Monday, July 23, 2012

I see that articles have started to come out regarding the recent casting controversy at the La Jolla Playhouse with their China-set but remarkably Asian actor-deficient production The Nightingale.

I actually think that theater companies have a right to cast shows however they please, but they should always be aware of what the consequences might be.  Given the theater market in which they are located and the high profile of their company and the parties involved in the production (Laramie Project creator Moises Kaufman and the team behind the hit Spring Awakening), I'm really shocked that they should be socially tone deaf to the idea that they might be wading into choppy waters.

I feel like there is a general assumption that folks in the theater community are a progressive-minded and/or PC crowd, hence it comes no surprise that so many Asian American actors were shocked and angered that a company should seem to deliberately chose not to cast Asian American performers in a show set in, well, Asia.  I think that La Jolla and company have come off rather badly in the process, making them look like a bunch cloistered and narrow-minded.  I don't actually think their decision-making fits the definition of racism, but I certainly see why many are tacking that label onto them.  And I do think the burden of dealing with that label is there's, not anyone else.

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