September Issue: Theater Casting Controversy Highlights Inequality on Stage
Not Good Enough to Play Ourselves?
A casting controversy at the prestigious La Jolla Playhouse reignites the debate on fair representation on stage.
While we’ve seen an increase in Asian Americans in television and films — John Cho, Lucy Liu and Maggie Q, to name a few—the face of theater remains the same. The silver and small screens are better reflecting the growing diversity of our communities, but the stage remains alarmingly monochromatic.
In the last five theater seasons, less than 2 percent of roles on Broadway were given to Asian Americans—that’s only about 54 of 3,530 roles. In nonprofit theater, only 3 percent of roles went to Asian American actors. Asian Americans overall saw a decrease in their numbers in mainstream theater; during the 2009-2010 season, Asian Americans were seen in only 1 percent of roles in Broadway and nonprofit theater combined.
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