Archives for the month of: November, 2012

Here in the States we are quickly approaching Thanksgiving – which is when we are all supposed to look at relatives and friends at a giant table, before gorging ourselves silly, and say what we are thankful for. It could be…well, anything.

You could be grateful that you hosted this year, and thus avoided hours and hours of insane traffic. You could be grateful that you got all A’s this semester. You could be grateful that you look ten years younger than your old boyfriend who by interesting co-inky-dink has shown up to be seated directly across from you, which does not bother you in the slightest because you are blissfully happy in a stable relationship with a killer job AND a cute little non-yappy dog who wears holiday gear on his head with no problem.

Howdy, Pilgrim

The Fairy Princess has been to a lovely party this evening where she caught up with friends old and new…and she has decided to make a grateful list. Partially because when you have been feeling under siege for an extended amount of time, it is hard to see what good things are happening. However, good things ARE happening and I wanted to just take a moment and red-necked-nize, as Honey Boo Boo would say.

(Look at me, I’m all “Anne of Green Gables” with my ‘glad list’.)

I loved these books as a kid,
Anne of Green Gables by
LM Montgomery

1. I am grateful that my post about La Jolla Playhouse’s production of The Nightingale brought attention to Casting Discrimination in American Theater. (That is self-congratulatory, but one is not going to kill you – just go with it)

You know we are p.o’d when
you get graphics!

2. I am thankful that La Jolla Playhouse hosted a talk back with it’s Creative Team. This is the first time that the Asian American Acting Community has had the opportunity to have dialogue on this issue. Could it have been more…ya know…more? Well sure, of course. But the message was heard, and in their next two shows, there were Asian Americans in lead roles.

Cindy Cheung & Christine Toy Johnson
at La Jolla’s talkback…they look so pissed off
I feel like I need to go practice piano & bring home an A

3. I am thankful that the Royal Shakespeare Company and Artistic Director Gregory Doran perpetrated a cultural theft upon China – because otherwise how would the dialogue that opened up Internationally, between the American and UK Asian Artistic communities have occurred? Do I think that Gregory Doran handled his criticisms poorly? Ummmm, let me think, give me a minute, oh wait – YEP. YEP I DO.

The Orphan of Zhao…by way of

(Has that guy apologized yet? Cuz, I mean, I WROTE IT FOR HIM)

4. I am thankful that for the first time, there will be a talk held by British Equity on the issue of Casting East Asians in theater and television on the British stage.

Good thing British Equity is going
to look for the East Asians…because
apparently they have been misplaced

5. I am thankful that East West Players, the longest established Asian American theater company, and the oldest ethnic theater company in America, hosted a Forum on representation. They did not have to, but they did.

6. I am thankful that the LA Stage Alliance helped East West Players put that forum together, and that it was on the web, and I could see it in New York, as I was unable to attend.

7. I am grateful my six month old has cut one tooth.

Here he is a the CAPE Poker Fundraiser
with DWTS Carrie Ann Inaba and H5o’s
Ian Anthony Dale – This kid is a playah


(I am probably missing some, for which I apologize, the Fairy Princess only has 1 set of eyes to go with 1 set of wings)

9. I am thankful that there have been recurring roles for APIs on ONCE UPON A TIME, NYC 22, SCANDAL, PRIVATE PRACTICE, just to name a few.

(Hey Show Runners, wanna bump up those folks and make them regulars? How hard could it be?)

10. I am thankful that my Family made it through Hurricane Sandy.

11. I am thankful that there are shows being written like ALLEGIANCE, which set box office records for The Old Globe Theater in San Diego, proving that Asian Americans on stage, telling their stories, can be moving and universal.

12. I am thankful that the one of the things I make really well – is one that is welcomed during this holiday season, no matter where I go. (Irish Soda Bread is not for all occasions)

Crumb topping…YUM!

Have a Great Thanksgiving no matter where you are – and if someone tells you to ‘kow tow’ or to shuffle your feet, or
to ‘do it again with an accent’ and you don’t feel like doing it – tell ’em the Fairy Princess says to –


Here I sit in the Colonies, and I have just read The National Arts Council’s letter to Mr. Victor Wong, who is the Executive Director of the Chinese Canadian National Council. Mr. Wong quite obviously wrote to the RSC in light of Artistic Director Gregory Doran casting China with a coat of white paint. And good for him! Bravo! I toast Mr. Wong with a cup full of maple syrup whilst wearing a Mountie hat! Thank you Mr. Wong.

(My Canadian Chinese Cousins will be duly impressed by this. I don’t really know them, we are apparently related through a Great Grandfather with multiple wives and concubines, but what are you going to do? That’s China for you. A First Cousin married a Canadian actually, with my same name, awkward, but she has a fabulous company for Ex-Pat Canadians in Oz called Oh Canada !)

