Archives for the month of: March, 2014

The Fairy Princess actually thought she was going to have a good day….after all, one of her old bosses is up to be an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) Award winner today, and she has EVERYTHING crossed for Kristen Anderson Lopez and Bobby Lopez to win for Best Song – LET IT GO, from the film, FROZEN

Bobby Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez

Bobby Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez

The Pasadena Playhouse has announced that under the direction of new Associate Artistic Director, Seema Sueko, they are going to produce a workshop of playwright, Philip C. Chung’s play, COME DOWN IN TIME, as part of their Hothouse series. They will co-produce with East West Players, and it will take place on March 20 & 21, 2014 at  8:00 PM at The Vault, 60 Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101.

The HOTHOUSE Series is designed to highlight and develop plays that ‘authentically align with the Playhouse’s commitment to Diversity’ and will be focusing on playwrights whose representation in American theater are traditionally under-represented.

The Fairy Princess has known Philip C. Chung for a long time, and she is absolutely thrilled that his work is getting the recognition by two venerable Los Angeles Arts Institutions. Philip has been working on his You Offend Me, You Offend My Family Website and it’s accompanying YouTube Channel, as well as his career as a screenwriter, but I knew that he missed writing for theater.

So there you have it – a hit! A palpable hit!

And…as good news comes in threes – she found out that Philip Anthony Rodriguez is going to have a cool story arc on the NBC Show, GRIMM! He’s going to be a Henchman for the Royals!

New Royal Henchman on GRIMM

New Royal Henchman on GRIMM

Three good things in the past few days!  Thus the Fairy Princess was unprepared for her emails this morning about…well, for a moment let’s go back…remember this guy?

Gregory Doran, Artistic Director RSC aka The Great Conqueror

Gregory Doran, Artistic Director RSC
aka The Great Conqueror

He was the chappie who brought us that production of The Orphan of Zhao, which was the oldest play from China, about a Chinese subject, and has been called The Chinese “Hamlet’, and he did THIS to it –

The Orphan of Zhao...by way of Exeter.

The Orphan of Zhao…by way of
Exeter.

All coming back to you? Sounding familiar? The Fairy Princess gave him a bit of a trouncing in her blog, and the past year has been fairly quiet on the Western Imperial Front from RSC. In fact, the British East Asians celebrated/… the year anniversary of that controversial show, and we were kind of thinking everyone had learned their lesson.

Because it is damn tiring to have to keep teaching it.

The White Privilege in that rock is REALLY heavy

And honestly, isn’t everyone tired of reading it yet?

Well, they have not gotten the message at The Wooster Group yet, and THAT is lying heavy on the head that wears my tiara. The Fairy Princess has long been an admirer of The Wooster Group, and in general, she believes that they are a fairly sensitive, arty crowd, who do their utmost with their liberal political underpinnings to do groundbreaking work. After all they were founded by Spaulding Gray!

He's got stories, right here in New York City

He’s got stories, right here in New York City

Or that is what she thought they did.

Then, they decided to team up with the RSC for a production of Troilus & Cressida, and examine, how did they put it? I’d better just pull the quote:


CRY, TROJANS! originated as a co-production with the Royal Shakespeare Company of Troilus and Cressida at the World Shakespeare Festival in conjunction with the London 2012 Olympics. In that collaboration, the two companies took opposite sides in the Trojan War: the Wooster Group staged the Trojan scenes while the RSC staged the Greek ones. Scenes with both Greeks and Trojans were staged by both, each side developing its own version. The companies worked separately and without consultation until they met a few weeks before performances to sew the two halves of the show together. The seam was intentionally left rough so that the contrast of artistic approaches remained a foreground feature of the production, accenting the face-off of warring cultures in the play.

Seeking a decidedly American angle from which to encounter the RSC and the language of Shakespeare, the Wooster Group reimagined the Trojans as a pastiche fictional tribe of early Americans struggling to assert its dignity as doom closes in.

Following the special engagement with the RSC, the Wooster Group returned to New York and converted the collaboration into an independent piece. The spirit of the absent collaborator/enemy still manifests in various ways, but CRY, TROJANS! concentrates on the Trojan side of the story: the corruption of sincere love and the downfall of a noble hero.”


