East Asian background that she interviewed, time and again, those writers did not seem to Ms. Sodon to be worthy of writing an amusing children’s television show about their own experiences.

She is the Sodon Gatekeeper!

(Brits will get that one)

Among the cultural crimes listed in THE DAILY MAIL that apparently ABOUND in the script & ‘show bible’ viewed – one scene described made TFP scream bloody murder – the script has – deep breath now Asians –  dumplings baked in the oven!

Not just baked, BURNED!

BURNED DUMPLINGS IN THE OVEN!!!!

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Look, even the second cousin on your Mother’s side who spends all winter in Aspen skiing and doesn’t cop to being remotely Asian would do a double-take at that.

Dumplings are steamed or fried, people!

Go to Chinatown. Walk around.

Look in a damn window.

Look past the brown ducks.

See those bamboo steamers?

THAT IS ONE OF THE WAYS IN WHICH WE PREP FRIGGIN’ DUMPLINGS YOU SOULESS HEATHENS!

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Has no one on this team eaten Chinese food?

The question as to preference is fully asked and answered before ANY dumplings are served to a table!

Y’all didn’t even grab lunch at a Chinese restaurant before writing about a Chinese restaurant?

Lazy.

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Other issues cited were scenes where people complain about the stinkiness of their food, people spitting on the floor and ongoing gags such as the Dad playing in a band called “Wok and Roll”.

The joke there being that Chinese people cannot say R’s – that’s for all y’all in the cheap seats trying to figure that out.

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The next joke that is not actually Punny, nor is it funny is the name of the restaurant – HAPPY PALACE.

Nothing like ‘reminding’ TV viewers that the common perception of East Asian women in the UK is that they are all sex workers who give ‘happy endings’. Subliminal but there.

Remember- this is for THE CHILDREN!

Now one of the key issues that is dogging this pony show, is that by in large – everyone associated with the creation of the show is Caucasian.

There are intended to be eight episodes written, with 2 of them being written by the only British East Asian writers that are on staff.

According to TFP’s sources, writing staffs can vary wildly – but comedies tend to have more writers than dramas. (That is because no one really trusts ‘the funny’. ‘The funny’ is like Mimi in La Boheme, fickle, delicate and always needing a fainting couch nearby.)

There is also, to be accurate to the East Asian diaspora of the show or lack thereof, a Hapa Producer (Chinese and Irish, just like TFP)  coming late to the game, and a “Cultural Consultant” that was added, who later quit. (Although worth noting that they have not taken her name off the pilot script, so they can point to it and say that East Asians were consulted in the writing of this cultural cacophony of cliche.)

The ” Cultural Consultant” felt she was not being listened to (DUMPLINGS ON A BAKING TRAY! SHOES IN THE HOUSE!), so she vamoosed. Rightly so.

No submissive East Asian Woman there! NOPE!

However that leaves the LAMS crying for authenticity with just the two British East Asian writers, who, one surmises, are trying to keep their jobs whilst being railroaded into supporting the show (see what TFP did there)  vocally, and the lone Producer.

They are in a rough position. We don’t pay their bills.

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BEATS has signed an open letter to the BBC with their complaints, and they would like some changes – to put it mildly.  Or if those changes are not made, they would like the show axed.  BEATS also would like ONLY British East Asians to write the show.

Since then, it has gotten more heated, with people on the production side citing falsehoods about the Mothership, ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat as the reason their show , Dinner with the Lams, does not have a diverse Writers Room.

Huh?

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Let’s discuss:

FOTB, (which began with a 13 episodes order for season 1, and is now between 23-24 episodes per season) is a show created BY People of Color, FOR EVERYONE. Yes, the show is for everyone – just like all the great sitcoms. Where it differs is the stories it tells and where it also differs is finding the humor within a family that has both an American and an Immigrant POV.

Their Showrunner/Creator, Nanatchka Khan, (currently ‘away’ from the show filming a movie), took Chef Eddie Huang‘s memoir about growing up Chinese in Florida during the 1980’s with his Dad running a Texas type steakhouse restaurant, and mined it for comedy gold. The original Executive Producer is Chinese American, Melvin Mar.

 

 

Based on a memoir by an Asian American, Produced by an Asian American, and Created by a Persian American – and for those of you following at home, Iran is a country in Western Asia.

Behold the continents and boundaries of Asia – it is VAST and DIVERSE!

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Asians of all types coming together to tell a story about an American Taiwanese Family in the 1980’s.

Currently for FOTB, the Writers Room is a staff of 15 people Six are Asian American, and 7 are Female.

Is the Writer’s Room all Asian? No.

Neither is America.

Their Directors have always been 50% female, which was intentional out of the gate. It was important to both the EP and the Showrunner, and they chose  some Female Directors from Directing Initiative Program that was already set in place by ABC prior to this show becoming a reality.

Again, over a third of their writers are Asian, which is phenomenal.

FRESH OFF THE BOAT set a gold standard for television inclusion, which is likely why it is still on the air.

TFP asked Showrunner, Joshua Safran

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a few questions about his Writer’s Rooms – he created ABC’s QUANTICO a few years back, which starred Priyanka Chopra.

 

 

Most recently he created the show MIXTAPE which will air on NETFLIX.

For QUANTICO, they had 10 writers for 22 episodes, and for MIXTAPE there were 7 writers for 10 episodes. While the gender/race split of writers is dependent completely on the Showrunner, for QUANTICO there were 3 women, 4 straight men, and 5 Writers who identified as Queer. Two of the women were People of Color.

For MIXTAPE, out of the 7 writers, only one was a Straight White Man, and the rest of the room was Diverse, Queer, and/or Female.

Says Safran

It is important to me to have a room that looks like the Cast of the show. I strive for this. I hate how when I say to a studio, “I want a diverse room”, they say “Great! Here is A Writer”.

I have to always say, “No, I want a diverse room means I want a room where we try for everyone to be a Person of Color, Queer, Female – (For MIXTAPE) I ended up hiring 3 Playwrights who had never staffed before in order to find the inclusion I wanted.

He went on to explain that part of the issue with the ‘pipeline’ is getting those underrepresented writers Agency representation and/or Managers, because here in the States – and one assumes overseas as well, the traditional path goes – University Writing Program, Spec Script Submissions to Agencies, Agency/Manager Representation, Staffing on a Show.

While he does believe here in the States, things are changing, and that in three years there will be no issue with having varied choices for his Writer’s Rooms, he did have to go beyond what is normally required of a Showrunner in order to get the staff he wanted. He also believes that the Talent Agencies are beginning to actively seek Clients that are more varied now, something that was not happening even five years ago.

Safran looked to non-traditional means to find the writers whose stories would most contribute to the show. Outside the ‘traditional’ TV box.

He looked for people who had been successful writers in other mediums, whose Artistic voices had been noted by the Theatrical Communities who had Agency representation both in New York and on the West Coast, to see if they would be a fit for his show.

He looked and found, for example, the 2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist for THE GREAT LEAP, Princeton University’s MacKall Gwinn Hodder Fellow for 2018-2019, and past KILROY List maker, Lauren Yee, who he described as a “Rock Star”, among others.

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Ms. Yee, when asked, said she found Mr. Safran’s Writers Room to be ‘A Kind and Warm Room!”.

Wait – an Asian American Writer had a great experience working in television?

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In the United States, it is getting better. Slowly but surely.

There are more Creatives and Executives of Asian descent than ever before working to bring you your favorite shows.  This is cross pollinating itself – people who have been successful in other parts of the Entertainment landscape, are embracing their ‘star power’ to create new shows or films, and cast them accordingly. Reflecting the American scene to the tenth degree!

Shout out to Actors Daniel Dae Kim and Justin Chon for jumping behind the camera and the table and being committed to telling different tales! Justin is lighting up the Indie Scene and Daniel….

Like, here is the tea on the Writers Room of the ABC hit, THE GOOD DOCTOR– produced by DDK’s Production Company.

