Archives for posts with tag: Gregory Doran

The Fairy Princess once twittered that if Producers wanted to keep her from blogging, they should just keep her employed – and that is what has been happening. That, and, of course, a toddler who likes to break at least one major item a day and does not want to nap – ever. Apologies.

However, in the midst of this oddly timed employment, for which she is quite grateful, she did happen to catch the British East Asian’s answer to The Royal Shakespeare Company’s elimination of Asian faces in their production of The Orphan Of Zhao – done successfully here in the States with an Asian American Cast, in a joint production from A.C.T. in San Francisco, and La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego. (I still have my eye on you, La Jolla….)

To borrow some of the British parlance, The Fairy Princess found their video answer to this casting debacle, absolutely smashing, and hopes that Gregory Doran and the rest of the RSC will see it and be absolutely gobsmacked at the British East Asian talent that is RIGHT THERE in his own backyard.

And thus she wanted to share this wonderful video entitled “The Orphan of Zhao Redux” and give you all a chance to see the marvelous work that happens when creative minds attack a problem and try to open eyes and minds.

Mind, it is nine minutes – but it is absolutely worth it, and if you get a minute, perhaps you will Tweet to the RSC (@TheRSC) that you have seen it, and that you wished that they would host more productions where they feature the astonishing talent of the British East Asians…particularly when the show in question is set in CHINA...or any other local where one would expect to find Asian faces.

Or even…wait for it…put them in shows where they are not defined by their race, but by their acting!

Just a thought…mull that one over.

Congratulations to my fellow Actors, and all who put this together, you were all ‘in it to win it‘, and you certainly have.

In a world where people throw things willy nilly up on the internet, with no production value or thought, The Fairy Princess was moved to see how this video speaks to the issues raised by the Casting of The Orphan of Zhao at the RSC.

She also was thrilled to meet some of the brilliant people behind this video on a recent trip to London, and hopes to get over there more, and check in with everyone – the energy of this group is fantastic.

Well Done!

The Fairy Princess actually thought she was going to have a good day….after all, one of her old bosses is up to be an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) Award winner today, and she has EVERYTHING crossed for Kristen Anderson Lopez and Bobby Lopez to win for Best Song – LET IT GO, from the film, FROZEN

Bobby Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez

Bobby Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez

The Pasadena Playhouse has announced that under the direction of new Associate Artistic Director, Seema Sueko, they are going to produce a workshop of playwright, Philip C. Chung’s play, COME DOWN IN TIME, as part of their Hothouse series. They will co-produce with East West Players, and it will take place on March 20 & 21, 2014 at  8:00 PM at The Vault, 60 Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101.

The HOTHOUSE Series is designed to highlight and develop plays that ‘authentically align with the Playhouse’s commitment to Diversity’ and will be focusing on playwrights whose representation in American theater are traditionally under-represented.

The Fairy Princess has known Philip C. Chung for a long time, and she is absolutely thrilled that his work is getting the recognition by two venerable Los Angeles Arts Institutions. Philip has been working on his You Offend Me, You Offend My Family Website and it’s accompanying YouTube Channel, as well as his career as a screenwriter, but I knew that he missed writing for theater.

So there you have it – a hit! A palpable hit!

And…as good news comes in threes – she found out that Philip Anthony Rodriguez is going to have a cool story arc on the NBC Show, GRIMM! He’s going to be a Henchman for the Royals!

New Royal Henchman on GRIMM

New Royal Henchman on GRIMM

Three good things in the past few days!  Thus the Fairy Princess was unprepared for her emails this morning about…well, for a moment let’s go back…remember this guy?

Gregory Doran, Artistic Director RSC aka The Great Conqueror

Gregory Doran, Artistic Director RSC
aka The Great Conqueror

He was the chappie who brought us that production of The Orphan of Zhao, which was the oldest play from China, about a Chinese subject, and has been called The Chinese “Hamlet’, and he did THIS to it –

The Orphan of Zhao...by way of Exeter.

The Orphan of Zhao…by way of
Exeter.

All coming back to you? Sounding familiar? The Fairy Princess gave him a bit of a trouncing in her blog, and the past year has been fairly quiet on the Western Imperial Front from RSC. In fact, the British East Asians celebrated/… the year anniversary of that controversial show, and we were kind of thinking everyone had learned their lesson.

Because it is damn tiring to have to keep teaching it.

The White Privilege in that rock is REALLY heavy

And honestly, isn’t everyone tired of reading it yet?

Well, they have not gotten the message at The Wooster Group yet, and THAT is lying heavy on the head that wears my tiara. The Fairy Princess has long been an admirer of The Wooster Group, and in general, she believes that they are a fairly sensitive, arty crowd, who do their utmost with their liberal political underpinnings to do groundbreaking work. After all they were founded by Spaulding Gray!

He's got stories, right here in New York City

He’s got stories, right here in New York City

Or that is what she thought they did.

Then, they decided to team up with the RSC for a production of Troilus & Cressida, and examine, how did they put it? I’d better just pull the quote:


CRY, TROJANS! originated as a co-production with the Royal Shakespeare Company of Troilus and Cressida at the World Shakespeare Festival in conjunction with the London 2012 Olympics. In that collaboration, the two companies took opposite sides in the Trojan War: the Wooster Group staged the Trojan scenes while the RSC staged the Greek ones. Scenes with both Greeks and Trojans were staged by both, each side developing its own version. The companies worked separately and without consultation until they met a few weeks before performances to sew the two halves of the show together. The seam was intentionally left rough so that the contrast of artistic approaches remained a foreground feature of the production, accenting the face-off of warring cultures in the play.

Seeking a decidedly American angle from which to encounter the RSC and the language of Shakespeare, the Wooster Group reimagined the Trojans as a pastiche fictional tribe of early Americans struggling to assert its dignity as doom closes in.

Following the special engagement with the RSC, the Wooster Group returned to New York and converted the collaboration into an independent piece. The spirit of the absent collaborator/enemy still manifests in various ways, but CRY, TROJANS! concentrates on the Trojan side of the story: the corruption of sincere love and the downfall of a noble hero.”


Ah yes they are going to examine ‘the corruption of sincere love and the downfall of a noble hero”.

Yet it winds up seeming to The Fairy Princess to be a corruption of Culture exchange and the downfall of  Compassion. It seems odd that in the spirit of the Olympics, which is supposed to be all nations coming together and sharing and learning, the Wooster Group has fallen back artistically – perhaps with encouragement from RSC, perhaps on their own. Who knows how they came up with their concept, but it allowed the British to remain Caucasian and the Americans to don ‘war paint’ and ape the Native American experience – with no Native Americans seemingly visible on stage or in the artistic planning.

This is the issue – and it’s long enough that we actually have a subscription, but here it goes – Native Americans are not a pastiche to be bandied about with when you think you have run out of ideas as to how to play cultures at war with one another.

Does this look ‘right’ to anyone?

Photo by Paula Court from CRY TROJANS!

Photo by Paula Court from CRY TROJANS!

Probably to Gregory Doran, because, after all, he pulled one of these:

Still from RSC's Orphan of Zhao

Still from RSC’s Orphan of Zhao

Well, I guess he told The Wooster Group to bang a gong and get it on, because….

Photo by Steven Gunther

Photo by Steven Gunther

I mean, SERIOUSLY?

I had to learn about this on Oscar Sunday? Hmmmm why does Oscar Night and Native Americans seem so aligned in my head already? There must be a reason….

Oh right, who stuck up for Native Americans once upon a time on Oscar Sunday?

Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando

He was awarded an Oscar, but instead, he sent this message:

Now, tis true, that perhaps The Brits do not ‘get’ the long, bloody and shameful history that America has with it’s Native Peoples – although WHY they would not, I have no idea, as they set the ball in motionbut Americans know. Though Americans are not taught the history of most minority groups in their classrooms, they are taught of our shocking and bloody, full scale war upon the Native Americans. We are. Every one of us.

Not to mention dozens of other ways we decimated Native American tribes – blankets from people who died of smallpox, anyone? Putting them in camps? Creating and then taking back Reservations?

Bury your heart at Wounded Knee?

General rape and pillage for absolutely no reason at all except a desire to push West?

genocide1-598x600

Yep, those were covered in our classrooms.

021011-trail-of-tears

But if one needs to catch up, one merely needs to go on the world wide interweb and do a search on American Genocide and you can find THIS documentary which I first saw at a film festival many years ago:

We also know that Native Americans are not one peoples – there are 566 listed Federally Recognized Tribes in America!

566!

Native_American_map[1]

That is not a ‘pastiche’!

What is a pastiche? Technically? It’s a pie filling.

apple-pie-ay-1932517-l

It is from the Italian word pasticcio, which is pie filling mixed from diverse ingredients. It is also an piece of work that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more artists. It is not a parody – which mocks others.

Imitation or Parody?

Imitation or Parody?

The Fairy Princess is very, very sad about this new production from The Wooster Group – and she is even sadder that they are running it again in Los Angeles at REDCAT – without RSC.

How, in the City of Los Angeles, the City of Angels, where we have been swimming in Diversity panels like they are pools in a Beverly Hills mansion, could they have invited THIS production to perform in LA? Did no one say “Hey wait a minute, we are under fire here for bad casting decisions in the past which highlight our apathy and cultural insensitivity, so perhaps we should not invite a production where all the Native Americans are being portrayed by Caucasians?

