Archives for posts with tag: Amy Hill

The Fairy Princess was having a good week – she moderated a very successful live reading for the Asian American Film Lab‘s Unfinished Works series, featuring a script by Jennifert Betit-Yen, and one by Alice Cox, both of which – The Opposite of a Fairy Tale and The Plains, were well acted and well attended, as well as Live-streamed.

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Photo credit: Peyton Worley

She was able to view the phenomenal talents of Lesli Margerita before she leaves the Broadway show MATILDA for the new Broadway version of DAMES AT SEA

Trevor Nunn decided to respond to ‘critics’, and it was all things “get off my privileged lawn‘ and ‘after all I have done for you lot‘ and…in general, super fun, especially when Danny Lee Wynter in The Guardian asked – “If Trevor Nunn is staying true to history, where are the pox ridden actors?”

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Or when Jonathan Owen at The Independent wrote

Critics have questioned the verisimilitude of the production which amalgamate Shakespeare’s Henry VI trilogy and Richard III and is sponsored by Norway’s largest financial service group DNB, Norwegian actor Kare Conradi was chosen to play Edward IV and two British actresses, Joely Richardson and Imogen Daines, play the French characters Margaret of Angjou and Joan of Arc

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Critics have, tis true.

Nice one, England, standing up for Diversity on your stages!

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In more good news on American stages her AVENUE Q buddy, Natalie Venetia Belcon is returning to Broadway in MATILDA – she will be spectacular (here she is singing HAPPY TIMES from The Music of Alex Wyse at NYTB @ The Duplex)

Broadway vet J. Bernard Calloway is in this NBC Pilot you may view online and vote for called “The Bar Mitzvah Club”

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ABC Family is renewing a show with Rex J. Lee…GO REX!

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Amy Hill’s character on UnReal stepped up and demanded more screen time in the fauxreality reality show about a reality show…which is great because she is SO gifted and TFP was like, “Are they actually going to USE her and all her gifts or…?” and it looks like that is where it is heading, so that is a WIN for Amy AND the fans of the show!

unreal-107What TFP is saying is that, in general, in showbiz is diversifying, and in general, everyone gets – especially Asian Americans – how important diversity is on our stages and on our screens…well, everyone except perhaps fellow Hapa, Anne Akiko Meyers, the famed violinist – and here we go….

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In a nutshell, British double bassist, Chi-chi Nwanoku and his Chineke Foundation, have formed Europe’s first professional all Black orchestra!

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Not only have they formed it, but there is a premiere date of Sept 13, 2015 at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall where the 60 plus members of the ensemble will be led by Tai Murray and conducted by Wayne Marshall. The foundation is attempting to “champion change and celebrate diversity in classical music”, as well as to be a catalyst of change in the industry.

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Now, here is the thing that many Asian American artists who work in classical music, both as performers and behind the scenes do not often acknowledge – people expect there to be Asian and Asian Americans in classical music!

John Q. Public who attends classical music events regularly, he/she expects to see Asians and Asian Americans on the stage!

There is such great representation of Asian and API talent in the classical world that if TFP is feeling sad, she strolls past Lincoln Center or Carnegie Hall and almost always, there is an Asian or API performer coming soon to a fancy concert hall near you that did not fail their parental expectations.

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There are a ton of examples from Conductors,

Conductor Alan Gilbert of the NY Philharmonic

Conductor Alan Gilbert of the NY Philharmonic

Seiji Ozawa, former Music Director of The Boston Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for 29 years

Seiji Ozawa, former Music Director of The Boston Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for 29 years

Tomomi Nishimoto - Artistic Dir/Principal Conductor of IlluminArt Philharmonic Orchestra

Tomomi Nishimoto – Artistic Dir/Principal Conductor of IlluminArt Philharmonic Orchestra

to Instrumentalists

Lang Lang

Lang Lang

Midori

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to singers – check out Yin Huang in the movie version of Madame Butterfly

one could literally go on and on- and in fact, you will seemingly find more Asians and APIs in classical music regularly performing and being lauded than in ANY OTHER PART OF THE AMERICAN ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY!

