Archives for the month of: July, 2015

The Fairy Princess has had a busy week – she was able to go to the Asian American Film Lab’s 72 Hour Shoot Out Party, and hang with some of the very talented filmmakers and cast members. The AAFL is one of those organizations that TFP truly enjoys – under the direction of Jennifer Betit-Yen, the AAFL has it’s own YouTube Channel, which you can easily subscribe to.

AAFL helps bring diverse voices to the forefront – providing them access to information, seminars, screenings, workshops…anyway, it is a great organization, and TFP was thrilled to be able to support them.

She has been a fan a long time, and most recently co-hosted their “Focus On The Philippines” series –

You can watch all the winning films from this year’s 72 Hour Shootout (all the writing, production, and editing has to be completed within 72 hours) on their You Tube Channel, as well as on various local channels in your area.

Congrats to all the participants!


So…yes, TFP was feeling in a good place about Diversity and Representation, after all…ALLEGIANCE has put up it’s banner on a theater and their box office will open September 1, 2015.


HAMILTON is now on Broadway, previews, but….it is up – it opens ‘officially’ on August 6, 2015


not to mention that SCHOOL OF ROCK is coming November 9, 2015 and features a fun, and diverse cast….


Deaf West’s production of SPRING AWAKENING coming back to Broadway, it’s bringing Oscar Winner, Marlee Matlin with it for it’s limited engagement run that starts previews Sept 8, and opens Sept 27, 2015

There is some cool stuff going on on The Broadway, and people are noticing and commenting on it – both on social media and in the mainstream media – PoC are speaking up and asking why are we not represented, and being that there is no good answer, there has been a marked response.


Which is why TFP was chortling at the placement of this particular ‘item”


See that, right there? That on the bottom is an interview with TONY Winner, Lea Salonga, all about how encouraged she is with the diversity of Broadway, sentiments that TFP agrees with, it IS encouraging.


Until you realize that right above it, ABOVE Diversity, there is the announcement of the casting of the revival of NOISES OFF at The Roundabout Theater Company, and as it is the FIRST story, that takes precedence – ie, it was deemed more important.


Lea Salonga is hoping there is a shift, but her hope has been dashed as one can see because although she is a TONY WINNING LEAD ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL, who is opening a new show in the Fall of 2015, her interview was bumped from the ‘top spot’ by an announcement of a cast for a show that will not ‘open’ till January 2016!

Which is…wait for it…NEXT YEAR!


Journey with TFP now, let us take a look at the cast for the revival of NOISES OFF and see why it should be the lead story….


TFP is thinking something….


Now, before everyone gets all up in a tilt -a- whirl about ‘well, King and I is up and Saigon is coming back, and if Allegiance is coming too…you have nothing to complain about if we want to have an all white play up....” and whilst that is a point, there are two issues at hand with this:

1. The above cited pieces are all musicals, not straight plays

2. The Roundabout has an issue with casting minorities.

The Roundabout, in a study cited by dealing with the 2012 season, was the fourth LEAST likely to cast diverse in New York City. So that is the point – if it was another company producing, perhaps TFP would not have noticed (not like there is blinding diversity in straight plays on Broadway) – but it was particularly egregious to TFP that once again, The Roundabout is choosing to not cast minorities. While they did not hold the ‘top spot’, they were fourth down on the list, which is…troubling.


The first was the York Theater.


In fact, the last time TFP had to write about The Roundabout Theater company it was because they thought that brown face makeup was no big deal….


That is Andy Karl and TONY Winner Jessie Mueller all browned up for a production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, where they were portraying 1/2 Sri Lankan characters at The Roundabout.


The kerfuffle over that incident was supposed to lead to a ‘closed door’ meeting on their Diversity in Casting…one can only imagine that it was not quite as successful a meeting as it could have been.


Now, as stated, The Roundabout has little to no diversity amongst it’s castings – but that is a manifold discussion to have and here is what people who want to argue will say about it.

1. The Best Actors got the job.

No one knows if the ‘best’ actors got the job, because no one knows who was called in to audition for the job. In the case, and with this cast, it does seem that quite a few of them would have been a direct offer – which leads to the next argument.

2. They went with ‘stars’.

In the United States we have ‘stars’ of every different hue, and that it would in fact, be smarter of them to try and diversify the cast to get an influx of new audience members who would be interested in seeing varied countenances.

One would also have to point out, that not everyone in the cast – while all very talented one is sure – qualifies as ‘stars’ (that is not a diss, it’s a career trajectory point of fact) so the ‘stars’ thing is not a valid rebuttal.

3. The Actors require British Accents

Has one looked and seen the racial diversity of Britain?


Not everyone in London looks like any odd Royal in a Can anymore – there are diverse faces in the UK, or have you not heard Lenny Henry’s speech recently?

 You may need a refresher….

Plus which, they might decide to do it sans British accents. Regardless, ethnic minorities in the UK have accents from the UK, and that is not a valid rejoinder.