Eleven Writers. 8 Men, 3 Women. Of those – 4 People of Color, of those Four, 2 fall under the AAPI designation. 1 of the Male Writers is on the Spectrum, 1 of the Male Writers is a Person with a Disability.

They shot 18 episodes with 14 different Directors and of those 5 were Women, 5 were People of Color. Two of those were Women of Color.

ABC is fully winning because they have invested in under represented talent in front and behind the camera.

FULLY. WINNING.

ABC.

Clock it.

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As TFP said, American Television has been aware of the issue of inclusion for some time now, and while it is not ‘perfect’, ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX all have Diversity programs that do become a creative pipeline for people who have been traditionally shut out of competing for those positions. The programs make a difference, and they can change people’s lives and the way that they make their living, which in turn, enables opportunity to come for others.

Teresa Huang, who is on the Writing Staff on the CBS Show, SEAL TEAM is one of the people that participated in some of those programs.

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After many years as a successful Actor, this MIT Grad was accepted into the CBS Writers Mentoring Program, the CAPE New Writers Fellowship, and the WGA TV Writer’s Access Project, before getting a job as a Writer’s Assistant on four TV Shows before becoming Staff on SEAL Team, where she is one of two writers that would fall under the APPI designation. When discussing the benefits of the programs, she particularly lauded CBS’s program as something that really got her ready to work on a TV staff.

“It’s an incredible feeling to have a seat at the table. Even though I am constantly navigating the room politics of when to speak and when to be silent, being in the room means I have a voice in creating the stories of the show. And you better believe I do my best to make sure we’re no just telling stories through the white male lens.” – Teresa Huang

Asian Americans are ‘thirsty’ for new voices, and as Networks acknowledge it, they are not sticking to the tired trope that just because someone has limited experience or little in writing for television, that they will not have television success.

Look at Kevin Kwan, the novelist.

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He penned the breakout summer read, CRAZY RICH ASIANS, which was turned into a screenplay by Adele Lim and Peter Chiarelli, which then became the mega successful Rom Com of the Summer. He has now has landed a deal at CBS to co-write and co-produce a multi-camera comedy for Ken Jeong, called THE EMPEROR OF MALIBU. Jeong will play Gerry, a Chinese Tech Billionaire who disapproves of his son’s plan to marry an American woman.

Does he have TV experience?

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That would be a NOPE!

He got a Pilot Deal though.

Just sayin’.

So with all these examples out there, why is the BBC and Twenty Twenty going along on the assumption that they do not really need a gender equal, racially diverse Writing Staff to be on a show about one of the least represented in British Entertainment – aka British East Asians?

Honestly, you would have to really TRY HARD to be this willfully ignorant. Like, it takes far more effort to “white-splain’ all the nuances of your non-reasoning than take a thoughtful measured approach to a show that is supposed to be for the CHILDREN!

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If all the Colonies can seem to figure this out, why can’t the UK?

Canada, America, Australia – have all taken the note that if you find projects that have their roots in writings by East Asians, your shows will ring true with comedy and authenticity.

Kim’s Convenience was originally a play written by Korean Canadian Ins Choi.

The Family Law was created by Chinese Aussie, Benjamin Law based on a book he and Marieke Hardy had written about his life – then why does this remain a mystery to be solved by Agatha Christie on the BBC?

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As far as TFP can discern, Living With the Lams is based on…nothing.

It is based on an idea to rip off East Asian content from around the Globe that is successful, but with no investment in the talent required for it to succeed. They have not looked at their successful crop of British East Asian Playwrights or Bloggers or Standup Comics for writing talent, they simply barrelled ahead with the assurance that they do, indeed know best.

They would be wrong.

But back to the argument that TWENTY TWENTY is comfortable with – that there just are no qualified British East Asian Television Writers.

How do you know if you are a Television Writer if you have never been given an opportunity to write for television?

Listen, Comediennes Jenny Yang (Late Night Talk Show, BUSY TONIGHT)  and Ali Wong (AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE) got their first jobs writing for tv when someone saw their standup acts.

 

 

They had never written for television before – but coming from another medium that involves timing and charisma is not going to hurt a script, you know what TFP is saying?

Comic Steve Byrne wrote a television show based on his Hapa upbringing, which is part of his standup and they got SULLIVAN & Son three seasons on TBS.

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Which is BASIC CABLE!

You know you are pathetically behind when anything with the title “Basic” is winning for inclusion, and the giant cultural octopus that is the BBC with their period dramas, car shows, and baking meglomaniacs is losing in the court of representation.

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A sitcom writes itself with comics, but perhaps it’s the British sense of humor…or lack thereof that turns their executives into a bunch of gatekeeping twits, more intent on preserving racism than alleviating it.

Public school, what? Eh? See you at the Club, Old Man?

TFP would rather watch this squirrel eating an egg roll than hear the crying of the LAMS.

GET THAT SQUIRREL A PILOT DEAL!

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Check out these Tweets from Akwafina about her brand new show, kismet really that she tweeted these:

 

 

Already this show looks to be a great big hit, and where did it start?

With the Writers.

Duh.

TFP asked Showrunner and Artistic Visonary, Bryan Fuller for some of his thoughts on where television is finding it’s new voices and what effect that has on the Writer’s Room.

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“On American Gods Season 2, Michael and I insisted on having a much more diverse room than either of us have every been in before, and it was fantastic. We took some risks that involved hiring writers with no experience, who showed promise and a point of view because we wanted to give them what any of us needs to truly excel at our craft: experience.

We are going to continue having singular points of view unless we expand our outreach for Minority Writers. Some of the best programs that find Minority Writers and create pathways for them in the Industry are simply unable to reach people who don’t have access to higher end educational opportunities because of socio-economic reasons. Which is why we need to be looking high and low for Creative Voices.”

So everyone is saying it – the Networks, the Creatives, the Actors, the Sponsors – everyone is behind authenticity in the Writer’s Room of a sitcom or drama. It is needed. It is wanted.

America gets it. Canada gets it. Australia gets it.

What say you BBC?

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THAT is the exact problem.

Look at the numbers from overseas – they are staggering. They are definitive proof that Diversity = Dollars. Er, pounds.

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People are readily available from talent pools that may not be ‘exactly’ what one Blonde lady in Production wants, but they are THERE.

TFP has even shown you quotes from two of the most successful working Show Runners on American television, about what their goals are moving forward with representation and why it is necessary to do the work they love to do.

TFP can even point you towards some names – Lucy Sheen, Daniel York Loh, Anna Chen, Evelyn Mok,  Ken Cheng, Phil Wang, Nigel Ng.

Guess how TFP got those names?

SEARCH ENGINE!

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The BBC has a duty to the charter that it operates under to represent the best interests of the public, and to handle complaints in a timely manner. The BEATS organization has a petition and an Open Letter to get these complaints heard, but thus far it has been slower than that boat to China.

She hopes you all go and sign it – you do not have to be Asian to understand that being erased from your own stories is the death knell of societal acceptance.

TFP is hopeful that the success of television shows overseas, featuring majority or full Asian descended Casts, with a proportional number of diverse writers will be ‘enough’ for the LAMS – characters who do not see themselves as caricatures – to stop crying.

Because she is pretty sure they are.

LET THEM HAVE THEIR DAMN RESTAURANT WITH DIGNITY AND COMEDY FER F*CKSSAKE YA BOGAN COLONIZERS!

The concept of an inclusive kids show starring British East Asians is a wonderful one – but without help from authentic voices – and we are talking a majority voice – this show is never going to get there, and that would be a pity.

These kinds of things have consequences, especially with children watching. Because they grow up – and they either learn empathy and tolerance and understanding, or they do not.

We have all seen what happens when people do not have empathy.

Walls and Brexit-ing. Robbing people of their rights to exist. Mocking of Parents and Grandparents and Children, lack of empathy ‘helps’ you put kids in cages when you pull them from their parents- when all they did was legally seek asylum.

Lack of empathy leads to attacks on people who are in the LGBTQ community. Lack of empathy kills in higher proportions, Trans people of Color.

Lack of empathy leads to ‘othering’, which leads to bigotry and war and…damn, this is depressing.

You get one chance to get this ‘right’, BBC, you will know soon enough what Mama Ru has to say about it.

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TFP out.

 

 

 

The Fairy Princess was glued to the Golden Globes for several reasons – and here is one of them:

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Billy Porter makes everything extra – and she is here for it.

And though he has not said this directly to her, she knows that this would be something he would say, if she had asked his feelings on being nominated for the role of PRAY TELL in the ever delightful show, POSE on F/X.

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Uh huh. So delightfully extra and BRAVO you talented, MF!

Second reason – and no it is not a competition, rather an indication of which one she knows longer – is this PHENOMENALLY TALENTED PERSON….

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Two time Golden Globe Winner, Sandra Oh.

She is a trailblazer – first Asian descended Actress to win multiple Golden Globes, first to Host the ceremony itself, and first one to do an Asian flush joke on national television.

If you have NOT seen her amazing show on BBC AmericaKILLING EVE, get yourself on that RIGHT NOW!

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It is everything!

Also congrats to fellow Hapa, Darren Criss – who picked up the Golden Globe to match his EMMY Award for the same role – as Hapa, Andrew Cunanan – in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.

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Darren thanked his Mom who hails from Cebu in The Philippines.

Sandra Oh thanked her parents, who attended the ceremony with her, in KOREAN – “Mommy, Daddy, I love you” and then she friggin executed a filial bow.

TFP was DONE!

Check it for yourself.

 

Overall, it was a very AAPI night at the Globes – and let’s face it, when you have NOT seen yourself, EVER on an Awards show and then, all in the same night – there are two winners and CRAZY, RICH ASIANS is nominated and the trailer shown…you are going to be feeling yourself – AND THAT IS OK, AND THAT IS WHAT WHITE PEOPLE FEEL LIKE ALL THE TIME!!!!!

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TFP thought the GG did a great job in the winners in all the Actress categories – she felt like the women who had INVESTED in their careers – decades – were recognized and honored. It was not all about the cute, young thing in the sparkles, and that was a welcome relief.

Watching it, she felt like Sheila in A CHORUS LINE.

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(Not that she wants you to smoke, you should totally NOT smoke !)

Now on to BROADWAYCON!!!!!

It starts THIS FRIDAY and runs until Sunday, Jan 13 and it is CHOCK A BLOCK with Broadway Stars and Panels and a Marketplace and also – IT IS BACK IN THE MIDTOWN HILTON, which is where we were the first year in the GIANT BLIZZARD that shut the city down!

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TFP will be hosting the panel that talks about AAPIs ON BROADWAY!

CRAZY, TRIPLE THREAT ASIANS!

Gramercy West Room

SUN JAN 13 10AM

with these beautiful Broadway Babies:


 

 

 

Jaygee MacapupguaySCHOOL OF ROCK, The Public’s HERE LIES LOVE, The Public’s WILD GOOSE DREAMS, CTG’s SOFT POWER

Manu Narayan BOMBAY DREAMS, MY FAIR LADY 2018 REVIVAL, GETTIN’ THE BAND BACK TOGETHER, Roundabout’s MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG revival. Films: The Love Guru, Walkaway, The Last Airbender, A Cinderella Story, 99 Homes, Good Night Good Morning

Kelvin Moon LohSIDE SHOW, KING AND I revival 2015, SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS,  CSC’s revival of PACIFIC OVERTURES, National Tour of AMERICAN IDIOT, The Public’s HERE LIES LOVE and upcoming Broadway premiere of BEETLEJUICE

Orville MendozaPACIFIC OVERTURES, PETER AND THE STARCATCHER, CSC’s revival of PACIFIC OVERTURES, ATC’s FOUND, The Public’s TIMON OF ATHENS, Off Broadway’s ROAD SHOW, Off Broadway’s ROMEO AND JULIET, Off Broadway’s ADRIFT IN MACAO, La Jolla’s revival of THE WIZ, Actor’s Fund Concert of HAIR – and bound for Broadway’s show based on Huey Lewis’s music – THE HEART OF ROCK AND ROLL

DEFINITELY do not miss it – and if you are ABSOLUTELY unable to get there – TFP has arranged for it to be LIVE STREAMED on the OFFICIAL ERIN QUILL FB page – so you can watch it in real time!

But do not NOT get there because it is too early – TFP does not want to hear about ‘too early‘ – quid pro quo MF ers!

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These performers show up for YOU all the time – 8 shows a week. They give up holidays and time with loved ones to make sure they knock it out of the park every, single time – so all we are asking for is your BUTTS in the SEATS!

Come and see and hear what they have to say about where we are, where we are going, and what their focus is going into 2019.

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OK, TFP has a lot – A LOT – to say about the current AEA strike in regards to the LAB Contracts, but it boils down to this – the Farmer and the Cowman can’t be friends.

The Producers and the Actors are never, ever going to see eye to eye on this – and here is why – one is in love with the financial, one is in love with the craft, but the craft could vanish in an instant.

Which is why a guaranteed, relatively small ‘residual’ payment for the Actor, would be of use. It would be, not only an acknowledgement of services rendered, but one of ‘use’ in a real and viable way.

No, not all Producers only care about the ‘bottom line’, many are artistic in their choices, but their investors do. Which is why AEA has been trying for TWO YEARS to get this situation adjusted. When the original Lab, Workshop etc performers are the vessel of the show’s ability to transfer to Broadway, the Actors should be compensated.

Why, you ask?

When you, as an Actor, begin to work on ‘Your ” show,  and that is what we Actor’s call it – “Our show/My Show” – we take ownership of it because we have to channel our bodies and souls to show up and do those 8 shows a week.

We take as much ownership of it as the Producers and Creatives because we know we were vital to the process. We are the vessel of change.

When you put your heart and soul into – workshop after workshop, lab after lab, reading after reading with very little financial gain you do it for a purpose, to get the show up.

For the thrill of saying ‘We did it!’ and of course for a steady paycheck as it runs.

If you are lucky, you see “your” show running for YEARS – and yet the Actor, once they leave, can find themselves in the position of having to apply to The Actor’s Fund for assistance to pay rent, or health insurance, or mortgage – it’s not a sustainable system.

Some shows are totally upfront and reasonable –

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and that has to do with the Creatives and the Producers.

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or the Heirs of the Estate – who feel it is the moral thing to do.

Thank you to the Larson Family, who, TFP believes were the first ones to implement this change, they are the exception – not the rule.

Some casts have to sue their producers to try and recoup their ‘investment’ in the show’s creation.

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Just sayin’.

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An Actor’s ‘investment” you say? What is that?

That is time and talent. Their ‘investment’ is turning down other gigs so that they are available to run it again and again in the Lab so that the Creatives can hear where it needs to be ‘tweaked’. 

Their ‘investment‘ is their personal creative energy that takes lines on a page, and transforms them to something ‘other’. It is their being able to go the Creatives and say “Hey, this line…I’m not feeling the character would say that”, and a change happens and then MAGIC.

You do not know, when you go into a Lab what the “something’ is that you are going to come out with. The pressure nowadays is fierce. The risk is huge – and people who take the biggest risk – the Producers – deserve to recoup, they do.

Not at the expense of the Actor.

A residual payment from an Original Lab or Workshop can make a difference in an Actor’s life. A huge friggin’ difference. They can secure a mortgage, for example, if the show is a big hit. They can send their kid to therapy or a school that may have been out of reach prior. It is a quantifiable difference, easily measured.

To an Actor, those payments make a difference. They are a return on their investment. They are the ability to believe you are not ‘crazy’ for trying to succeed in the crazy business of show.

