Archives for posts with tag: Nothing Like A Dame

The Fairy Princess was feeling pretty good…

DSC_0164

– after all, it has been a year since the British East Asians had their dust up with The Royal Shakespeare Company, an anniversary chronicled quite nicely by Anna Chen in her Madame Miaow blog.

It had been several months since her speech at LA Stage Day, chronicling why Yellowface in theater should meet its untimely end…here it is, in case you missed it.

There have been endless panels on diversity, on co-opting experiences and on whether or not empathy is key to bringing us all together (Which, btw, The Fairy Princess was j‘accused of having none of, but now, now….I do, it’s just reserved for dolphins in The Cove, LGBT people who live in places like Russia and Nigeria, and orcas trapped in captivity- that kind of thing ), so she kinda thought that we were done!

That she could toddle off to book signings…

Yes, that is Debra Monk signing my copy of NOTHING LIKE A DAME by Eddie Shapiro

Yes, that is Debra Monk signing my copy of NOTHING LIKE A DAME by Eddie Shapiro

And to see good friends in shows where she could meet Actors that she admires….

ALL THE WAY is one of the best plays I have seen in a long time, limited Bway run, you will KICK yourself if you miss it

ALL THE WAY is one of the best plays I have seen in a long time, limited B’way run, DO NOT MISS IT!

The Fairy Princess relaxed! She did! She thought that her message had been heard – after all, VARIETY even reiterated her points about Diversity = Dollars! VARIETY!

The best part was that they mostly deal with Movies and Television, therefore The Fairy Princess assumed the message had moved on from theater, to more lucrative hills alive with the sound of commerce. But you know what happens when you assume? Felix?

 

The Fairy Princess thought that American theater had gotten the message – that  Asian American Actors are plentiful, and even if there is not a large percentage in your own city,   if you require them because you are choosing to use their culture to set your play, you can put a casting call out in a city like New York or Los Angeles – where MOST ACTORS ARE (we do not just store API Actors on the Coasts, we store almost all of them regardless of ethnicity on the Coasts), and they could do this amazing thing that Actors do….travel.

 

Who doesn’t love a good, singing Howard Keel? The man was magic!

However, The Fairy Princess was WRONG – the Fairy Princess has been GOBSMACKED by the City of Brotherly Love’s Lantern Theater.

They are doing a production of The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by that guy, you know him….

quote-yon-cassius-has-a-lean-and-hungry-look-he-thinks-too-much-such-men-are-dangerous-william-shakespeare-351101

(No, I do not want to hear theories on who you thought wrote it, it’s My Boy Bill for the historical credit)

Which, The Fairy Princess enjoys – she does love a good rassel with morals and iambic pentameter as much as anyone who has attended a Conservatory training program. She does not even mind when you move the settings around, or place the play in ‘another world’ to shake things up a bit- after all, it’s not like we haven’t seen it, now is it? She even loves diversity in Casting, oh how she LOVES Diversity in Casting.

So why then is her tiara clamping down on her brain?

Not because they cast this guy – who would protest casting this guy in anything? He’s handsome, he’s talented, and he’s a TONY nominee….no, it’s not the casting of this guy or anyone else in this play – they are all likely, very talented….there’s a bit of a, hmmmm, element though that is bothering The Fairy Princess….

TONY Nominee Forrest McClendon will play Caesar

TONY Nominee Forrest McClendon as Caesar

Why, oh WHY could The Fairy Princess, who advocates for including Asian American Actors in shows where their own heritage is being used as a setting, WHY could she be upset about The Lantern’s Caesar?

Well, here is a quote from Playbill.com about the show Influenced by the aesthetic and philosophical similarities of feudal Japan to Shakespeare’s Rome, set, costume and sound design incorporates conceptual elements such as Shoji screen architecture, traditional Japanese warrior clothing and music performed by Philadelphia’s Taiko drum band ensemble, Kyo Daiko

Influenced.

Right.

They know that Japan is a real place, right? It’s not just a place to grab a robe and a california roll from and call it a day, right? Japan is a real place, with real people who look a certain way. Their DNA makes them look a certain way….

No, not everyone looks like actor, Ken Watanabe...but we can dream, can't we?

No, not everyone looks like actor, Ken Watanabe…but we can dream, can’t we?

Ummmm….perhaps I am slow, but perhaps we’ll just ask the Assistant Director to explain it to us:

(UPDATE: the above video DID exist and was prominently featured on both The Lantern Theater’s website and on their Facebook page. Since this blog first appeared a few days ago, and since it has been viewed by well over 1,000 people – largely theater people I am assuming, the AD’s at The Lantern Theater chose to take down the video after the resulting internet kerfuffle.

