Archives for posts with tag: Asian American

The Fairy Princess has been that kind of holiday busy where everything is a whirl of everything else but she was getting many ‘requests’ for comments – which she thought would kind of die down, but have only been increasing, so she is going to just share thoughts about a specific viral video…

Most recently, NBC’s Saturday Night Live aka SNL put forth this comedy sketch – Asian American Doll.

 

People have asked, via email and social media, what The Fairy Princess thought, in an ‘official’ kind of capacity, so…

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She thinks it’s funny.

It is a funny video.

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Here is why – it’s making fun of Corporate America.

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Making fun of Corporate America is fair comedic game.

TFP also believes that SNL is making fun of it’s own LACK of diversity amongst its writers and cast – and as they are willing to address it, TFP has to believe that NBC is on their case about it, and is working hard to ‘fix’ this issue.

What this video is showing us is the fear Corporate America has of getting ‘it’ wrong. Everything  Corporate America tries so hard to sell us and to brand us is brought to us via focus groups and demographics. Creativity starts with one person thinking differently. This video is skewering the concept of cultural co-option by committee, and TFP will laugh at and with that every time.

Because WHO runs Corporate America, Folks?

Think hard.

Yes, they all are, but who really RUNS Corporate America?

Yes, they all are, but who really RUNS Corporate America?

White people.

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!

And those darn Caucasians are so hilarious, how can you help but laugh at…er…with them?

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Now for APIs who are flipping out about this, here is what – you are exactly who they made this video for. The people who get annoyed when we are mentioned, but then who flip out every time we are not – you wanted to be included right? Well, there you are…

Enjoy it.

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All that hashtag activism that has been done so much better by Australians (#IllRideWithYou), our  API watchdog groups and bloggers (TFP included), is both necessary and absurd. We can laugh at the fact that blogs like this one, and media watchdog groups have to exist.

We can laugh at it because it is absurd in this day and age to have to remind people that…

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In this day and age to have to do this is…well…laughable. Infuriating and absurd and frustrating all at the same time. So ‘we’ will continue to go on writing and hashtagging – etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

For the record, ‘we’ exist because of things like this:

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But that is NOT what the SNL sketch is Folks, not at all.

We are included in the joke here, we are not the butt of it. This video, to TFP says that ‘we’ are being heard.

It is the same premise that vaudeville existed under – if they are including you in the joke, that means you are breaking through. This video says to TFP, “We SEE you, we HEAR you, we have NOT gotten this ‘right’ yet, but we are working on it.

And…it’s funny.

So thanks SNL, you made TFP laugh, and that is just what her wings need, every now and then.

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Oh dear, TFP just realized that her power cord is in the room where her kid is sleeping…ok, so that is all for now, will go “Into The White’ later on…

 

 

As someday it may happen that a victim must be found,

I’ve got a little list, I’ve got a little list.

Of Society’s Offenders who live proudly above ground,

and who never would be missed, who never would be missed.

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There’s pestilential productions who take hatred as their guide,

Who upon their being ‘caught’ then moan ’bout ‘history and pride’.

The ones who giggle with their fans, their makeup all askew

Who never seem to question,  or accept another’s view,

Their one response it seems is  “Look, don’t tell me what to do!”

They’d none of them be missed, they’d none of them be missed.

(Chorus)

She’s got them on the list, she’s got them on the list

And they’ll none of them be missed, they’ll none of them be missed.

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There’s the self righteous Director, who proceeds without concept,

The Yellowfaced soloist – I’ve got them on the list!

Those who praise the music, but perform it quite racist –

They never would be missed, they never would be missed!

There’s the Baritone who defends his lack of knowledge and of taste,

Who oft asserts his ‘ given right’ to play another race;

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And the lady from the suburbs, who dresses like a Maid,

Who knows she does not  look Asian, but finds Caucasians ‘staid’,

She’d rather paint ‘exotic‘ than go play a Cockney maid…

I don’t think she’d be missed – I’m sure she’d not be missed!

(Chorus)

She’s got them on the list, she’s got them on the list;

And they’d none of them be missed, they’d none of them be missed.

Finally, let’s all agree this topic is just rife,

with charges, counter charges, all which causes strife.

Does no one see in fact that Sullivan and Gilbert would be pissed!

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For that you’re on the list!

They wrote the show to mock society’s rigid chain of thought,

To say what we learn should shape us, not just what we’re taught.

The show says use your brain and heart, but it seems it’s all for naught.

For that you’re on the list! For that you’re on the list!

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It’s not enough to say you ‘want to’ and then go see it done,

We do not live in places where of opinion there’s just one.

And frankly, if you have to scream and rail about so loud,

It means that of your performance there is little to be proud.

Your show is not ‘authentic’ if you’ve re-written “Little List”

Racist shows won’t be missed, they’d none of them be missed.

I’ve put you on the list – I’ve put you on the list,

You’d none of you’d be missed, you would NONE of you’d be missed.

 The Fairy Princess is a bit late to the game about writing about The Mikado Production in Seattle, or perhaps she was ahead of her time, because she co-wrote the screenplay, The Mikado Project, several years and several film festivals ago.