The ‘something’ they create – that could give the Producers the ability to charge several hundred dollars per ticket, as they transfer to Broadway.

The Actor’s ‘investment’ is the meeting of the minds with the Authors, so magic can happen.

When a show runs, long term, there are re-creations of the show that happen as replacements and understudies come in – and those sparks of inspiration were born in a Lab, which lead to a more comedic or dramatic moment are put IN to the show, and there they stay – forever more.

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No matter who does the role. They are moments written in to the Stage Manager’s ‘show bible’ of what is supposed to happen to maintain the show, kept there – under glass – sacrosanct.

No compensation.

Even if you were the Actor who came up with ‘that’ whatever moment, gesture, ‘take’.

Nothing. Nope. Nada.

Now, in television and film – Actors get residuals. It comes, after the first year or so – to pennies on the dollar. For example, TFP saves her residual checks, which come to sometimes, thirty cents – until she has a bunch and then she deposits them. It is not a lot, however it does let her know that her contribution to that television show or film is acknowledged and appreciated.

That is what the Actors of AEA want – to know that – if they were part of the ORIGINAL Lab or workshop and the show goes to Broadway, that they are acknowledged with financial recompense.

Because their contributions are worthy and helped shape the show.

TFP worked for some truly gifted Creatives and Producers this past summer – and she would love to work with them again.

She hopes this all works out.

Eleven years, no raise. Eleven years of investment, and no return other than a show poster, maybe some show SWAG, and random recognition that fades after you do not win some award?

Come on….

Even if you are NOT an Actor – would you stay in a job where you did not get a raise in 11 years?

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When you open your laptop and check your phone and find that Broadway has had it’s most successful year just moments ago in 2018?

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BTW, that is a screen shot from their website – The Broadway League’s.

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Everyone please – let’s be civil.

Work this out so we can get back to work.

As Hammerstein wrote:

“One of them likes to push a plow, the other one likes to chase a cow –

but that’s no reason why they can’t be friends.”

Sing it.

NO REASON.

THE PLOW CAN GIVE A POINT!

IT IS BUT ONE PRONG ON THE PLOW!

To quote another show, one that is going on National Tour starring several delightful people….written by William Finn:

“It’s about time, don’t think? It’s about time to grow up, don’t you think?

It’s about time to grow up and face the music. It’s about time”

TFP out.

The Fairy Princess would like everyone reading to know that her buddy, Actor and Activist, and all around Mr. Little Tokyo, Rodney Kageyama died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday. TFP does not write obituaries, but thankfully, YOMYOMF‘s Tim Lounibos has done so. She will only say that he was a light in the darkness, and that Little Tokyo, East West Players, and the Universe will be a bit sadder with him not in it.

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Fly with the angels, my Friend.

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Next, she would like to give thanks for some very special people in Orono, Maine who CANCELLED their scheduled production of AVENUE Q because they did not have minority performers, who are intrinsic to the show, come and audition.

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Yes, the SOME THEATER COMPANY has stood by it’s mission statement of inclusion and diversity, and decided the people of Orono and surrounding parts would NOT be served by whitewashing Christmas Eve and Gary Coleman and guess, what – HERE are key members of that Company….

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Here is what they had to say about it:

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They are absolutely correct in their decision, and while TFP’s past opinions may or may not have been read on this subject, the truth is – it was the wrong thing to do and they chose to not do it.

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Bravo SOME THEATER COMPANY, you win the Internet!

Tell them, Natalie Venetia Belcon!

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You know who ALSO wins the Internet?

The Cast of FLOWER DRUM SONG 1958, Bway Revival and First National Tour!

Check them out in this stunning display of talent across the ages – from Alvin Ing to Ali EwoldtTFP has to admit feeling a bit verklempt at this video.

Congrats to all, especially Lainie Sakakura and Alex Sanchez for coordinating this giant effort, from writing the script to choreography and recreating choreography –  and thanks to Broadway Cares/EFA for highlighting that NOT seeing AAPIs on our Broadway stages has NEVER been about talent.

It has been about Producers and Creative Teams who did not feel comfortable giving AAPIs a shot in a show that was not ABOUT being AAPI.

TFP thinks that is changing – but we cannot go forward without knowing our history – take a look:

TFP’s little heart that is five sizes too small – shrunken by the salty waters of white tears of regret – grew just by watching the video.

Until…and you KNEW there was an until, she read about this next Anniversary of a R&H Musical, SOUTH PACIFIC.

Seventy years doncha know?

Actually, it is TONIGHT – December 10th at the St. Regis.

TFP appreciates that dramatic reinterpretations are going to be happening, after all the show is 70 years old, and most 70 year olds in show business have had a little work done.

However there is no AAPI Female listed to perform in the cast that is really quite diverse – read about it. Eden Espinoza, Erin Dilly, Alex Newell, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Morgan James, Carmen Cusak, Jose Llana, Karim Sulayman…all brilliant performers.

Not one of them an APPI female.

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Yes, there is an AAPI male- actually you would have seen Jose perform IN that Flower Drum Song video above – but unless he is singing a song about a far away island – which is possible – there is a disconnect that is happening here that TFP wants to touch on.

Again – fans of all the performers listed – total fan – have seen several of them multiple times. All excellent. They did not hire themselves, TFP gets that. When you do these concerts, you have no idea really who else is on the bill till rehearsal.

Here is what the issue is for TFP, and wave your hands in the air if you agree…go ahead…s’allright even if no one can see you…she will wait.

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SOUTH PACIFIC is a show that has most of the time throughout it’s history – purported to represent a woman of a South Pacific Island – and then specifically NOT cast a woman of AAPI heritage. The character’s name of course is, Bloody Mary.

There was Juanita Hall, who was African American, who famously played the role on the stage and in the film.

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There was Beatrice Krebs, the opera singer, who was Caucasian, who incidentally told TFP that if one were to sing Bal’i Haishoes could not be worn, that was direct from Richard Rodgers. TFP was grateful to her for the information.

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You get the idea – it is only in recent years that people have tried to cast this piece authentically – it has two roles that are AAPI – Bloody Mary and her daughter, Liat.

The show was written in part to address prejudice against AAPIS and mixed race children. The story of Nurse Nellie being unable to wed Emile because he had previously been married to a Native Woman and had two children is one giant HELLO from Oscar Hammerstein about a world where we let ignorance rule our lives.

The issue that ‘you have to be taught to hate and fear‘ is profound – it is why Lt. Cable refuses to marry Liat after he takes her virginity, so her Mum (Bloody Mary) decides she is going to be married off to a vastly older and potentially cruel French Plantation owner.

Let’s be honest – we all know Liat is going to suffer.

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The show is built on the backs of women – both white women and AAPI women. The show is about ignorance being overcome by love.

So, riddle TFP this – if the show was written to show that there is racism against AAPI women – casting history nonwithstanding – why do they continue to NOT have an AAPI female in the show when presenting it on a Anniversary year in a big concert at the St. Regis?

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As a fundraiser for Broadway Dreams, which is a not for profit performing arts training organization with global reach?

Guess they better not reach to countries who fall under the AAPI Umbrella term.

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Anyway, break a leg to all the performers going on – TFP is sure they will be smashing, but she is not going to deny she is butt-hurt that there are no scheduled APPI females performing, that ‘we’ are being washed from a show that is named SOUTH PACIFIC.

The optics are not great here, R&H – not great at all.

In a year where we had #AsianAugust, where FRESH OFF THE BOAT made it to five seasons, where Hasan Minaj is the best thing on Netflix, where the Crazy Rich Asians made a Vanity Fair Cover, along with Hapa Darren Criss, where Nik Dodani is lighting up MURPHY BROWN for our LGBTQ Family, where Rizwan Manji is Shitt’s Creeking and Magicianing, where Shoba Narayan is touring as Eliza Hamilton with Marcus Choi as Washington, where Daniel Dae Kim is serving us diverse Dr realness on The Good Doctor, and where Sandra Oh is hosting the Golden Globes…the same year Thom Sesma played the iconic role of Sweeney Todd in a setting that sold actual PIES, you are going to give us a SOUTH PACIFIC with no AAPI females?

