The Fairy Princess had a phone call yesterday – or rather, her Agency received a phone call from Casting Director Michael Cassara, letting them know that the NAAP Production of SHOW BOAT auditions which had been scheduled for be an “All Asian American” Cast, have been cancelled.
There has yet been no official announcement from NAAP.
Now, some might think that TFP was doing this:
But she was not.
Let’s be clear – this was never about
or trying to erase this company in any way.
What this debate was about, for TFP, is what theater debates generally tend to be about nowadays – representation.
There are always consequences for our choices, that goes without saying, but choosing a show (when there are so many others available) where the cornerstone of the entire plot is the subjugation and attempted ‘escape’ from that life of a Mixed Raced African American woman, and the racial divides of the Deep South post Civil War?
It was simply a poor choice.
Which has now been amended.
TFP realizes that the mission of National Asian Artists Project is a valid and vital one – they provide education, community outreach, and, to put it frankly ‘stage time’, that is necessary for younger Artists to receive in order to move on in their careers.
The Fairy Princess would like to now, publicly, thank NAAP and it’s principal administrators – Baayork Lee, Steven Eng, and Nina Zoie Lam for listening to the concerns of the Asian American Broadway Community and cancelling this particular production.
The Fairy Princess would also like to thank Tommy Tune for being gracious about this decision, and she hopes that this will not deter him from working with the Artists of NAAP, because she does feel that an Artist of his caliber is someone that anyone, regardless of race, would be lucky to work with.
(Where are we on All API Grand Hotel, Mr. Tune? Seriously now…)
TFP cannot say that her decision to write about this particular matter was ‘business, not personal’, because that would be hiding.
TFP does not hide.
She knows that it will be felt, very personally, by the NAAP Executive Staff, and while she gets that they will be upset with her. It is TFP‘s own ‘mission’, if you will, to speak out when she thinks things are wrong, regardless of the skin color of those who she believes are making a wrong choice.
Which is called, equality.
The fact that she has been called…well…
is not enough to deter her from speaking up.
In fact, it kinda makes her, well….
Because POISON is a great song, and she had forgotten about it for a while, but now it is back in it’s ear worm capacity in her head and it is pretty fabulous.
To say that this was “business and not personal‘ would be a lie – this was personal to TFP because she did not want this production to do irreparable damage to the relationships of People of Color in the greater theatrical community. Those relationships, so heavily relied upon, so heavily intertwined, are personal.
People of Color ‘having each other’s back” is personal.
This was ‘personal‘ for TFP also because she did damage to the relationships that she had with Baayork Lee, Steven Eng, and Nina Zoie Lam, and she knows this. Personally, she was sorry she had to address this situation, but this was a situation that should never have arisen in the first place.
TFP acknowledges all of that – personally, while she cannot regret writing and helping bring about a change, she does know that she did not set out to ‘destroy NAAP“, as has been mentioned, but if that is the way people feel, she cannot change it. She accepts it. This is what happens when she sets out to write her blog, because while she does not write as frequently as others, when she does, it usually means…
The other part of the issue is, actually, business.
Licensing rights for musicals are expensive, and she imagines that while they may have gotten a slight ‘deal’ on those for SHOW BOAT, NAAP may be in a real financial pickle to recover from having to purchase ‘rights’ to another show in time for a production as scheduled.
Now, to TFP and her sense of fair play – this should be a situation where the R&H Organization acknowledges that yes, they are equally at fault here, and they should help NAAP find a show within their canon that will be acceptable to Ms. Lee, Mr. Tune etc, etc. etc. at little to no extra cost.
That would be the classy thing to do.
That would be in the spirit of Oscar Hammerstein.
If, however, R&H does not see fit to extend them credit, or just ‘do a swap‘, and they do wish to go with something like…well, GRAND HOTEL, then they will need funds for that.
TFP found out that GRAND HOTEL is licensed by Music Theatre International – ahem….
This is where TFP is torn because, in one respect, she would like to encourage people to thank NAAP for changing this egregious choice by helping them move on quickly with a donation so that they can get a new show up and running quick.
HOWEVER, some lessons are best learned in the pocketbook, and some choices need to have consequences so that people really think about them, so that they do not have them happen again.
TFP supposes the issue is – who ‘suffers’ here? If there is no show? If there is a missed opportunity for young API Performers to work with a Director the caliber of Tommy Tune?
See? Again, it is personal.
TFP will leave it to you, the reader to decide which road to travel….but she will also remind you though we love to do Art, there is only one way Art gets done…
If you would like to donate to National Asian Artists Project, here is the link to their donation page.
If you are making a donation, might TFP also encourage you to leave a comment as to why you felt compelled to make a donation…because, after all, they did listen, and….