11 February 2013

Opening The Door : East Asians In British Theatre

The Young Vic

in partnership with Arts Council England, SOLT/TMA, CDG, Equity, ITC and the Young Vic

10:30 - 5

Opening The Door: what are we going to do - right now- to end the marginalisation of East Asians in British theatre?

My name’s Daniel York. I've been an actor for twenty years and in that time I've played the lead in a play that sold out at the Royal Court, was personally recommended by Alan Rickman to play Fortinbras to his Hamlet, did a season at the RSC, also worked at the National, Edinburgh Traverse and Hampstead Theatre and won an award in Singapore but I've found I've hit a massive glass ceiling where I go for literally one theatre audition a year because I don't look Chinese enough to play crap Chinese parts on TV.

It has often seemed to me that in the last 10 or 15 years our industry has sat back and congratulated itself on the increased number of “Black & Asian” faces on our stages. Unfortunately “Asia” all too often has stopped dead at Pakistan. "East Asia" (according to wikipedia) consists of Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Hong Kong, Indonesia, North Korea, South Korea, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, The Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Nepal and Mongolia. East Asians (the fastest growing minority group in Britain today) have been sidelined, ignored and marginalised to the extent that even now it often appears to me that theatre producers will even actively avoid casting them in plays.

It’s my contention that East Asians are a third class ethnic minority in terms of UK media. I would go as far as to say East Asians are treated almost as a sub species. Reduced to silent and even grotesque stereotypes with no empowerment or presence. Our diversity, our experience and our talents unrecognised, even our BRITISHNESS such is our status as perennial foreigners, and all too often we are forced to rely on physicality and archaic exotica in order to gain any kind of employment opportunities.

Those are my views and I’ve also incorporated things other people have said as well. But what about your views, your opinions, your questions? Let’s freely express ourselves right here right now and really tackle these burning questions-

Why are East Asians continually discriminated against in UK media?

Why are East Asians perennially invisible in UK media and what are we going to do to address this?

What can we do to we change the current tokenistic representation of East Asians in UK theatre into a more integrated one?

In other words-

What are we going to do - right now - to end the marginalisation of East Asians in British theatre?

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