Ah yes they are going to examine ‘the corruption of sincere love and the downfall of a noble hero”.

Yet it winds up seeming to The Fairy Princess to be a corruption of Culture exchange and the downfall of  Compassion. It seems odd that in the spirit of the Olympics, which is supposed to be all nations coming together and sharing and learning, the Wooster Group has fallen back artistically – perhaps with encouragement from RSC, perhaps on their own. Who knows how they came up with their concept, but it allowed the British to remain Caucasian and the Americans to don ‘war paint’ and ape the Native American experience – with no Native Americans seemingly visible on stage or in the artistic planning.

This is the issue – and it’s long enough that we actually have a subscription, but here it goes – Native Americans are not a pastiche to be bandied about with when you think you have run out of ideas as to how to play cultures at war with one another.

Does this look ‘right’ to anyone?

Photo by Paula Court from CRY TROJANS!

Photo by Paula Court from CRY TROJANS!

Probably to Gregory Doran, because, after all, he pulled one of these:

Still from RSC's Orphan of Zhao

Still from RSC’s Orphan of Zhao

Well, I guess he told The Wooster Group to bang a gong and get it on, because….

Photo by Steven Gunther

Photo by Steven Gunther

I mean, SERIOUSLY?

I had to learn about this on Oscar Sunday? Hmmmm why does Oscar Night and Native Americans seem so aligned in my head already? There must be a reason….

Oh right, who stuck up for Native Americans once upon a time on Oscar Sunday?

Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando

He was awarded an Oscar, but instead, he sent this message:

Now, tis true, that perhaps The Brits do not ‘get’ the long, bloody and shameful history that America has with it’s Native Peoples – although WHY they would not, I have no idea, as they set the ball in motionbut Americans know. Though Americans are not taught the history of most minority groups in their classrooms, they are taught of our shocking and bloody, full scale war upon the Native Americans. We are. Every one of us.

Not to mention dozens of other ways we decimated Native American tribes – blankets from people who died of smallpox, anyone? Putting them in camps? Creating and then taking back Reservations?

Bury your heart at Wounded Knee?

General rape and pillage for absolutely no reason at all except a desire to push West?

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Yep, those were covered in our classrooms.

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But if one needs to catch up, one merely needs to go on the world wide interweb and do a search on American Genocide and you can find THIS documentary which I first saw at a film festival many years ago:

We also know that Native Americans are not one peoples – there are 566 listed Federally Recognized Tribes in America!

566!

Native_American_map[1]

That is not a ‘pastiche’!

What is a pastiche? Technically? It’s a pie filling.

apple-pie-ay-1932517-l

It is from the Italian word pasticcio, which is pie filling mixed from diverse ingredients. It is also an piece of work that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more artists. It is not a parody – which mocks others.

Imitation or Parody?

Imitation or Parody?

The Fairy Princess is very, very sad about this new production from The Wooster Group – and she is even sadder that they are running it again in Los Angeles at REDCAT – without RSC.

How, in the City of Los Angeles, the City of Angels, where we have been swimming in Diversity panels like they are pools in a Beverly Hills mansion, could they have invited THIS production to perform in LA? Did no one say “Hey wait a minute, we are under fire here for bad casting decisions in the past which highlight our apathy and cultural insensitivity, so perhaps we should not invite a production where all the Native Americans are being portrayed by Caucasians?

Ya Think?

As a country, we cannot – can not – apologize to certain groups ENOUGH for what we, as a country, have done to their people. We all know who those groups are – African Americans, Native Americans, Japanese Americans.

Unless The Wooster Group is comfortable doing this:

Yeah, remember when people thought THIS was ok? (TOTALLY NOT OK!)

Yeah, remember when people thought THIS was ok? (TOTALLY NOT OK!)

Then they should NOT be doing this:

Still from the Production they did with RSC

Still from the Production they did with RSC

Because IT. IS. THE. SAME. THING! Get it? GET IT?

