A new musical based on Hans Christian Andersen's story The Nightingale was being workshopped at La Jolla Playhouse. The show, like the original story, is set in a fantasy of medieval China (because let's be honest, Andersen was not exactly doing anything historically or culturally accurate in his story). But definitely China. Out of ten characters, only two were played by Asian actors, and both of those were supporting. The main character, the Emperor of China, was a young white guy.This from the LA Times
is a good run down of what was at issue and the way the creators did and did not think things through. I think the key was the question "If your show was set in Africa, would your main character Emperor be played by a white guy?" The fact that that never got answered is pretty telling about the way race is constructed in America and how we are and are not dealing with multiculturalism. And that the Asian community is always pushed to the side because they're small in numbers and are not viewed as socioeconomically disadvantaged.
It was legitimately a mess. Big press. Good press. Some things needed to be said. Not sure if the piece is going to be salvaged without a significant resetting, however, because if the creators don't want an all-Asian cast, they should really pull it out of China and just call it a fairy tale kingdom. But this will be remembered.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard