The Fairy Princess woke up this morning and read that NYGASP – NY GILBERT AND SULLIVAN PLAYERS – has cancelled their production of THE MIKADO that was to be at The Skirball Center, and replaced it with PIRATES OF PENZANCE.
But one would be wrong.
TFP is not at all happy about the cancellation…er…replacement of THE MIKADO by NYGASP, even though their statement…
New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players announces that the production of The Mikado, planned for December 26, 2015-January 2, 2016, is cancelled. We are pleased to announce that The Pirates of Penzance will run in its place for 6 performances over the same dates.
NYGASP never intended to give offense and the company regrets the missed opportunity to responsively adapt this December. Our patrons can be sure we will contact them as soon as we are able, and answer any questions they may have.
We will now look to the future, focusing on how we can affect a production that is imaginative, smart, loyal to Gilbert and Sullivan’s beautiful words, music, and story, and that eliminates elements of performance practice that are offensive.
Thanks to all for the constructive criticism. We sincerely hope that the living legacy of Gilbert & Sullivan remains a source of joy for many generations to come.
David Wannen Executive Director New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players
is well written.
Because it is September currently.
This was the ‘request’ – please stop using exaggerated makeup and gestures, and please remove the HIDEOUS addition of a character called “The Axe Coolie”.
That was it.
No one said “Please never do this again”, no one said “Please halt your production”.
All that was said was – please look closer at the fact that you are mocking Asians when you use exaggerated paint and gestures, and try and bring it closer to the first production of THE MIKADO, which was supposed to be respectful and elegant.
So what is the
That in 3 months, they cannot change their makeup?
In 3 months, they cannot ‘axe’ The Axe Coolie?
Just refusing to do the production – with three months to go – seems…well…
You can see why TFP has concerns, especially if you peruse the comments section of their FB page…the attitude now is that those “big, bad Asians are taking away our show”, the general theme is “thank goodness I saw it as it was meant to be before those thin skinned prickly Asians interrupted all our fun’ and ‘what is the world coming to?”
Well, the world is coming to be more diverse, frankly. America especially.
Cancelling a production does not negate the very real discussion which is – HOW did NYGASP arrive at their ‘standard’ production of THE MIKADO, which is so very far off the mark from the intent of Gilbert & Sullivan?
Why is it that NYGASP, which yes, is a premiere standard of Gilbert & Sullivan performances here in the United States, why is it they can do a beautiful IOLANTHE, or a super fun PIRATES, or giggly in moments H.M.S. PINAFORE, but when they get to THE MIKADO, they kind of all seem to lose their damned minds as to what is appropriate for our multicultured New York City.
TFP is puzzled about where authentic performance begins, and where stereotype and racial mockery becomes known as ‘authentic’, thus ending it.
Exchanging one production for another is but a band aid on a boil – it might help soothe temporarily, but underneath there is something festering, and why – honestly – WHY in a work of ART – was it SOOOOOOOO easy to get there?
TFP is not a social scientist, so she is just going to lay out those questions and hope that someone at NYGASP does take a good look at them.
Because you see, Dear Reader – just because they are not doing THE MIKADO that they wanted in NYC, does not mean it is over.
NYGASP has the exact same production of THE MIKADO, the “Just as they like it” version and it’s booked for FLORIDA.
Next week – September 23, 2015!
And it is SRO – SOLD RIGHT OUT.
TFP wonders if The Axe Coolie will make an appearance?
She’s pretty sure that some people in Florida will love The Axe Coolie.
Which is actually the issue. The issue is – are we always going to have to ‘catch’ people with these kinds of productions? Is the rest of the country so afraid, or so intimidated by Asian Americans that they will jump at a chance to label and mock us?
It’s an interesting thought, if a negative one, and TFP does not like negative thoughts.
This is the second production that TFP has had a bit of hand in closing – the other was (alarmingly) The National Asian Art Project’s production of SHOW BOAT, which was to feature an All API Cast to tell the story of racial divide in the United States post Civil War. That closing, NAAP’s?
TFP was ok with that. It was the wrong thing to do, and the API community spoke up and were heard.
HOWEVER, TFP does not like the closing of productions like NYGASP’s because that is a ‘close’ of the conversation.
Why cannot there BE a conversation?
TFP has a thought (which she stole from her friend Jeffrey S., but he would totally give it to her because he hates what this represents too, which is why they are friends) (She is expanding on it though)
– what if NYGASP took a big leap and did a bare, stripped down MIKADO? Just to try it. What IF…they took off their face paint and set in on say…The Upper East Side of New York City? And Titipu was like, just the name of an area in New York like Chelsea, or Meat Packing District?
And instead of carrying fans and parasols, they carried Birkin bags with little faux dogs in them? Or pushed GIANT DOUBLE STROLLERS WHILE CARRYING A STARBUCKS AND TEXTING?
And maybe the THREE LITTLE MAIDS went to a ritzy boarding school like Gywneth Paltrow used to go to?
Because if they did that, even just this once, would it not be clear, once again – what Gilbert and Sullivan were actually writing about? Social mores and how they color our behavior? That love can find a way, even if you are not 18 with a rocking bod, that if talking to your Boss isn’t getting you anywhere, talking to the President of the Company might get you a promotion? How rich kids like to run around on the down low, escaping their responsibilities because they do not want to become their Parents?
Are those sentiments ONLY for classic productions of THE MIKADO?
For those purists, who want the traditional dress and book – that is ok. Just be respectful. Would we like more Asians playing Asians in the cast?
However, a mixed cast of a classical work is perfectly fine – they do it in Shakespeare, they can do it in Operetta.
Just lose the makeup, the pulling of the eyes, the excessive tittering, shuffling and overall remember that Asian Americans are people, and also – they are Americans. If you would not do a minstrel show in front of an African American audience, then do not do a racist Mikado in front of us.
It is that simple.
TFP has another thought, actually – what if NAPP went on and did….an All API Version of PIRATES OF PENZANCE?
That is what NAAP does – All API Productions – and that is great, that’s their mission statement, perfect – serves a need.
TFP LOVES THE IDEA OF AN ALL API PIRATES OF PENZANCE – and PERHAPS…NYGASP could come on as consultants.
Then everyone would learn…together.
TFP would really like to come in for RUTH if that happens.
Also, for those out there who are interested in supporting NAAP, they are having a fundraiser on October 5th – GUESS WHERE?
THE SKIRBALL CENTER! (WHERE THE MIKADO WAS SUPPOSED TO BE)
ANYWAY, those are some thoughts for today…just gonna leave those here – NYGASP, TFP appreciates that you ‘heard’ us – but she’s concerned that it would take you over 3 months to remove makeup and behaviors from your production. It seems it is a bit of a ‘dodge the bullet’ tactic….HOWEVER – TFP is serious about that All API Pirates with NAAP – you should really get on that, it’s a good idea, even if it came from someone you are not entirely pleased with right about now.