(There is a lovely review  of the DVD from The Huffington Post, here)

(You may purchase it on Amazon.com here)

 

There have been many, many articles about The Mikado recently, since the first piece for the Seattle Times by Sharon Pian Chan (The Yellowface of The Mikado In Your Face) .

Journalist, Jeff Yang, wrote a thoughtful response (Yellowface Staging of The Mikado Has To End) which The Fairy Princess was interviewed for that appeared on CNN.com.

Another (The Problem With The Mikado) by Brendan Kiley from The Seattle Stranger, quotes Jeff’s article, but makes other wonderful points.

NBCNews also highlighted the issue, (Stereotypes in The Mikado Stir Controversy) and in fact, the film of The Mikado Project, in discussing it – many thanks.

Each time that someone has written about this situation, the wagons around the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan company have been circled, and they have defended themselves from charges of racism and yellowface makeup.

They even went so far as to have their African American Female Business Manager write an open letter to try to shame the Asian American community into accepting Yellowface makeup, which is a classic technique, turning the minorities against one another.

One wonders if Seattle G&S expands their repertoire to include a blackface Porgy & Bess, if she would still hold her own opinion?

Still, that was impressive, Seattle G&S. Well played.

The Fairy Princess chuckled a bit at that, because it is a technique ripped right from the Andrew Jackson playbook. Then she heard the radio interview with the DJ, Dan Ross, who refused to accept, in any way, that he might be a part of a racially tinged performance. Not surprising, the ones who know they are wrong usually shout the loudest – it is called ‘deflection’.

The Fairy Princess was still not moved enough to write about this issue.

She felt that journalists were doing a fair job of keeping the story alive and accountable, and as she had been quoted numerous times in these articles, she thought she had made herself clear – when you have a production in which satire is sacrificed in favor of racial mockery, you turn a much beloved operetta into “a racist piece of crap’.

And she was fine with that, she was.

Until this morning, when she read the response from Seattle G&S’s Producer, Mike Storie – in which he loudly proclaims two things:

1. They have an Asian American on the Board of the company who has played a variety of parts

2. The Mikado should continue to be done.

Now The Fairy Princess is mad. She is truly, deeply mad, and now she IS going to respond.

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In response to the first – who cares if you have an Asian American Board Member?

He’s played an Italian?  So what?  Italy is a seafaring nation, or was, and they traded with Asia, so there is a likelihood that there were Asians in Italy. It’s not so far fetched. That we are supposed to incredulously proclaim “Well, if an Asian American played a Gondolier, then the Company cannot have racist moments“, well, that is a failure on your part to even comprehend the issues at play here.

In addition, this API Board Member is not in The Mikado, which seems telling. There is no statement from him highlighting how he felt, walking in and seeing the show. You have cited him, fine – he’s there. Not in a visible way during this controversy, but he’s there…somewhere….lurking.

Fine, you have one.

Goody, goody.

That first proclamation was not what engendered this response, no, we’ll get to that…hold on, prepare yourself.

This is what made The Fairy Princess’s tiara tilt – none of the articles cited mentioned banning The Mikado from being performed ever again – and yet, that is what Producer, Mike Storie is intimating with his answer “It is worth performing and preserving, and can be a catalyst for better understanding“.

Aha. You see, Mr. Storie is implying that we, the ‘awful and actual’ Asians of America, are trying to reach out our little yellow hands and remove an operetta from the lily white fingers of those who would perform it with authenticity and dignity.

L-R: Dave Ross as Koko, William Darkow as Pish Tush, and Craig Cantley as Poo Bah

L-R: Dave Ross as Koko, William Darkow as Pish Tush, and Craig Cantley as Poo Bah

 

He is so convinced of this narrative, he has not only shared it, he has compelled his Business Manager to brandish her “As a woman of color…‘ sword in defense of this poor, beleaguered operetta, so sadly under attack.

 

Hopefully she will be able to pick the right one, because you know, Japanese swords all have...oh who am I kidding, they wouldn't try and get this right either.

Hopefully she will be able to pick the right one, because you know, Japanese swords all have…oh who am I kidding, they wouldn’t try and get this right either.

 

This is not the case, Mr. Storie – and this is why you have finally roused The Fairy Princess to share her personal thoughts on this issue.

You are threatening people with the thought that Asian Americans are out to erase an operetta that they very much enjoy – and this is not what happened. Asian Americans do not want to ‘kill’ The Mikado, we want you all to do better. We want you to make a Mikado that everyone can go and see, regardless of race, and feel good about seeing.

We want you to put together a production of The Mikado that we can bring our children to proudly as an example of music and art – not one where we have to usher them out of the theater and have the ‘yes, you are different and people will make fun of you for that‘ talk.

That is NOT a talk we want to have after dropping a bunch of $$$ on tickets.

Asian Americans have the HIGHEST disposable income of any group, so while you are moaning about not being able to pay your Actors for four months, you may want to adjust your thinking on who your audience is, at least in Seattle.

The argument that you are performing the piece with love and authenticity is a false one. Yes, your company may love performing it, but as every good Gilbert and Sullivan expert knows, Gilbert never intended to mock Japanese people. He went through every effort to have ‘authentic’ costumes and had visiting Japanese artists come in and advise his Cast members as to how to walk and act.

