Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Remy Hii tweeted me back!

On Twitter I asked Remy Hii of Better Man and Neighbours fame if he would be returning to theatre and if so, would he consider my recommendation of the lead in Shakespeare’s Hamlet check out the brief conversation we had below:

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 2.50.16 PM

He loves it people! So I’m going to take this response as a pledge of Remy’s commitment, okay it’s not legally a commitment but he says and I quote, ‘Haha, love it!’ with an exclamation thrown in, possibly inferring to how excited he is by that prospect.

It’s now just a matter of how this multicultural stage production at the Sydney Theatre Company will be arranged. I’ve often daydreamed about what the process will be like, will the production be based on Shakespeare? And if so, will it be reinterpreted? Chekov perhaps? I’m really into classical theatre at the moment, just thinking about the possible productions makes me all giddy and very excited.

Let me know in the comments below what production you’d like to see at STC with a multicultural cast, it can be any genre, comedy, absurd, or historical, the wilder the better!

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Act II – Macbeth SYD vs MLB

The Sydney Theatre Company 2014 season brochure was released not long ago. The range of works seems interesting, there is one play that has caught my eye, ‘Kryptonite‘  starring Ursula Mills, the description on the STC website reads:

“Dylan is a carefree, charming Aussie bloke and Lian a shy international student. Over the years their paths cross; he has become a politician whose career is solidly in ascendance while she has finally returned to China as a senior executive.

Life experience – and personal interests – have fashioned new dissonances in their friendship. Is desire enough to transcend politics? Can they bridge the gap?”

It sounds promising. I was alerted to the Queensland Theatre Company  2014 brochure by Caitlin from Women In Theatre (pay her site a visit for interesting posts on females on stage). Now have a look at their program. Done? No have a look back at the STC brochure, okay done? Now look back at the QTC brochure. Do you see something disparaging? I’m not saying ‘shame on you STC and the insubstantial amount of multicultural plays you’re producing next year (one out of sixteen)’ although it is rather pathetic when compared to QTC (four out of ten) that has The Mountaintop, Macbeth, The Magic Hour and Black Diggers. 

These  are two theatres in two different cities, similarity is  that both are staging a version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.  QTC’s Macbeth includes a multicultural cast and STC stars  Hugo Weaving whom I adore, however, he’s tried and tested. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, smaller actors deserve a chance.

 

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

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.