THIS LIST IS OFF THE TOP OF TFP‘s HEAD – SHE HAS A WHOLE OTHER 3/4 OF HER HEAD TO GO THROUGH and she knows she has missed some – don’t @ me!

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Perhaps you should watch that FLOWER DRUM SONG reunion video again – one that was done about a full WEEK prior to this concert that is happening tonight, to see what opportunities have been missed.

And to whomever is singing Bali Ha’i – TAKE YOUR DAMN SHOES OFF!

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TFP out.

The Fairy Princess heard about two upcoming concerts that she is unable to attend and she wants you all to know about them and attend FOR her – tweet back at me and tell me how much it added to your life – because IT WILL!

These are dynamic, charismatic Broadway performers who bring their own brand of sass and swagger to the stage.

First up – TONIGHT – MS CARMEN RUBY FLYOD! In Well, Hello Carmen.

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She is going to take you from the beginning of her career to the current, with all the changes life has thrown at her. From Lion King, to Avenue Q OBC, Chicago, After Midnight, Porgy and Bess, and finally, Hello, Dolly – where she understudied DOLLY!

That is tonight at Birdland – 315 W. 44th Street at 9:30 PM.

She deserves a sellout, let’s make sure she has one.

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The second concert, ALSO at Birdland, that she wishes she could attend is on November 19th, at 7pm, and that is TELLY LEUNG!!!!!

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Currently starring in ALADDIN on Broadway! Telly has also been all over the country with his solo show in addition to appearing on Broadway in FLOWER DRUM SONG revival, GODSPELL, RENT, In TRANSIT, ALLEGIANCE – you get the idea.

So do yourself and your ears and heart a favor and go and take in these shows and when you are done with that….on Dec 2, at The Cutting Room in NYC, comes SPARKLE NY a benefit for THE ACTORS FUND.

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Yes, once again, Scott Nevins is getting the gang back together to raise money for a really great cause, The Actor’s Fund.

Join us on Dec 2nd at 7:30, you will have an amazing night.

That’s it – Happy Holidays!

The Fairy Princess notices that unlike other times when she has written a blog, this time the Broadway League has not made efforts to change their policy to include Dimming the Lights for TONY Nominated Playwright, Ntozake Shange. Nor, have they announced dimming the lights for 9 time OBIE Winner, playwright María Irene Fornés – whose work was at the core of the Latinx theater movement and whose work helped shape American theatrical representation.

Yes, Off Broadway is not Broadway.

True.

Most times, it is better.

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Bolder. Blunter. Less caring of breaking the rules.

Still, when we #DimTheLights for theatrical greats, we do not dim for minor reasons – these two have contributed to the Pantheon of American Theater. They staked a claim not only for themselves, but for those who came after. They taught, mentored, directed, wrote, spoke at length at the importance of being seen and heard. They fought harder than white males whose work was lauded at the time, who would have been seen as their contemporaries.

Who SHOULD have been seen as their colleagues and contemporaries. By NOT honoring them The Broadway League tells us, the People of Color of Broadway, that OUR foremothers do not matter. It tells us that equality is very far off, and possibly unattainable in our lifetimes, as it was in theirs.

TFP will not believe that, and neither will you if you reach the end of this blog.

Ntozake Shange and María Irene Fornès.

Remember them, Honor them.

Even if The Broadway League does not.

 

 

 

In the spirit of celebrating female Playwrights…TFP was quite honored to see WILD GOOSE DREAMS by Hansol Jung at The Public Theater this past week.

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The themes of modern life and disconnection, the ability to ‘like’ something and feel connected when you know almost nothing of the life being actually lived is something that succeeds remarkably well, and you should try and grab a seat if you can.

There are many reasons to see this show – on the tippy top of The Public Theater – don’t stop at Glenn Close on the second, keep climbing to the third! The acting is strong – and while TFP does not want to ‘review’ this work, she was very pleased to see people she knows, at the top of their profession, doing a remarkable job and making it seem effortless. The play is acted out by one of the strongest ensembles TFP has seen in a while. In that, they seem to be mainly pulled from the Broadway musical theater, and combine movement and sprechstimme in a rare and fluid way.

Bravo to Director Leigh Silverman, Hansol Jung, their Producers, and the Cast of this show: Michelle Krusiec (NYC Debut), Peter Kim, Francis Jue, Jaygee Mcapuguay, Lulu Fall, Joèl Perez, Dan Domingues, Kendyl Ito, Katrina Yaukey, Jamar Williams.

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The Forgotten, a new play being done RIGHT NOW, over in London, written by Daniel York Loh, has been getting fantastic reviews, and why should it not? Daniel is a talented Actor himself, as well as being a writer, director, and activist – and TFP sees no reason that some theater in the States – The Public, Second Stage, Ars Nova, Playwrights Horizons, BAM Harvey Center, Barrow Street Theater, Cherry Lane Theater, Daryl Roth Theater, HERE Arts Center, The Lucielle Lortel Theater, New Victory Theater, New World Stages, St. Luke’s, The Delacorte – or some such venue, could not mount a US Production!

Check out the interview with Daniel, explaining the origins of the piece, which combines aspects of Chinese Theater and Artistry, and the work that did behind the lines for the British during WW1.

 

 

TFP thinks this play, with it’s roots in Chinese history, and the Chinese Labor Corp being so integral to the success of the Western war – will be of interest to American audiences. The acceptance of the issue of structural racism that led to the ‘erasure’ of Chinese faces and contributions are real and in effect today.

Why not let American audiences share in this knowledge? Come on Off Broadway – this show has had great reviews, and we have stellar East Asian heritaged Actors in the United States – so why not?

Here are the names of the British East Asian Cast getting prime reviews, so ‘we’ all get to know one another – Rebecca Boey, Jon  Zhang, Zachary Hing, Camille Malet du Chauny, Michael Phong Le, Leo Wan.

Directed by Kim Pierce, Produced by Moongate Productions, Yellow Earth Productions, and Arcola Theater, Movement Direction by Quen Kien Van

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PAN ASIAN REPERTORY THEATER right here in Manhattan is mounting a Holiday show for…well, the HOLIDAYS, and you can take your CHILDREN (no this is not The Mikado) to have them see and feel what AAPI Faces on the stage means to them.

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THE EMPEROR’S NIGHTINGALE is playing on Theater Row at The Beckett Theater, 410 West 42nd Street and you may purchase tickets here.

It is an adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson tale, set in 18th Century China, written by Damon Chua. Starring: Leanne Cabrera, Ya Han Chang, Dinh James Doan, Jonathan Frye, Brian Kim, Roger Yeh

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Also here in NYC you can check out Playwright Lloyd Suh‘s newest work, THE CHINESE LADY,  on Theater Row in NYC. Also at 410 West 42nd Street!

This play is being performed in Rep with SESAR by Playwright Orlando Pabotoy. THE CHINESE LADY is a co-production of the Barrington Stage and Ma-Yi Theater Company.

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Directed by Ralph B. Peña and starring Daniel K. Issac and Shannon Tyo, this tells the story of the first female immigrant from China, Afong Moy, who was put on display to satisfy the appetites of an America hungry for culture from China.

Just in case you are wondering, aspiring Producers, where you find new works to produce, check out the list from STEPPENWOLF Theater called THE MIX.

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TFP is so chuffed to see Writers of Color, and Gender Variety, interesting subjects and, well, this list feels like a giant relief that voices are being heard, and needs are closer to being met. If Artists of Color want to see their stories – and obviously there are those willing to tell them – then they should consider seeking out these plays and mounting them.