Have you followed the examples set forth by Gilbert himself in this matter? Did you have Japanese Artists come and advise you as to the the authenticity of your costumes and scenery and mannerisms? Did you even try?

 

You live and work in Seattle, a city which counts 14% of the population as having Asian heritage. Seattle also has a huge International District, which, amongst other attractions, has the Wing Luke Museum which is dedicated to telling the Asian stories of the Pacific Northwest.  The population of that area alone, just in the I.D.  is 56% Asian American. So, very easily, you could have looked in your own backyard so to speak, and found advisers if authenticity was an issue for you.

Was authenticity an issue for Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society?

The Fairy Princess guesses not.

Because here is an actual Japanese woman in the 1800’s

Vintage Photo of a Japanese Woman, circa 1880

Vintage Photo of a Japanese Woman, circa 1880

And here is what Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan did:

Production Still: Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan's Production of THE MIKADO

Production Still: Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan’s Production of THE MIKADO

Again, here are some actual Japanese women studying, so, ostensibly “Maids”

Hard at work at Geisha School, studying the art of Singing, circa 1880

Hard at work at Geisha School, studying the art of Singing, circa 1880

And…back to Seattle…

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So no, your production is not authentic to memory of Gilbert, because you have not tried to do the extra work that he did at the time it was written. In point of fact, he had much less ability to BE accurate, due to language barriers, yet he tried. You have the I.D. in your backyard, and you did not pick up a phone or send a text or even go visit the museum to see if you have the correct obis now, did you?

“Fess up. No, you didn’t.

We can tell from the photos.

Your production is also not authentic because you have likely rewritten “A Little List” and made it palatable to local Seattle audiences – which is one of the hallmarks of the show. Once a show has had a rewrite of any kind, you cannot say it’s an authentic recreation of what someone did back in the 1880’s because you have done your best to ensure it is not.

This is what is infuriating to The Fairy Princess about Gilbert and Sullivan Societies in general, and of course, specific to this production in Seattle. Citing ‘history’ as an opportunity to prance about dressed as totally inaccurate and unauthentic Japanese people, is not supposed to be the take away from The Mikado.

The lesson to be learned from The Mikado, is that blindly following something because it has ‘always’ been done that way, is wrong. The Mikado is supposed to inspire you to see the ludicrous possibilities of what can happen when people do NOT think for themselves – executions, forced marriages, breaking the law, and so on.

The Mikado is not supposed to be used as a weapon to encourage racial mockery, it is not supposed to be the last bastion of visible hatred of Asian people which is left over from the invasion of Pearl Harbor.

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The Mikado is supposed to let you know that if you follow your true self, everything will work out. It says that even if you are considered too old for love, you can find it. It says that the silliness of society’s rules, are to be taken with a grain of salt, and approached with caution. Finally, it says that if one can reason with whomsoever is in charge, and present their case, wrongs will be righted.

The Mikado ‘works’ with or without faux Japanese mannerisms – because the script and the music ring true. It has been performed in a variety of temperatures, with ethnic casts, without ethnic casts, and so it is puzzling, with the myriad of creative ways that one can perform The Mikado, that this allegiance to behavior from a different era lingers on. Not only does it linger, it seems to perpetuate and multiply.

Still from Seattle G&S Mikado

Still from Seattle G&S Mikado

The Fairy Princess does not hate The Mikado – it would be impossible to do so given it’s message of hope.

The Mikado has been present in her personal journey for years – and in fact, she was encouraged as a Vocal Performance Major at Carnegie Mellon University’s Music School to study The Mikado, because her instructors felt that at some point, her background of multi-ethnicity would lend itself to being cast in The Mikado.

You would THINK, right?

You would THINK, right?

(That this has not yet happened, despite a Broadway resume and an ability to appear Asian (ahem), is perhaps a question for the Theater Gods.)

The Fairy Princess has spent a lifetime mulling over the whys and wherefores of The Mikado, she owns giant vintage theater posters of it courtesy of the gallery FULLER + ROBERTS, she appeared in the original play by Doris Baizley and Ken Narasaki of THE MIKADO PROJECT produced by Lodestone Theatre Ensemble, she co-wrote and appeared in the movie version of the same title. She is, somewhat of an expert on The Mikado, and she has been a G&S fan since the age of 11, when she appeared in her grade school production of The Pirates of Penzance. (Which, honestly is still her favorite, and which, had she gotten to play Ruth and not a generic daughter of the Major General, may have led her on a totally different career path, perhaps accounting?)

The Fairy Princess does not hate The Mikado.

She hates the way The Mikado is often performed.

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The Mikado, as written, is not racist.

The Mikado, as performed, often is.

The Fairy Princess knows that it is fun to play dress up, and to become other characters. She has seen productions of other G&S pieces, and in those works, it seems the Actors try harder to inhabit the characters – in The Mikado, she has seen shuffling of feet, batting of fans, bowing, and giggling and scraping, but little performance. When she has seen it, it becomes about the race being portrayed, and not about the singing.

Why is that?

The Mikado is in danger of turning into the last place where Caucasians can openly mock another race without getting accused of racism.

