As you know…The Fairy Princess has had some things to say about casting, particularly theatrical casting – both in the USA and abroad.
Just a few things (thing 1, thing 2, thing 3). We’ve gone from Chinese people being eliminated in Mythical China, to Chinese people being eliminated from a Chinese play that is set in real, actual China but shown onstage in the UK, to South Asian people being mocked on Broadway…it’s been a busy year for neglect racism.
Or as I call it in terms that render it more a medical condition, and therefore treatable – Lazydirectitum aka Castingidiotum aka Artisticdirectorless
There have been several theater conferences on the issue – a forum hosted by the venerable East West Players in Los Angeles, “Open Door” in the UK hosted by British Equity, and most recently one held in Chicago hosted by Silk Road Rising Theater Company.
There was also a ‘talk back‘ at La Jolla Playhouse, and an upcoming March ‘closed door’ meeting at The Roundabout theater company, and now, FINALLY there has been some real, definitive action – a Master stroke has been dealt and it is a doozy.
A.C.T. – the American Conservatory Theater has taken aim at that pesky windmill of neglectful racism and in two, bold and daring moves, they have put the theater community on notice.
What is this you say? Wait, could it BE? Could there be a light at the end of the railroad tunnel? Is it possible?
YES, my Children, they have done it.
ACT is doing 2 shows with…wait for it….Asian people.
SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!
Boldly going where few have gone before in recent memory, ACT is doing Stuck Elevator in April 2013 – a new work based on a real undocumented Chinese Delivery Man in New York, who was stuck in an elevator for 81 hours. Poor guy.
(The Fairy Princess was stuck in an elevator once, in New York City, but it was only for forty five minutes and no one wrote a musical about it because all it would have entailed was The Fairy Princess sitting her butt on the elevator floor waiting for someone to realize she was missing, so it is good that no one ever optioned that particular story from her life.)
The Fairy Princess is gobsmacked! She even knows two of the folks in the cast – Raymond J. Lee (He’s in The Mikado Project trailer, rapping A Wandering Minstrel )
and Joseph Anthony Foronda.
Both of whom are exceptionally talented, and with whom The Fairy Princess is very honored to have shared the stage and screen with.
BUT WAIT THERE IS MORE!
ACT is not done!
What? What you say? I KNOW, I know…you are very excited.
Ok that’s enough. Stop now. Because you will never, ever, never ever EVAH guess what ACT has planned!
They are going to take that same translation of The Orphan of Zha0, yes, the VERY one that The Royal Shakespeare Company had commissioned from James Fenton –
and….AND.…They are going to put a Chinese American Actor in the lead role!
DROP MIC! Grab a towel and let a peon wipe your brow, ACT, THIS is Victoria Beckham ‘MAH-JOR’!
Gregory Doran must be so pissed! (And not in the British ‘pissed’ = ‘drunk’ way, but pissed off)
He’s saying “What, what? The Colonies? They’ve done what? And who is in the Cast? Who? Shown me up, have they? Made legitimate casting decisions based on text, have they? Upstarts! Well I NEVER!”
Yes. We know that, Mr. Doran.
You never. Because you did not feel that British East Asians should be in a repertory season, so you just thought it was better to not bother with them at all in a show set in China, that you went over to China to do research on. Because even though there are conservatory trained Actors in the UK, no one would ‘buy’ them in a Brecht play, in your opinion, so you just felt…eh, why bother?
Oh, you are back Mr. Doran, sorry I was doing a gig of happiness – well, I’m Irish, sometimes you have to…
Do you want to know who they cast Mr. Doran?
Those pesky people at ACT?
You know what? When The Fairy Princess puts them one under the other, the photos, doesn’t that little boy seem like he could possibly grow up and be TONY Winner BD Wong?
You see, Mr. Doran, That’s the point. The point is – is that there is going to be an Asian American Actor portraying an Asian person!
He’s not going to be a dog puppet….
He is not going to have to ‘learn’ how to tape his eyes…..
Or use a terrible accent…..
He is just going to get to be the Lead, in a production that is set in a country, where, historically, his Family may have been from.
It is mind-bogglingly simple. It is the Casting that need not speak it’s name. It’s a home run.
So what, Dear Reader can we do to support this bold and brave casting choices?
We can all buy tickets and go. That’s how you vote in theater, with your dollars and common sense.
Look, you may be reading this as an Asian American Actor, or you may be reading this as a theater fan, or you may be reading this because you are going to post on the comments how awful I am and how I know nothing (opinions are indeed like a**holes, everyone has one) but for whatever reason, you are here. Don’t waste this beautiful opportunity to be part of the change of American theater. Buy at ticket to these productions – and you know what?
KEEP BUYING TICKETS – go to the theater, go to film festivals – GO, GO, GO! Even if you don’t like the first thing you see, or the second – when you see that the theater community is reaching out, reach back.
One of the biggest obstacles in including Asian American performers more into our Theater culture is that ‘no one‘ will buy tickets to see an Asian American as a lead. Prove them wrong. You’re someone, aren’t you?
I don’t have a crystal ball
But if I did, I would tell you to keep your eyes open because this is a very encouraging and exciting thing.
Which is great, because recent reports have been upsetting.
Although, I must admit, if American Theater is going to keep this up – The Fairy Princess may never ‘have‘ to blog again – and wouldn’t it be loverly?
Clang, Clang, Clang San Francisco – well done!