Sunday, December 2, 2007

Promoting more Asian American Artists

The New York Times has two articles prominently displaying two different Asian American artists involved in theater. Paul Chan, a video artist and political activist, recently staged performances of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot in two different location in New Orleans--with a cast that came from a Harlem production of Godot that had made Hurricane Katrina and the breaking of the levees the central setting/theme of Beckett's work.

David Henry Hwang, most famously known for his play M. Butterfly, has a new production opening at The Public Theater called Yellowface, which blends fact and fiction in describing the central character D.H.H., a playwright who protests Jonathan Pryce's "yellowface" casting/performance as "The Engineer" in Miss Saigon and who struggles with the realization that, years after his Saigon protest, he has cast a white man as a lead in one of his Asian American plays because he believed the man was mixed-race.

For more on the Godot/Chan piece click here.

For more on the Yellowface/Hwang piece, click here.

It's an interesting coincidence that two Asian American artists are featured in the headlined sections of The New York Times and that both pieces discuss the intersections of race, politics, and art.

In particular, there is a quote in the Hwang piece that basically sums up the questions I've been struggling with lately regarding race and how to talk about race in my upcoming book project:

"[H]ow do you talk about the nuances of race, both the desire to get past race and the awareness that racism exists. How do you balance these two?"

How do you indeed...does anyone know?

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