Ya Think?

As a country, we cannot – can not – apologize to certain groups ENOUGH for what we, as a country, have done to their people. We all know who those groups are – African Americans, Native Americans, Japanese Americans.

Unless The Wooster Group is comfortable doing this:

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

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

Then they should NOT be doing this:

Still from the Production they did with RSC

Still from the Production they did with RSC

Because IT. IS. THE. SAME. THING! Get it? GET IT?

If you are so artistically bankrupt that you need to go and paint your actors because you cannot come up with a new concept for a Shakespearean drama – then quit. Seriously. Time to go. You cannot think of anything better than Rome-pan or Rome-many Nations – you are done.

Not because the concepts do not work – but because you are letting down your concept.

You cannot continue to mine the cultures of other peoples and then refuse to cast people that represent that culture. If you want to make a statement about Native Americans and your support of them and their journey in a Shakespearean way – go ahead – BUT CAST NATIVE AMERICANS!

I spy with my little eye...

I spy with my little eye…

If you want to set a show in a Rome that has been conquered by Japan, then you better have some Asian American faces in that cast. If you try to find members of that group and insist that you just cannot or that you have not found talent that you are excited to work with… change the concept. Set it in Norway, set it in France, set it in Russia, set it in Ukraine, set it in South Africa, set it in New Zealand, set it in Australia, set it in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, there are lots and lots of places one can possibly set a Shakespearean play where the actors will not have to actually paint themselves. (Unless you want them to paint Celtic Blue – because you know, the Celtic Warriors did actually paint themselves for battle – and there you go – one interesting concept, go ahead and take it)

celtic-warrior-ben-5

Why? Why? Because you, the Director, look more intelligent. Because you, the Director, look more educated. Because you, the Director will then look like you know more about the world – both the one you are trying to create and the one we all live in.

Now, there have already been reviews of this production – and one of my favorites was reading that this production is “Wooster-lite“. The reviewer did not feel this play lived up to the reputation of The Wooster Group.  Which means what? Here is a quote: The result is an uncharacteristically tame production, one that left me time to ponder the awkward politics of an overwhelmingly white ensemble horsing around with cultural caricatures of race.”

It means that it is no longer acceptable to critics, or to audience members, or to the theater community to continue to insist that Caucasian actors can paint or clothe themselves to portray other ethnicities. You know that when theater critics start talking about the the casting versus the concept, as opposed to the casting working with the concept that this is a problem.

The argument for Diversity is ongoing, and it is uphill, even with Critics like Wendy Rosenfeld speaking up.

The thing that gets to The Fairy Princess, is the theater establishments resistance to using full mental capacity to notice that the world has changed, is changing, will continue to change. The reason that The Wooster Group’s production is so shocking is that they were considered the cultural elitists in New York City for a very long time – melding acting, concept, technology, and new ideas.

And now, I guess I would consider them…well…behind.

I actually consider them a Horse's...er...zebra's behind!

I actually consider them a Horse’s…er…zebra’s behind!

Far, far behind – behind The Pasadena Playhouse, behind East West Players, behind NY’s Public Theater, and part of me thinks “my goodness, how very sad that is.” It is like seeing Dorian Gray’s portrait hidden in the attic when you have been having a delightful sherry with him in the parlor all evening.

So 10 smacks of the wand to The Wooster Group – you went to London to share, and you came back with the worst kind of Imperialism running rampant in your production. What, precisely did you ‘learn’? How to totally ignore what you know to be right, and walk all over the culture of Peoples of Color – well, you seem to be an excellent student.

Next time they ask you to do something like that, just say

tumblr_m52l0eyEQG1rqnccjo1_400

Even if you think they are the totally fancy, culturally elite, Royal Shakespeare Company and you want them to be impressed by you.

Just remember, they did this:

Yes, a Princess of China for sure

Yes, a Princess of China for sure

Because once you put a production out there….

Werd!

Werd!

As you know…The Fairy Princess has had some things to say about casting, particularly theatrical casting – both in the USA and abroad.

I'm thinking...I'm thinking

I’m thinking…I’m thinking

Ahem.

Just a few things (thing 1, thing 2, thing 3). We’ve gone from Chinese people being eliminated in Mythical China, to Chinese people being eliminated from a Chinese play that is set in real, actual China but shown onstage in the UK, to South Asian people being mocked on Broadway…it’s been a busy year for neglect racism.

Or as I call it in terms that render it more a medical condition, and therefore treatable – Lazydirectitum aka Castingidiotum aka Artisticdirectorless

There have been several theater conferences on the issue – a forum hosted by the venerable East West Players in Los Angeles, “Open Door” in the UK hosted by British Equity, and most recently one held in Chicago hosted by Silk Road Rising Theater Company.

