As many of you know, I used to be an actor back in the day. Mostly doing musical theater in this here New York City. Regional, Off-Off Broadway, national tours, dinner theater and more. And then I got into doing sketch comedy for a few years after leaving the acting game. I've not been involved in years but do miss it on occasion.
One thing I don't miss? Shit like what happened in this article about a recent workshop of a musical at La Jolla Playhouse. The basic gist is that a musical set in China had a cast of 12 people. A white guy in the lead and only 2 Asians in the cast. 2. Set in China. The director claims it was to be a mythical setting and not strictly China. (Don't even get me started on how the West views Asia as "mythical"). Fair enough. But according to the article, many of the character names and settings were clearly of Asian origin.
I'm all for actors playing all sorts of roles. And at least they didn't have the white actors in stereotypical Asian makeup. Though I am all for parodies as well. This wasn't the case. They just clearly didn't cast Asian actors in the roles. And before you say, "Well, maybe they weren't good enough"...SHUT UP. Plenty of amazing actors of all ethnicities out there to be cast in any ethnic-heavy show.
For the record, at least the theater and production company apologized for the offense.
I had to deal with this so often when auditioning. (And I'm only 1/2 Asian). Often, I felt I was either called back or even cast so they wouldn't be viewed as not being fair to ethnics. I joked in various casts that I was the "token Asian". But then, I'd do shows like The King and I and half of the cast was nowhere near Asian.
I remember getting frustrated that I wouldn't even be seen or ever cast in some classic shows I wanted to do since they were so "white bread". And yet, I also remember some of my fellow white actors complaining that they couldn't be cast or seen for a show like Bombay Dreams when it had Broadway auditions. And it still happens in film so much. Recently with The Last Airbender live action movie where a lot of the cast was not Asian.
I can't believe I'm still shocked that stuff like this still happens. But it still does.
And boy will everyone be sorry when Asians rule the world and we're doing all Asian productions of Oklahoma! Just kidding. Kind of.
But we all know kung-fu.