Oh snap, are we talking about crappy theater casting again? The latest news on this front comes from none other than the revered Royal Shakespeare Company and its production of the Chinese classic The Orphan of Zhao. This blog post breaks it down nicely: The Orphan of Zhao: RSC casts Asians as dogs and maid in Chinese classic.
Awesome! It's the first ever Chinese play adapted by the RSC. Too bad that out of 17 roles in this play, only three of the parts have gone to actors of East Asian heritage -- two dogs and a maid. A classic Chinese play (sometimes referred to as the "Chinese Hamlet") about Chinese people... that somehow forgot to include any actual Chinese actors:
Of the 17 actors cast in the forthcoming production of The Orphan of Zhao, which will be overseen by new artistic director Gregory Doran, only three are of east Asian heritage. James Fenton's new version of the fourth-century play, which is attributed to Ji Junxiang, is the first Chinese drama the RSC has produced.More here: Royal Shakespeare Company under fire for not casting enough Asian actors. I guess the Royal Shakespeare Company didn't learn anything from all the controversy that went down over similar casting problems in the La Jolla Playhouse's production of The Nightingale.
The casting has caused anger among British-Asian actors, particularly as it comes so soon after Doran's all-black Julius Caesar – for which the company struggled to recruit enough black actors – and Iqbal Khan's all-Indian Much Ado About Nothing, both part of the World Shakespeare festival. A statement on the RSC's Facebook page had attracted 131 comments this afternoon.
Actor Paul Courtenay Hyu, who has worked at the National theatre and Birmingham Rep, called it "an incredible, gob-smacking episode".
"They have an all-black Julius Caesar and an all-Indian Much Ado, but when they decide to do the Chinese Hamlet, they cast 14 out of 17 actors and all of the major parts as non-Chinese. In the 21st century, that's unbelievable," he continued.
Of all the talk of multiculturalism and color-blind casting in theatre, none of that ever seems to actually work in favor for the Asian folks. But hey, at least the RSC thought it would be a good idea to include an Asian kid on the advertising. That was awfully thoughtful of you. Nice try.