Um...WHAT?!

Posted by Prince Gomolvilas
ON Friday, November 14, 2008
Longtime readers know that I am sometimes unaware when a theater stages my work and that I am sometimes surprised when my stuff ends up in a book and that these things don't come to my attention until a Google Alert ends up in my inbox. So my latest Alert just arrived, and this is just too weird.

A community college in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in New York is performing The Theory of Everything (which features seven Asian-American characters) with a cast of mostly white college kids. Um...WHAT?! (The rights were obtained through my publisher, who I have no regular contact with.)

Now you know how I feel about Caucasian actors being cast in non-Caucasian roles, but something feels...well...okay about this. After reading a feature article in a local paper and a theater review in the same publication and after finding out that the student body at Adirondack Community College is only 1% Asian (and let's face it—they're probably working towards business degrees) and after stumbling across this production photo (above) , I kind of like the idea of a ragtag theater department with limited resources banding together to shun Shakespeare for at least one semester to put on a relatively obscure play that deals with contemporary issues of race and sexuality. And it looks like they at least had the good sense not to put anyone in yellowface—something still practiced in Hollywood, by the way, a town that really should know better. I mean, if kids in the Adirondacks can embrace diversity without committing (too many) artistic faux pas, then shouldn't we all?

What do you all make of this? Is this a sign of the times? Should I find this remarkable and inspiring? Or should I be filled with righteous indignation?
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5 Comments

  1. Annie Said,

    (Tried to post this but it didn't work, so sorry if it shows up twice.)

    My first thought when I read your post was that you should be filled with righteous indignation. Then I read the article and the review and now I'm torn.

    They didn't look at your character descriptions and pass on the play without reading it; they bought a copy, loved it, and went for it. And to have your play viewed as transcendent and universally relevant, well, that's as awesome as it gets, right?

    Hmm. I'm still torn. Great topic for discussion.

     

  2. Stan Said,

    I love that they took on the challenge. Let some students try to adopt the mask of an asian american character and that they gain some understanding!!!

     

  3. Annie, yeah, it's interesting. I mean, if they were in a major metropolitan city, that would be different. But they're in the mountains. With like two Asians. So, yup. (By the way, can you tell me the commenting problem you had, so I can attempt to fix it? Thanks.)

    Stan, yes, it really is that whole "walk a mile in my shoes" philosophy, isn't it? Thanks for checking in.

     

  4. xtine Said,

    i totally understand the right to righteous indignation, and support it. and/but: i think this is different, somehow. part of what theater education is all about is 'going for it' as you say. for them to even tackle this play says something about the leadership in their program. if i were a young white actor in the adirondacks i think i'd learn so much more from struggling in a production of your play than from doing our town well. for me it's a question of sleep vs. wake -- and i'm glad they are at least trying the 'wake' setting, in terms of repertoire.

     

  5. As a fellow Asian, I say burn these bitches. Seriously. Hate mails yo. Mwahahaah!

     



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