Just a brief post today, this isn’t theatre-related but related nonetheless. Nicolas Cage discussed his latest movie, Chinese period drama, ‘Outcast’ with Hollywood Reporter and touches on the dearth of roles for Asians in America.

“I hope that we will see more Chinese actors in American cinema too. We do see Gong LiZhang Ziyi and Chow Yun Fat, but it’s very rare to see the Chinese male actor in Hollywood movies, which is something I take great umbrage with. You know, my son is Asian. He may want to direct one day; he may want to be an actor like his father — and I want that to be open to him. So I want to make some kind of effort to see more of that happen in Hollywood.”

It’s heartwarming to see that he’s looking out for his son’s future in show business and upping the ante of  roles for Asian actors in Hollywood. This almost makes me forgive him for his involvement in 2006’s godawful The Wicker Man

The full interview can be accessed here. 




One of the things I would like to see in my lifetime is a Middle Eastern actor portraying Lady Macbeth. My tutor at uni mentioned how that wouldn’t help to perpetuate stereotypes, but I’m convinced otherwise, basically I’d like for the minority actor community to be given the chance to sink their teeth in a role with substance.

The one time Neighbours introduces a Korean character, Sunny Lee, she is the most irritating and two-dimensional on screen persona. Granted that was in 2009, there is now a gay, Asian swimming star; ie. Hudson Walsh, that doesn’t pardon the lame excuse of an exit for the Kapoors (an Indian family that had their stint cut too short). That the family left to visit an ailing grandmother in India, NEVER TO RETURN makes perfect sense especially when they’ve grown up and were educated in Australia. Read more about it here.

I don’t believe the idea that the best actor for a role is based purely on talent and skill with no consideration towards appearance. When a casting director looks for actors, they have a particular look in mind. They accept and reject people based on appearance as well as skill.

Leading me to my next topic, which is the reason why I made this campaign in the first place. I want to see a major stage play at the Sydney Theatre Company with a multi-racial cast.

I believe it’s a great way to create the opportunities for ethnic actors that are so much needed. Not only that, but it would be really bleeding interesting as an audience member to witness these interactions. Currently there is The Colourblind Project, which is doing a great job of expanding opportunities for actors of all races in Australia. I would encourage readers of this blog to follow their activity and ongoing development.

Just wanting to get some discussion going, let me know below in the comments, which ethnic actor you would like to see take on a Shakespearean role? My suggestion is Australian actor, Remy Hii in the leading role of Hamlet, like many, I first heard of him from Khoa Do’s biopic of Van Nguyen called Better Man and if you’ve seen it too, you’ll know that he is an actor capable of incredible pathos, vulnerability and fracturing honesty. It would be fascinating to see him step into the Prince of Denmark’s shoes.

Remy Hii

Raison D’être

This campaign is inspired by numerous events that have occurred to me. A friend and I discussed how whenever we attended a play at Sydney Theatre Company, we would frequently find ourselves the only ones in the audience who were Asian and under 30. There is certainly no shortage of astounding drama to be seen, rather, I feel the diversity of produced works is limited.

My suggestion is that STC should hold at least one major play a year utilising colourblind casting. This isn’t an entirely new concept, Royal Shakespeare Company have had success with Hamlet (2000) and Henry VI (2001), albeit took five steps backwards with The Orphan of Zhao (2012) by allotting only 3 minor roles out of 17 to actors of Asian descent.

I’ve considered the economics, I know how the industry works, where casting directors would rather pick and choose from a tiny talent pool, exercising a formula that is guaranteed to attract theatregoers. So my solution, to have the requisite play out of 13 seems a reasonable resolution that balances artistic integrity and profit.

Just going to briefly touch on the name of this campaign, I probably could have come up with something catchier than Shade Stories but connotations of skin colour and the ‘shades’ of emotional subtlety are expressed methinks.

I’m not after a perfect, racist-free world. Bigotry is a stubborn splinter like that. Nor am I advocating plays be revised where every single one contains ethnic actors.

What I want, is to achieve a better representation of cultural diversity on our stages than we are currently seeing.

What I want, is to cease seeing ethnic roles going to non-ethnics, it’s not a good enough excuse that casting directors couldn’t find someone who was:

a)   Ethnic, and
b)   Suited the role

Come on, don’t tell me that it isn’t sad when a country with a population of 23,000,000+ of whom an estimated 1.7 million are Asian. That a 60 something year old Chinese man simply couldn’t be found. Try a little harder. Audition a little wider.

Stages once banned women from performing Shakespeare on it, so we’ve come a long, long way since Elizabethan times. There still remains a lot of work to be done so that portrayals of non-Caucasians are actually performed by non-Caucasians and Aussie theatre reflects the cultural melting pot that has shaped the polychromatic Australian identity.

But I’m hopeful, because I believe, despite its shortcomings, media representations of ethnics is progressing in Australia, it’s just advancing at a rate that’s too slow for me, so I’m taking to Shade Stories with my foot on the accelerator.

Comments, criticisms, marriage proposals below if you please.