WHAT WAS IN IT: In the video they had the Asst Director of the Production in question talking about why they chose the setting they did. They looked and they thought that Feudal Japan had the most in common with Rome of Caesar’s time, and given that in Shakespeare’s time actors would probably have appeared in doublets etc, they wanted to change the costuming. They were not eager to have everyone in togas. It had been done before, so they needed a NEW Concept. Therefore they changed the setting from the Ancient Rome we have come to expect and they created a new one- this was/is now a Rome that had been invaded by Japan.

At the time of this play as now set at The Lantern Theater, the Japanese have LEFT Rome, but very thoughtfully left all their culture and trappings behind them, which opens up this show to include shoji screens, kimonos, armor, fighting styles, and taiko drums. )

As we CANNOT watch the Assistant Director explain it anymore, please click (HERE) for an interview with the Director from the Philadelphia Metro.

I see.

So…just so we are clear – the show is set in Rome, but a Rome that has been conquered by Japan.

However the Japanese have now left…

BUT THEY TOOK EVERY LAST PERSON OF ANY ASIAN HERITAGE WITH THEM AFTER THEY CONQUERED ROME?

Well yes, I guess they DID take every Asian person from Rome-pan! (Shot from Opening Night)

Well yes, I guess they DID take every Asian person!  Photo – Mark Garvin

They took every last Asian heritaged person that would have been there after what would have been a series of battles that would have extended over years? All the children that would have been created by the soldiers as they raped and plundered their way through Rome, they were all Russell Crowe about it?

 

They just…LEFT?

THEY LEFT?

THEY LEFT?

 

They left behind their clothes, customs, war tactics, weapons, shoji screens, and taiko drums, but left not even ONE person – not one courtesan, not one general, or lowly foot soldier, or peasant – they rounded them ALL up and put them on a giant boat back to Japan…well I guess that explains why they left all the clothes, they  did not have room on the boat!

 

Well of COURSE you couldn't get a Shoji screen in there!

Well of COURSE you couldn’t get a Shoji screen in there!

 

Does that seem somewhat RIDICULOUS to anyone else?

Has anyone at the Lantern Theater actually looked at, well, a history of Japanese invasions from, well…the beginning of time, and examined HOW they handled wars and invasions?

Julius Caesar was killed March 15, 44 B.C.

Ouch, that hurt

Ouch, that hurt

His Japanese Contemporary, was Emperor Sujin (in fact, here is a list of ALL his contemporaries). Now, there is not much known about Emperor Sujin, however….he and his sons were able to fend off the Mongols, led by Ghengis Khan. At the same time, he was invading Korea and establishing the Japanese regency.

A regency. Like, a royal thingy – not in their own country. They didn’t leave. They brought stuff with them and they left people there to watch it. People with swords and armor – because they were an invading nation.

They would not, you know, go into only THE MOST POWERFUL WESTERN NATION OF THE TIME AT THAT TIME AKA ROME and conquer it and then turn around and go “ok boys, pack it up, we just wanted to prove a point that we could, and now we are off to figure out how to torment Korea for the rest of time, so…yeah, put everyone in the boat, no, no, leave the screens…we’ll just make more

So what IS this then?  This is just one more production to add to the seeming ENDLESS list of productions where the Director chooses to purloin the culture of an Asian nation, and then, instead of doing the LOGICAL thing, like casting Asian Americans to be in this ‘mythical Rome-pan‘ to show that they had been invaded and conquered, he decides nope.

No Asians in Rome-pan.

Jered McLenigan as Anthony - Photo by Mark Garvin

Jered McLenigan as Anthony – Photo by Mark Garvin

Rome-pan only has the dress, the settings, the weapons and the drums of “Mythic Feudal Japan” but not the people. (Although, technically, the dress of Japan at that time, actually mirrors Chinese fashion, so probably mythical Rome-pan may have it’s own glitches in authenticity)

Meister_nach_Chang_Hsüan_001

Now, The Fairy Princess is of mixed heritages – one of them being Irish. As an Irish person, or rather, a person of Irish Heritage who has read books and so on, she knows that when a country, for instance in her particular case – Ireland, gets invaded, there are things that happen during that time period.

Like rape, and killing, and intermarriage, slaves taken, slaves left, fortresses built, languages shared, languages merged, and what does this mean? Well…it means that you know, we have different hair color that is unusual in an island nation. It means that red hair in Ireland comes from the invading Celts, and black hair possibly from ancient sea routes through Spain, and that kind of thing. Vikings, Gaels, Normans,  all have been to Ireland, which was a sea going nation.

