Archives for posts with tag: Flower Drum Song

The Fairy Princess has been doing a lot of reading lately….for example she is absolutely obsessed with this book

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SO obsessed with it that she has done her OWN Casting Breakdown for it, in case, you know, big Hollywood Producers who changed Katniss into a Caucasian should get confused and need some help remembering that ASIAN in in the title of the book, and that it is not supposed to be a book about whatever K-Pop star is hot right now, it is supposed to be a book about 30-somethings and their Parents, in SINGAPORE!

Dear Hollywood Producers should you get STUCK and think this would be a way better film called CRAZY, RICH because you think it is going to be too hard to cast – I double dog dare you to call The Fairy Princess -she will have the Casting Breakdown and options at the ready!

(OMG Hollywood Producers, you should TOTALLY call me – I would knock that Casting OUT OF THE PARK!)

(And when I say PARK, I’m not saying it in a “that is one of the very popular surnames for Korean Americans, way)

Crazy, Rich Asians has provided COPIOUS amounts of hilarity for The Fairy Princess, and she is pretty sure that she and Kevin Kwan should have Kiki’s on a regular basis, because HER OWN GRANDMA was actually a part of this kind of Social Circle in China, and actually gave The Fairy Princess her middle name, after one of the SOONG Sisters. (Kevin Kwan will know what that means).

The Fairy Princess and Kevin Kwan could totes be BFF’s! Or at LEAST we could go some piano bar in the Village and have too many drinks and sing too many showtunes – he mentioned karaoke in the book, Dear Mr. Kwan…The Fairy Princess will ROCK your WORLD with her MAD Karaoke skillz….

But that was not the ONLY thing that she read this week – and now, we are going to get into what is putting a dent in her wand….let’s digress…

As you may know, The Fairy Princess has done the show, FLOWER DRUM SONG.

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Now, in FLOWER DRUM SONG there is a nightclub and it is based on a real nightclub that was in San Francisco where the only performers were Asian and the Customers were…well, they were mainly Caucasian. It was called…The Forbidden City, and it was owned by a businessman, Charlie Low.

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And they had ‘Superstars”

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And they had Fan Dancers….like Noel Toy

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And in general, they were kind of kick ass….and once The Fairy Princess found out about The Forbidden City when she was younger, she found out it was like the Chinese West Coast version of The Cotton Club, she became equally obsessed with both nightclubs. But the Asian performers from The Forbidden City could never seem to jump to any sort of mainstream recognition – even though the novel about the nightclub by C.Y. Lee did very well – the performers themselves did not seem to continue on and get work or recognition in mainstream America.

The Forbidden City was not The Cotton Club.

The Cotton Club began in 1923, during The Harlem Renaissance. (Oh sure, I know ALL about it, I told you I was obsessed!) It was where, as my great friend who has now passed, Anderson Jones, used to tell me, “The 1920’s was where Black Men invented Men’s Fashion, Erin Quill”

Zoot suits and jazz and well…The Cotton Club.

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It predated The Forbidden City and actually launched a heck of a lot of performers whose work we still, to this day, sing, hum, and generally think of when we see a beaded gown. People like…well….

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And who can forget….Ms. Lena Horne? Or Cab Calloway? Or any of the other breathtaking performers that got their start, or made their careers bigger, by singing in The Cotton Club?

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Now, The Fairy Princess does not condone the segregation that either The Forbidden City or The Cotton Club practiced, in terms of it’s audience being Caucasian and it’s performers being…ummmm…non-Caucasian. Because…let’s face it, it was racist. It was clearly racism, and it was clearly…not kosher. Not by today’s standards, but it is part of the history of America, and part of the history of the music of that era.

The best thing that came out of The Cotton Club was the music and the launching of careers for people who became the “game changers’. They became trailblazers – being on stage at The Cotton Club is what helped a lot of people become the legends they are today.

So The Fairy Princess was really, really excited to hear about the NEW Broadway show – AFTER MIDNIGHT – which IS, according to it’s website..

“This thrilling experience puts you at the center of one of Harlem’s legendary nightclubs, in a hotbed of Jazz–its intoxicating rhythms, its innovative style, its unpredictable danger and fun. Award-winning fashion designer Isabel Toledo reinvents the distinctive looks of the era with dazzling, one-of-a-kind costumes. And, as directed and choreographed by Warren CarlyleAFTER MIDNIGHT blurs the line between past and present to prove that Jazz is more than music–it’s a state of mind.”

Well…I mean, they are talking about THE COTTON CLUB! The music OF The Cotton Club!