Here are but a few examples – and really, TFP would see every single one of these because they sound incredible, but she will only post a few because…there are emails on them, some of them – and while you can visit the link and do your own internet stalking – she’s not going to make it easy for you.

However, ASIAN AMERICAN PACIFIC ISLANDERS if you do NOT look at some of these plays for production – you are a FOOL. Because THIS IS WHERE YOU ARE GOING TO FIND YOUR STORIES….some of them.

(Also, so much love and congratulations to TFP’s friend, KEVIN R. FREE for being on the Mix List! YAAAAAY)

So again, for the AAPI’s – the definition including ALL peoples of Asia – Central, Eastern and Southern,  here are some options:

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Again, these are but a few – this list represents ALL People of Color, as POC are considered POC in this Country. They represent Queer and Gender Fluid voices, as well as Cis voices – in short, TFP believes this is a really, really great list.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it – is to grab one of these plays, and produce it.

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If the House can go Blue, you can be a Producer!

TFP out.

The Fairy Princess gets tired, her wings beat slower. Why does everything take a hashtag and a blog to get folks to do the right thing? A great playwright passed last week and thus far, nothing has been announced to honor her, the way we of The Broadway, typically note the individual contributions, ie: Dimming the Marquee Lights.

TFP gets why the fact that when playwright, Ntozake Shange passed, people would be confused that no plans have been announced to dim the Broadway marquees in her honor. She was the second woman of color, after Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin In the Sun”, to have a play on Broadway.

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Her play, “For Colored Girls Who have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf’ premiered Off Broadway, then went to The Public, won an OBIE, and then transferred to Broadway in 1976.

Ms. Shange was 27 years old. Read that again, she was twenty seven years old.

It was a hit, and it was nominated for a TONY Award.

TONY Award Nominations do not just go to everyone – they go to outstanding examples in the category – performance, writing, lighting, costume design – the best.

Year after year, we see lauded names compete with neophytes, and every year, the prestige and unquantifiable cachè of being a Nominee elevates the individual – but in terms of playwrighting, it elevates the message.

Her message was ‘listen to Black Women’.

Ms. Shange elevated the voices of those who had never been put forth in such a way – and the fact that she played one of the characters in her own TONY Nominated piece?

That she WAS the “Lady in Orange” – took her success to a whole other level.

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She was the holder of a Masters Degree in American Studies from USC, also a graduate of Barnard College, who had become deeply moved by the Civil Rights movement and changed her name from Paulette Williams to the Zulu, Ntozake as a young woman.

She not only wrote the story of Black women who had suffered abuse and trauma, but she performed it, night after night. Her play later became a film by Tyler Perry, so that it was more accessible to a wider audience, although it remains a staple in the regional theater.

That was not all she did. She was PROLIFIC on a Hamilton-esque scale.

She went on to adapt Bertholdt Brecht’s “Mother Courage and her Children“, also cited by the OBIE Awards, wrote 15 plays, 19 poetry collections, 6 novels, 5 children’s books, and 3 essay collections.

She was what it meant to ‘not throw away your shot’.

That there was one play, one TONY Nominated play of hers that made it to Broadway is not to be a ‘qualifier’ of her place in Broadway history.

We honor individual accomplishments on Broadway. Which is why the lights should dim for her. The lights should dim because her legacy is living right now on our stages in other works by other playwrights.

The world of the playwright has always been systemically tilted towards writers of other, paler melanin. Towards men. Should someone choose to produce one of her other works on Broadway, that play might also be nominated or win a TONY Award. We do not know why there was only one that made it to Broadway – although systemic bias towards both People of Color and Women may have played a part – but the one that DID make it – was glorious.

Dim the lights for Ntozake Shange because she held up a glorious rainbow bridge for Black Women in this country to be heard and seen in a art form that did not resemble her.

That largely, still, does not resemble many of us.

Dim the Lights because a Great Artist has passed, and because in honoring her, we acknowledge that there has and will continue to be more to her legacy than a TONY Nominated Play that she wrote and performed in. She led a life doused in art and activism, and isn’t that what the best of theater is?

She was what the best of theater, is.

Come on, Broadway League, come ON!

Rest in Power, Ntozake Shange.

REST in POWER.

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Just a quick note from TFP to remind you all that Fresh Off The Boat on ABC enters into it’s HISTORIC FIFTH SEASON tonight! Friday October 5th!

Every show loses viewers every season, but what TFP would ask, as a personal favor is that we bring some of that #CrazyRichAsian energy to this evening’s premiere because what we want to prove is that being supportive and AAPI is something that we can maintain and grow.

Not to mention, the cast is adept and funny and deserves support – as do ALL AAPI Actors who are brave enough to take the plunge and enter into this oftimes rewarding and equally hideous career.

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That being said, TFP wants to address NAGINI and the casting of the role with South Korean Actress, Claudia Kim – who is, by the by, cute as a button.

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She spent six years in the USA as a child, and has appeared in several franchises including AVENGERS; Age of Ultron, THE DARK TOWER, and in Netflix’s MARCO POLO where she portrayed the character of Khutulun.

TFP understands the fervor around Nagini’s human side being the only Person of Color in this film, FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Crimes of Grindelwald, is an issue.

Before that – LOOK HOW HAPPY CLAUDIA KIM IS TO BE IN THIS FILM!

Now everyone is going to ‘yuck her yum‘ in regards to being in this film, so get ready.

That this is sort of a new issue for Asian Descended actors is cause for celebration and the occasional groan. It is not that one POC in a film is unusual in the United States, however if there there WAS, ahem ‘one person of color’ – the color was not ours. We are new to this ‘game’. A game that all other POC Actors have been playing for a while – they let one in, the rest get the door slammed shut.

AAPIS are very far behind in this concept – not that it is ‘right’, but this is the game that we are new to play. We have seen much advancement and change for various other groups, and now we are invited to play in a limited way. That will grow. It will, simply by dint of the success of ‘a certain film’ and because, frankly, there are more AAPI Executives in play than ever before in American Entertainment.

No one is perfect. Diversity is a growing concept. That the Harry Potter World is growing in representations of People of Color is fantastic, if slow.

In short – J.K. Rowling is not the enemy here.

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Look to the White House for that.

TFP is concerned with the backlash over Nagini, because it falls in line with the backlash almost every AAPI Actor or Actress has had, and she wants to ‘remind’ people what was said about people that are now lauded for the work they are doing.

Tiger Fans are the best, and the worst and it is worth revisiting to ‘remind’ ourselves that actors and actresses are real people, and while they try not NOT take things personally, it is almost impossible, if you hear these criticisms over and over for joy not to vanish as you continue on in the roles.

So this is a small list of criticisms that the AAPI Community has voiced in the past  towards AAPI Actors and Actresses, who are doing their best just to survive….