There was also a ‘talk back‘ at La Jolla Playhouse, and an upcoming March ‘closed door’ meeting at The Roundabout theater company, and now, FINALLY there has been some real, definitive action – a Master stroke has been dealt and it is a doozy.

A.C.T. – the American Conservatory Theater has taken aim at that pesky windmill of neglectful racism and in two, bold and daring moves, they have put the theater community on notice.

What is this you say? Wait, could it BE? Could there be a light at the end of the railroad tunnel? Is it possible?

The light shines brighter in San Francisco

The light shines brighter in San Francisco

YES, my Children, they have done it.

ACT is doing 2 shows with…wait for it….Asian people.

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!

President George W. Bush can't believe it EITHER

President George W. Bush can’t believe it EITHER

Boldly going where few have gone before in recent memory, ACT is doing Stuck Elevator in April 2013 – a new work based on a real undocumented Chinese Delivery Man in New York, who was stuck in an elevator for 81 hours. Poor guy.

(The Fairy Princess was stuck in an elevator once, in New York City, but it was only for forty five minutes and no one wrote a musical about it because all it would have entailed was The Fairy Princess sitting her butt on the elevator floor waiting for someone to realize she was missing, so it is good that no one ever optioned that particular story from her life.)

The Fairy Princess is gobsmacked! She even knows two of the folks in the cast – Raymond J. Lee (He’s in The Mikado Project trailer, rapping A Wandering Minstrel )

and Joseph Anthony Foronda.

Joseph Anthony Foronda & Erin Quill in 50th Anniversary Production of Flower Drum Song at AMTSJ

Joseph Anthony Foronda & Erin Quill in 50th Anniversary Production of Flower Drum Song at AMTSJ

Both of whom are exceptionally talented, and with whom The Fairy Princess is very honored to have shared the stage and screen with.

BUT WAIT THERE IS MORE!

ACT is not done!

What? What you say? I KNOW, I know…you are very excited.

DANCE BREAK!

Ok that’s enough. Stop now. Because you will never, ever, never ever EVAH guess what ACT has planned!

They are going to take that same translation of The Orphan of Zha0, yes, the VERY one that The Royal Shakespeare Company had commissioned from James Fenton –

RSC's Poster

RSC’s Poster

and….AND.…They are going to put a Chinese American Actor in the lead role!

DROP MIC! Grab a towel and let a peon wipe your brow, ACT, THIS is Victoria Beckham ‘MAH-JOR’!

Gregory Doran must be so pissed! (And not in the British ‘pissed’ = ‘drunk’ way, but pissed off)

He’s saying “What, what? The Colonies? They’ve done what? And who is in the Cast? Who? Shown me up, have they? Made legitimate casting decisions based on text, have they? Upstarts! Well I NEVER!”

Yes. We know that, Mr. Doran.

You never. Because you did not feel that British East Asians should be in a repertory season, so you just thought it was better to not bother with them at all in a show set in China, that you went over to China to do research on. Because even though there are conservatory trained Actors in the UK, no one would ‘buy’ them in a Brecht play, in your opinion, so you just felt…eh, why bother?

Oh, you are back Mr. Doran, sorry I was doing a gig of happiness – well, I’m Irish, sometimes you have to…

Do you want to know who they cast Mr. Doran?

Those pesky people at ACT?

THIS GUY:

BD Wong, Actor

BD Wong, Actor

You know what? When The Fairy Princess puts them one under the other, the photos, doesn’t that little boy seem like he could possibly grow up and be TONY Winner BD Wong?

OH.

OH.

You see, Mr. Doran, That’s the point. The point is – is that there is going to be an Asian American Actor portraying an Asian person!

He’s not going to be a dog puppet….

Joan Iyolia & Chris Lew Kum Hoi in rehearsalPlaying the dog, sorry, dog puppet at The RSC's Production of The Orphan of Zhao

Joan Iyolia & Chris Lew Kum Hoi in rehearsal
Playing the dog, sorry, dog puppet at The RSC’s Production of The Orphan of Zhao

He is not going to have to ‘learn’ how to tape his eyes…..

Saigoned, So wrong

Or use a terrible accent…..

ImageCache

He is just going to get to be the Lead, in a production that is set in a country, where, historically, his Family may have been from.

It is mind-bogglingly simple. It is the Casting that need not speak it’s name. It’s a home run.

So what, Dear Reader can we do to support this bold and brave casting choices?

We can all buy tickets and go. That’s how you vote in theater, with your dollars and common sense.

