A theatre which canceled a scheduled panel on Asian American representation and Miss Saigon has formally apologized, but the panelists are not impressed.
The panel originally titled “Asian American Perspectives on Miss Saigon: Stereotypes, History and Community” had been scheduled for Wednesday night at the Overture Theatre in Madision, Wi and one week before it opens the show. Wednesday morning panelists from Asian American Studies, Cultural Studies and Media Studies received word from Overture the discussion had been cancelled.
“First and foremost, we apologize for postponing last night’s event,” Overture CEO Sandra Gajic wrote in the statement. “That was a mistake and sent the wrong message. It was never our intent to shut down dialogue but rather ensure that the environment we were creating actually fostered a productive discussion.”
In explaining the apology, Gajic appears to have angered some of the panelists even more.
“As the date of this week’s event drew closer and we had the chance to see the preparatory work from the panelists, we were concerned that it was becoming more of a lecture than a dialogue – that is where the primary disconnect was in our minds,” she said. “While we entirely support the right to protest or critique, through art or otherwise, the purpose of this panel was to create a conversation.”
Overture’s Vice President of Marketing and Sales reiterated that sentiment in an interview with Madison.com.
“We did not feel there was enough parity in communications to keep moving forward, and we are apologizing formally for that decision,” said Lex Poppens. “There was an agenda over here and an agenda over here, and the two did not feel like they were meshing.”
University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Timothy Yu dismissed the apology as a non-apology.
“The statement that Overture made, this recent apology — it shows that they still want to control the terms of the conversation. You’re saying certain questions are allowed and certain questions are out of bounds, and I get to decide what that is. If you’re the one who gets to determine what is protest and what’s discussion, you’re not holding an open discussion.”
Overture has offered to reschedule the panel three weeks after Miss Saigon closes. Yu and others have declined to participate.
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