“In Search of the Orphan” : intercultural theatre, multi-ethnic casting, and the representation of Chineseness on European and North American stages
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In May 2012, La Jolla Playhouse in the United States staged a musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's “The Nightingale”. Four months later, the Royal Shakespeare Company announced its upcoming production of a “new adaptation” of the late thirteenth-century Chinese play “The Orphan of Zhao”. Both plays were severely criticized for the decidedly poor quota of East Asian actors in their multi-ethnic casts, and the discrepancies present in the portrayal of “Ancient” and “imaginary” Chinas. Each production draws on plays and stories that are part of a history of one-directional cross-cultural appropriation by European artists. Despite the change in mentalities over the past century, and the attempts at diversifying the British and American theatre industries through multi-ethnic casting and intercultural performance, the legacy of the imperialist appropriation of supposedly “exotic” art-forms resurfaces in such productions. This article aims to assess the pitfalls of Western-led intercultural performance and multi-ethnic casting, the representations of Chinese stage stereotypes, and the state of racial relations in the entertainment industry.
Lee , V 2012 , ' “In Search of the Orphan” : intercultural theatre, multi-ethnic casting, and the representation of Chineseness on European and North American stages ' , Transtext(e)s Transcultures 跨文本跨文化 , vol. 7 , 455 . https://doi.org/10.4000/transtexts.455
Transtext(e)s Transcultures 跨文本跨文化
Copyright © 2012 the Author. This work has been made available online in accordance with publisher policies or with permission. Permission for further reuse of this content should be sought from the publisher or the rights holder. This is the final published version of the work, which was originally published at https://doi.org/10.4000/transtexts.455.