19 Jan: British Chinese/East Asian actors protest against yellowface casting

A protest will take place outside the Print Room at the Coronet on Thursday 19 January 2017 between 5pm and 11pm to coincide with the opening night of  In The Depths of Deep Love as a response to the venue’s decision to cast four Caucasian actors in a new play by Howard Barker set in ancient China with Chinese character names.

Historically, yellowface meant the practice of an actor of non-East-Asian heritage applying make-up to yellow their skin and tape their eyes so as to appear East Asian. Now yellowface is understood to mean any actor of non-East-Asian heritage playing an East Asian role; a practice that thanks to progressive and industry wide discussion is deemed unacceptable.

Hundreds have taken to social media in outrage to protest the Print Room’s casting decision. A Facebook event has been created where over 200 people have already signed up to stand insolidarity with East Asian performers and their allies.

The protest has been organised and is led by Director Andrew Keates, who comments

“It is a fallacy that the United Kingdom does not have a wealth of talented East Asian performers who could and should be playing these roles in Howard Barker’s play. The theatre industry must stop marginalising East Asian performers and start taking responsibility for our past where ethnic minorities were not even allowed to be in a theatre, let alone perform on stage. We must seek out every opportunity to readdress this historical prejudice by ensuring we are giving East Asian artists every opportunity wherever possible. Ethnicity is and should never be a make-up – It’s an ethnic identify.”

Those who wish to attend the protest should arrive on 19th January 2017 at 5pm outside the Print Room at the Coronet and it is expected to last until approximately 11pm. This peaceful protest is organised in collaboration with Kensington and Chelsea Borough Metropolitan Police Service. Protesters are asked not to bring amplification equipment such as megaphones and sound systems, however they are encouraged to bring banners and placards to draw attention to the marginalisation of East Asian performers in the UK and the unacceptable practice of yellowface at The Print Room.

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