Oh. Mah. Goodness, The Fairy Princess is BEYOND excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Because the Cotton Club was a launching pad for all kinds of talented folks, and she is hoping that After Midnight will give us a whole new bunch of folks to sing along with and look up to….some we have been missing a bit on The Broadway….like Adriane Lenox…

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Or people we might know more from television at this point in their careers…like Dule Hill

He's going to be The Host

He’s going to be The Host

And, as The Fairy Princess said….people whose work she is excited to get to know, like…let’s look at the cast list:

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This is Monique Smith, she seems nice. Actually there is a whole BUNCH of people in this show whose work The Fairy Princess does not know, and THAT is exciting, because THAT is Broadway…it’s discovering new people!

AND in KEEPING with the tradition OF The Cotton Club, they are going to rotate ‘Celebrities!” What a great gimmick. OK, so the FIRST Celebrity is….

Awesome! How great was she in The Color Purple, the musical?

Awesome! How great was she in The Color Purple, the musical?

But of course, Fantasia has other commitments too, she can’t be the “Celebrity” all the time! I wonder WHO they are going to get to replace her,  you know in case she goes on vacation….Who, could it be? Oh you KNOW who would be GREAT?

Who doesn't love a legend?

Who doesn’t love a legend?

 

Who else could they get? Wait….Toni Braxton has done Broadway –

 

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Who else…who ELSE is like, SUPER Famous and has done Broadway…..

 

Ushh Usshhh USHER - and he would bring the Kids

Ushh Usshhh USHER – and he would bring the Kids

 

Or you…oh WAIT A MINUTE, THIS would be RIDICULOUS!!!!!!!!!

 

She's even PLAYED Billie Holiday!!!!!!!

She’s even PLAYED Billie Holiday!!!!!!!

But here’s what was just announced….

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Is this when The Fairy Princess yells “Stop the world, I want to get off?”

The Country Singer, KD Lang is going to be in AFTER MIDNIGHT?

Now, granted, there were Caucasian performers who DID perform, as Celebrity Guests on Celebrity Nights, and a small list would include : Jimmy Durante, George Gershwin, Sophie TuckerAl Jolson, Mae West, Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin, Eddie Cantor, Fanny Brice, Langston Hughes, Judy Garland, Moss Hart, and New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker, among others.

But it was only for a night….it was never, you know….an extended run in a show that celebrates the music of The Harlem Renaissance.

So that is not, technically, in the tradition of “The Celebrity Guest” night now, is it?

I don’t know, I’m guessing The Nicholas Brothers are probably breaking a hip in Heaven about this one….

What would Billie Holiday sing about this particular choice, I wonder –

You know that The Fairy Princess is all for Equality in Casting, but this seems wrong.

It seems wrong to put a Caucasian in this show and here’s why…because it is a celebration of the music and the people of The Cotton Club.

We can all agree to disagree, but WHO WERE the people OF The Cotton Club…..NOT THE AUDIENCE...THE PEOPLE?

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I see.

Of course there WERE Caucasians IN The Cotton Club….you can see them RIGHT THERE….

That's Mary Lou Williams on the ivories

Mary Lou Williams on the ivories

But since I cannot find any photos from those Celebrity Guest Nights….I’m guessing that Caucasians on the stage was not actually the draw AT The Cotton Club.

I’m guessing.

The Fairy Princess finds it….an odd choice.She also finds it a bit insensitive and well…while she respects that KD Lang is a wonderful performer, she is not the type of performer who would have been seen regularly in The Cotton Club.

I mean, it would be different if the entire cast was mixed and it was all peoples performing the music of The Cotton Club – but it’s not.

As The Fairy Princess has said before, multi-racial casting is not supposed to be used because people do not want to expend the effort to cast it in the manner which is most respectful of the struggle and the time period and the tone of the show.

Choosing KD Lang for some reason, (not her talent), is, to me, a ‘low-percentage choice”.

The Fairy Princess is not African American….and she’s not trying to co-opt that experience, but IF I WERE, I would take a video clip that I like to use a lot and tell the Producers of this show that casting KD Lang to represent the music and times of The Cotton Club is wrong and that they should….KISS MY FAN TAN FANNIE!!!!!!!!!!!

Last week, David Henry Hwang congratulated my lovely pal, @MsLisaChang on her recent blog posting about the Royal Shakespeare Company. Much merriment was had by all, and I realized though I had written quite a lot about a variety of subjects, I had not put in my bio so no one was really sure of who was writing.

So here goes – (Oooh, maybe I should write it in the third person….first person is soooo awkward for bios). Otherwise this is going to sound like a songwriter’s endless “And then I wrote…” cabaret – and while life IS, and I have done a lot of it, I think the third person is the way to go. I’ll put a photo up though, so we are all clear who we are talking about:

Erin Quill - The Fairy Princess

Erin Quill – The Fairy Princess

ERIN QUILL holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. She was in the Original Broadway Company of AVENUE Q.  She was in the 50th Anniversary Production of  FLOWER DRUM SONG as Madame Liang. She toured as Lady Thiang opposite Debby Boone in THE KING & I. (She is obviously very grateful to Rogers & Hammerstein)

She has also appeared in NON Asian specific roles in musicals such as – Godspell, Pippin, Closer Than Ever, Anything Goes, and some straight plays, the NY Comedy Festival, The NYMPH and so on.