The letter is from Nigel Hugill, I will pull a bit of the text.

Selection of letter posted previously
on FB Group site

What has occurred to the Fairy Princess, sitting here twiddling my toes in the lovely, balmy LA weather, and having just been to The Ovation Awards (LA’s Theater Awards) last evening is, that the Royal Shakespeare Company is very uncomfortable with language.

What’s that you say? But what is theatre if not language? The theatre is language and costumes and sets all designed to tell a story to make you think. There are plays that make you think about a variety of subjects – about love, or sex, or money – plays are designed to make you think. On occasion, there are plays that make you think about issues that you are uncomfortable with.

The Orphan of Zhao is one such play for The Royal Shakespeare Company.

It’s all very “words, words, words, I’m so sick of words” And it is not, actually the words Asian or East Asian or Casting or Diversity or Multi-Cultural – those words they are willing to fling about like ramen in a food fight.

What is getting their goat is one other word, and it is not supercalifragilisticexpealidocious.

The word is….wait for it…apology.

I mean, yes, to apologize is to throw yourself on a sword a bit, Mr. Doran, but it’s not necessarily fatal. AND…I happen to have one right here, as a matter of fact:

In Chinese, a sword is called
a “Dao” – I am going to call this one…Zhao

Just kidding, just kidding – don’t throw yourself on a Chinese sword Mr. Doran, you would be vastly uncomfortable and definitely need a tetanus shot.

What is odd to me about this whole situation, is that the Brits are known world wide for some very particular traits – Beautiful Princesses

Princess Diana, just stunning

Princess Sophia of Hanover,
(she was smokin’ in the 1650’s)

Learned Scholars,

William Shakespeare
well, I suppose he’d prefer no women
a’tall in these shows – isn’t it funny to
look back on all these theatrical prejudices
and laugh….

Sweeney Todd (the legend, not the musical)


and..what is that other one…don’t tell me, don’t tell me….oh yes, ETTIQUETTE!

Isn’t the British standard held up for the rest of us because of their love of protocol? Doesn’t everyone have to have a card to leave on a silver plate with the butler while we wait to gain entrance? Isn’t everyone on baited breath to see if they will be received by the Host should they be having an ‘at home’?

It does not take a village, nor a an upbringing by a starchy, staunch Nanny to know that when you own a dog and it takes a big poo on the street, your obligation is to pick up the poo. (Preferably in a small plastic, recyclable bag which you then deposit forthwith into a receptacle of the trashy variety)

I like to think he is saying “No East Asians in China? That’s LUDICROUS!” Because in my fantasy this lovely English Bulldog ‘gets it’.

But THAT is not what Mr. Nigel Hugill is deciding to do. He has decided that all this kerfuffl-ing is not something he need immediately be concerned with. He is taking it under advisement. He is now off to don a smoking jacket, after checking his stocks on the “Change, and toddle off to his Club to enjoy brandy, cigars, and the company of his Peers.  Poo on the streets? Didn’t bother Mr. Nigel, he just stepped right over it.

Mr. Hugill – the Fairy Princess is not on the British Arts Council, nor has she fluttered her wings across a West End Stage (and this whole thing has really stuck a pin in that one, wouldn’t you say?). However, you need a few smacks with the wand if you think that the British ‘love affair’ with East Asians has, in any way, given you any leeway in this situation. You don’t have a heck of a lot of credit with us, you are in foreclosure for the following reasons:

Exhibit A: The Mikado – yes, originally written to protest British mores, but that’s not the way it’s usually done is it? Nope, usually done in “Yellow Face”

Exhibit B: Jonathan Pryce in MISS SAIGON

Mr. Pryce explaining how he
changes his eyes to play Asian.
The Fairy Princess loves to hate this photo

Yes he did Miss Saigon in Yellow Face, till the Yanks yelled about it – so off went the prosthetic eyes, and off almost came the ENTIRE US Production as Cam Mac jumped up and down and raged about the right of his team to cast someone who was not Asian, as a Eurasian.

Well. Well. I am actually Eurasian so….you all were half right, or rather half wrong in that case.

But now we are on to Exhibit C – The Orphan of Zhao

I have a lovely friend who is a Broadway Veteran, who happens to be multi-racial, who said to me: “I don’t believe in people saying they don’t see color. How do they drive? What they should say is that they do not react to color, that they choose not to acknowledge it.”

There’s been all this back and forth about who is right and who is wrong and who is responsible for Artistry and so on, and it is time to call it a day. I would rather play with a Corgi and drink Earl Grey and forget this tiff with those of the British Arts Council and it’s minions.

