Well. In response to immense criticism and backlash from the Asian American theatre community, the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players has announced that it is canceling its upcoming production of The Mikado.
W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan's 1885 comic opera, set in Japan, has endured mounting criticism over the years for its painfully outdated orientalism and stagings that regularly put performers in "yellowface" makeup. NYGASP's production was the latest, set to run this winter at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.
That's not happening. NYGASP Executive Director David Wannen announced on Facebook that they were yanking The Mikado, and will instead run The Pirates of Penzance in its place:
New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players announces that the production of The Mikado, planned for December 26, 2015- January 2, 2016, is cancelled. We are pleased to announce that The Pirates of Penzance will run in its place for 6 performances over the same dates.
NYGASP never intended to give offense and the company regrets the missed opportunity to adapt its production of Gilbert & Sullivan's 130-year-old satire of Victorian society to respond to contemporary criticism of some elements of traditional performance practice.
Our patrons can be sure we will contact them as soon as we are able, and answer any questions they may have.
We will now look to the future, focusing on how we can effect a production that is imaginative, smart, loyal to Gilbert and Sullivan's beautiful words, music, and story, and that eliminates elements of performance practice that are offensive.
Thanks to all for the constructive criticism. We sincerely hope that the living legacy of Gilbert & Sullivan remains a source of joy for many generations to come.
New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players
Now if we could just have a serious conversation, once and for all, about why The Mikado, as it has traditionally been staged, is a racist piece of shit. I'm not comfortable with saying that we need prohibit future production, but people need to understand the serious objections -- the yellowface, the orientalism, the cultural appropriation -- that people have had with The Mikado for decades. This show needs to be retired or future stagings need to be thoughtfully reworked in a big way.
Because more than likely, somewhere, the show will go up again, by some clueless all-white troupe of Gilbert & Sullivan enthusiasts. Are we going to have to go twelve rounds every time that happens?
More here: New York City Production of 'The Mikado' Canceled Following Accusations of Racism