UPDATED: TFP has been notified via Twitter, that The Lamplighters decided to change the setting of their Mikado to Victorian England. Apparently this was announced four days ago, please note the date of March 25th.
TFP thanks them for responding to community concerns and wishes them a long and successful run, however she is leaving this post up because she realizes she is widely read and she has a responsibility to note that the news of this change – which is hugely positive – gets to all concerned.
So therefore, she leaves her initial post up – with the knowledge that by putting this information at the top – the news will indeed reach the people it needs to.
She does suggest that The Lamplighter should update their PR photos, because their Yellowface photos are all over promoting the show – and this could lead to much community push back, which is now rendered unnecessary.
She also wishes to congratulate them on making changes and not chickening out like NYGASP, who cancelled their production completely.
Go on there, Lamplighters – snaps to you.
THIS WAS THE INITIAL POST.
TFP LEAVES IT UP TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE ISSUE AT HAND AND TO MAKE SURE THAT OTHER G&S COMPANIES IN THE U.S. NOTE THAT POSITIVE CHANGE CAN BE HAD…AND IF NOT…SHE WILL LIKELY WRITE ABOUT IT – AND NO ONE WANTS THAT, DO WE?
The Fairy Princess was sitting in solemn silence – wait, that is totally false, as she has an almost four year old – there is never silence.
What some would call silence, TFP calls “waiting for sh*t to hit the fan’ and she was right – the fan is on and it’s blowing, and in this case – the fan is being waved in San Francisco of all places by, you may have guessed it, a Gilbert and Sullivan company. In this case, the company is called The Lamplighters.
Their motto is “Bringing Music and Laughter since 1952” They should at “At Asian Americans” to the end of that. Not with, at.
You see, they are going to produce The Mikado. In the ‘traditional Yellowface style”.
TFP has had MUCH experience in writing about The Mikado and here are a few highlights of opinions she has expressed, ad nauseum, in the past –
No one is out to get your precious Mikado!
Asian Americans do not want to ‘take it away’ from G&S enthusiasts – and by circling the wagon and deciding that is what we ‘all’ want to do, Caucasians are definitely and defiantly missing the point of what the continued objection to The Mikado is – the mockery of Asian appearance and dress by Caucasians.
TFP assumes you know you look ridiculous, but just in case you don’t…Lady Cora?
The following images are from The Lamplighters’ Production…
Your continued productions of The Mikado are not smartly done – the companies involved have not invested the time and effort to find out how to honor the Japanese customs in the way Gilbert wanted to do – you have somehow decided it was your right to imbue it with American jingo-ism stemming from WW2 backlash against Japanese Americans, and you have made it beyond ridiculous – caricatures that almost no one wants to see.
You might as well declare you want to build a wall around The Mikado and have APIs pay for it.
You have not invested in finding local Asian American talent that could lend this piece it’s dignity back – yes, yes, you talk about putting an ad in a paper or online to ‘find’ someone – but most of the time, Asian Americans know that the line about diversity in your ad is nothing but lip service.
Let’s face it – you do this because you LIKE it – you like making fun of people, specifically API people – and since Blackface is a giant no-no that even y’all can understand, Yellowface is too fun for you to give up. It is your last chance to mock another set of people secure in the argument that you can hide behind the “It’s Art” statement.
By the way – the minute you bring out the ‘authenticity’ argument, TFP will direct your attention to your own rewrite of “A Little List“. The minute you rewrite it, you are not authentic – seems relatively simple to understand from where TFP sits.
You really don’t want API’s in your production, because they might call you out on your own racism, and that is so veddy, veddy uncomfortable.
You could set The Mikado almost anywhere – there have been countless productions – the most famous of course is the English National Opera’s – where excessive makeup and costumes are not the order of the day, and which would express more creativity and sensitivity.
Those are points that TFP has made – over and over – in regards to Seattle, in New York where NYGASP actually closed the show – (which TFP was not for, the cancellation) and now, we are looking at you, San Francisco.
San Francisco, you should be ashamed of yourself.
Asian Americans have contributed to the health and well being and entertainment of San Franciscans since the beginning, and for those who do not know, or who have not seen the wonderful documentary FORBIDDEN CITY by Arthur Dong, San Francisco had a wonderful nightclub that featured the talents of Asian Americans called The Forbidden City. (Now available on digital remaster Blu-Ray on Amazon)
They had the Chinese Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the Chinese Frank Sinatra, the Chinese (there were plenty of APIs in the club, everyone was billed as being ‘the Chinese…insert white performer name) – you get the picture.
In point of fact, the novel by CY Lee – FLOWER DRUM SONG, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, was set in The Forbidden City in San Francisco. Likewise the musical FLOWER DRUM SONG was also set in San Francisco. This then became the film FLOWER DRUM SONG, which had one of the most famous movie numbers filmed on what is now the most famous street IN San Francisco – Grant Avenue!
Asian Americans and San Francisco go together – like Clang Clang Clang and Trolley. Asian Americans are as visible and as vibrant in San Francisco as The Golden Gate bridge.
In point of fact – Angel Island off the coast of San Francisco was the famous immigration point for Asian people trying to enter the country!
San Francisco was where Wong Kim Ark tried to re-enter the country of his birth and was denied, and thus he sued the United States and THAT is why – if you are BORN here, you are a Citizen.
He was born in the United States. In San Francisco – 751 Sacramento Street.
San Francisco and Asian Americans are united in a blood oath, we just cannot quit one another.
(Above photo by Lia Chang)
San Francisco – you deserve better than this Lamplighter production – you are too find a city to allow caricatures of Asian peoples on your stages…and while TFP is not advocating to close this production, lessons can always be learned no matter how painful –she is asking The Lamplighters a simple question:
If you could not hide your production behind the Yellowface makeup, exaggerated cartoonish gestures, and flowing robes – would it be any good?
Would this production – stripped down – show the fun of mocking Victorian mores? Or would it simply show that you do not have the talent to rely only on your voices and performances?
It is a question worth answering.
Oh yeah, and Kiss our Fan, Tan Fannie!