Thus, The Fairy Princess is going to be magnanimous. She is going to ‘break it down’ for Artistic Director Doran and all the Members of the British Arts Council who are happily looking down upon the East Asians from their Ivory Tower of Pomposity. Ready? Here you go:


Take a page from the book of La Jolla Playhouse, they apologized. Seriously, Moises Kaufman apologized.

See, once you do that, everyone can move on.

Digging in your heels and sulking that you were right, does not make it so, it makes you look like Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Here’s what you say:

Dear (Insert a respectful address, if you can bring yourselves to, won’t you?)

We at the British Arts Council and The Royal Shakespeare Company have heard your complaints. Given the vast amounts of attention that our Casting of The Orphan of Zhao has warranted, we have had time to look at the issue from all sides. While we believe fully in the talent of our current Cast, we do think that we made a mistake.

Casting a play set in feudal China with a majority of Caucasians, was, in fact, the wrong thing to do.  While it was not done with malice, and cannot be undone, you can rest assured that the RSC and the British Arts Council will do everything in their power to make sure that this is never done again.

We value our UK Citizens who have East Asian heritage, both those that are in the Performing Arts and those who are valued Audience members of the RSC. We hope in the future, to go forward, working together, both to expand our  knowledge of world plays and to respect the heritage from which the play came.

Our deepest regrets for any hurt feelings, we never intended that this be the result of what we hope will be a long collaboration with China, bringing their stories to our stages.

Yours truly,

Vastly Superior Public School Attendee blah, blah, blah, multiple letters from her Majesty blah blah

Seriously, just do that. No, go ahead right now and DO THAT.

Why? Because you are a Leader, and Leaders are not afraid to admit mistakes – they are only afraid to repeat them.

I would like to quote Terrence McFarland’s Ovation Award Speech, from the event I attended last night. Terence is an exceptionally thoughtful and erudite man.

Terence McFarland,
Exec. Director
LA Stage Alliance

“I am reminded that we, too, as theater makers, are in service.

Twenty years ago on the Taper stage a group of artists came together and served.
They were a bellwether in the perception shift of a plague and redefined what was possible to accomplish in a single, epic play.

Margaret Mead’s quote seems apt: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

I challenge you, citizens, to embrace the sentiment inherent in Kushner’s infamous line from Angels in America:

“The Great Work Begins.”

And thus, The Fairy Princess challenges The British Arts Council and the RSC to allow the Great Work that they currently DO, to embrace what has been mentioned previously, and allow their future Great Work to include more East Asians.

It is possible to do Great Work when dealing with those whose heritage includes The Great Wall.

The Great Wall of China.
YEP, THAT China.

ESPECIALLY if the show is set in CHINA, FEUDAL CHINA!!!!!!!!!

I wanted to go to sleep. Truly. I have an almost 6 month old, and sleep is much appreciated by all who dwell in …my dwelling. (Well, that’s where we dwell, so that would be about right, wouldn’t it)

Where ELSE would a Fairy Princess live?

But thanks to the Socialest of Social Networks I was sent links. LINKS! Before I went to bed! Now I can’t sleep! And what were they of, may you ask? Rightfully so. They were about the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Orphan of Zhao.

Now we all know what happened in China oh so many years..well, I mean we all know EXCEPT the Royal Shakespeare Company. They don’t think Chinese people happened in China at all. (Did you see that baby in the trailer?) As far as the Royal Shakespeare Company is concerned, what happened in China is that the Royal Shakespeare Company did not want to get confused with D’oyly Cart,

so rather than do a shuffling and scraping Mikado and take down Japan, they were going to have a cultural smackdown with China and erase the Chinese people.

(Oh, notice that the set designer has put Asian faces on his little stick figures in the design? And how Doran said he could place it anywhere, Nazi Germany or such, which would have made sense with his Casting, but he chose to keep it in China….just…just…well, just cuz)

It’s like watching Hollywood adapt a film based on a Manga comic book!

(“You are the last of your kind” Oh…the last white boy, oh dear…has anyone checked Cleveland? Or Harrow? I’m pretty sure there are a few left.)

But let us not dwell on Gregory Doran, as he is veddy veddy British-y busy, what with his Ring Cycle of Repertory, and lollygagging to China to swipe their masterpieces – let us move on to the reviews.

Historically, the British Critics have provided scathing and yet, ultimately quite accurate reviews of their theater. They never fail to tell us if someone has discovered a penultimate performance within themselves or whether a James Bond franchise is an appropriate place for a Dame, or anything vaguely like a Dame.

I love Dame Judi so much, I would
almost be ok with her playing Chinese…
wait, no, that’s a lie, that’s a lie – but
I still j’adore her.

