The Fairy Princess has, let’s face it, been very active in writing about productions of THE MIKADO in the past.
What’s THE MIKADO, you ask?
It is an Operetta written by Gilbert and Sullivan, and, frankly, it has some of their most lilting melodies and lampooning of British mores that they ever wrote.
It is also set in Japan.
Which, as it has turned out over the years, has led to a whole HEAP of problems with yellow face portrayals, racist stereotypes run amok, and general ill will from Asian Americans at large, and Asian American Performers specifically.
After all, it’s great that you love us and all – but stop trying to skin us and wear us like a coat.
One might even say, that because THE MIKADO has so frequently been performed by both amateur groups and professional rep companies with the aforementioned issues – Asian American performers have stayed well away from being involved in any production of it.
The exception being of course, the Doris Baizley/Ken Narasaki play “The Mikado Project’, which later turned into a film directed by Chil Kong, which stars, among others – Tamlyn Tomita and Rizwan Manji.
After the furor that was let loose last year, on NY Gilbert and Sullivan Players by both TFP and other bloggers and activists, their production was cancelled – they said they needed another year to work on their concept, and wouldn’t you know…it has been a year!
TFP was told by a friend who was at the callbacks (which, for non-theater folks is, essentially, those who have made it to the second or third round of auditioning) that everyone coming in was VERY diverse.
After speaking with someone associated with the Production upcoming, TFP can confirm that YES, they will be having a diverse, multi-racial MIKADO, however, they would like to have more Asian Americans come in and audition.
“NYGASP is actively pursuing diversity in recruiting new company members“.
Likely because of past issues with this particular show, few APIs came in to audition – which impacts casting -and will lead to, again, anger and disbelief and listen…no one wants to write another blog on THE MIKADO and ask the question of WHY WHY WHY don’t they have more APIs in the cast in a show that is set in Japan – even if it is a mythical Japan.
(BTW, the concept of how they are going to deal with the whole ‘mythical Japan‘ was run by TFP, and it sounds very much in the spirit of G&S, and smart, just in talking through it – TFP is ‘with” NYGASP on this concept – and that is a sentence she never thought she would write !)
The issues are a few with the need for more APIs singing the Gilbert and Sullivan canon –
- The Singer must sing classically – no ‘pop/rock’
- The Singer must audition w/appropriate songs
- The Singer is actually auditioning for a spot in the repertory company of NYGASP, not limited to just a spot in this current MIKADO.
Take a look at number 3 – APIs are actually auditioning for a spot in the Company.
Which means, next time they do IOLANTHE, or PIRATES OF PENZANCE (Which, is TFP‘s favorite), or RUDDIGORE – there are likely to be APIs in the cast, as they make it a point to use members of the Repertory company.
Which means, times are changing! Where New York City leads, others will follow – and it is great to know that positive things CAN happen.
Which means that the concept of Asian Americans playing Asian characters on stages in New York City and beyond, is happening.
Which means, Asian Americans will actually be able to relax a bit and not have that instant reaction that often accompanies the announcement of a MIKADO production.
So listen Kids, NYGASP is having another day for MIKADO auditions and it is THIS COMING FRIDAY.
SEPTEMBER 2, 2016
Now, NYGASP does NOT use an independent Casting Professional for their shows – they announce auditions and people submit themselves for a time. That is the way it has always been, and that is the way it will continue to be.
Do not take it as a ‘diss – it’s not.
Singers who have classically sounding voices and backgrounds, you must contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to submit yourself.
ONE verse of ONE Song, in English – preferably from the G&S canon, but not required.
Photo and Resume.
NYGASP has a special agreement with AEA Assoc, however the Company auditions both Union and Non-Union Members by appointment only. All AEA Members who request an audition will get one.
Look, Asian American Singers of Classical Background – this is YOUR shot – there was nothing like this when TFP graduated from CMU, that she will swear to.
This is an opportunity that has been hard won by folks you will likely never even meet. So many API journalists and bloggers and activists have worked on and at this issue for YEARS – do not throw it away by not attending this call.
Did TFP help tear down this castle of a production that was NYGASP’s last vision of THE MIKADO?
Is she willing to help get the word out now and help rebuild the flying buttresses of operetta?
But, as the song goes from CHICAGO “I simply can not do it alone‘.
Please submit yourself and go in and sing your damn face off. Even if you cannot for schedule reasons do this particular production – Brian Stokes Mitchell it.
Make them hear you.
Otherwise, when we see a ‘typical’ MIKADO come the Fall, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
They have taken the notes – they have API Consultants and Creatives behind the table, they have a new set design and so on – it is now up to us.
You wanted representation on those stages – brush off your vocalizes and go and represent.