For the last few weeks I’ve been following a really interesting debate that has been getting the theatre world chatting right across the globe. The Royal Shakespeare Company in the UK are about to stage a production of the the Chinese play The Orphan of Zhao. The play, from the 13th century, is often referred to as the ‘Chinese Hamlet’, and the RSC production is a new translation by James Fenton.
Fenton writes here giving a wonderful background to the play.
However, controversy has arisen because out of 17 actors cast in the piece, only 3 are of South East Asian origin and they play two puppeteers and and a maid. The debate and back lash has been harsh and forced the RSC on the offensive about their casting policies.
What I find even more interesting is that the ‘blogoshere’ has joined the debate in a very vociferous and intelligent way and I wanted to share some of that too: Madam Miaow, Dangerology and Theatrical Geographies all write passionately about the debate. The latter blog is particularly interesting and worth a read. Even Twitter and Facebook are not immune to the uproar.
I’ll let you read through and make your own mind up, but I have to say it is the first time I have come across the term yellowing-up and it is disturbing.
Finally, I want to include an interview with the director of the show that was made before the storm hit.