However, if the subject arises, as it did in Seattle, everyone involved is affronted!  They cannot even begin to have a conversation about it, because it is just mean little Asian American people who ‘cannot take a joke‘, who ‘have no idea what Gilbert and Sullivan is‘, who ‘do not understand‘ the art-form.

Brace yourselves,

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The Fairy Princess is your worst nightmare – she is a conservatory trained singer, she is a scholar, she is a big G&S fan, and she is Asian American. She has worked in comedy, she knows a joke.

We are not being ‘sensitive’, we are speaking up.

We are not ‘unable to take a joke’, we are unwilling to be the butt of it.

We are not ignorant of either this piece, it’s music, or it’s message, what we ARE is wary of what productions like yours do to average Asian Americans who are trying to go about their day. Will people mock them to their faces, the way you revel in mocking them on stage? Will our children go to school and have some child who has been taken to see your production, shuffle their feet at them, and make the awful faces at them that your Katisha is making in the photos above?

If you are bemoaning that no Asian Americans came and auditioned to be in your Mikado, did you at any time, wonder why? Have you considered that the way it has been portrayed on American stages in the past years has been painful for APIs to watch?

Your stance that APIs are wrong to speak up is a huge injustice to The Mikado and it’s creators, who had much to say about tolerance and kindness, and the ability to see beyond what is presented as fact.

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America is changing, and if G&S Societies wish to survive and flourish, they are going to have to become more sensitive to diversity – both in casting and in performance.

If you are willing, she asks that you watch her speech from LA Stage Day…

 

She also asks that you take a look at these clips from The English National Opera’s production of The Mikado.

 

 

 

Seems to me that the E.N.O. did a bang up job there, and they made their concept work totally and completely.

It seems to me that that is truly the issue  – making the show work without making it offensive.

You can do it –  but you have to want to, and sadly, the ‘circle the wagons’ stance really implies that you are unwilling to entertain the notion of alternate viewpoints. What is saddest is that, with Seattle’s large Asian American population, you had a real opportunity here to introduce some great music to people who may not have been familiar with it – and instead, you blew it. Will you get an opportunity to grow your audience with the largest minority population in Seattle again?

Doubtful. Not impossible, but doubtful.

10 smacks of the wand to Seattle’s Gilbert & Sullivan Society – on top of what seems to be a questionable production in terms of sensitivity, you had your Business Manager write a ridiculous letter, you had your Koko on the radio blustering and posturing about that which he clearly knows nothing, AND you did exactly what they did in the 1940’s – you threatened people with what would happen if ‘those Asian people‘ had their way.

By Jingo you did.

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Finally, here is a message for you, from Asian America – stop trying to scare people with what will happen if we are allowed to speak our minds – we are going to continue to speak them, we do not CARE if you don’t like it –

in FACT….

KISS OUR FAN TAN FANNIES!

The Fairy Princess has had a terrible bout of food poisoning, shared by her toddler. Recommendations include never, ever eating again at a mall in Glendale. Even if you have successfully eaten there in the past.

The Fairy Princess is recommending to just say no, or if you are, as an actor, going to eat at a mall in Glendale, do it before Pilot Season because then you will be almost the exact rate beloved by television execs everywhere, which is about 30 per cent under the recommended daily weight for your personal height.

The Fairy Princess vows to not eat at a mall in Glendale till next January at least. And then she hopes to book a series regular. Other than that, this bout of food poisoning is totally wasted on me.

Although, I must say, my collar bone looks fantastic right now.

A singer who moves well, after several days of food poisoning....just LOOK at my collar bone! IT. IS. GORGEOUS!

A singer who moves well, after several days of food poisoning….just LOOK at my collar bone! IT. IS. GORGEOUS!

So to say she was feeling a bit ill, was, honestly, gilding the lily at this point – but I should have suspected that it would not be long before I was feeling like I was witnessing gilding the TIGER LILY, because then I read an article from Playbill.com on who should be the next King in the as yet, not officially announced, (but every Asian American Actor knows it’s been coming since War Horse was going to move), production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s The King and I. At Lincoln Center.

Who doesn’t love The King & I?

Ummm, from what I hear tell, people from Siam. (Now Thailand). The film was banned because it was disrespectful. And likely, people from Burma. (and you have to hiss when you say Burrrrma, because that is how it is done in the show) (Burma is now Myanmar).

Of course there are all sorts of reasons for that, but the musical is based on a book by Anna Leonowens (who was, actually Eurasian of mixed Angl0/Indian descent born in India) which posits Anna as the great white savior-ess of the poor, befuddled, savage-adjacent King of Siam. So already, you know you are in for a bit of white-washing, ahem. There are all sorts of historical errors in the book, but you know, it was a ‘memoir’ technically, so if that’s what she remembered…?

Did you know that Tuptim was later reported to have actually married Chulalongkorn, who had 36 wives, so…no death by beating? History is so tricky, right?