If you are so artistically bankrupt that you need to go and paint your actors because you cannot come up with a new concept for a Shakespearean drama – then quit. Seriously. Time to go. You cannot think of anything better than Rome-pan or Rome-many Nations – you are done.

Not because the concepts do not work – but because you are letting down your concept.

You cannot continue to mine the cultures of other peoples and then refuse to cast people that represent that culture. If you want to make a statement about Native Americans and your support of them and their journey in a Shakespearean way – go ahead – BUT CAST NATIVE AMERICANS!

I spy with my little eye...

I spy with my little eye…

If you want to set a show in a Rome that has been conquered by Japan, then you better have some Asian American faces in that cast. If you try to find members of that group and insist that you just cannot or that you have not found talent that you are excited to work with… change the concept. Set it in Norway, set it in France, set it in Russia, set it in Ukraine, set it in South Africa, set it in New Zealand, set it in Australia, set it in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, there are lots and lots of places one can possibly set a Shakespearean play where the actors will not have to actually paint themselves. (Unless you want them to paint Celtic Blue – because you know, the Celtic Warriors did actually paint themselves for battle – and there you go – one interesting concept, go ahead and take it)

celtic-warrior-ben-5

Why? Why? Because you, the Director, look more intelligent. Because you, the Director, look more educated. Because you, the Director will then look like you know more about the world – both the one you are trying to create and the one we all live in.

Now, there have already been reviews of this production – and one of my favorites was reading that this production is “Wooster-lite“. The reviewer did not feel this play lived up to the reputation of The Wooster Group.  Which means what? Here is a quote: The result is an uncharacteristically tame production, one that left me time to ponder the awkward politics of an overwhelmingly white ensemble horsing around with cultural caricatures of race.”

It means that it is no longer acceptable to critics, or to audience members, or to the theater community to continue to insist that Caucasian actors can paint or clothe themselves to portray other ethnicities. You know that when theater critics start talking about the the casting versus the concept, as opposed to the casting working with the concept that this is a problem.

The argument for Diversity is ongoing, and it is uphill, even with Critics like Wendy Rosenfeld speaking up.

The thing that gets to The Fairy Princess, is the theater establishments resistance to using full mental capacity to notice that the world has changed, is changing, will continue to change. The reason that The Wooster Group’s production is so shocking is that they were considered the cultural elitists in New York City for a very long time – melding acting, concept, technology, and new ideas.

And now, I guess I would consider them…well…behind.

I actually consider them a Horse's...er...zebra's behind!

I actually consider them a Horse’s…er…zebra’s behind!

Far, far behind – behind The Pasadena Playhouse, behind East West Players, behind NY’s Public Theater, and part of me thinks “my goodness, how very sad that is.” It is like seeing Dorian Gray’s portrait hidden in the attic when you have been having a delightful sherry with him in the parlor all evening.

So 10 smacks of the wand to The Wooster Group – you went to London to share, and you came back with the worst kind of Imperialism running rampant in your production. What, precisely did you ‘learn’? How to totally ignore what you know to be right, and walk all over the culture of Peoples of Color – well, you seem to be an excellent student.

Next time they ask you to do something like that, just say

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Even if you think they are the totally fancy, culturally elite, Royal Shakespeare Company and you want them to be impressed by you.

Just remember, they did this:

Yes, a Princess of China for sure

Yes, a Princess of China for sure

Because once you put a production out there….

Werd!

Werd!

Dear TODAY SHOW,

I am writing an Open Letter, not to confess anything, or reveal shocking details, or even to kvetch about the weather, which of course, every New Yorker holds Al Roker personally responsible for….

Al Roker from The Today Show

Al Roker from The Today Show

Just kidding Mr. Roker, we love you…after all, The Fairy Princess knows (from having met you during a prank Matt Lauer pulled on you) that you are a huge afficianado of the show tunes! And anyone who loves Broadway musicals enough to sing a few bars while working on what turned out to be a fake photo shoot, is good enough for me!

Sparkly Jacket? CHECK!

Sparkly Jacket? CHECK!