But this is what tilted The Fairy Princess’s tiara today, and it is a doozy – none of the reviews have given more than a glancing mention to the fact that there are no Asians in Asia!

Are they confused? Do they not know it’s set in China? When they hear Emperor, are they looking for the Holy Roman one? Are they turning in their seats, paging through their programs looking for Hapsburgs and getting confused?

No, I don’t think so, as every review first off mentions that this play, this Orphan, is “The Hamlet of China”. Perhaps it is calling it “The Hamlet of China” that is confusing. Maybe they are stopping, mentally, with the word “Hamlet’ and imagining Danes of all kinds trying to wash out damned spots? When really the only damned things they have washed out of this play are East Asian Actors with lead roles.

(There is one Maid and 2 Dogs that are played by East Asian Actors, but the Maid is murdered and the dogs are really puppets. I can’t imagine they are verbose, the dogs. Unless they are pulling Timmy from the well. Like Lassie.

Lassie…why does that kid keep falling
down a well? You need another kid.

Who was played by an actual dog. And yes, they had wells in Feudal China, because…WAIT FOR IT… just like every other human on the planet – Chinese people require water to live. Ah, the similarities are astounding!)

The Critics are siding with The Royal Shakespeare Company!

“East Asians you say?
In the THEATRE you say?
What, what? Never do, Never do,
Fetch me my snuffbox and an inkwell
I must write the Prime Minister”

The East Asians who were not even asked to audition and who then rose up in Interweb protest on several valid points have been dismissed summarily as ‘sour grape actors’! One Critic even went so far as to tell us that ‘the best actors got the job‘.

How do we know that?

We know some very fine Actors were cast, it is after all, the RSC, but what we do NOT know is how many East Asian Actors were called to audition for a play set in Feudal China. Artistic Director Doran says that he called ‘lots and lots’. What a very precise number, did he go to public school?

In an informal survey, out of the approximately 100 or so Actors who were of East Asian descent that they could have called, the RSC called eight.


I have more fingers and toes than that. As do you, hopefully. Go check. Go check now. Ok, look at your hands,

So MANY to choose from, but just
pick TWO, and now count…I’ll wait

now take away your thumbs and any hope of evolution….

Well, I’ll be a Monkey’s Uncle
looky thar, no opposible thumbs! Great!
Now count again – I’ll wait….

Yes, that many Actors of East Asian Heritage were called in for a play that boasts 17 parts and takes place in China.

Please place your thumbs back on your hands.

The Guardian said “while I would have liked to see more Asian actors on stage, this should not diminish the power of an extraordinary theatrical event.”

Quite right. It IS Extraordinary that there were not more East Asian Actors on the stage. It is, indeed, a powerful statement that the major critics are perfectly fine viewing “The Chinese Hamlet” without Chinese people.

I wonder what ELSE the Critics would be perfectly ok with?

Stealing tuppence from children? Firing a nanny for sliding down banisters? Forbidding Mrs. Banks to attend Suffragette meetings? Asking Cook to mind the children? Doesn’t that all lead to anarchy? A ghastly mess?

Here is the point, and the Fairy Princess will make it ONE MORE TIME – so that the Critics and Interweb Racial Identity Stalkers Who Post Crazy Crap will get it –

You cannot just decide to co-opt Asian stories, keeping the costumes and character names, making the set and props ‘authentic’ and then conveniently leave out the faces that go along WITH those other things.

And remember, the World is watching – how do I know that? I read The Huffington Post.

THE HUFFINGTON POST here in the States said of The Orphan of Zhao “In a play designed for Chinese characters, the bias seems to reach absurd levels of discrimination.”  Thank you Ariana Huffington – OPA!


Aren’t racists tired? I mean, here in the States they are all crying over Election results and threatening to depart our shores to go to England or Australia. (As an Aussie, I find that offensive since Oz has Universal Health Care, a National Voter System, a Female Prime Minister etc.)

It has GOT to be just EXHAUSTING being so afraid of other people all the time, even while you insist you must tell their stories, use their identifiable costumes and structures to build the world of the play…. and it’s just not cool, Folks.

Five spanks of the wand to the British Critics, save two, because when they could speak up and make a difference and raise awareness, they chose to kow tow (yeah, I said it like that) to the “Establishment’ and try to push the East Asian Actors under an Oriental Rug.

To the Critics at The Guardian BBC, The Express & Star, and everyone EXCEPT  The London Evening Standard who said The fuss about casting was justified…. and The Stage –You can all KISS MY FAN TAN FANNIE

(And Congrats to the British East Asian Actors who look to be getting their Forum to talk about all this in the open – you fought the good fight, and you must stiff upper lip it and carry on!)