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Subject: Re: More on HGO's Nixon in China casting
From: William Albright <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:William Albright <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 1 Apr 2017 15:10:34 -0500

text/plain (123 lines)

And please remember this guy is a theater critic who knows zilch about

On Sat, Apr 1, 2017 at 3:09 PM, William Albright <[log in to unmask]>

> 15 things that'll happen when Houston talks about Asians in the arts
> By Wei-Huan Chen <>
> March 30, 2017 Updated: March 30, 2017 6:00am
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> [image: Houston Grand Opera's production of "Nixon in China." Patrick
> Carfizzi, left, portrays an evil Chinese landlord with a Fu Manchu
> mustache. Photo: Lynn Lane / Lynn Lane]
> Photo: Lynn Lane
> Houston Grand Opera's production of "Nixon in China." Patrick Carfizzi,
> left, portrays an evil Chinese landlord with a Fu Manchu mustache.
> This Friday, Houston Grand Opera and the Asia Society host a talk on Asian
> representation in the arts. The panel is, essentially, a response to my
> review
> <> of
> HGO’s production of “Nixon in China,” in which I criticized the opera for
> yellowface and stereotypical portrayals of Chinese people.
> The review drew countless reactions. Houston-based music educator Sherry
> Cheng wrote a rebuttal
> <>.
> Dallas Morning News opera critic Scott Cantrell made a similar argument
> <>.
> And emotional comments regarding race and representation poured into
> Facebook, Twitter and my flooded inbox.
> The HGO/Asia Society panel features, among others, Director for the Center
> for Arts and Social Engagement at the University of Houston Sixto Wagan;
> Houston Asian American Pacific Islander Film Festival Co-Director Steven
> Wu; and HGO music and artistic director Patrick Summers. It’s an excellent
> move by both organizations to keep the conversation about inclusion alive,
> and public, but the jury’s still out on whether the city will have the
> proper reckoning on Asian representation — or lack thereof — that it
> deserves.
> The panel might be productive and interesting. It might not. I will attend
> with high hopes and bated breath because conversations are, by nature,
> improvisatory.
>    1. The audience will be majority white.
>    2. On the topic of diversity, people will talk about how good their
>    organizations are with diversity.
>    3. No one will criticize anyone.
>    4. People will be confused about the definition of yellowface.
>    5. Someone will ask, “If ‘Hamilton’ cast actors of color to play white
>    people, why can’t white actors play people of color?”
>    6. In defense of casting, someone will make the “because opera”
>    argument. In defense of stereotypes, someone will make the “because
>    history” argument.
>    7. Someone will cite Sherry Cheng’s column. They will secretly think
>    “Look, an Asian isn’t offended so it must not be offensive” but will not
>    actually say it out loud.
>    8. The line “Houston is the most diverse city in America” will be used
>    at least three times.
>    9. The line “more relevant now than ever before” will be used at least
>    five times.
>    10. The panelists will hesitate to talk about someone who isn’t on the
>    stage, and so instead of using my name will say “a reviewer,” “The
>    Chronicle” or “a critic.”
>    11. Someone will inevitably reference Donald Trump.
>    12. The entire evening will essentially be a debate on the “point” of
>    art, embodying two schools of thought: The Art of the Sublime and the Art
>    of the Society. The Sublime folks, believing that art is universal and
>    preferring “classic” works, will argue that art should transcend the
>    politics of identity. The Society folks, believing that art is personal and
>    preferring “relevant” works, will argue that art should speak to the
>    politics of identity.
>    13. During the Q-and-A, someone will have a long, indulgent rant. No
>    one will cut them off.
>    14. The first time people actually speak their minds will be after the
>    event, with friends and family, on the drive home or over drinks.
>    15. Ultimately, no one will change their mind. But for a precious
>    moment, they'll be challenged to think outside their experience. And
>    instead of shouting, they'll listen.

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