Monday, 16 January 2017

Three Letters on The Print Room Fiasco by a UK theatregoer of Chinese descent

Letter 1: Ms Anda Winters, cc HRH Princess Eugenie c/o The Duke of York;  Editor, Daily Telegraph

Dear Anda 

I am sorry that you feel you are under a social media attack when members of the public, such as me, stated how The Print Room’s actions and words (and/or lack of them) came across. In writing to you, I stress that no attack has been or is being made, and no attack is intended. In this regard, would you be so kind as to tell me the source of “Conversations with Hu” by Chian H’si’, reproduced here?


One real Ancient Chinese man said:「人皆有不忍人之心。所以谓人皆有不忍人之心者:今人作见孺子将入于井,皆有怵惕恻隐之心;非所以内交于孺子之父母也,非所以要誉于乡党朋友也,非恶其声而然也。由是观之,无恻隐之心,非人也;无 羞恶之心,非人也;无辞让之心,非人也;无是非之心,非人也。恻隐之心,仁之端也;羞恶之心,义之端也;辞让之心,礼之端也;是非之心,智之端也。凡有四端于我者,知皆扩而充之矣- 《孟子·公孙丑上·第六章

My translation: Everyone has feelings which will move them to act… An example of what is meant by “everyone has feelings which will move them to act” is that anyone who sees a child entering a well will feel panic, sympathy and compassion, but not because they want to befriend the child’s parents, nor because they want praise from associates and friends, nor because they find the child’s crying unbearable. I therefore opine that it is inhuman not to feel sympathy or compassion; it is inhuman not to feel guilt and shame; it is inhuman not to be humble and take a few steps back; and it is inhuman to refuse to distinguish between lies/falsehood and truth. The means to benevolence/Love is feeling sympathy and compassion; the means to justice is feeling shame and guilt; the means to manners is feeling humble and taking a few steps back; and the means to wisdom is distinguishing between lies/falsehood and truth… We who have been given these four means should use them all the time and keep on using them…’ - Chapter 6, Book 2,  Conversations with  Gongsun Chou by Mencius (372 - 289BC) 

I know what my Chinese heritage is and how it is misrepresented, and I will not accept the exploiting of ungrounded prejudices and bias against my Chinese heritage (whether wilful or not) for artistic and marketing purposes and the reinforcing of this by casting Caucasian actors. This attitude is a symptom of something deeper; see eg https://policyexchange.org.uk/publication/bittersweet-success-glass-ceilings-for-britains-ethnic-minorities-at-the-top-of-business-and-the-professions/

You and The Print Room must keep your artistic policy, and honour your commitments and go ahead with your current production. No-one should be censored or lose work or be scapegoated or bullied over a work of fiction. 

However, I cannot accept any apology from you or The Print Room (I cannot see any which apply to me), but moving forwards, 1. a sincere and contrite apology to your colleagues in the arts Leo Wan, Daniel York, David Lee-Jones, Anna Chen, Nicholas Goh, Katie Leung, Jennifer Lim, Vera Chok, Lucy Sheen, David Tse, Kevin Shen, and others who I have not named for the statement on ‘thoroughly English mores’, and all it implied, is due 2. ALL your colleagues should be given the chance to audition for any role of a FULLY-ROUNDED character which showcases acting ability, and 3. ALL your  acting colleagues should be assessed on ‘acting ability and not  ‘thoroughly English mores’.  

I would like to thank you and The Print Room for what you have/have not said and done, as so many issues are now out in the open, and we can now all work towards resolving them together.

With kindest regards and best wishes for 2017, yours sincerely, B 

Letter 2: Letter to Mr Andrew Keates

Dear Andrew

Although I disagree with asking Princess Eugenie to revoke her patronage and with asking The Print Room to scrap their play, thank you for your actions. I hope that real change will arise from them.

With kindest regards and best wishes for your career, B x

Letter 3: To East Asian Artists in Britain and other non-Sinophone countries

Dear Heroes, especially Daniel York, Lucy Sheen, Anna Chen, Vera Chok, Erin Quill and others

I stand in solidarity with you, and  hope that you will be put forward for  more shows with proper, three-dimensional characters that can showcase your acting ability. I have had enough of sodding caricatures, and you deserve to play heroes, not scraps and handouts.

Keep plugging on, and keep creating art. You have my support.

With all my love and best wishes that your actions will leave a good legacy, B xxx

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