Just three percent of all roles on Broadway last season were played by Asian Americans. A panel of Asian American playwrights directors and actors appeared on stage in Chicago recently to address the lack of diversity on stage before a diverse audience, reported Broadway World.
In the past year there have been numerous controversies involving Asian Americans on stage– notably the Nightingale play set in China but featuring almost an entirely non-Asian cast in San Diego, a Bollywood spectacular in Chicago without any Asian or South Asian representative on stage, and at Lifeline Theatre also in Chicago another story set in and around China again featured a cast of very few Asian Americans
The common theme seems to be roles involving Asian or Asian American characters are going to non-Asian actors at a time when Asian Americans have problem getting any parts at all.
“If its set in a country, a specific country, one would hope that the people that are represented would actually be on the same stage,” said Chay Yew, artistic director of Victory Garden Theatre. “For example, you wouldn’t do a white version of Raisin in the Sun.”
Tony Award winning playwright David Henry Hwang got into the minds of the producers of these plays.
“This idea that we were casting a number of productions and this was an ensemble thing, we couldn’t cast that many Asians,” Hwang said mimicking their excuses. “That’s like literally defining how the playing field is unequal. It’s OK for Caucasians to play Asians but its not OK for Asians to play anything but Asians.”
You can watch the entire panel discussion which also feature playwright Jamil Khoury, Artistic Director of Silk Road Rising and Eliza Shin, Actor, on Broadway World