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People expect Asians and APIs in Classical music.

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Quite similar, in fact, to the way that people who view classical music expect to see Caucasians performing. Asian and Asian American performers are actually sought out when they have talent in classical music – which, again, is TOTALLY DIFFERENT FROM THE AMERICAN ENTERTAINMENT COMMUNITY IN ALL OTHER MEDIUMS.

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One might even venture to say that Asians and API classical musicians of a certain level have a great deal of privilege.

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Which is why it is so sad to TFP that Violinist, Anne Akiko Meyers, a woman who has released 32 albums and was the top selling traditional classical instrumental soloist of Billboard’s charts in 2014, could be such a brat.

She posted on her FB page something about fellow People of Color that was ‘questionable’ at best, and at the worst could be considered….

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TFP leaves it for the reader to decide- but it is not good.

First of all, just from a mixed raced perspective, Ms. Meyers, you need to check yourself.

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because if your parents had been married prior to 1967 in the United States of America, they would have been subject to the type of Bon mots that you so casually threw out and soooo much more, because America has not always been welcoming to what was termed “Mixed Marriages”.

Your website says you were born in 1970 and raised in San Diego, your Mom is Japanese and her Dad is American – they would not have been considered married at all. They could even have been arrested had they gone to a state where it was not legal for people of different skin tone to marry.

In point of fact, America has had a huge problem with Japanese people and no matter how insular it was in San Diego in the 70’s, TFP is fairly certain your Mom would have been victim to a bit of that good ol’ recovering from World War 2 kind of thinking – particularly given that it is a military area. It would not have been easy.

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California repealed anti-miscengenation laws in 1948, ahead of the curve by almost 2 decades, but it could have put a crimp in their travel plans, no? Plus the day to day kind of stuff that she, and probably you yourself would have felt or seen could have made things uncomfortable…. on occasion.

Which makes it more annoying that you grew up and decided to turn around and judge people based on skin tone!

TFP knows a little something something about growing up as a Hapa kid, you cannot tell her it was all wine and roses.

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In the sea of PoC, we all gots ta swim together Hunty, or no one is going to make it to dry land.

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Second, according to your website, ahem –

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I regularly support classical music organizations around the world. Please support your local orchestra, concert society, chamber music festival, or radio station. Long Live Music!”

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That is what you, Ms. Meyers, wrote for us all to do – support classical music organizations? And in order to support classical music, a realm in which you live and breathe the fanciest of air wafting from your amazingly fancy violin on lifetime loan…

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you saw a news item about classical music and wrote- supportively –

“I wonder if you have to be black to be invited to solo with this orchestra? #reversediscrimination”

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IS THAT SUPPORTIVE OF CLASSICAL MUSIC?

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One supposes you were trying to make some sort of joke.

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The only thing that is hilarious about this is that you hashtagged #reversediscrimination .

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Only White People use that!

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Hold up – REVERSE DISCRIMINATION – what say you? Aahmer?

There is no reversing discrimination, not even when it is shown by a very talented, pretty Eurasian lady on social media!

MEYERS FOR TGIF 05 APRIL 2002

You looked at THIS photo which, btw, contains mixed raced people, aka people who, once upon a time, would have had parents whose marriages were also outlawed in this country…..

All-Black-Chineke-Orchestra-Coverand then you mocked them from your seat of faux-alabaster privilege. Their orchestra has NOTHING to do with you or your 32 albums or your being named a top Billboard classical artist in 2014…you were, to put it mildly – offensive.

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On the heels of all the violence that has been plaguing the United States, on the graves of the People of Color whose cries go unheard and who wind up wrongfully incarcerated or worse…you took a moment from the Chineke Orchestra- a moment that should have been a celebration heard around the world, and you shat on it.

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Then when people tried to comment on your website, you took their comments down – which does not negate what you have done.

It compounds it.

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From where TFP is sitting, it means that you feel you are above acknowledging that with actions come consequences. Just because you do not like what people have to say, does not mean that they are wrong. They called you on it. You are responsible for your own gaffs – take it.