It means, that if one is invaded and conquered, the mark of the conqueror is not just in the fact that they bring their ‘stuff’, it is in the DNA they left behind.

WHICH MEANS that in 44 BC ‘Rome-pan’, there should have been some Asians or Eurasians cast up in there!

At the VERY least. WHICH MEANS that the Director was probably not thinking, as the Asst Dir now pundits (and I am not quoting here, I am pundit-ing) that Rome was overtaken by Japan etc, etc, etc….

Paolo Montalban as the King in King & I

Paolo Montalban as the King

 

The Fairy Princess thinks that he was thinking more along these lines – I really, really want to shake it up and use Japanese stuff, because I think it will look fresh and I think people in Philadelphia will think it is exciting to have taiko drums in Ancient Rome.

Which is…kinda lazy, isn’t it?

I mean, if you are going through ALL THE TROUBLE of making up ‘Rome-pan’ and trying to sell it to audiences in a city that embraces tolerance and Quakers and well – brotherly love – wouldn’t you think that it would be nice to show some to those Asian American Actors who regularly do Shakespeare, and who would have enjoyed a fresh take on Julius Caesar?

Honestly though…it’s not really, hate to break it to you, Philly, a ‘fresh’ a take on Shakespeare…cuz there is a little play we Asian Americans like to do called…wait for it….SHOGUN MACBETH

"What? Can the devil speak true?"

“What? Can the devil speak true?”

 

(Obviously that is Lady MacBeth, and this is the wrong quote for that moment, but…)

Anyway, in blogging, as in Shakespeare….

 

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair"

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair”

 

I mean, you can buy SHOGUN MACBETH from Samuel French!

So…yeah, not such a fresh take then…huh?

While The Fairy Princess wishes the actors in this production well, again, they all seem quite talented, she cannot, cannot in good conscience stop her magic wand from applying several well placed whacks to the tushes of Director and Artistic Director, Charles McMahon, the Assistant Director and Education Director, Joshua L. Brown (who SHOULD HAVE figured this out and said something prior to Casting), and…The Lantern Theater of Philadelphia.

The production is up and running now – but this HAD to be said – particularly because there are EXCELLENT Asian American Shakespearean Actors and Actresses and yet AGAIN, they have been ‘white-washed’ from partaking of an expression of their own ‘mythical – which is a total cop out because Japan is a real place with real people’ history.

So it’s already up and running, it is…

Werd!

Werd!

 

Which means, they can KISS MY FAN TAN FANNIE!

The Fairy Princess is pleased to announce that she will be Co-Hosting the charity event, CELEBRITY DOODLES, which is held annually in Palm Springs, and benefits Desert AIDS Project on APRIL 5th, 2014.

Here is the Doodle I did for them 2 years ago –

It raised $600 for Desert AIDS Project! WHAT? YES!

It raised $600 for Desert AIDS Project! WHAT? YES!

The Fairy Princess loves Palm Springs, and she is thrilled to have been asked – she began her love affair with Palm Springs 4 years ago with the SPARKLE Concerts produced by Scott Nevins and Mark Jones, and has made many wonderful friends and had a brilliant time each and every time, so – thank you Doodles for asking, see you in April!

The Fairy Princess has not been blogging that much, because well, everything has been depressing, right?

The last few weeks, in terms of the news, have been truly, truly awful – there’s people being attacked in Russia because of the way they were born…

 

Ireland decided to take away the right to use the word Homophobia from GLBT people and hand it back to actual Homophobes, because it’s defaming (Say WHAT?)

 

 

Science came under attack from people who like to…well, I guess, NOT read things and learn stuff…

 

 

and a wonderful Actor is no longer among us….

Philip Seymour Hoffman, RIP

Philip Seymour Hoffman, RIP

What this last one means, honestly, is that there are three young children who are no longer able to get a hug or anything else from their Dad, and this just about kills me – because The Fairy Princess has lost many people to addiction, and whatever your personal thoughts on the addict or the substance, to lose a person to addiction is a horrible, sad thing.

There has also been quite a lot of attention paid to Dylan Farrow, who came forward after years of silence, about abuse she suffered…and that has been an absolute HOTBED of debate on both the mainstream media, social networking, and print journalism fronts – and that, again, is horribly sad.