Look, you may be reading this as an Asian American Actor, or you may be reading this as a theater fan, or you may be reading this because you are going to post on the comments how awful I am and how I know nothing (opinions are indeed like a**holes, everyone has one) but for whatever reason, you are here. Don’t waste this beautiful opportunity to be part of the change of American theater. Buy at ticket to these productions – and you know what?

KEEP BUYING TICKETS – go to the theater, go to film festivals – GO, GO, GO! Even if you don’t like the first thing you see, or the second – when you see that the theater community is reaching out, reach back.

One of the biggest obstacles in including Asian American performers more into our Theater culture is that ‘no one‘ will buy tickets to see an Asian American as a lead. Prove them wrong. You’re someone, aren’t you?

I don’t have a crystal ball

Ok I lied, I have a crystal ball (Photo by Dr. Michelle Ko)

I borrowed it.
(Photo by Dr. Michelle Ko)

But if I did, I would tell you to keep your eyes open because this is a very encouraging and exciting thing.

Which is great, because recent reports have been upsetting.

Although, I must admit, if American Theater is going to keep this up – The Fairy Princess may never ‘have‘ to blog again – and wouldn’t it be loverly?

Clang, Clang, Clang San Francisco – well done!

 

TEN Waves of the Wand to ACT – and the Artistic Director, Carey Perloff.

Here I sit in the Colonies, and I have just read The National Arts Council’s letter to Mr. Victor Wong, who is the Executive Director of the Chinese Canadian National Council. Mr. Wong quite obviously wrote to the RSC in light of Artistic Director Gregory Doran casting China with a coat of white paint. And good for him! Bravo! I toast Mr. Wong with a cup full of maple syrup whilst wearing a Mountie hat! Thank you Mr. Wong.

(My Canadian Chinese Cousins will be duly impressed by this. I don’t really know them, we are apparently related through a Great Grandfather with multiple wives and concubines, but what are you going to do? That’s China for you. A First Cousin married a Canadian actually, with my same name, awkward, but she has a fabulous company for Ex-Pat Canadians in Oz called Oh Canada !)

The letter is from Nigel Hugill, I will pull a bit of the text.

Selection of letter posted previously
on FB Group site

What has occurred to the Fairy Princess, sitting here twiddling my toes in the lovely, balmy LA weather, and having just been to The Ovation Awards (LA’s Theater Awards) last evening is, that the Royal Shakespeare Company is very uncomfortable with language.

What’s that you say? But what is theatre if not language? The theatre is language and costumes and sets all designed to tell a story to make you think. There are plays that make you think about a variety of subjects – about love, or sex, or money – plays are designed to make you think. On occasion, there are plays that make you think about issues that you are uncomfortable with.

The Orphan of Zhao is one such play for The Royal Shakespeare Company.

It’s all very “words, words, words, I’m so sick of words” And it is not, actually the words Asian or East Asian or Casting or Diversity or Multi-Cultural – those words they are willing to fling about like ramen in a food fight.

What is getting their goat is one other word, and it is not supercalifragilisticexpealidocious.

The word is….wait for it…apology.

I mean, yes, to apologize is to throw yourself on a sword a bit, Mr. Doran, but it’s not necessarily fatal. AND…I happen to have one right here, as a matter of fact:

In Chinese, a sword is called
a “Dao” – I am going to call this one…Zhao

Just kidding, just kidding – don’t throw yourself on a Chinese sword Mr. Doran, you would be vastly uncomfortable and definitely need a tetanus shot.

What is odd to me about this whole situation, is that the Brits are known world wide for some very particular traits – Beautiful Princesses

Princess Diana, just stunning

Princess Sophia of Hanover,
(she was smokin’ in the 1650’s)

Learned Scholars,

William Shakespeare
well, I suppose he’d prefer no women
a’tall in these shows – isn’t it funny to
look back on all these theatrical prejudices
and laugh….

Sweeney Todd (the legend, not the musical)

NO EAST ASIANS IN CHINA – FETCH MY KNIFE!

and..what is that other one…don’t tell me, don’t tell me….oh yes, ETTIQUETTE!

Isn’t the British standard held up for the rest of us because of their love of protocol? Doesn’t everyone have to have a card to leave on a silver plate with the butler while we wait to gain entrance? Isn’t everyone on baited breath to see if they will be received by the Host should they be having an ‘at home’?

It does not take a village, nor a an upbringing by a starchy, staunch Nanny to know that when you own a dog and it takes a big poo on the street, your obligation is to pick up the poo. (Preferably in a small plastic, recyclable bag which you then deposit forthwith into a receptacle of the trashy variety)

I like to think he is saying “No East Asians in China? That’s LUDICROUS!” Because in my fantasy this lovely English Bulldog ‘gets it’.