Own it.

You messed up. Even though you have a fancy violin and a Julliard education- you messed up.

What you should have done is written a statement and apologized. Here, TFP will write it for you.

To the Chineke! Orchestra,

I am writing to apologize to you for my social media outburst.  I took what was supposed to be a proud moment for all of us in Classical Music, a celebration of Diversity that has been slow in coming and should be lauded – particularly by those of mixed race who enjoy privilege and success in our field and know how rare it is – and I tarnished it. As a Mother, I try to teach my daughters to not judge people according to the color of their skin and it is shaming to know that I failed to realize that i did exactly that on social media. I will endeavor to do much better, and I wish you every success at Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Play Wagner if it makes it more comfortable to write, but write something!

Give your kids a good example. Ms. Meyers everyone has already noticed.

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Chineke Orchestra – TFP wishes you much, much success – and to negate Ms. Meyers comments – TFP suggests this – if you are a person of Mixed race heritage or a person of any kind at all – please buy a ticket and go see the performance because #BlackLivesMatter – in Art and in Life.

Let’s stand together – not because we are keeping invisible score cards of rights and wrongs, but because standing together is the right thing do to.

Compassion is infinite.

Expressing concern about an issue is not taking it away from other things.

Another person’s success does not pull down our own.

(Jeez writing about Hapas behaving badly is depressing….embarrassing too. Cuz, TFP is one as well, just ick. )

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For exhibiting discrimination on social media and then compounding it by disallowing people to comment on it, TFP fines you 30 whacks with the wand – Ms. Meyers, get it together!

Also – KISS MY FAN, TAN, FANNIE

The Fairy Princess would like to talk a moment about Diversity in Casting.

Yes, it seems odd, given that this blog tends to be about Women who love Gay Men who love them back just as much, but one must have outside interests, and I did state at the beginning, that I would perhaps sound off on this issue.

To give a brief background on my particular tiara and wings, my heritage is Chinese, Irish, and Welsh and I am a dual citizen of the United States and Australia. I am married to a (straight) man who was born in Korea and came to the USA when he was 8 years old. I have traveled to countries that include Turkey, Greece, Australia, Ireland, Canada, China, Japan and I plan to add Europe in general when my son is a bit older. My point is, I’m well aware of what the world looks like – would that Musical Theater looked the same. Broadway is not where one goes to find much diversity in casting. For example, I, (see me, I’m posting a photo of me as well as a little performance done for the 50th Anniversary of Flower Drum Song )

This is me, Erin Quill

This is me, Erin Quill

am not going to be called in for a lead in some of these shows currently on Broadway, shows like Once, Memphis, War Horse, Book of Mormon, Clybourne Park, End of the Rainbow, Evita, Fela, Porgy & Bess, Ghost the Musical, Harvey, Jersey Boys, Mary Poppins, Nice Work If You Can Get It, One Man Two Guvnors, Streetcar Named Desire, Peter & the Starcatcher…I would make a fierce Elphaba, and who would know what I look like, but to my knowledge there has never been an Asian American Elphaba, and it was only recently they had the first African American Elphaba, Saycon Sengbloh, so…I’m not holding my breath. I could go into Sister Act as a Nun, but it is closing, and I have not been asked…I could go into Mamma Mia as Rosie, but that part is currently being played by Lauren Cohn

That’s Lauren Cohn…on the right…doesn’t look like me, does it?

So with all the opportunities currently available to Asian Americans on Broadway, ahem, imagine how excited I was when I learned that La Jolla Playhouse is going to produce a new musical by Duncan Sheik & Steven Sater, creators of the hit show, Spring Awakening! What? It is going to be directed by acclaimed New York director, Moises Kaufman, who helped create The Laramie Project. Awesome!  It is called The Nightingale, and it is based on a Hans Christian Anderson fable about AN EMPEROR IN CHINA WHO IS CONFINED WITHIN THE WALLS OF THE FORBIDDEN CITY AND THE BIRD THAT CHANGES HIS LIFE.

