Archives for posts with tag: La Jolla Playhouse

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 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:

photo

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 Fairy Princess had a pretty busy few weeks – she helped raise funds for The Actors Fund, &  Desert AIDS Project, via the concert series, SPARKLE.

Yes, I was a Sparkly Triple Threat

Yes, I was a Sparkly Triple Threat

The Fairy Princess went to Candy Cane Lane with friends…

Every year, just us nuts!

Every year, just us nuts! (60 degrees in LA, fyi)

She was invited to do an interview with Entertainment Guru and Advocate, Jimmy Nguyen on his show “Speak UP with Jimmy”

(This is not The Fairy Princess, her interview is not up yet, but keep checking back)

The Fairy Princess talked about Diversity on Television, specifically about Asian Americans on Television with Jimmy, and when asked, forgot to mention some people, because she was going off the top of her head, and she has “Mommy Brain” which IS a totally real thing….let’s face it, when you spend most of the day saying “No, don’t touch that” or “Did you poop?” you may be a bit slow on the uptake.

Photo by Dr. Michelle Ko

Photo by Dr. Michelle Ko

Frank apologies to Reggie Lee (Grimm), Maggie Q (Nikita), Deborah S. Craig (The Blacklist), Ellen Wong (The Carrie Diaries), Liza Lapira (Super Fun Night), and any other Asian American Actor that she was asked to name and totally blanked on….I should be able to rattle names off like the alphabet, and sadly, I blanked. I am so sorry, I apologize.

You know I love all of you and am big fan!

Great work y’all!

All combined, this trip to Los Angeles has been delightfully exhausting and nothing more so than this final activity attending the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers “Diversity through Directing” Panel Discussion at The Pasadena Playhouse.

Or as I like to think of it, when I see Panel discussions:

On the panel were Christopher Ashely ( La Jolla Playhouse), Tim Dang (East West Players), Barry Edelstein (The Old Globe), Sheldon Epps (Outgoing AD The Pasadena Playhouse), Jessica Kubzansky (Boston Court), Marc Masterson (South Coast Rep), Michael Ritchie (Center Theater Group), and Seema Sueko (Incoming Assoc AD The Pasadena Playhouse)

Here is what the “Panel” said – not quoting, just summing up:

1. If they have been successful with Diverse casting – such as South Coast Rep, The Old Globe, East West Players and The Pasadena Playhouse – they gently chided the other theaters – and, justifiably so. If one theater can garner Awards and increase sales by casting Diversely, then ALL theaters can.

The Cast of Allegiance from The Old Globe - they had hella nominations, y'all

The Cast of Allegiance from The Old Globe – they had hella nominations, y’all

2. Some ‘blamed” the lack of diversity in their productions on the Director’s vision and/or The Playwright – but if the Playwright or Director in question is not told that Diversity is a goal of the Artistic Director, or something that the company stands for – then they do not really HAVE to open their mind TO Diversity, do they?

Kinda Chicken Vs. The Egg

They will commit to Diversity, but they cannot find Diverse people to hire, so they hire all the same people,  and when they hire them , the same people that they always hire, they will not instruct them that their mission statement includes Diversity, because that would impede the Director in their vision, so consequently there is no Diversity on their stages – but they have a mission statement.

Did I get that right? Is YOUR head spinning too?

When people do not have to look at Diversity, it’s like when a teenager has to do a term paper and their Parent decides to do the weekend out of town – yeah, it doesn’t happen.

You know what happens? Stuff like this:

Clearly not the most diverse of thinking here...

Clearly not the most diverse of thinking here…

3. Some said they were open to Diversity, both using Diverse Directors and Actors, but said in that they have problems finding directors of Diverse background who have the resume for them to invest in a full scale production.

May I suggest looking harder?

In this day and age there is a wonderful thing called THE INTERNET and it is available to do ALL sorts of things.

You can look up a video of a Director’s work –

You could search their name and find a resume!

Asian American Directors of Theater – GO!

You could look around at The Ovation Awards,see what productions are winners & go from there:

4. Some said to find Directors with Diverse Background is a growing thing, that they are planting the seeds in Universities local to where they are in California.

This, I am sure, will be news to the Directors of Diverse backgrounds graduating from Yale, Carnegie Mellon, Julliard, Northwestern, etc, etc, etc – but guess WHAT Diverse Directors? You now know that some California based theater companies do not know how to FIND you, so how’s about you send them a resume and a head shot and they will call you….

5. Some of the Panel did not know that when they post “All Minorities Welcome” on their Castings, that it means little to nothing to Actors of Color, because though they are seen – as per Union guidelines and general human decency – they are so rarely cast, they do not bother going.

