Pontio theatre in Bangor has no plans to cancel a controversial opera that has been cancelled by a London theatre.
‘The Golden Dragon’ which is produced by Music Theatre Wales (MTW), is currently touring the UK, but the show at the Hackney Empire in London has been cancelled because non-Asian singers have been cast as Chinese characters.
Hackney Empire In London Has Cancelled The Show
The Golden Dragon was due to end its UK tour with a show at the Hackney Empire, and is due to be performed in Bangor’s Pontio Theatre next Wednesday, 18 October.
The opera which is described as part-comedy, part-tragedy, is set in a pan-Asian restaurant and follows the story of a Chinese immigrant working illegally in the kitchen. Experiencing terrible toothache, and unable to seek medical help because of his illegal status he has no choice but to accept the best efforts of his kitchen colleagues, with tragic consequences.
The management at the Hackney Empire said the opera compromised its position “as a champion of diversity”. Names of the characters include “Chinese mother”, “Chinese aunt”, “young Asian” and “old Asian”.
Officials at the Hackney Empire said: “The debate aroused by the non-Asian casting in The Golden Dragon compromises the Empire’s commitment and position as a champion of diversity and accessibility across the theatre industry.
“It is imperative that discussion and debate on diversity in the arts is encouraged and supported by the theatre industry if it is to positively reflect the population of the UK; and it is equally imperative that the outcomes of that debate are listened to by the theatre industry.”
MTW have said it acknowledged “errors of judgement” and was determined to learn from the experience.
The Public Should Judge For Themselves
A spokesperson from Pontio said it had no plans to cancel the performance, adding: “The public should have the opportunity to see this modern opera for themselves.”
In a statement, MTW said: “Featuring Caucasian singers as performers playing multiple roles, some of whom are specified as Asian characters, has caused offence.
“These errors of judgement were ours alone. Our exceptional performers are not to blame.”
The opera company said casting non-Asian roles for parts such as these was “still widespread within the opera world”.
‘No offence intended’
But it added: “We acknowledge that it is problematic, and realise that we should have reflected more deeply on the implications it had for the kind of production we made.
“Music Theatre Wales’ work is undoubtedly challenging but we have never set out to offend. This is a transformative experience for the company and one from which we are determined to learn.”