Tag Archives: Colourblind Project

Sydney Theatre Company Twitter Response

I wish I lived in England. More specifically, I wish my parents had migrated there after the Vietnam war.

These are some of the plays I’ve regrettably missed out on seeing because of geographical constraints.  The Fu Manchu Complex by Daniel York and The World of Extreme Happiness by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Yellowface by David Henry Hwang and Lucy Kirkwood’s Chimerica.

But alas, what can I do until I finish my godawful media degree and start earning some decent dough to travel. I’m just quietly rocking back and forth with my knees tucked into my chest until The Colour Blind Project resume activity in Australia post-2013.

After tweeting to Sydney Theatre Company to check out this blog, I received the following response:

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I was directed to a page that instructed me on the opportunities a playwright have in getting their play produced. I’m not a playwright, which means a total of 20 seconds was spent reading my posts. I don’t want to submit an entirely new script, I’m just suggesting a stage play be produced with a multicultural cast. I can’t say I expected a  lengthy, detailed response, it’s not exactly a rejection either so I guess that’s a promising sign. It’s going to be a journey, but the support and feedback I’ve received from people I’ve never even met is incredibly satisfying.

 

Responses to criticism of a white man in the role of a Thai king – Part 2

Here is Part 2 of a series about the criticism that has been directed towards Byron Bache’s article about Teddy Tahu Rhodes being cast as the King of Siam in an upcoming Australian production of The King and IPart 1 can be found here. 

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Yes I suppose he does.

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Hmm…you kind of got me there. Just kidding. Let’s begin with your claim that it’s a bit difficult to determine when ethnicity is irrelevant to the plot. That would be up to the director and his team to decide, in this instance, they’ve decided, erroneously, ‘how much can we profit out of a production when the lead is a Thai or an Asian compared to if the King is Teddy-frickin’ Tahu Rhodes? The latter of whom has been the subject of Australian tabloid fodder for ages now. Ya feel me? Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted over the centuries, playwrights are able to alter all sorts of details to suit their reinterpretations as they see fit. *Sigh* of course the duke, duchess, king, queen etc… don’t have to be white because simply because the Elizabethan era dictates it. HOWEVER it doesn’t excuse the fact that Opera Australia artistic director Lyndon Terracini, claims the ethnicity of the lead role was irrelevant and yet the lesser known roles of Lady Thiang, Lun Tha and the chorus,  were for ‘dancers of any Asian ethnicity’.  Here, I even drew a table to explain it to your dumb ass.

The King of Siam Chorus, Lady Thiang, Lun Tha
Lead role, spends the most time in front of audience Smaller roles, lesser known and spends less time in front of audience.
Race is irrelevant Race is very relevant

Conclusion: Big roles, no need to be Asian. Small roles, has to be Asian.

And that’s why it’s fucking disgraceful and hypocritical. You are correct though, by no means is The King & I a documentary, As for the fact that the King’s ethnicity isn’t mentioned, guiltily, when I heard: ‘Rodgers & Hammerstein’ and The King & I and The King of Siam, Siam being what Thailand was called prior 1939, I just assumed that he would be …Thai! Crazy huh?

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Utter crap? There are many valid points in the article, you’re just too entrenched in your fucking twisted ideals to see them mate. The most obvious one of which is questioning that ‘the best musical theatre performers Opera Australia could find’ is Teddy and Lisa McCune. Another Teddy fan have we? Byron does not think that including Teddy’s entire CV is as important as addressing the issue of profit before giving an underrepresented opera singer a go, and don’t tell me that money should trump fairness because it’s realistic. Thai opera singers are jobbing performers too that should get a role meant for them and thus, a pay check. The reality is their role has to go to someone who doesn’t remotely resemble an Asian in appearance, that the best performer for a Thai role, is not a Thai. It’s like being told the ethnicity you are born as, what you had no choice in deciding, is not good enough to portray what you actually are, THAT’S their reality. No, no, no, no, NO! ARRRRRRRGGGGH! How dare you try and use the holy grail of Shakespeare in your defense. Othello is described as a moor, he is ostracised because of his skin colour, it wouldn’t make any sense for him to be another ethnicity otherwise unless the play was rewritten. I have not the pleasure of seeing Placido Domingo (a Spaniard) in the role of Othello, so my knowledge of this is very limited but chrissakes, that does not make it fucking alright. And what exactly does the writing reveal about the author? That he is against the prejudiced casting by GordonFrost/Opera Australia? Anyway I have spent ample time countering your vile writing, for now.

That’s all from me for a while folks, please share, retweet and leave comments below if you’d like. Cheerio~

Responses to criticism of a white man in the role of a Thai king – Part 1

I promised I would respond to the criticisms that have been directed to Byron Bache’s article about the casting of a white opera singer in the role of a Thai king. Do enjoy.

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This ‘moot point’ that a Thai would never assume this role because they would find it offensive, is clearly addressed when Byron states ‘…with Asian performers still drastically under-represented in the theatre, the casting of Rhodes as a Thai king is downright shameful.’ All too often are ethnic roles white-washed, why shouldn’t a Thai represent a Thai on stage? THAT is the ‘moot point’ here. Unless you are a Thai performer with extensive stage experience, unless you have those specifics, I’m going to assume that you don’t know whether or not that Thai performer would or would not consider The King of Siam role. There is a gaping hole in your argument, this musical is about a Thai king OF THAILAND, OF COURSE THE LEAD HAS TO BE THAI, (or at the very least Thai-looking) OTHERWISE THERE IS NO REALISTIC JUSTIFICATION TO THE ENTIRE STORY.

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Ahhh it sounds like we have a Teddy fan. Just as you are privy to your own opinions about Mr. Rhodes’ mellifluous baritone, so is Byron to his own opinions, yes Byron is a critic and we don’t always agree with critics but he is very knowledgeable about theatre. And do you think you can you leave it up to an actual  Thai performer to decide whether they would accept the role or not based on their own merits and values? Cheers.

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No, Teddy does not look Thai enough. He is not Thai. He is just white. Therefore it is wrong he be cast in the role OF A THAI. In case I haven’t made myself clear enough, Teddy can appear Scottish, French, English, Irish, German, Italian, with a bit of creativity he even makes a passable Walter White but he DOES NOT LOOK THAI. You obviously haven’t read the first paragraph of this article properly. Where on earth did you draw conclusions about the production making it to Thailand when it’s distinctly mentioned that it will be an Australian one? Yul Brynner portrayed this role in the 1950s, this article questions Teddy’s casting in a 21st century production. It questions whether in 2013, how we still cannot find a single Thai performer and instead opt for a white performer with ‘mass appeal’. Ditto for the role of Mrs Anna. Teddy’s casting guarantees bums on seats, it’s not about staying true to the story. And lastly, your stupidity of confusing race and height, as if they are actually comparable, just makes you sound stupid, and frankly, it makes me fucking mad.

Byron, keep fighting the good fight. Part II coming soon.

Reprise

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