But that is what this open letter is about, oh Today Show dwellers…because I have a quick question –

why when Il Divo comes to perform they get to do it here:

Oh where are they? oh right - INDOORS!

Oh where are they? oh right – INDOORS!

But when Broadway’s new musical, BEAUTIFUL, the Carole King Story came to The Today Show, they performed here:

 

 

?

This was yesterday, February 27, 2014. That’s right, and what was the weather like yesterday?

It was around 39 degrees Fahrenheit, on average. Which, can be considered fairly cold. It’s a bit cold for performers who do 8 shows a week, and have to maintain their health in order to continue to work to be singing and dancing in their show clothes OUTSIDE with NO COATS!

The Anchors are outside in down coats, hats, and gloves – they know it’s cold. We all know it’s cold. Even if you did NOT know it was cold because..well, who knows why you would not know it was cold outside if you were in NYC but hypothetically…I suppose it is possible. So even IF you did not know what the weather is outside…

Let’s face it, you could have asked this guy who, you know, works for you…

Is this thing on? The jacket? Yes.

Is this thing on?  The jacket?  Yes.

 

You had the cast of AFTER MIDNIGHT out there in their scanties on January 21, 2014.

 

 

On January 21, 2014 it averaged 33 Degrees Fahrenheit!

 

But when Tony Bennett came to see you on October 9, 2013, he was here –

Legendary Tony Bennett on the TODAY Show

Legendary Tony Bennett on the TODAY Show

 

Inside.

When WICKED showed up on October 30, 2013 they were….

 

 

Now, it is obvious that Broadway and The Today Show go together like a time step and a glittery hat, but enough is enough! There is a polar vortex going on, and you have trained performers going out in this horrible weather almost nekkid for enough minutes that they could come down with some serious bronchitis – and that is not ok.

I know that lots of other performers sing outside – you have your Country stars, and your Rock stars, and so on – but they dress themselves, and in general, they seem to dress for the weather. (And if they don’t, that is their own damn fault because they have a choice).

Show People have no choice in what they wear because it is set – that is what it means when we say that the show is frozen – all costumes, lyrics, books, music is set into place for the run of the production. If they are promoting their show, which they ARE and THANK YOU, TODAY SHOW for that, it is really the best reason to tune in for me, when a Broadway show is going to be on – they have no choice in what they are wearing.

By the time they get to you, their show is frozen – now they are too. 

It ain’t right, Today Show – it ain’t right!

The Fairy Princess is requesting that you move all these highly trained, beautiful people INSIDE until Spring. (And not just, you know, beginning of Spring, like WAY into Spring – LATE SPRING)

Please?

There is a room that's full of heat, I want to go there when I sing....

There is a room that’s full of heat, I want to go there when I sing….

You have the studio space – you let other people use it…..

Look, everyone from Broadway who performs for your TV audience and for your live crowd wants them to come see them in their theaters, and they want to give the best performances they can. Broadway people do not want to call out for illness, they want to hit the stage in their high heels and give y’all a fabulous damn show!

But how can they do that with viral pneumonia?

 

Whaddaya mean NO COATS?

Whaddaya mean NO COATS?

 

The Fairy Princess finds it hard to concentrate on the performances being given when all she is thinking is ‘DAMN, they must be FREEZING!”.

You with me KINKY BOOTS? Say Yeah for moving The Broadway indoors in winter!

They were in June, look how happy they are!

 

 

Perhaps you will not listen to The Fairy Princess…(after all, I’m just a blogger with over 55,000 views) but you do have ONE person on staff who may advocate for showtunes and those who dwell there –

It's you and me, Kathie Lee...

From you to me, Kathie Lee

 

C’mon Kathie Lee! Would you want YOUR show out there with no coats on? I think not.

These are people I know, these are people I admire, and these are people who deserve a little respect…and, heat.

Finally, I thank you TODAY SHOW for shining the light on amazing performances all year around, you do a fantastic job that lends credit to your Staff and your show – it is seeing Broadway performances on your show that brings people to New York and puts their tushes in theaters!

Doing all you do it can not be easy, but it CAN be indoors….just till Spring.

Best Wishes,

The Fairy Princess

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