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Title: Here is a story for me: Representation and visibility in Miss Saigon and The Orphan of Zhao
Authors: Chow, BDV
Keywords: The Orphan of Zhao;Miss Saigon
Issue Date: 21-Oct-2014
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Citation: Chow, BDV (2014) 'Here is a story for me: Representation and visibility in Miss Saigon and The Orphan of Zhao', Contemporary Theatre Review, 24(4), 507-516. doi: 10.1080/10486801.2014.946919.
Abstract: This article places The Orphan of Zhao casting controversy into dialogue with another problematic theatrical representation of East Asians, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, and Richard Maltby Jr.’s musical Miss Saigon. Drawing on his personal experiences of playing the role of Thuy in Miss Saigon in 2005, Chow suggests that the problematic hyper-visibility of East Asian performers in a number of stereotypical roles in Miss Saigon may actually lead to moments in which the labour of the East Asian actor might be perceived in excess of the character. Therefore, while Miss Saigon’s narrative constructs an orientalist vision of the East, its embodiment in the theatre creates moments of possible resistance. Understanding the relation of actor to role in this way, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) casting of The Orphan of Zhao can be seen as exclusionary, as its particular distribution of roles polices East Asian embodiment, presence, and speech. Chow suggests that rather than being problematic for the use of ‘yellow-face’, the RSC’s casting of non-East Asian actors in East Asian roles was troubling for a different reason: it silenced its East Asian actors and hid them in plain sight, therefore replicating the way East Asian subjects are hidden and silenced within contemporary British discourse.
ISSN: 1048-6801
Appears in Collections:Dept of Arts and Humanities Research Papers

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