But people in the United States love The King and I, and truly, The Fairy Princess loves The King and I because it was my first big ‘gig’, playing Lady Thiang, first wife, opposite Debby Boone as Mrs. Anna. (I had very good quotes, even though we tend to say we do not read reviews, actors love good quotes about the work)

With Debby Boone & Julie Garnye @ Jim Caruso's Cast Party

With Debby Boone & Julie Garnye @ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party

But this is what is made me thing my food poisoning was making it’s return:

Playbill.com playfully tweeted “who should be The King and tweet us your answers‘, and people of the general public gleefully avoided ‘nominating’ anyone that was Asian American!

NOT. A. ONE.

NOT ONE?

NOW THAT IS AN EFFIN’ PUZZLEMENT!

EXCEPT for Asian American Musical Theater Actors who actually took the question seriously and gave real answers based on both star power and those who had played the role before, some several times.

So LET’S SEE who the General Public picked which was PUBLISHED by Playbill.com as viable choices that should potentially be considered to play The King in the next up and at ’em production of The King and I:

Hugh Pannaro - who starred as both Raul and The Phantom on Broadway was chosen by a Twitter Fan

Hugh Pannaro – who starred as both Raul and The Phantom on Broadway was chosen by a Twitter Fan

 

Three Twits chose Michael Cerveris from The Who's Tommy and Titanic - possibly because of the hair?

Three Twits chose Michael Cerveris from The Who’s Tommy and Titanic – possibly because of the hair?

 

And a Twit chose Raul Esparza who is currently on NBC's Hannibal, but who also starred on Bway in a number of shows including Company and Leap of Faith

And a Twit chose Raul Esparza who is currently on NBC’s Hannibal, but who also starred on Bway in a number of shows including Company and Leap of Faith

 

Paulo Szot who earned a TONY Nomination for 2008 's South Pacific

Paulo Szot who earned a TONY Nomination for 2008 ‘s South Pacific

 

These four gentlemen are, yes, all brilliantly talented.

The Fairy Princess has seen each and every one of them live and in digital form, and they are Musical Theater Masters, each in their own way. So, to a certain extent, she does understand the General Public ignoring one glaring fact about any of them taking the iconic role of The King, because they are Broadway Superfans and fans tend to, you know, be FANS, and ignore things like –

NONE OF THESE TALENTED MEN ARE ACTUALLY ASIAN HERITAGED MEN.

Which, in this day and age, does make them ineligible to play The King of Siam. On Broadway.

Because we of ‘The Broadway’ do not find this:

Syracuse Opera

acceptable.

The Fairy Princess was dismayed, to say the very least, that an esteemed theatrical news outlet like Playbill.com would actually publish Caucasian faces as ‘potential’ Kings for The King & I. The reason she is so dismayed is because Playbill.com has been covering the change, in the last two years, of the way ‘yellowface’ is regarded in the Industry.

Change you say? Oh yes, The Fairy Princess gave a speech about it at LA Stage Day

 

Playbill.com has, actually, been covering the changing attitudes in Casting, and doing a very good job of it, for the past two years. For example: They covered the uproar   at La Jolla Playhouse over “The Nightingale, they covered the protests at the last Miss Saigon tour, they have even quoted The Fairy Princess!

(Which, btw, I was very moved by, because I read it all the time)

As one can see it is not as if Playbill.com was unaware that Caucasians playing Asian is, thankfully, turning into a big ‘no no’.

So, they are familiar with me, and let’s face it, It is not like I have ever refrained from saying this:

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So if you are aware, Playbill.com, of the changing attitudes why publish this list as you did?

Wouldn’t it be a stronger editorial choice to say “look, yes, there are superfans that tweeted names that are not Asian American, and that is all well and good, but  let’s concentrate on promoting and sharing potential Kings who have both the resume and the heritage to make this ‘tweet contest’ a list that Casting could look at seriously.”

Because if, say, there were going to be a revival of, oh, I don’t know, an August Wilson play, and someone tweeted you a photo of Tom Hanks – would you publish it?

Would you, Playbill.com?

The Fairy Princess is being serious.

Because of all publications, Playbill.com is in the best position, better than almost any, to know the percentage of Asian Americans on Broadway, and to know how rare it is to have a show that can encompass a mostly API Cast, and what potential that has for us, as a group.

With all the coverage when there is a bi-lingual West Side Story, or of All The Way, which focuses on Civil Rights, or After Midnight, which so gorgeously highlights the music of an era and a people, why, when it is Asian American, is it ‘ok’ to publish a list that includes Caucasian faces?

The Fairy Princess doubts that you would do that to any of those shows, Playbill.com

The Fairy Princess is willing to bet that this was a light-hearted attempt to get everyone excited about a revival of a show that is a Musical Theater staple, as most Twitter things are, but there needs to be editorial responsibility.

While The Fairy Princess is grateful for the coverage that Playbill.com has given to Asian American representation on Broadway, and the various Casting issues that have arisen over the last two years, she does think that in this case, they could have done better. They could have drawn a line in the editorial sand and said “we are going to stand with Asian American performers because it is the right thing to do’.

Because Asian American Performers who are delighted that they may get a chance to audition or be in the new cast of The King & I did not need to flip through that list, and see that General Viewing Public would be just as glad to see this revival if there were no Asian American faces in it.

We did not need to see that.

We see that every day.

We read Playbill.com all the time, and we rejoice for any and every friend and acquaintance that has mention, and we get delighted for any and all coverage on musicals because we love them so much – but we did not need to see one of ‘our’ industry ‘papers’, ‘zines’, etc, etc, etc, throw up NINE potential “Kings’, with FOUR of them being Caucasian.

C’mon Playbill.com – you published it. Which is…kind of endorsing it, doncha think?

We did not need to see that.

We see that every day.

The Fairy Princess does not want to get into a hashtag war with Playbill.com – there is no point to it, they do good work, and she is sure that there is a way to fix this.

In fact, she has thought of one:

The Fairy Princess thinks there should be a ‘revised’ list by Playbill.com reporters – who take into account the last time the show was in The West End, on Broadway, Regionally, who amongst API Actors started in Musicals and perhaps have gone on to popular television shows, things of that nature. They should compile this list and publish it.

Publish THAT list.

The Fairy Princess thinks that Playbill.com should lead the way in enlightening the General Musical Theater Going Public as to HOW MANY Asian American candidates there are for The King – and if there are 10, or 20, all the better.

The Fairy Princess is not going to debate who, now, should be the once and future King in the revival in 2015. Mainly because she knows most of them, and no matter what order they are put in, or how they are listed, she will hurt someone’s feelings.

She is going to trust that Casting, the real Casting Directors, will do their job wonderfully well, and put together a new and inspiring production of this show.

She wishes all of the potential Kings well – may the odds be ever in your favor.

Look, to quote the show, “Every day I do my best for one more day” – so come on, let’s just do a bit better

because if not…

Jujubee-library-reading-to-filth

 

 

 

 

The line from A CHORUS LINE is resonating with The Fairy Princess today  – “I knew it when I was in front”

 

Sheila says it. Shelia, for those who do not know the show is the ‘mature’ dancer in the show. She’s done the most shows, she has the most experience, but she sees the younger ones nipping on her heels. Shelia knows that time is the enemy of a dancer, but she is not going down without a fight.

But going to the back of the line and dancing behind the kids? When she has been in front for years?

Sheila has had it…officially!

DeTox is done, officially, too

DeTox is done, officially, too

 

The Fairy Princess is done, officially too, I’m going to make this short and sweet.

I understand “Activism”

Activism is looking at working conditions in the garment district and pressing for change in safety regulations.

The Triangle Fires - look it up, wait, here is the link.

The Triangle Fires – look it up, wait, here is the link.

 

Activism is sending children to school to combat segregation.

sixchildlg

Activism is being sent to jail for 28 years because your country needs to be united.

 

Nelson-Mandela-South-Africa

Activism is volunteering at a soup kitchen, raising funds for HIV treatment for those in need, mentoring at an after school program, donating items to a Women’s Shelter, providing free legal help at a community center, entertaining the Troops, visiting the elderly, being a Candy Striper,  running in a marathon, sending care packages – all of that is Activism. Some of it is individual and some of it is part of a larger organization, but it is all Activism. Endowing a scholarship is activism. Providing your talents at fundraisers is activism. Signing petitions is Activism. Being a “Big Brother” or a “Big Sister’ is activism.

Activism is not enabling yourself to ‘speak’ for an entire community just because you can turn on your computer.

Therefore The Fairy Princess is going to say this, just once:

YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME.

I AM ASIAN AMERICAN, AND YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME.

I realize that the Twittersphere could come for me. Oh sure,  they will ‘bring the rain’ and call me all sorts of names because they disagree with me. They will say I’m a disgrace to my race, and then they will tell me that I should not even be allowed to comment on this because I am Hapa, and not ‘really Asian“.

They might pick on my hair or my weight, or my clothes. They might spam me. They might threaten my son. They might threaten my Husband (Which would be really stupid, he is a third degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do).

Chil Kong & Erin Quill

 

The Internet Coven is ruthless….Hmmm, I should stop giving them suggestions….

(By the way, all of that sounds totes mature, don’t it?) (Totes)

By the way, (btw for the kids), these things have all been said to The Fairy Princess before...in person. 

You see, The Fairy Princess is a person, and we would all do much better if we would remember that behind Facebook Accounts and Twitter Accounts and Instagram Accounts, there are actual people.

We are, yes, a group that can be like-minded on some things, and it is a privilege to belong to the group that has the highest amount of education, the highest amount of disposable income, strong familial ties, etc. etc, etc…..

However constant ‘yelling’, flinging around words with -isms willy nilly, hurts us.

HURTS. US.

What it means is, when we REALLY need to be heard, when there is a horrible issue that must be dealt with swiftly, no one will listen.

The constant barrage of tweets and blogs and posts on social media will have worn down those who need to listen. Worn down those who would partner up with us and help us enact change. In political terms, we would be alienating ‘our base’ while ensuring that the ‘independents’ would not join us.

We have real issues in the Asian American community – Domestic Violence, Substance Abuse, few API Foster Families and a rising amount of API kids in Foster Care, and yes, Racism and Sexism to name just a few – all of which could be the focus of ‘Activism’. But will they? Or will all this static have cost us the platform on which we need to stand to be heard?

