So now we’re back to no Chinese and dogs allowed, huh? Unless the Asians are playing dogs.
The news that the revered Royal Shakespeare Company has not only given a measly three out of 17 roles in their production of the Chinese classic, The Orphan of Zhao, to Asian actors, but that these parts are for two dogs and a maid, has quite gasted my flabber. None of the main roles are played by Asians.
We’ve been rowing about this for months alongside Anglo-Chinese actor and Equity BAME representative Daniel York who is leading the charge. [Edit: Daniel says the third out of three demon dogs is a black actor while all the main roles are white. WTF with the non-white non-human depictions?] His attempts to elicit a grown-up response from the RSC and the Arts Council have so far resulted in a condescending brush-off and a reprimand from the powers-that-be.
This is a Chinese classic from the Yuan period thought to have been penned by the 13th century writer Ji Junxiang (紀君祥). Not much known about Ji Junxiang. He was born in present day Beijing and wrote six plays. Only one of his works has survived and that is Yuanbao yuan Zhao shi gu’er - The (great) Revenge of the orphan Zhao ca. 1330 (趙氏孤兒大報仇). This was the first zaju, (Chinese: “mixed drama or play”) to have been translated into the western tongue.
This was one of the major Chinese dramatic forms. Originating as a short variety play from Northern China during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) and during the Yuan dynasty (1206–1368) it developed into a mature four-act dramatic form, in which songs alternate with dialogue.