CHINA!!!! Well, I happen to be CHINESE! Which would mean, in a perfect world, that I should get a call…or other Asian American Musical Theater friends should get a call – because it’s set in China.

Please read that last sentence again –  China. In Feudal China. The play is set in Feudal China. Guess who is playing The Emperor?  Not living legend  Chinese American Actor Extraordinaire, Alvin Ing, the man who holds the record for the MOST Flower Drum Song appearances, EVER. Nope. They went with  This guy:

Jonathan Hammond, The Emperor of China

Now, this story has a Young Emperor, he’s the one who falls in thrall with the Nightingale, and let’s face it, I’m Eurasian, my Daddy is white, so let’s give them a second shot at correctly representing those who might actually rule Feudal China….

Bobby Steggart, Young Emperor of China

Oh…my…ok, WELL…let’s take a look at the casting notice from Tara Rubin’s office. Aha! There is an EMPRESS DOWAGER! Which means that is the ruling Emperor of China’s Mom. What do they look like? Let’s find one – oh HERE’s one…Imperial Empress Dowager, aka Dowager Empress Cixi…

Imperial Dowager Empress Cixi

If I were to think of who might be fabulous as the Empress Dowager, I might call in Jodi Long who was on Broadway as Madame Liang in Flower Drum Song

Jodi Long, Extraordinary Actress

OR perhaps Amy Hill

Amy Hill, Amazing Actress

OR Christine Toy Johnson, who is not LA Based, but who did the National Tour of Flower Drum Song and is a longtime NYC Stage Actress

Christine Toy Johnson, NY Actress and active AEA Committee member

…….but here’s who they went with for the Empress Dowager of China:

Charlayne Woodard, Dowager Empress of China

You are probably sensing my frustration…and if you are not, your name is probably Moises Kaufman. Now, I have read that La Jolla Playhouse is calling the casting of this show “A Rainbow”. Here’s the funny thing about rainbows – the color yellow is rarely in that rainbow when it falls on other shows. Also, diversity has a time and a place – it’s usually an unnamed place in the future, in a multi-racial world, or set in modern times – it’s not in Feudal China. Let’s get one thing straight about Feudal China – diversity was never an issue.

But here – take a look at the article from Broadwayworld. It’s a little perturbing to see that only Kimiko Glenn has been cast in a show set in China, Feudal China – and for those who may not have picked up on it, Kimiko is  a Japanese name – I don’t care, happy she is working, I’m just using it to point out – there are NO CHINESE PEOPLE IN A SHOW SET IN CHINA.

This is not, Folks, like the time a Texas Children’s theater did an All Caucasian Production of HAIRSPRAY and you can claim, as they did, that they had no African Americans around to cast – this is a professional theater with a budget and access to any and every Asian American Actor in the country. It also boasts a Director of International Fame (a New York City based Director) and a Writing Team that have won TONY Awards – all they had to do was say, “Hey, this show is set in China, let’s cast some Asians up in here .”

OR, if you are simply going to use the concept of the fairy tale, just do not set it in China, Feudal China!

Let me be clear – I do not have any thoughts on the talents of the Actors hired, I have worked with some of them and they are ALL great – ALL! Actors have no power in terms of Casting, they are brought in, they sing, and they wait. This Diversity Debacle I lay directly at the door of the Creative Team – at ANY point, someone in the process could have stated the obvious, that if no Asian Americans were to be Cast, perhaps the setting should change from China, Feudal China.

So five spanks with the wand to Moises Kaufman, he is the Director, the buck stops with him and…looking at his past castings, doesn’t look like he would ever hire me anyway, as I AM MY OWN ASIAN AMERICAN!

And Moises can Kiss my Fan Tan Fannie!
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UPDATE: I posted this in comments, but there are a lot of comments, and so I will post it here as well, as not everyone wants to scroll all the way through:

Hi All,

As you know, the initial objection that I had and wrote about on this blog – this post – stirred a lot of people and as the objections grew and were written about, La Jolla Playhouse decided to have a talk back to discuss the casting. Over 19,000 people have read this post, for which I thank them.