You will have made our voices, white noise . (Oh, the irony)

The Fairy Princess knows that this is only her opinion. She has no power to stop different organizations or individuals from expressing their beliefs. But she has the ability to say to those people, that they do not speak for her.

Not now.

Not ever.

If The Fairy Princess wants you to know what she is thinking, she will write it down, herself.

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Note: The Fairy Princess does not consider herself ‘an Activist’, although she does volunteer and raise money for charities and do all sorts of things that could fall under that label. The Fairy Princess is simply a person with a point of view who shares it. She does consider herself an ‘Advocate’ for Diversity, LGBT rights, Musical Theater as an art form, and for her child.

 

 

The Fairy Princess has been trying quite hard to remain positive these last few posts…because the ‘real’ news has been fairly hideous – whether you are concerned about riots in Egypt, or Child Trafficking, or Russia hating LGBT people….(Which is ludicrous, because of course, Russia is like…the Gayest Country on Earth…if you are famous for BALLET….that’s pretty Gay, Russia…pretty Gay), so she has not been posting about theater, because, well…she thought everyone learned their lesson.

The Fairy Princess lecturing Joseph Anthony Foronda in Flower Drum Song at AMTSJ

The Fairy Princess lecturing Joseph Anthony Foronda in Flower Drum Song at AMTSJ

I mean, she gave a speech at LA Stage Day about the death of Yellowface, and she was totally encouraged by the fact that the audience at LA Stage Day was receptive. Not only were they receptive, the wider, Internet audience that technology makes possible was ALSO accepting of the fact that it’s not cool to put on makeup and bad accents and make fun of Asian people simply because you are too lazy or stupid to do an actual and thoughtful portrayal of Asian culture WITH Asian actors in those roles.

I mean, weren’t we all clear on this? GEORGE? What do you think?

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR, GEORGE! THEY FORGOT!

I mean, any educated person would have to take note that demeaning a heritage you know nothing about would be…well… stupid. Any educated person would know that. Educated people, for example, who have just received an Ivy League education at an institution that is known for having high artistic standards….a place like, well…let’s just say it….YALE.

Wow...that is gorgeous...yep, that's Yale

Wow…that is gorgeous…yep, that’s Yale

Yale is a pretty fancy place – it’s graduates include Presidents, Physicians, Performers, Playwrights, in fact, the Fairy Princess’s own cousin holds a PhD from Yale….so she’s been there, and yeah…pretty fancy.

(In case you are reading this post in say….Scotland…or more specifically Edinburgh, it may be worth sharing that Yale Drama School – which is a Masters Program of Study, has some pretty famous Alumni to boast of….much like my own alma mater, Carnegie Mellon….which was founded by a Scot – Andrew Carnegie. GO SCOTS! )

Now, when you think “Yale Drama”, who comes to mind?

meryl-500x282

Or well, this guy….

TONY Winning Playwright, David Henry Hwang

TONY Winning Playwright, David Henry Hwang

He won a TONY Award for writing this play:

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And DHH is not the only Asian American to have attended Yale Drama….how about this guy?

Actor CS Lee - Dexter

Actor CS Lee – Dexter

Or THIS guy…..

Actor & 2x TONY Winning Producer, Pun Bandhu

Actor & 2x TONY Winning Producer, Pun Bandhu

And lest you think that Yale Drama is male dominated…

Actress & TED Speaker, Esther K. Chae

Actress & TED Speaker, Esther K. Chae

So…as you can see, Yale School of Drama has some fairly distinguished Asian American alumni who are gracing our stages and screens, large & small, today. And Yale School of Drama is NOT what this post is about – because obviously they are forward thinking and embrace diversity in it’s students and alumni. And Bravo to that!

However, there are a LOT of people who attend Yale and they are entitled to pursue Acting, Writing, and Directing just the same as anyone else. Their resumes still say….Yale. The word entitled is a very big one here, and it explains the reason for this post.

Though these bright minded individuals do hold degrees from Yale University, they do NOT hold Degrees from Yale School of Drama.

They do not have the training, they do not have the sensitivity, and they do not have, perhaps, their pulse on the beat of the cultural landscape of American Theater to know that there is a…and well…given the subject matter, The Fairy Princess hesitates to use the word, but it is applicable…a REVOLUTION in American Theater in regards to portrayals of Asian peoples.

Nobody binds our feet and leaves us in a corner ANY more….

The definitive answer, in many respects, to cultural misunderstandings

The definitive answer, in many respects, to cultural misunderstandings

Which is why it was all the more shocking to hear about THIS

A play currently playing at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

A play currently playing at Edinburgh Fringe Festival written & Performed by YALE Alum

You see…this is the Cast of BEIJING CAKE currently playing at Edinburgh Fringe, and….it’s a play about China….do they look Chinese to you? I see….

Cassie DaCosta, Nathaniel Moore, Sara Rosen, Gabriel Christian the cast of BEIJING CAKE

Cassie DaCosta, Nathaniel Moore, Sara Rosen, Gabriel Christian the cast of BEIJING CAKE

And HERE is a map of CHINA…real, actual, China….it’s not made up, it does not exist only in pure imagination…it’s right THERE…you see?

Wait! Wait a MINUTE you say that CHINA is a REAL and ACTUAL place?

