“In Search of the Orphan”: intercultural theatre, multi-ethnic casting, and the representation of Chineseness on European and North American stages

Vanessa Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number455
Number of pages13
JournalTranstext(e)s Transcultures 跨文本跨文化
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2012

Keywords

  • Theatre
  • Race
  • American theatre
  • British theatre
  • China
  • Racism
  • Orientalism
  • Orientalism, post-colonial theory

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of '“In Search of the Orphan”: intercultural theatre, multi-ethnic casting, and the representation of Chineseness on European and North American stages'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this