Because statistics…well…

ChildAbuse-stat-1

Which means, if your little girl or boy has a birthday party, and you invite 20 or so children over, statistically, more than one child in attendance at a party – in your own home, could have been sexually abused.

Which is pretty damn disgraceful, and even as rational voices have tried to be heard, the constant attacks on Ms. Farrow – both Sr. and Jr. -would likely guarantee that if there is a young child out there, being abused,  they are probably going to look at this and remain silent.

And THAT, America – is the wrong message to send – even if you like someone’s movies.

Statute of Limitations has gone by in this case, however the DA at the time,  Frank Maco stated that there was ‘probable cause‘ to move forward with a prosecution, but that his office chose not to. As a Lawyers Daughter myself, that ‘probable cause’ is telling, as is the Judge’s statement -which I have lifted from The Washington Post;     “1993: State Supreme Court Acting Justice Elliott Wilk denounces him as an inadequate, irresponsible and self-absorbed father. The judge says he doesn’t know if the molestation happened, but bars Allen from seeing Dylan for at least six months and limits visits with other children. He also criticizes the Connecticut investigation that found no abuse.”

And this is the last word on some of the facts from Vanity Fair (here)

So NOW we are going to focus on some GOOD things that happened this past week, HAPPY things that have to do with song and dance and all things not Olympian, Russian, Drug Related, blah, blah, blah – because we need it. Well, The Fairy Princess needs it.

1. REX LEE IS IN THE ENTOURAGE MOVIE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Squeeeeeee!

WERK that headset, Rex!

WERK that headset, Rex!

 

2. The Book, NOTHING LIKE A DAME by Eddie Shapiro is NOW out!

dame

If you love Broadway, or you know someone who does – THIS is what you can get them for Valentine’s Day, Birthday, whatever holiday you claim in December, it is truly so candid and inspiring – and I am so grateful that I have a copy of my very own!

See, there's my copy in the left corner - don't get distracted....

See, there’s my copy in the left corner – don’t get distracted….

 

3. ALEC MAPA is on SWITCHED AT BIRTH (and yes, I separated those posts so you would not think that he is Rex or Rex is him, because that is truly ridiculous at this point, folks)

 

And what this means is that ABC Family is now reflecting MY Family, and The Fairy Princess LOVES that!

 

4. ANTHONY RAPP is back on The Broadway in a new musical called IF/THEN – and here is a clip of the great work we have all been missing – and yeah, that is Tom Kitt at the piano

 

 

5.  LILLIAS WHITE is doing a Valentine’s Day concert! Yes, click here for information! I was so happy to see her at the Book Launch of Nothing Like A Dame, and she wants everyone to come to her concert! Norm Lewis does too!

Lillias White & Norm Lewis

Lillias White & Norm Lewis

 

6. The Webseries SUBMISSIONS ONLY is back for Season 3, featuring people we all know from the Broadway stages – it’s got cameos from big stars and from your Broadway regulars (it could use a bit more racial diversity, honestly, I would be remiss not to point that out) – but to me, as a member of the Broadway community, it’s a great way to get to know the ridiculous side in a way that is obviously absurd, and not just SMASH absurd.

(Cuz SMASH was totally absurd)

 

7. Canada made a protest video for the Olympics and it features a song by Human League!

 

Well played, Canada, well played…

 

8. PAGEANT, the musical has added a show to it’s existing 4, because they were SRO! What a great thing for Broadway Cares/EFA – do not wait to get tickets to the show added on the 24th, because they are going quickly

Oh Marty Thomas, how I love thee

Oh Marty Thomas, how I love thee

 

9. JUSTIN LIN is directing a new Pilot (this is not so much singing and dancing, but it’s diversity) for CBS called “Scorpion” (and no, it’s not about Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in a speedo – we can’t get THAT lucky). It’s about a Super Brainy Guy that becomes a “real life Professor X”. Anyway, Geeks inherit the Universe and save it at the same time is what I am getting. Congratulations Justin Lin!

10. The David Henry Hwang play, KUNG FU, is in previews at The Signature Theater in NYC – and it looks AMAZING! WOW!

 

 

So if you are a Bruce Lee fanatic, or a DHH fanatic, or if you just want to see some Asian Americans on stage acting in what looks to be a great piece – check it out.

There you go – ten things that have helped me make it through the past few weeks, and I hope they help you and give you something to look forward to. Normally, The Fairy Princess is not so rah-rah, but…it has been an AWFUL few weeks, I have just been gobsmacked.

If I had my druthers, I would grab a mug of hot chocolate, fuzzy socks, and go vacation, well….HERE: