It’s a Race to the top…
I spent the day in the meeting and then went back to editing my script. I’m not going to talk about The Script again, *yawn*!
The meeting was about an aforementioned event on my blog. Overall it was an exciting day, a meeting, with exciting people, with a view to exciting change. One of the points that was brought up was, to paraphrase:
If we do this for the East Asian community, then why not other minority communities? Or women for example?
It was pointed out (and not by an East Asian!) that actually East Asian actors are in a much worse situation in theatre compared to others. Is that true? It does make you think.
A few years ago, the Black community shouted out against Blackface (with Sir Michael of Gambon, in Othello) and South Asians had a breakthrough with East is East and subsequent TV series highlight S. Asian culture. But that was 20 years ago! We now see many more women in theatre as actors, writers and at the helm (Vicky Featherstone at the Royal Court and Josie Rourke at the Donmar Warehouse) and although they’re all still underrepresented, not as woefully as their East Asian counterparts.
So what is going on in UK theatre? Is it still the case that if you have a play, set in London for example, that has a character list of that includes “Joe, 30s, male; Karen, late 30s, female; Al, 40s, male”, do they all have to be white? In the meeting it was mentioned that it should come from the creative team. Should writers have to clearly express: This character must be Black / White / S. Asian / E. Asian / White / Mixed race? My writer brain says no because I don’t want to have to specify race, I want my team to be open to casting the best person for that role no matter what colour their skin happens to be. I’d like it be representative of the London I know. The London we showed at the Olympics. The London that is overall tolerant and diverse.
Are we there yet? Maybe not. Maybe writers have to start but then, will people be interested in the play? In the capacity of this event, I’ve been talking to lots of industry people and been shocked to hear such things as “no one is interested in China” and “there just isn’t the talent over in the UK”. That is not the case, I know many talented East Asian actors, a lot of them feel okay with being type cast but would relish their chance to sink their teeth into Shakespeare.
I hate to say it, I think the States do colourblind casting better, especially on TV, however it’s at a cost and they’re missing South Asian actors from their repertoire. So, to end on a lighter and fantastical note, here’s the trailer for the next Star Trek instalment, Into Darkness. Let your inner geek free and enjoy!
Here’s hoping that this event will lead to change. Live long and prosper kids.