But THAT is not what Mr. Nigel Hugill is deciding to do. He has decided that all this kerfuffl-ing is not something he need immediately be concerned with. He is taking it under advisement. He is now off to don a smoking jacket, after checking his stocks on the “Change, and toddle off to his Club to enjoy brandy, cigars, and the company of his Peers.  Poo on the streets? Didn’t bother Mr. Nigel, he just stepped right over it.

Mr. Hugill – the Fairy Princess is not on the British Arts Council, nor has she fluttered her wings across a West End Stage (and this whole thing has really stuck a pin in that one, wouldn’t you say?). However, you need a few smacks with the wand if you think that the British ‘love affair’ with East Asians has, in any way, given you any leeway in this situation. You don’t have a heck of a lot of credit with us, you are in foreclosure for the following reasons:

Exhibit A: The Mikado – yes, originally written to protest British mores, but that’s not the way it’s usually done is it? Nope, usually done in “Yellow Face”

Exhibit B: Jonathan Pryce in MISS SAIGON

Mr. Pryce explaining how he
changes his eyes to play Asian.
The Fairy Princess loves to hate this photo

Yes he did Miss Saigon in Yellow Face, till the Yanks yelled about it – so off went the prosthetic eyes, and off almost came the ENTIRE US Production as Cam Mac jumped up and down and raged about the right of his team to cast someone who was not Asian, as a Eurasian.

Well. Well. I am actually Eurasian so….you all were half right, or rather half wrong in that case.

But now we are on to Exhibit C – The Orphan of Zhao

I have a lovely friend who is a Broadway Veteran, who happens to be multi-racial, who said to me: “I don’t believe in people saying they don’t see color. How do they drive? What they should say is that they do not react to color, that they choose not to acknowledge it.”

There’s been all this back and forth about who is right and who is wrong and who is responsible for Artistry and so on, and it is time to call it a day. I would rather play with a Corgi and drink Earl Grey and forget this tiff with those of the British Arts Council and it’s minions.

Thus, The Fairy Princess is going to be magnanimous. She is going to ‘break it down’ for Artistic Director Doran and all the Members of the British Arts Council who are happily looking down upon the East Asians from their Ivory Tower of Pomposity. Ready? Here you go:

YOU. NEED. TO. APOLOGIZE.

Take a page from the book of La Jolla Playhouse, they apologized. Seriously, Moises Kaufman apologized.

See, once you do that, everyone can move on.

Digging in your heels and sulking that you were right, does not make it so, it makes you look like Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Here’s what you say:

Dear (Insert a respectful address, if you can bring yourselves to, won’t you?)

We at the British Arts Council and The Royal Shakespeare Company have heard your complaints. Given the vast amounts of attention that our Casting of The Orphan of Zhao has warranted, we have had time to look at the issue from all sides. While we believe fully in the talent of our current Cast, we do think that we made a mistake.

Casting a play set in feudal China with a majority of Caucasians, was, in fact, the wrong thing to do.  While it was not done with malice, and cannot be undone, you can rest assured that the RSC and the British Arts Council will do everything in their power to make sure that this is never done again.

We value our UK Citizens who have East Asian heritage, both those that are in the Performing Arts and those who are valued Audience members of the RSC. We hope in the future, to go forward, working together, both to expand our  knowledge of world plays and to respect the heritage from which the play came.

Our deepest regrets for any hurt feelings, we never intended that this be the result of what we hope will be a long collaboration with China, bringing their stories to our stages.

Yours truly,

Vastly Superior Public School Attendee blah, blah, blah, multiple letters from her Majesty blah blah

Seriously, just do that. No, go ahead right now and DO THAT.

Why? Because you are a Leader, and Leaders are not afraid to admit mistakes – they are only afraid to repeat them.

I would like to quote Terrence McFarland’s Ovation Award Speech, from the event I attended last night. Terence is an exceptionally thoughtful and erudite man.

Terence McFarland,
Exec. Director
LA Stage Alliance

“I am reminded that we, too, as theater makers, are in service.

Twenty years ago on the Taper stage a group of artists came together and served.
They were a bellwether in the perception shift of a plague and redefined what was possible to accomplish in a single, epic play.

Margaret Mead’s quote seems apt: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

I challenge you, citizens, to embrace the sentiment inherent in Kushner’s infamous line from Angels in America:

“The Great Work Begins.”

And thus, The Fairy Princess challenges The British Arts Council and the RSC to allow the Great Work that they currently DO, to embrace what has been mentioned previously, and allow their future Great Work to include more East Asians.

It is possible to do Great Work when dealing with those whose heritage includes The Great Wall.

The Great Wall of China.
WHERE? CHINA!
YEP, THAT China.