The interesting thing is that in London proper at the Finborough Theatre, they are mounting the new play- WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE, written by Steven Hevey and directed by John Young, and…well….take a look at the cast…Rita Arya, Gary Beadle, Ross Hatt, Paddy Navin, Matt Whitchurch, and Daniel York, yes,  a world premiere.


They are in rehearsal and opens in August, full production….look at that, everyone working together, innit?


And what is this new play, this very exciting, very promising looking play about?

“In a city buckling under the weight of a severe housing crisis, Ben and Asma have discovered a borough in London they can finally call their home. However with it’s earthy character and village feel, it isn’t long before this hidden gem becomes the prime location for every other trendy urbanite in the city. As they find themselves under siege from a brutal wave of gentrification, powerless to stop the many charms that had attracted them to the area from being erased, Ben and Asma reach out to the local community for support, but start to question whether or not the damage has already been done.

A timely and important play about the changing face of London.”


Well DONE oh Finborough Theatre! London’s leading Off West End Theatre Company, and one can see why!


Sadly we of The Broadway are casting London in 1982 –  she is gutted she cannot see this one.

Look, TFP loves this play, NOISES OFF,  she truly does – but this was a ‘no brainer’ in terms of what could be done to embrace the changing world we live in, and the world that this faux theater company is supposed to represent. The last time she saw NOISES OFF, she could not catch her breath from laughing so much, it is honestly that wonderful.

 She also knows that the playwright, Michael Frayn has gone back and rewritten things in the past in regards to this play, so the play itself is not set in stone, adjustments have been made in the past, and one assumes that he could make them again – if he so chose.


One of the things necessary to know about this particular play, if you are unaware of it,  is that some of the actors play the crew of a theater company, and the truth is, the production crews of a play are diverse.

 People who work in theater ARE diverse.

Here, this is a photo from an anniversary of a show about puppets, and there is Producers, Cast and Crew in it, ahem.

Top L-R: John Tartaglia, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Beverly Jenkins, Producer Robyn Goodman, Erin Quill, Phoebe Kreutz, Producer Kevin McCollum Lower Left Photo: Star of MEMPHIS: J. Bernard Calloway Lower Rt Photo: Carmen Ruby Floyd & Erin Quill

Top L-R: John Tartaglia, Carmen Ruby Floyd, SM Beverly Jenkins, Producer Robyn Goodman, Erin Quill, Puppet Wrangler: Phoebe Kreutz, Producer Kevin McCollum
Lower Left: MEMPHIS star: J. Bernard Calloway
Lower Rt: Carmen Ruby Floyd & Erin Quill

In fact, one could argue that there is reason to have a strong South Asian contingent playing the crew based on the changing demographics of the United Kingdom.


4. It is what their subscription base wants

Well TFP wants constant rainfall in California to fill the reservoir, but she understands that she cannot control the weather.

 In the case of the subscription base, arguing that people only go to theater to see themselves actually brings the argument back to the need for diversification. Also, one should give the subscription base more credit – they would still buy a ticket if the work was good, even if there was a face or two that did not look like they could share the same foundation shade.

No, no, there is no valid argument to ‘defend’ the lack of diversity in this casting except that it is what the director, Jeremy Herrin, coming from the UK and the director of the esteemed WOLF HALL, Parts 1 and 2, wanted. It is his right, he is the Director, and he had a vision. It is a classic British play, it is a farce, and he cast it as he saw fit – a ‘classic’ fit for a UK that existed in 1982, when the play was first presented.


TFP was curious about Mr. Herrin, and his background, so she did take a look.


Mr. Herrin hails from Scotland and has worked on several things with the Royal Shakespeare Company.


Ah, the RSC…. they are the ones that produced The Orphan of Zhao, a play adapted from the oldest play in China – and did not have East Asians play Chinese people.


TFP wrote about that once upon a time.


Once can say this for RSC AD Gregory Doran….his point of view is as strong as it is alarming – and as invasive as Asian carp.


Anyway, it did make TFP laugh that here we are, we pesky minorities, feeling like perhaps we are getting somewhere and things are changing, and yet…Diversity never made it to top billing….not even if the one talking held a TONY Award in her hand.


Fifty smacks of the wand to the Roundabout Theater Company -continuing on in your own grand tradition….


TFP  knows people vote in theater by purchasing a ticket….or NOT…she knows which one she will be doing.


As for – TFP is going to hope this was just some alphabetical, random kind of thing…but the irony was definitely there….most definitely.

Thanks for the reminder.


TFP out.

The Fairy Princess has been looking around at the television landscape, and she is greatly…ok, ‘greatly‘ may be exaggerating


…but she has been much encouraged about what is happening in American Television in regards to API Representation.

First off, this week – HELL ON WHEELS on TMC – they have finally included the Chinese in their story!

For those who do not know – HELL ON WHEELS is about the building of the railroad across the United States of America.


Now, TFP did like the first season, but she did not return for the second, third, and fourth because…while yes, she is Irish, she had a problem with the lack of representation of the Chinese on the show.