None of these were new and exciting revelations. The ‘excuse’ for not showing a stage that is representative of America is often “we cannot find the people’. The ‘excuse’ for not finding more Directors of Color is that they cannot find any.

However they have all double pinky swore that they are looking for you.

Well, I guess then, the REALLY mean it - maybe...

Well, I guess then, they REALLY mean it – maybe…

Double Pinky!!!!!! What a relief, I was so worried this was going to be pointless.

The Fairy Princess raised her hand, repeatedly, at the end of the discussion to ask a question. Whether through design or accident, she was pointedly ignored – in fact, no Asian American was given the go ahead to ask a question.

Here was my question: ‘According to AAPAC, Asian American roles on Broadway have grown from 2% to 3% in the last year. While this is not New York and we have not done a study like that here, can you, individually give me a number – because I am Asian and we like numbers – on how much your percentage of casting Asian Americans has risen from last year to this? You may guess or approximate.”

And here is what – if any of the ADs from that panel, with the exception of Tim Dang and Barry Edelstein cannot answer that question with pride, then they must go immediately to a mirror and make a vow to THAT person in the mirror, that

c8447dbbc26434b8d631f4d5c9440c4d8624f5deec103dddfc56bdaaa24e9499

until it is fixed. Because part of the reason we call you an Artistic Director, is that you Direct Artists.

The Fairy Princess does not buy into the ‘we hired this director and they can cast and do whatever they want.’ because I know, from many years in theater, that that is NOT the way it works. The Artistic Director and their strength and knowledge and sometimes, yes, insistence on a point or two is what shapes a company. Individual ‘guns for hire’ are not allowed to willy nilly run roughshod over the theater and those whose vision helps raise money and standards.

If you cannot talk frankly to a Director or Playwright about the need for Diversity in some works appearing on the stage, on YOUR stage, you are not an Artistic Director – you are Human Resources. You just hire them.

As a DIRECTOR or CHOREOGRAPHER to not be open to seeing people of different backgrounds in the world of ‘your’ play – that is a FAIL.

Yeah, I said it. It is a fail. And the worst/best part? You already KNOW it – no one defends something as staunchly as people who already know that they have missed the boat.

Which Boat, Papa? Can you hear me?

Directors, Can you hear me?

(The reason I made my question Asian American specific, is that the audience was diverse, and other people who represented other minority  groups were allowed to ask questions. I am not myopic enough to believe that only casting Asian Americans makes a show diverse. That would mean I am a cloistered ignoramus…and despite Internet aspersions, I’m not. )

 The Fairy Princess has had enough of talking. The Fairy Princess wants to see some action. The Fairy Princess is EXHAUSTED by the need to have to constantly have panels and explain Diversity – it is pretty clear at this point who is committed to it, and who is not. The Fairy Princess’s spirit animal remains The Honey Badger

Instead of patting ourselves on the back for yet ANOTHER panel – why not just up your game?

Why does a room full of Directors, Choreographers, and Artistic Directors who live and work in California need to learn MORE about Diversity?

Have they not been paying attention?

images

Were they at the cheese plate?

Is that cheddar? Delish

Is that cheddar? Delish

Some good points were made at the Panel 

Tim Dang said that to direct a play that is for a particular minority, you do not have to go to a ‘minority’ theater to direct it. In fact, it would be a stronger choice to direct that play with a theater company that services an audience who perhaps has not been to a ‘minority’ theater company. He also said that Southern California is “Ground Zero” for diversification and diversifying theater – good points, Tim.

Sheldon Epps said that he looks forward to LA stages representing America in every production, not just in individual productions. For example, when he directed 12 Angry Men, a fairly famous play, he allowed the murder of Treyvon Martin to influence his choice to cast, and find out what his audience’s reaction was.

Jessica Kubzansky of Boston Court said that because Boston Court is smaller, they are allowed to take more risks, not less – and that the discussion of how to bring more actors and directors of color to their stages is a daily question – one she hopes is answered by actors, at least, at the Open Calls they have.

Seema Sueko, who is the incoming AD at The Pasadena Playhouse said that having a diverse staff and listening to them and what they bring to the table, informs productions across the board if one can listen.

Barry Edelstein said that he wants his stages to look like the city in which his theater company has it’s home – that one should be able to imagine a cast on their stage simply by walking through one of the beautiful parks.

Marc Masterson said some good stuff about how he has managed to diversify his stages dramatically….look, everyone said some good stuff.

The Fairy Princess doesn’t care about stuff.

Stuff is the routine George Carlin used to do.

THEATER is what the people in the audience and on the stage of The Pasadena Playhouse do – so if that’s what you do….get to doing it.

So let it be written, so let it be DONE! Because….

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!!!!!!!!!

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.