ESPECIALLY if the show is set in CHINA, FEUDAL CHINA!!!!!!!!!

The Fairy Princess was sitting, all snug in her bed, while visions of Equality dancing in her head…when from across the Pond, there arose such a clatter, she sprang from invitations to Conferences to see what was the matter….

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water….

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This is Gregory Doran, and he is British. He is not ONLY British, he is ‘veddy, veddy’ British, and has been acting and directing with the esteemed Royal Shakespeare Company since 1987.

He is more British than Downtown Abbey, he is more British than Dames Maggie, Judi, and Peggy ! (Though he is in fact Nothing Like a Dame.) What he IS, is a conqueror.

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Whoops, that is William the Conqueror!

In the great tradition of the sun never setting on the British Empire, he has helped make England once again an Invading nation! Not just of hemlines and great butts….

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…but of theater, no wait, I have to spell it their way – Theatre!

Gregory Doran, the Lord Dudley of Dialogue, the Wolsingham of Words, the Essex of Iambic Pentameter, he has DONE IT!

He has conquered CHINA!

Not even MYTHIC China, but actual, true, Yuan period China!

Just to catch you up,  the Yuan period  was founded by the great Kublai Khan, (who was the Grandson of a little guy with an attitude problem called Ghengis. Yes, Ghengis Khan. Who was Mongolian. Which, is Asian.).

This is John Wayne as Ghengis Khan
Maybe he can get a job in The Orphan of Zhao?

Right after Khan decided ‘if you like it better stick a flag in it‘ – which was in the 13th Century, there came a playwright –  Ji Junxiang.  He wrote, they believe 6 plays, but this, The Orphan of Zhao has survived the ravages of time AND was the first zaju (Chinese “Mixed Drama or Play) to be translated into a Western Language! Go Ji Junxiang! Author, Author!

OK, so it’s translated. Now what do we do with it?

If I was looking for a British company to take a new spin on a  Chinese classic, which many give the same weight to as a little forget me not called HAMLET, I would likely pick The Royal Shakespeare Company.

And not just because I have dual citizenship with Australia and am therefore under the realm of

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And not just because my Mum happens to be an Advanced Teacher in the British Royal Ballet System and was the youngest to ever achieve that, and then they raised the age limit and it will never, ever be done again. (My Mom kicks ass and takes names en pointe!)

No, I would pick RSC because they are known for great work, and a play that has stood the test of time like The Orphan of Zhao, deserves that. Who would do a better job at a centuries old play with a new translation?

Why NO ONE! No one could do a great play better than the Royal Shakespeare Company – they have swords, they have training, they have accents, and they have cheeky bits they throw in for the commoners. They even went to China – real, actual, modern China, to find the right look for the show. All of which I applaud.

Research is a key ingredient to theatrical success, and after doing all that research, they decided upon this image to promote the show:

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Look at that PUNIM!

Ah, but does it look like THIS punim?

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Yeah…uh…not so much…..

If you have read me before, you know from past posts how much I love it when they put Emperors of China into plays and guess what – there IS an Emperor of China in this play! I wasn’t sure what an Emperor of China from this period was going to look like, but not to worry, not to worry –Gregory Doran knows, because when he wrote about going to China for research, he used this picture of an Emperor of China on his blog:

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So of course, when casting his play he went with this guy:

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Steven Ventura, Emperor of China

Because that just  made sense.

Oh ALSO in this show is a Chinese Princess! Perhaps they are going to try harder with this one, because the Princess is a pivotal character and kills herself and all that kind of stuff. This time I am going to find my OWN image of a Chinese Princess – I mean, I cannot keep relying on Gregory Doran, he’s busy!

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So…how did I do, Mr. Doran? Am I close?

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Lucy Briggs Owen, Princess of China

Apparently not.

Let’s throw it to Lady Grantham

In fact, there are 17 Actors in this show, The Orphan of Zhao, and  out of those 17….3 are of Asian Heritage. Which explains this Cast Photo:

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And this one:

A rehearsal for the Royal Shakespeare Company's The Orphan of Zhao. Photograph: Kwame Lestrade

Out of the three Asian heritaged actors 2 of them play dogs, and one plays a maid.

Holy Nanking, Batman!

So lemme get this straight – this is a Chinese play, the setting is China, they went to China to get the technical aspects right, but what they did not bring back from China was the notion that there are CHINESE PEOPLE IN CHINA!

What? They went and saw La Jolla’s Nightingale and thought “Oh, the Colonies, they always get it wrong, I know exactly how to fix this!”

This is not a male Swan Lake,

this is not a Sondheim musical where people sing and dance during patter songs while playing a tuba

– this is a play SET IN CHINA!