A show about the Railroad? With no Chinese? C’mon, HELL ON WHEELS, really?


Only because..well…without the Chinese, the railroad likely would not have been completed. The first Chinese workers were hired in 1865. They were paid $28 dollars a month, and had to pay for their lodgings and food – unlike the Caucasian workers.

Historians estimate that there were 10,000 – 15,000 Chinese laborers working on the railroad at any given time after 1867, until completion on May 10, 1869.


The number that died working on the railroad has no official number, but the work was brutal and back breaking, and one had the added danger of potentially being blown up.


TFP has watched the first episode of HELL ON WHEELS this season, and now, in Season Five – they have (Finally) started to delve into the Chinese workers of the Railroad, represented for the most part by actors Byron Mann as Chang,


Angela Zhou as Fong, and Tzi Ma as Tao. (More will likely show up, but this is only the first episode of the season)


Their inclusion has given her a reason to watch the show again. In fact, they seem to be laying the groundwork to go into the Chinese Railroad Workers Strike of 1867, which should be both historically and dramatically interesting.


In 1867, Chinese Railroad workers went on strike, demanding higher wages – from $35 to $40 per month, and a reduction of the work day from approximately 12 or 14 hours to 10 hour shifts. That did not go quite so well – the owners refused, so the Chinese upped their request to $45 per month.

The workers did not riot, they did not scream loudly, they simply did not go to work, and they thought they had the upper hand – except for that pesky racism that pervaded the country in regards to the Chinese.


You know, the same kind of racism that led to that massacre in Rock Springs later in 1885….the kind where they do not consider you human?


Yeah, that kind.


Anyway, back to the strike – the owners refused to have food delivered to the camps of the Chinese Railroad workers- they also added an armed posse for ‘persuasion’.


The Chinese eventually capitulated – it was that or starve to death. Thus ended the 1867 Strike.


Some have mentioned to TFP that they are uncomfortable with Chang being a ‘bad guy’ because they do not like the idea of Chinese preying on their own.


This is counterproductive to TFP in this regard – if we try and self-regulate what parts Asian American Actors and Actresses get to play, they will not get to play anything. Why? Because when the API community starts demanding only ‘certain kinds’ of roles that fall more in line with the ‘model minority’ thinking, that is the death knell for creativity.


What we should want is for our Actors to have colorful roles.


Asian American Actors and Actresses should have the ability to play roles that make us uncomfortable, roles that make us think, roles that inspire them. To wish otherwise is to rob them of their tools, and eventually of their livelihood. If you get rid of the API Actors, by constantly second guessing or trying to ban their productions, who wins?


Not your children, who will grow up…as we all grew up…without almost any API representation on television.


Not yourself, who will look to things like the casting of Tilda Swinton as a 500 Year old Tibetan Man, and wring your hands, but know that once again, there is nothing to be done.


No one wins, it is that simple.


Actors do not go to your job and say you cannot do it simply because they do not like the look of your job now, do they?


In the theater, we say ‘you vote with your ticket’ ie: if you do not like something or you do not like what a show represents, or the message it sends, you vote by either purchasing or not purchasing a ticket.


In television is it actually similar – you vote by changing the channel, By watching or by not watching.


Before we decide, however – let’s just watch the show and see if it dramatically makes sense. If the characters are interesting. Not ‘moral’, not ‘good’, not ‘comfortable’, but are they interesting?

Because that is what ‘we’ should be concerned about – multi-layered, interesting characters with motivations, right?


TFP’s opinion –  the character of Chang is completely within the realm of possibility – particularly when one reads part of this statement by Leland Stanford, President of the Central Pacific Railroad at the time:


“….No system similar to slavery, serfdom or peonage prevails among these laborers. Their wages, which are always paid in coin, at the end of each month, are divided among them by their Agents, who attend to their business, in proportion to the labor done by each person. These agents are generally American or Chinese merchants, who furnish them their supplies of food, the value of which they deduct from their monthly pay. We have assurances from leading Chinese merchants that under the just and liberal policies pursued by the Company, it will be able to produce during the next year, not less than 15,000 laborers..…”

In TFP’s opinion, any time one is unable to connect directly with one’s workers, and relies on intermediaries, there is the opportunity for misbehavior. As is often said –


The character of Chang is a wealthy businessman with several interests including, lest one forgets, a brothel. Most people would say brothel ownership is distasteful but Chang, as a character, is interesting.

TFP has no issue with it, there is a historical basis for this plot – she looks forward to seeing more inclusion of the Chinese journey in the United States on television, and how, dramatically, this gels with the rest of the show.

Look again at that statement “…are divided among them by their Agents


Yaaaas you are getting it….let’s just see how this storyline plays out this season, all right?


One episode does not a season make…this could get very, very interesting….and we Chinese love to wish interesting times upon people, do we not?


Roll on, HELL ON WHEELS, Roll On…

TFP out.