Asians in Western Drama (Part II)

As promised; I am here with second part of Asians in Western Drama in context with “Yellow Face”. Mr. Sondheim has been very witty in making amalgamation of kabuki with the western forms which has brought innovative blend and supported the hybrid depiction which was thought to be more prone to western criticism. Yet things did not go as were expected. It did not leave the audience but with the feelings of respect for the dignified way the Japanese have reacted to the civilized attacking moths. This is a reversal of the typical disgust specified for the Asians whose primitive appearance was in the masks.

“Yellow Face” by Henry Hwang is the reactionary result of the protest raised at the casting of Welsh actor Jonathan as Asian pimp. This constitutes a basic and historic step of the Asian-American presentation of plays. Henry Hwang has to face the music of the public for bringing a salt pinch and adding in the changing history of depiction. “Miss Saigon” brings the man to present his historic play “Yellow Face”. The reaction was against the Engineer’s character that was shown as an Asian pimp and was performed by the Welsh actor. Engineer’s club has been a matter of controversy in literary house and some people claim that it was not the racism which created Engineer’s character yet it was imaginary creation and a fiction character of two French men and one English man. Though many claim that Cameron was wrong in casting welsh man for Engineer’s character and Hwang was gone in the wrong direction for arguing against the protest. This may be true for a group of particular people and be accepted by them.

Asian appearance in western plays does not involve only the racial factor if reviewed deeply. These also include the physical appearance, citizenship, national origin and geography factors. Yet the plays the above mentioned plays witnessed that this foreign appearance is always a showcase of the producer’s school of though and mindsets. Hwang found it extremely difficult for him to tell his theatre fellows that the thing of presenting a Welsh as an Asian pimp was very much the same as the Caucasians appearing in black masks. Sure, it was very uncomfortable for him to bring his contemporary theatre fellows to his point and get them convinced. He went to do a smart thing.

He wrote the play with “Yellow Face”, not because it was as per the theme of his play but because Pryce was called with the same name when he appeared as Asian Engineer in “Miss Saigon”. This was a tricky wit that was used to bring a visual justification for those protestors who flung at Pryce with the anguish of taking a low level role which has hurt the nation. It was the back purposes of Hwang to show that none of the continental roles are lower to be performed when are compared.

The play is cathartic in the spirit and provides frequent funny explorations on the topic which are often mined. Hwang goes one step ahead and conjures the character of Marcus who is mainly flawed and provides the vision to the audience that no one is left off. Marcus is widely perceived as Asian though in real it is not so. This provides a big assistance for giving a shut up call to those who raised pretty noise for the new experimentation genre of art and did not leave it an experiment but made a racial issue.

It’s very clever encapsulation of the fact how simple some things can be in fact. Hwang’s dedication to this Asian-American theatre can be understood and justified with the reason of giving favor to the Asian appearance in the western plays as his late father founded first Asian American bank; the play partly throws light upon. Hwang’s sole purpose was to prove that his father’s only desire was to be all American and perhaps the character of Engineer is a bit stretch of that. “Yellow Face” is not mere an insight with the tragic outgiving scenes in this matter yet the blended humor makes it a big hit.

It appeals people of all colors who at first or the second step find themselves engaging in the racial fights directly or indirectly; providing them a provision of showcase of how complex issues are raised on simple struggles. “Yellow Face” is embodiment of his own career failures, principle confusions and the political fights involving far and distant lands coping up with the struggle of raising their status among the western and assumed dignified nations. “Yellow Face” subsequently marks the answer to all the objections put on the production of “Miss Saigon”. The credit is undoubtedly given to Hwang for being the winner of Tony Awards who has been successful in his purpose of producing provocative, funny and purposeful plays.

As mentioned in the outline the first trend of making Asians appear in the Western plays was based on the notion of presenting a filthy nation and making western conduct vivid by having a comparison with the Eastern style and life codes. The shift took time to be focused on the struggle of these Asians which made the Western audience to raise their voices as the appreciation for these souls were indigestible for them. The logic behind this argument and Western motto is very simple as Asia has a long history of being usurped by the White men in different forms and different styles on the different pieces of the same land of the same continent.

The shift of focus went clearer when it also brought the background of the rich culture Asians have been a part of and thus creating some space not at the national level but at international platform as well. This is the slogan that many Asian and western writers have worked upon and it brought international fame to them.

Though now the western audience has not been any more unfamiliar with this Asian appearance yet some exceptions of protest are ever found all around. This blend may bring a sense of global adjustment in the peoples of the planet and thus helping mankind for making this earth more humane. It may be helpful in lessening the feeling of being other which is very often among the Asians and it can also be an initial of bringing the western world to the level of mutual thinking which is a big solution of many problems. I hope that I have done just with the subject I chose for my paper and have been able to focus on the issue particularly and the associated elements generally.

By: Ammarah Khan


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