There were many articles written on what started as my own annoyance, and I am going to post the links here, in case you want to read them.

I would hope that the people who wrote anonymously and bitterly of the notion that Asian Americans would and should speak up, would pay particular attention to the fact that both the Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse and the Director of the play itself, Moises Kaufman, apologized. Also in the audience but not on the panel was the writer, Steven Sater, and the Composer, Duncan Sheik.

I also ask you to consider this – just because you may be a member of your own minority group, it does not give you a co-op experience and permission to use your own minority status to devalue or denigrate this issue. Your experiences are yours, and mine are mine. It does no good and a great deal of harm to decide that because you are a particular ‘kind’ of man/woman that you have the right to decide when and where Asian Americans belong. I take issue with that. Many of the more objectionable comments were prefaced with “Well, as a ____ man, I think…”

It is not cool to use your status to keep ours where it is now, which is barely visible. We are only doing what scores of people have done before us. When my Grandparents, my IRISH Grandparents came here, they were faced with signs that said “Irish Need Not Apply” – this is much the same thing. And Bravo to Moises Kaufman for his comments in Part 2.

Here are 2 small videos from You Tube – it is supposed to be 1-7, but I have only found 1 and 2. In 2, we have ‘our’ apologies:

Part 1: http://youtu.be/NN3ilkvnZ7I
Part 2: http://youtu.be/uz6-uODcSKU

And here is a video I was sent by Pun Bandhu which is the whole talk: http://vimeo.com/46243248

Article from Playbill.com
http://www.playbill.com/news/article/168285-Facing-Criticism-for-Lack-of-Asian-Artists-in-Musical-La-Jolla-Playhouse-Hosts-Panel-Discussion

Article from Huffington Post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/19/nightingale-asian-american-actors_n_1686270.html

Article from International Business Times, I am quoted twice, not by name, and called a ranting blogger (which struck me as odd, but…the writer apologized for that when I called him on it)
http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/363035/20120714/la-jolla-playhouse-asian-actors-sterotypes-colorblind.htm

Article on Talkback from U-T San Diego:

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jul/22/forum-on-plays-cast-evokes-harsh-criticism

Article from LA Times on the Talk Back at La Jolla:
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-heated-exchanges-at-la-jolla-playhouse-over-nightingale-casting-20120722,0,6438118.story

Article from LA Times hearing from Prominent APIs in Theater:
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-asian-american-nightingale-la-jolla-playhouse-20120718,0,7027101.story

Article from LA Times on Controversy
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-la-jolla-playhouse-asian-casting-nightingale-20120717,0,2686930.story

Article from LA Times’ Critic’s Notebook, which I emailed a response to, and I will post the response I sent: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-critics-notebook-la-jolla-playhouse-nightingale-20120723,0,4429707.story

Dear Mr. McNulty,
It was with great interest that I read your article about the controversy at La Jolla.It was because I am the person who wrote the original blog that started all this hubbub
It struck enough of a nerve that as of this writing, my blog has has over 19,000 views and it is only 2.5 weeks old.My name is Erin Quill, I was an Original Bway Cast Member of Avenue Q and I have been reviewed in the LA Times for my work in the play, The Mikado Project
http://articles.latimes.com/2007/apr/27/entertainment/et-stage27
, also for my work in the musical, Closer Than Ever,
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/08/theater-review-closer-than-ever-at-gtc-burbank.html which was produced by Lodestone Theater Ensemble.I am a Graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. I am also one of the screenwriters for the feature film, The Mikado Project, avail now on DVD, which was reviewed in The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-heymont/the-mikado-project-troubl_b_851865.html

I only mention this because I am trying to show that I am a legitimate stage Actress whose work has been covered BY the Times and yet, when it was time to cast a show that could have API performers, my phone did not ring. And, should you watch the video of the talk back, you will see that the CD will say that this show did not have a proper audition process, they made calls and offers. My friends who are API performers did not have their phones ring either.

