How to Stage Questionable Works from the Western Canon

To better serve the performing arts community, we have created a listing of historical works by Western artists, pointed out some of the issues with the work when viewed through an Asian lens, and proposed solutions as to how to address these works when staged in the present day without offending Asian cast, audience members and supporters. We strongly believe in the merits of many of these works, and it is our hope that through this conversation, we can modify them to be more respectful instead of eliminating them from contemporary repertory altogether.

Our most critical advice to any organization wishing to produce any of these shows to include at least one collaborator of Asian decent (two is preferred, as even we all have our blind spots when it comes to addressing diversity within our own communities), as well as engaging your larger audience (not just the Asian community) both before and during the performance. Be proactive in addressing the conversation.

We hope these resources can help your organization navigate the challenged posed by these historical works of art, to create a performance that everyone can enjoy without seeing their culture or race presented as caricature.

THEATRE

“Aladdin”

“Anything Goes”

“Cats”

“Flower Drum Song”

“The King and I”

“The Mikado”

“Miss Saigon”

“South Pacific”

“Thoroughly Modern Millie”

OPERA

“Lakme”

“Madama Butterfly”

“Nixon in China”

“The Pearl Fishers”

“Turandot”

DANCE

“La Bayadere”

“Bugaku”

“Le Corsaire”

“Coppelia”

“Le Chant du Rossignol”

“The Fairy Doll”

“The Hard Nut”

Martha Graham, Ruth St. Denis, and Ted Shawn

“The Miraculous Mandarin”

“The Nutcracker”

“Parade”

“Prince of the Pagodas”

“Scheherazade”

“The Sleeping Beauty”