A casting controversy is heating up on social media sites and theater boards. A workshop production of The Nightingale at the is under attack.
The Nightingale, an adaption from a short story by Hans Christian Anderson is set in China, but has little Asian presence in the cast. The Huffington Post reported that each actor is either white or multiethnic.
On Facebook, Lynn Craig said, “If you work in the arts, regardless of your race, you should feel obligated to take part in this conversation. There are MANY blogs and FB postings happening- Take part. Speak up. Teach others, learn something, and maybe we will progress a little!”
Another user said, “I am very disappointed in the casting choices made by La Jolla Playhouse. Your casting choices have ramifications far beyond this production of The Nightingale, please take a hard look and examine whatever unconscious biases you may have that led you to these casting choices.”
The Playhouse has also used Facebook to comment back on the musical directed by Moisés Kaufman, lyrics by Steven Sater and music by pop star Duncan Sheik. It will host a public panel on Sunday to discuss this very issue.
Christopher Ashley, artistic director of the La Jolla Playhouse, said was very important to him and the Playhouse to address the “many valid casting conversations that are taking place around our production of The Nightingale.” He added that he though the best way to do this was to host an open forum.
“While we are still putting together the full list of speakers on the panel, I am pleased to announce that Cindy Cheung and Christine Toy Johnson from AAPAC - Asian American Performers Action Coalition will be joining me. Also participating will be the Casting Director of our Page To Stage workshop production, Tara Rubin of Tara Rubin Casting, NY,” Ashley said last week. “I do hope you will attend and share your thoughts with us on the 22nd following the matinee performance. The discussion will begin at approximately 3:45pm and you do not need to purchase a ticket to attend.”
The San Diego Asian Film Foundation said in a press release on Thursday that Sunday’s public panel follows a private meetings between local arts leaders and the creative team of the La Jolla Playhouse earlier this year, “during which an apology form the Playhouse was requested.”
The AAPAC said the idea that a play takes place in Chica can be cast with only two Asian American actors out of a company of 12, "is in step with a long history of appropriation and misrepresentation of Asian people that has consistently denied Asian artists a voice in shaping how they are represented.”
The panel will take place at the La Jolla Playhouse is located at 2910 La Jolla Village Drive on UC San Diego's campus. The panel will take place at 3:45 p.m., Sunday.