  • That Daniel Dae Kim‘s Korean fluency was not good enough to be on LOST
  • Margaret Cho was attacked about her ALL AMERICAN GIRL sitcom, and we would not have another sitcom on the air about an AAPI family for 20 years.
  • That Lucy Liu is both a sellout and only works with white people so she is ‘not really Asian’
  • That Randall Park should not be on FOTB because he was of Korean descent
  • That Ming Na Wen’s Doctor on ER was too inept and it set a bad example for Asian American Doctors.
  • That Kim Miyori‘s Doctor on St. Elsewhere should not have passed from AIDS.
  • Why did Constance Wu have to use an Accent of FOTB and by the way, is that a ‘real’ accent?
  • That Gedde Watanabe was responsible for all bullying of AAPI males ever and he is a sell out
  • That Grace Park was just on Hawaii 5.0 so they could see her in a bikini
  • That Masi Oka on HEROES was a stereotype, even though, he is an immigrant and yes, does have a slight accent.
  • That Masi Oka was responsible for white washing on a project he produced, when TFP personally knows that he is very involved and concerned with representation in projects he produces and acts in.
  • That James Kyson Lee was not Japanese so he should not be on HEROES and his Japanese fluency was ‘awful’.
  • That Chloe Bennett is ‘not really Asian”, even though she identifies as such
  • That Connie Chung is a ‘sellout’, because she rarely does AAPI events, but she did write a blistering and sobering support of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford
  • That MISS SAIGON should never be performed
  • That Anna May Wong just played the Dragon Lady
  • That the JOY LUCK CLUB bashes Chinese men.
  • That the JOY LUCK CLUB‘s cast was slightly mixed and therefore ‘not accurate’.
  • That Karate Kid Two is full of “tropes’ and not an accurate representation of Japan.
  • That Kelly Marie Tran does not belong in Star Wars
  • That you hate that THE KING AND I is still performed
  • Lana Condor should not be cast in TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE because she is Vietnamese heritage. Also, the character only liked non Asian boys, so that was offensive to some, regardless of the fact that an AAPI teen girl was the star of the film.
  • That Mindy Kaling is a sellout and only likes non-Indian men based on her TV show
  • That the Cast of OUTSOURCED were sellouts and non authentic Indians
  • That Crazy Rich Asians only represents a small, elite subsection, it has non ‘pure’ Asians in it, and it ignores racism in Singapore so no one should give it any sort of credit even though it is the highest grossing RomCom in years!
  • That Keanu Reeves never acknowledges his Asian heritage, but then he goes and does 47 Ronin, and people went crazy with ‘who does he think he is”
  • That even though The Rock is Samoan, he was not ‘authentic enough” to be in Moana
  • That Awkwafina was talking like she was ‘not Asian’. When she was talking like she was a rapper from Queens. Which, she is.
  • That George Takei was ‘too fey’ for Space.
  • That SAVING FACE, which starred Joan Chen, Michelle Krusiec and Lynn Chen was ‘a problem’ because it was a love story about young AsAm women falling in love with one another. (It’s an awesome coming of age film)
  • Things have been said about openly Gay Actors like Nico Santos, Alec Mapa, Rex Lee, that TFP will not repeat – but they were said. She saw and heard. She remembers who said them. They are on ‘the list’.
  • That Priyanka Chopra was not proud of her heritage because she had a nose job.
  • That Dr. Ken played a stereotype in the films he was a gangster in
  • That John Cho was thinking about a white lady in SELFIE so he was a ‘traitor”
  • There was backlash about a film called BETTER LUCK TOMORROW from the APPI Community and the Caucasian Community about representation, and you know what happened? The Director, Justin Lin, went on to become a powerhouse film franchise director and the founder of YOMYOMF.

These all sound completely ridiculous now, and they ARE.

TFP gets it- everyone is a sellout. Everyone is a trope. No one gets credit for talent. No one gets credit for taking a part from the page to the stage. We are all, AAPI Actors, literally ‘the worst’ and responsible for everything anyone has ever did, EVER.

This is but a sampling. Imagine how many more there are or were!

They were, and they ARE.

These were all Actors doing their jobs, and doing them so that they were hired IN SPITE OF the fact that people could have used their ethnicity to NOT cast them.

TFP was hopeful that kind of thing was in the past…and then, most recently, TFP heard a descriptive of Claudia Kim that had her reeling.

She will not repeat it.

BUT IT WAS NOT COOL!

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Stop bringing down our own so that you can prove some racism happened somewhere in the past, present and future – we know, ok?

TFP knows that the REASON you are upset has to do with the LACK of representation on the big and little screens and thus you are placing SO MUCH on EVERY performance that it is literally making  you CRAZY – but it has to stop.

That you are laboring under the belief that whatever AAPI face shows up on the screen, they are going to represent you, and you want them to get it right. You want them to be exactly you.

Which is, by the way, impossible.

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TFP gets that white washing is still out there, and Tilda Swinton is lurking around every corner to steal our stories, but we, the AAPI Acting community still have to be free to make choices. We have to be allowed to play the villains. The shady characters. The morally corrupt. The comic relief.

Because we are ACTORS and that is what we do!

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Sometimes, parts are parts. Sometimes your Agent calls with an opportunity and you HAVE to take it, because BILLS. Because it will lead to something BIGGER. Because it is on the journey and the journey is never complete.

AAPI Actors know we do not live in a perfect world and that we do not get access a lot of times to be the leads – and that is changing– however we are still trying to work. We are still trying to create. We are still trying to grow. We are writing, we are producing, we are working on it.

Give us some time to breathe.

You want to change the parameters – make every single television show and film that has an AAPI in it – ANYWHERE IN A SIGNIFICANT WAY – make it a monster hit.

You want SANDRA OH to get that MF Emmy? The one she FULLY DESERVED?

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Watch KILLING EVE. Watch it and tweet about it and blog about it until your eyeballs fall out. Send letters of support.

Make Entertainment in America have it’s own form of a #BlueWave.

Let’s put a #AAPITsunami out there for American Entertainment.

Buy tickets. Watch shows. See who advertises and buy their products.

Support THESE shows new and old because there are AAPI Actors on Them:

CRAZY Ex-Girlfriend, CHARMED, SUPERSTORE, CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA, THE FIRST, GOD FRIENDED ME, I FEEL BAD, MAGNUM P.I., MANIAC, MANIFEST, A MILLION LITTLE THINGS, THE MAGICIANS, MR. INBETWEEN, MURPHY BROWN, NEW AMSTERDAM, THE ROOKIE, SINGLE PARENTS, SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS, TITANS, YOU, CHICAGO FIRE, THE GOOD DOCTOR, BILLIONS, IRON FIST…ETC ETC ETC

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Attacking the people who are trying to figure it out along with all of us, how to get ‘us’ in there, seems counterproductive. Try not to j’accuse the helpers, the ones who are trying, but who may fail a bit, or…frankly, completely. When you accuse people of trying to shoehorn diversity into a project, what you do is negate that the actor and their talent had anything to do with them being cast.

If they have ‘us’ in there, then they are ‘caving to diversity and trying to shoehorn us in’ – if they don’t have us, they get accused of white washing or abject racism. Why would anyone want to use AAPI Actors and walk that tightrope of the never happy, AAPI Audience?

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TFP wants to know what YOU are going to do to raise the profile of AAPIS in Entertainment….

Have you purchased tickets to plays by David Henry Hwang? Lauren Yee? Young Jean LeeLeah Nakano Winkler? Rick Shiomi? Lloyd Suh? Philip Tan Gotanda? Chay Yew? Denise Uyehara? Lane Nishikawa? Frank Chin? Jessica Hagedorn? Jeanne Sakata?

Do you support Pan Asian Rep? East West Players? NAATCO?

Annual gifts? Endowments?

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Pan Asian is having a big benefit dinner on OCTOBER 18th, you could still buy a ticket!

Have you gone to see Kate Rigg down at La Mama?

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Do the work yourself, before you go full tilt boogie with what you do not like.

Let’s get more APPI Actors on the screen.

Do as Lynn Chen has done and go and film something yourself.

Yes, there is a learning curve happening and we are all bearing witness to it.

Bearing witness is not easy… and none of us had to testify and then be ignored before the Senate Judiciary.

Just saying.

Thank you Dr. Ford.

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Bearing witness while something is changing is a hard thing to do, you want it to just be all fixed already.

It does not work that way. Nothing works that way.

Casting is hard.

Acting is hard.

Acting while being AAPI is effin impossible.

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You can start TONIGHT with FRESH OFF THE BOAT

TFP out.

It has been a week since TFP took herself to see GETTIN THE BAND BACK TOGETHER...and her mind….was blown.

The Reviewers were wrong.

The show was funny.

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Not perfect, but that was part of the charm of it. She observed people gasping for breath to the left and right of her, she herself had a roaringly good time – as did every Broadway professional she consulted about their experience seeing this show.

Everyone enjoyed it.

No one could figure out the reviews.

 

Let the record show:

From Jesse Greene at The New York Times: The show aims so low that all it achieves is a ruckus in the tuchis.

