I am sending you the following materials so that you review it and know about the subject and you can contribute.
-Read: Read Chapter 1, “Asian American Theatre before 1965,” from the textbook (Esther Kim Lee).
-Read: Interview: Wong, “I Am Growing More Chinese–Each Passing Year!”
-View: Video: PBS: ” Anna May Wong: The first Asian American Movie Star | Unladylike2020″ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vuVTpsDfXg
-View: Video: UCLA Film TV Archive, “Anna May Wong Visits Shanghai, China” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mDJDt2vD7w
Read each posting of your 3 classmates. Please add a comment on the following 3 Posts by your classmates, provide a paragraph (6 sentences) about the topic touched “Asian American Theater before 1965 “and Anna May Wong. Also, if you find any question in the postings of your classmate try to give your response.
Chris Burgess’s post
I was really taken aback when reading the treatment of Asian-Americans both as people and theatre makers. Although, given America’s history, I guess it shouldn’t have been too surprising. It is a little surprising that it happened so much in the world of theatre. Maybe it’s more of a recent thing, but theatre has this image of being very progressive and forward-thinking. It was a place for everyone. This (among other testimonies from other communities) very much shows that that is not the case. Reading about the treatment of Peter Hyun or Sessue Hayakawa was really eye-opening. The level of racism experienced by one of the most famous and highest-paid actors of the time must have been overwhelming if it made him flee the country.
I also noticed we sort of got an answer to Carlos’ question that was posed last week. He asked if the most popular Asian-American plays were ones that catered to the perspectives of Western audiences. John Kuo Wei Tchen says that “authentic Chinese culture was too strange for New Yorkers’ tastes” (Page 10). The fake version of China that was presented to audiences was more profitable than the real version. The sad part is, that it is still mostly true to this day. My question is: how and why did this happen? What could be done to change it?
Jesse Jae Hoon’s post
A point in the chapter I found interesting is the solidarity that Asian American actors found in the exotification and persecution they faced as “oriental” artists. From Anna May Wong being perceived as too American to be considered Chinese in London to a company of actors forcing out Peter Hyun from a transfer of a FTP production, the disdain for Asian Americans throughout the early history of AAPI theater is evident. And the emotional turmoil this racism unleashed on Asian artists, from Wong being fed up with playing stereotypical characters who always died to Hyun never returning to the theater, is heartbreaking. Of course, this sort of racism within the industry – and the more material systemic racism in America’s immigration and internment policy – would naturally create a solidarity between Asian American artists. This, to me, makes me understand the transition to Asian American identity in the 1960s as something that, while not necessarily inevitable, was completely logical and necessary.
Danielle Booker’s post
Anna May Wong is remembered as one of the most influential Asian American actress, performer, and style icon. She paved the way for many Asian Americans by opening up paths of opportunities for young actors and actresses that stretched for centuries. Her resilience, talent, and understanding of her worth in the entertainment industry made lots of things possible for her people. In watching the PBS interview, one can assume that as a young actress, Anna May Wong may have decided to ignore the ignorance of the racist demands given to her. I believed that she did so due to her passion for performing on stage and on screen and to simply get a foot in the door so that one day she could represent her people honorably. However, after becoming weary of being casted for unworthy roles or not being casted at all, she came to the realization that the poor portrayal of Asian Americans in the media could be confronted if she took her talent else where. Anna May Wong made it known to the world that both herself and her people deserved more. She proved that by staring in films where she wasn’t playing roles where she’d die or she’s have to play an evil character. It is important to note that although Anna May did indeed paved the way for Asians, not only in America, but all over the world, there are struggles that young Asian actors and actresses still face to this day. Some of those struggles include Asians still being portrayed in a negative light, however, just differently than how they were in Anna May Wong’s time; Asian-Americans still not casted or rarely casted for lead roles; and there being only 1 Asian person casted in a film or play. Though we have a long way to go before Asians are represented properly in media, Anna May Wong’s presence in the industry has done so much already.
Example of comment:
It was really interesting to see how much she paved the way for other Asian Americans to get better roles. I think it’s great that she used her talents to show the world that Asian Americans can also take leading roles, as a sort of “pioneer” of the entertainment industry. -Ian