Wait! Wait a MINUTE you say that CHINA is a REAL and ACTUAL place?

And here is a…well…a Chinese person…one who is actually, supposedly portrayed IN this play:

The Chairman...and no, not a fan as he put my Great Aunt into a concentration camp...but he was a real and actual person of which there are MANY images

The Chairman…and no, not a fan as he put my Great Aunt into a concentration camp…but he was a real and actual person of which there are MANY images

Though none of the Cast appears to BE of Asian descent, appearances CAN be deceiving so let’s see their Kickstarter video, because perhaps that would show them to be a sensitive, thoughtful bunch, who can cheerfully bring us all up to speed on the Chinese experience…http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2114703258/bring-beijing-cake-to-the-edinburgh-fringe-festiva

Yeah…not so much. Although the repeated GONGS throughout the kickstarter video are a nice touch….

The Fairy Princess has hit a wall….

great-wall-of-china

She has hit a wall because this is a project that is coming from young people! In their twenties! And Whitney Houston always told us that Children were the future!

Whitney lied. These children are as whack as crack.

The Fairy Princess is FRUSTRATED.

Remember what happened the FIRST time she got this frustrated? (MR KAUFMAN? REMEMBER?)

OK here is the deal….this show at The Fringe is billed as a comedy, it’s billed as hilarious…and apparently, those who have done the billing are the playwright, director and Cast themselves, because when core members of the British East Asians attended the show this is what they saw….

BritishEastAsians

Ummmmm…..

grinch

You know who should be upset about this? More than The Fairy Princess, more than the British East Asian Artists?

Man if I went there, I would be SO pissed!

Man if I went there, I would be SO pissed!

And here is why...they make Yale Alumni look like culturally insensitive a**holes.

Cuz ya wanna see how they bill themselves….?

Wow...yeah, YALE is all over those bios....huh?

Wow…yeah, YALE is all over those bios….huh?

Yale, Yale, Yale…and you know what – Yale is actually a very sophisticated school with quite an international reputation. And now this bunch is going around the world to spread Yellowface makeup, made up Chinese and…well…racism. I mean, they do not even seem to be aware that Chinese can be broken down into various dialects like Mandarin and Cantonese!

REALLY? Because even ELMO knows what Mandarin is!

THIS is what they came out of YALE with? An entitled sense of being able to make fun of Asian people…an entitled opinion that they are able to portray us, to speak on our issues, to mock a language that is thousands of years old?

OMG Yale – you failed. You were supposed to educate them to take their place in the world and hold forth the tradition of excellence that you are known for. They ran off waving their sheepskin and decided it was a great idea to mock the Country that holds America’s dollar by the proverbial balls.

What a great endorsement for a Yale Education! I’m sure their Parents will be thrilled that they PAID for their kids to learn that you can step all over Chinese people at tens of thousands of dollars per semester! The one who will be absolutely the MOST proud?

The Director’s FATHER….

Because EVERYONE knows that Oscar Winning Screenwriters really want to be known for having Daughters who perpetuate stereotype utilizing Yellowface and made up Chinese adjacent languages! What a shame,  when you, yourself, are so meticulous in your brilliant work. But perhaps, she is a late bloomer. You have faith in her.

The Fairy Princess….not so much.

Let’s break it down people, these Actors and this Playwright and this Director are from groups that have ‘Minority’ written all over their names and faces and gender…possibly even their sexual preferences, who knows or who cares, but it’s possible. So if you are, yourself, a member of a Minority group, how DARE you mock another one? Forget what you obviously did NOT learn at YALE about cultural sensitivity, what the heck were you learning at home that makes this in ANY way ok?

Well now, they are probably upset….they are saying HOW DARE I call them on this racist play that they love doing. Who am I to expect them to strive for excellence and artistic bravery? Ok Kids…fine, but let’s turn this around….because turnabout is fair play, yes?

Foghorn Leghorn says Yes, Turnabout is fair play

Foghorn Leghorn says Yes, Turnabout is fair play

Now…if Asian American actors were to go over to Edinburgh, slap on some Blackface make up and talk like Amos & Andy – would that be ok?

Yeah, remember when people thought THIS was ok? (TOTALLY NOT OK!)

Yeah, remember when people thought THIS was ok? (TOTALLY NOT OK!)

No.

If Asian American Directors and Writers got together a made up a mockery of the Hebrew language which they THEN set it to the tune of “Yiddishe Mama” would that be ok?

No.

Cuz The Bottle Dance from Fiddler On The Roof is just Jerome Robbin’s choreo…we could learn it

Tradition my ASS!

Tradition my ASS!

(BTW, The Fairy Princess knows every damn word to Fiddler On The Roof and made her Mom take her to see it 5 times in a row when she was six years old and then she memorized the Cast recording…but she ALWAYS knew that it was a show she would NEVER do)

But we are not going to. Because we have standards.

I would have thought that you would have them too…being that you know….you went to Yale and all….so many whacks with the wand…you need to grab a mirror and take a good look at yourselves and HONESTLY wonder how you EVER thought that this was in ANY way ok….. OH….and BY THE WAY….

KISS MY FAN TAN FANNIE