From Frank Scheck at The Hollywood Reporter: Director John Rando (Urinetown, On the Town) keeps things moving at a sufficiently brisk pace, but it’s a mystery why he felt the need to have the performers constantly jump offstage and race down the aisles as if heading for the exits. It makes it look as if they’re trying to escape before the reviews come in.

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Photo by Cherie Tay

David Cote, Observer: Having sat through the sweaty, janky garbage fire Gettin’ the Band Back Together, I strongly suspect that producer and book writer Ken Davenport has a chest tattoo that reads (in Gothic script), “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” Davenport, who is also responsible for My First Time (about losing your virginity), The Awesome ’80s Prom and That Bachelorette Show, seems to never hesitate in grabbing, shall we say, the fruit that hangs low.

Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: You can smell the flop sweat before Gettin’ the Band Back Together even begins, as Ken Davenport-the show’s lead producer and also, not coincidentally, its principal author-takes the stage with a handheld mic to deliver a curtain speech. “What you’re about to see is one of those rare things on Broadway these days: a totally original musical,” he claims. But although the show is not based on any single preexisting source, it is, in fact, supremely unoriginal, from its formulaic ’90s-movie plot to its instantly forgettable ’80s-rock score. A community-theater vanity production that has somehow surfaced at a Broadway house, it is schlocky at every turn.

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Photo by Cherie Tay

Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: This is a show, directed with a loopy Labrador’s energy by John Rando, that sells itself shamelessly to its intended audience. Perhaps in the next few weeks, the company will start handing out fliers at Penn Station. You’ll roll your eyes at that repeated geographical gag, and at much else in this musical, not least its hackneyed rock ‘n’ roll, ageing dreamers, reclaiming-past-glories storyline.

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Photo by T. Charles Ericksen

Elisabeth Vincentelli, Newsday: You can’t say the new musical “Gettin’ the Band Back Together” doesn’t try hard. At one point somebody shoots T-shirts into the audience from a cannon. Marilu Henner, who plays the lead’s mom, passes along Rice Krispies Treats during the intermission. Throughout, the game cast sells the action with undeniable energy – if Broadway quality was measured in sweat, “Gettin’ the Band Back Together” would be a shoo-in for a Tony. Unfortunately, other factors must be considered. The show is a willfully silly piece of cheese, but that stuff is actually hard to pull off – and “Gettin’ the Band Back Together” is no “Head Over Heels” or “Rock of Ages.”

Jesse Oxfeld, New York Stage Review: The show is too long. It’s plot mechanics are creaky. Some of those character numbers should be cut, delightful as they are-darlings waiting to be killed. (Bart’s, which is hilarious, is also too dirty for a family show.) And yet it’s all just a really good time.

TFP read those reviews and she had some feelings….

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TFP gets it, part of the bargain that theater people enter into when they invite critics in is that critics have the right to write whatever they want.

These reviews are very pointed in their disdain for

  1. The Producer, Ken Davenport
  2. New Jersey
  3. Humor that is funny to the audience, but not British humor = therefore ‘low brow.’

We are the country that invented vaudeville and burlesque based on theatrical traditions from other countries.

We are ‘high brow’?

The people who kept MAMMA MIA open? CATS? ROCK OF AGES? (Yes, yes, they are all super fun and campy shows and we love them, but Shakespeare they ain’t)

Those ‘high brows’?

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These are the people who get into raging debates  on the internet over being allowed to wear tank tops and shorts and flip flops to the theater, over dress pants and a nice wedge heel?

Because they want to be comfortable?

Like they are in their living room?

Does that sound like ‘high brow’ behavior?

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The critics wrote those reviews for New York City’s mythical 400, those lofty robber barons who aped European standards to create New York High Society around the turn of the century in the late 1800’s. In short, not the average theater audience. People come to the theater for all kinds of different reasons, but escaping ‘real life’ for two short hours is a legitimate reason to grab a ticket, no matter where your family origins hail from.

The critics did not, with rare exception, point out how talented the cast was, or that they were delivering stellar comedic moments in a solid manner.

The cast did their jobs – they sang and danced and made people laugh. The Critics failed to realize that the comedic rule of three – first one, tiny laugh, second one, bigger laugh, third one, hysteria – was well in play in this production, and used to great effect.

The point of these reviews seems to be to punish Producer Davenport, who had the temerity to get up and give a pre-curtain speech on opening night about the fact that this show began as an improv.

A show that began with an improv, not with a film or television show establishing it’s provenance, which makes it a risk. Which is to be lauded, but apparently not ‘too’ much and not by a person of mixed race.

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There has to be, on Broadway and Off, and regionally, of course – room for all kinds of theatrical experiences. There can be a rainbow – it is freaking BROADWAY, folks!

Sometimes your show experience will be DEAR EVAN HANSEN and sometimes your show experience will be GETTIN THE BAND BACK TOGETHER – and it is ok. The important thing is for the audience to have had a good time – theater is  a service industry.

Theater people serve at the will of the people – just like public office. Yes, theater ‘makes people think‘ or ‘have the feels‘ or help them reach a ‘realization‘ – but  theater, as much as it is a magical, unicorn band of people who create it – create the work to be part of a service industry.

A luxury service industry.

Frankly, not everyone with money necessarily has high brow taste, and even those who do sometimes need to go slumming. The world is too tense right now to have to ignore that  the basic inalienable right to laughter, is one of the best reasons to go to the theater.

There is room for both EVAN HANSEN and GETTIN THE BAND, both shows, which yes, TFP has seen and enjoyed and where she viewed the casts do their jobs.

Or did, in the case of GETTIN THE BAND. It did it’s job, and TFP is sad that it is closed.

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Photo by Lia Chang

It was not nearly as raunchy or dirty as these reviews made it out to be – in fact, AVENUE Q has equally if not more room for parental concern, if we are to be honest. Singing about having sex with someone’s Mom is not as graphic as watching puppets with no genitals go at it for an extended number.

It is TFP’s considered opinion that the show should still be open. The audience she viewed it with went WILD, and upon further investigation, she was told that audiences consistently went wild as the show ended. That has to count for something. Audience response should count.

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Photo by Lia Chang

While attending the matinee, TFP sat next to a woman who, at intermission, informed TFP that she had seen GETTIN THE BAND BACK TOGETHER five times already. She had seen the show FIVE TIMES.

It opened in AUGUST.

Closed SEPT 16th.

FIVE TIMES!

TFP was astonished, she needed to know this story.

Here, paraphrased, is what she was told.

It is a good time.  It is a solid good time. You know, I started coming to the theater when I was a caregiver for my husband, and…my Brother In Law would come and watch my husband and then _______ and I would take the bus in – you know the bus is around $3 as a senior…Anyway, I saw the name.

I thought “That sounds fun”. I am from New Jersey, this show is set in New Jersey. I knew of one of the performers. So I came. It was so funny. I had a great time. The next time, she asked me what I wanted to see – I said GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER.

So I came again, and again. Five times. Oh – they are so talented. You know, if you see it more than once, you see SO MUCH TALENT on that stage, not just the lead – well, I do love Brandon, he is so handsome – but the supporting cast. They all play instruments, and sing and dance, and are funny….there is no reason not to love this show.

I am sick that it is closing. Sick. What are all those talented performers going to do? Oh, it makes me sad. The show is happy, but it makes me sad.

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Photo by Lia Chang

Thank you for that, Jersey Jenny – you were feeling sad and GETTIN THE BAND helped you feel better.

It did what it was supposed to do.

Let’s all take a moment – because this show will be done regionally and people will get to enjoy it – and decide that Broadway, for all it’s lofty aspirations, began it’s reign as a pastime for the regular folks of New York, and that as long as there ARE still ‘regular’ folks of New York, there was room for the band to get back together.

Plenty of room. Eight shows a week.

RIP GETTIN’ THE BAND BACK TOGETHER, you did your job.

download-1ROCK ON!