Tag Archives: Thai

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.

When is Teddy Tahu not a Thai?

Stumbled across Byron Bache’s article about Teddy Tahu being cast as the King of Siam in an Australian production of The King and I here are some great points I think Byron has made in the article:

‘Colour-blind casting is not employing Caucasians to play Asian roles, it’s disregarding race when it’s irrelevant to the story.’

‘Despite its alleged race-blind casting policies, Opera Australia considered ethnicity to be relevant in the casting of the chorus. The audition notice for the show called for dancers “of any Asian ethnicity”’

‘The lesser principal roles also went to Asian performers, with Chinese-born Australian opera singer Shu-Cheen Yu playing Lady Thiang and Adrian Li Donni cast as Lun Tha.’

Additionally, there is a similar sentiment amongst the majority of comments, that firstly, there is no feasible reason as to why a Thai opera singer would accept the King of Siam role. Simply because these individuals straight-up assume that there is not a single opera singer of Thai or Asian IN THE ENTIRE WORLD that wouldn’t be offended by this role and secondly, The King and I is banned and has been banned from ever being produced in Thailand, hence, no Thai would consider this part. What a load of balls.

If you scroll down, you’ll see that some of the comments are idiotic and downright bigoted. Unfortunately, since Crikey doesn’t allow direct responses (at least not to my knowledge) I’m going to publish a blog post with my responses to some of the comments.

Ciao for now,

Kelly