While I would never deign to tell a Director or Creative Team who to hire, I will (and did) point out the ridiculousness of their casting choices. Not because the Actors were not fabulous – I fully believe in the talent of the Cast, but because they set the show in China.

China is not a mythical place. China is a real place with a real people. Our history looks a specific way. The titles Emperor and Dowager Empress mean something when said in China.

It is not for other minority groups (I only say that because you brought up your own status) to decide for other groups what is their ‘place’, what they are allowed to comment on. Moises Kaufman himself pointed out that usually in debates of this kind dealing with underrepresentation, that he is the one clamoring, and during the controversy he realized that he was doing the same thing that had been done to the GLBT community to Asian American Performers. He said we were right to protest, and he apologized.

The debate for us was not multi-racial casting. It was not to infringe on a Creative Team’s right to choose the cast they want, but the costumes, the sets, and the names of the characters were all Chinese. That we were asked, that all the audience was asked to please accept 2 Caucasian Emperors of China. Not a ‘mythic land’, it was CHINA.

If this was Porgy and Bess, and the leads were Caucasian, you would not think to write
“underserved communities need to recognize the right of artists to establish their own conventions of representation”

You would be scared to, even with your own minority status that you established.
You would know that using your own status and including the above quoted sentence to African American Artists would be looked upon with dismay, distrust, and anger.Yet you have used them to the Asian American Acting Community.I ask you why. It is met with just as much dismay, distrust and anger as if you said it to someone African American or Latino. Asian Americans are angry. We are angry with the co-opting of our heritage and then being told that while our heritage is useful, our talents are not wanted.We have a right to be heard, and we have a right to not receive a ‘scolding’ from a Critic who is held in high regard.We do not need someone to tell us how to listen to the excuses of why we are not asked to be a part of a world set in OUR world.

In that audience, there was Drama Desk Winner, Deborah S. Craig, there was API Theater Luminary and the man who holds the record for most Flower Drum Songs ever, Alvin Ing. There was Tim Dang, Artistic Director of East West Players – a theater that always ‘somehow’ manages to cast with Asian Americans. Cindy Cheung who was on the panel has been in several Feature Films and Christine Toy Johnson is a staple NY Theater Actress.

There were many more with just as nice a resume and yet a Caucasian lady stood and asked if there was an Asian American Acting Talent Pool. There are API Drama Grads from Yale, CMU, Julliard, NYU, Northwestern – some of the top programs in the country, and yet here is this Caucasian Lady telling us that she ‘doesn’t see color’ and asking why we are complaining that the Emperor of China is Caucasian.

It is because when there IS debate, there is always someone, such as yourself – held in high regard, that expresses the opinion that we should ‘listen‘ or ‘stop making hubbub’. And by doing that, you are ensuring that people who are uncomfortable with APIs protesting have an excuse to dismiss WHAT we are saying – that we want to look onstage, at a production where the setting IS CHINA, and see Asian American faces.

The Nightingale is a fable, and thus, children are being taken to see it – what does it say to Asian American Children when they see that it is acceptable to make the Emperor of China a white man? It tells them they do not count.
I am a long time supporter of the GLBT Community, with fundraising efforts for The Matthew Shepard Foundation, BC/EFA, Desert AIDS Project, the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, The Trevor Project, I sing regularly at Musical Mondays in WeHo…I live and work in the GLBT Community, and yet I would never say “well, I know what it’s like to be a Gay Man”. Because I cannot. Do I know TONS of Gay men? Yes. They are my closest and dearest friends. And Always Will Be– but I cannot know what it IS to be a Gay Man. Just as you cannotknow what it is to be an Asian American Performer.I thank you for your coverage of this issue, but I was dismayed by the end of your article. Truly. And, do I think that there will be more API’s when this show continues? No, I do not. I think they will just move the setting from China and then still cast exactly the way they want.Which is totally fine. Because in a mythic land of Far, Far Away, it can be as multi- cultural as they want it to be – but they cannot have China without Chinese people. They cannot portray China without Asian Americans.

Thank you for your time,

Erin Quill