 

As a blogger, she has been instrumental in bringing to light the disparity of Asian American (among others) representation in entertainment, with a focus on, but not limited to, the American theatrical stage. Her writings have had an impact in several instances – particularly in the rise of theater conferences about the lack of API representation, the cancellation of the All- API production of SHOW BOAT, the replacement of The King in Dallas Summer Musical’s production of THE KING AND I, the issue of blackface and yellowface makeup in Opera, Operetta, and Broadway shows, and so on.

Her speech at LA Stage Day was the most highly viewed internet video from that particular conference, and has even been adapted (crediting Ms. Quill as the writer) into a performance piece in the U.K.

 

In August of 2015, Playbill.com named her as one of the most useful women on social media in theater.

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Her work has been linked to, quoted, or been source material for pieces on Diversity in Entertainment from such papers/internet outlets as: National Public Radio, The Huffington Post, CNN.com, Playbill.com, The New York Times, The LA Times, Backstage, Broadwayworld.com, The Wall Street Journal, The International Business Times, The Guardian, The Stage, and various papers around the world. Her blog is read internationally, and as of August 2015, has over 130,000 views.

An active cabaret performer, her show “They Shoot Asian Fosse Dancers, Don’t They?” has been seen in Los Angeles, New York, and at the Sydney Cabaret Convention. She has been seen at Therapy, Splash, Birdland, Don’t Tell Mama’s, The Ritz, and a ton of other spaces she can barely recall and which you likely will not care about – however she loves singing for her pals, Scott Nevins & Ryan O’Connor on their Musical Mondays at Eleven in West Hollywood.

One of the Musical Theater workshops she is most proud of having been a part of is Jason Robert Brown‘s Honeymoon in Vegas, where they expanded the role of Mahi from a few lines to the sidekick of Norbert Leo Butz’s character, Jack Singer with a great song.

Ian Paget, Erin Quill, Raymond J. Lee

Her TV Credits include NYPD Blue, Damages, NYC 22, The Following, Nurse Jackie, and several pilots.  Her Voice Over work is showcased on the E! Show, Starveillance. She did a pilot for Bravo called DISHIN’

and another called SCREENING PARTY, based on the book by Dennis Hensley. She plays a cop in the film, MAN ON A LEDGE (which got her an email from her Cousin in Australia, and other things like screen time)

She appeared on SIRIUS Radio as a sidekick to Dennis Hensley who was Guest Hosting.

She appears in and is a Co-Screenwriter on the Feature Film, THE MIKADO PROJECT, now avail on DVD on Amazon.com

You can read The Huffington Post‘s review of the film, HERE

Her second feature script as a writer, QWERTY is in Post Production, and another feature script, K-TOWN, P.I., has been optioned. Erin has written on Diversity based on her experiences working as a Casting Assistant, a Commercial Director’s Rep, and her being chosen by both FOX and CBS Networks for their Diversity Showcases. Her article “Why Are There No Asians On Television” was widely circulated and one of the highest read articles on the website IMDiversity.com

Asiance Magazine profiled her as an Irish Asian, read the interview HERE

LA Times Review of Closer Than Ever, read it HERE

Asianweek Guest Blog by Erin Quill for Closer Than Ever, read it HERE

LA Times Review of the Play, The Mikado Project, read it HERE

She has done fundraisers for Broadway Cares/EFA, Desert AIDS Project, Los Angeles GLBT Center, Sparkle Concert in Palm Springs, Celebrity Doodles in Palm Springs, The Trevor Project,  The Matthew Shepard Foundation, Victims of 9/11, and many more.

Review of Sparkle, read it HERE 

EQ is thanked in a few books – Screening Party by Dennis Hensley, 101 Must See Movies for Gay Men by Alonso Duralde, Queens In The Kingdom by Jeffrey Epstein & Eddie Shapiro, Exile In Guyville by Dave White – because, just like Sharon Stone in The Muse, she’s a muse. All of those are avail on Amazon.com and you should buy them, because my friends are amazing.

She started her blog at the request of her Husband, Chil Kong, probably so he did not have to listen to her rants at home. When her post “Moises Kaufman Can Kiss My Ass & Here’s Why” hit over 20,000 views, he demanded a thank you. All right, all right – Thank you.

Chil Kong & Erin Quill

So now you know.

Erin is represented by The Luedtke Agency in New York City.

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