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How many times do we have to talk about Diversity in China during the 13th Century?

I repeat, there WAS NO DIVERSITY AMONG THE EMPERORS IN 13th CENTURY CHINA!!!!

WHY?

BECAUSE IT IS GD CHINA, WHITE PEOPLE!

If you set a show in Africa, Mr. Doran, would you cast the Emperor of Africa as a Caucasian Man?

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I’m thinking, probably not.

I will state, for the record – I have NO, count it zippo, nada, nunca, no problem with Diversity. I LOVE DIVERSITY. But here’s the thing, translate the play – go ahead, fine, Bravi for doing it, but do not set it in CHINA! Put it somewhere ELSE. Or, here’s a thought…crazy but it might work – CAST ASIAN ACTORS IN A PLAY SET IN ASIA.

Because to Chinese people, the title of EMPEROR OF CHINA, or PRINCESS OF CHINA means something. For heavens sake, would you cast Joan Chen as Princess Diana? Could she play it? OF COURSE – would British people believe it? No. This is not just bursting through The Great Fourth Wall, this is using dynamite and boiling pitch so the fire can be seen from space!

Here is the kicker RSC, and bloody hell is it ballsy- you take a CHINESE play, take OUT the Chinese people, and then you  have a link to order the tickets & get play information IN CHINESE- IN CASE CHINESE HERITAGED PEOPLE WANT TO GO? Hooker say what?

I’ll tell you what I would say: cào nǐ zǔzōng shíbā dài (肏你祖宗十八代) = screw your ancestors to the eighteenth generation!

Actually, RSC, you are quite behind, here in the Colonies we went through this months ago. There was a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s fable, The Nightingale, the leads were Caucasian, and of the two APIs in it, one was a BIRD (sound familiar?) and the other was a spoiled Princess.

Which offended my eye, so I plucked it out and wrote about it.

Then you see, over 25,000 people across the globe read my blog post about The Nightingale, and it set off a giant ruckus. Which led to a ‘talkback’ with the Asian American Theatrical Community at La Jolla Playhouse. The next time their AD was directing a show, Glengarry Glen Ross he did THIS:

Diversity, in an appropriate way, did great things for that show – it had fantastic reviews, because Diversity is how the world looks today. Everyone won. The Fairy Princess has no problem with Diversity. The Fairy Princess has no problem, personally, with the Actors cast in The Orphan of Zhao – I am sure they are amazing, they are after all, with the Royal Shakespeare Company!

The Fairy Princess has a problem with the Artistic Decisions made in Casting this show. Because Asian Actors are completely and totally underrepresented in commercial and public theater. Therefore the ‘argument’ that you are making the cast Diverse by casting Caucasians as Asians is like saying you are starting an All Girls School that will only be attended by the Men of Manchester United. It doesn’t make sense.

And no, crazy Interweb nutjobs -don’t yell at me about once upon a time  ‘there was one black actor in a Shakespeare show, or the second spear holder past Caesar’s epaulets could have maybe been Asian.’

That’s not an excuse to white wash CHINA.

Now, likely, yes, I am not going to work in England, regardless of my passport, because of this post. And likely, Gregory Doran is going to view me as an Upstart Yank who doesn’t know what she is talking about.

Mr. Doran, I want to let you know, that I happen to be Irish, Welsh, and Chinese – with dual citizenship from the USA and Australia. My Family, on both sides, has been under British rule for centuries, so when it comes to Imperialism, the family has had it’s fair share. Why are you hearing from me? Way over here across the pond?

I am pissed off for my fellow British Asian Actors.

This is WORSE than The Nightingale!

(But I bet La Jolla Playhouse will be sending you a muffin basket of thanks)

You have a trailer with accents! Starring a Caucasian baby! Who comes next on the screen?  A Caucasian man in a peasant hat that you likely bought IN CHINA…when you were doing research for this Chinese play you chose to do! You haven’t even tried to ‘escape’ the issue by calling it something stupid like “Mythic China” (Steven Sater, I’m talking to you). You are setting the show in real, actual CHINA!

I am just…I cannot….words have escaped….you are the ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY!

Act Royal!

Fie on you, Sir – FIE! I lay the bulk of responsibility for this fiasco of international relations at the door of Artistic Director Doran – because he is Directing, and wrote a blog about all the research he was doing,  but how could anyone who wrote/adapted a play about China allow this to happen?

JAMES FENTON – wherfore art thou?

Veddy, veddy bad form and five swipes of the wand to you, I beseech thee, m’Lords

Kiss my Fan Tan Fannie!

Oh and PS – MOISES KAUFMAN APOLOGIZED!

Which means I scored a HIT – a VERY PALPABLE HIT! (Ahem)