Friday, 13 January 2017

The Print Room Protest: It's All a Big Misunderstanding (or Two Can Play This Game)

Dear protest supporters,

Some of you will have seen a debate on social media regarding our Print Room protest.  A small number of people have accused us protesters of wrongly believing that the Print Room has used racist casting practices.  Most people who do not live in a privileged bubble of whiteness completely reject any idea that yellowface casting is in any way not racist, but rather completely demonstrates complacency regarding racist practices.  Us protesters place inclusiveness at the heart of all that we do and it is particularly hurtful that we should be attacked on this ground.

I am an ancient Chinese genius that has been described as the “best person ever in the world”.  Some of you will be familiar with me, but I won’t bother to drop names to try and impress you. I have actually written a play about a fantasy racist world called “The Print Room” which is obviously actually the target of our protest.  It is poetic and often difficult to pin down in time or place, but definitely out of touch with the rest of the world.  I am a fabulist, in the mode of Beckett.

In presenting my piece (which I obviously have not offered to these attackers to read or see), I note that “the Print Room” is run by a lady called Anda Winters who uses yellowface casting in a piece by a man named Howard Barker directed by a director called Gerrard something.  I do this to evoke a physical setting that is removed from my own, race-conscious, relatively enlightened, perceptive space.  It is an imaginary location, and is not intended to reflect any particular historical reality, past or present (OBVIOUSLY, duh, why would anyone who shares these names think otherwise?!)

Some people contend that my reference to the Print Room, however oblique in intention, should present it as not a racist institution run by someone who belittles ethnic minorities and tells them how they should feel and when they should be offended.  As my reference to the Print Room is contextual rather than literal, this ancient Chinese genius and the leaders of the protest believe we should let everyone know that this Print Room that I’ve created is actually employing a very racist casting practice, which is what we have done.

We are very sorry for the apparent offence we inadvertently caused to some members of the theatre world (who awkwardly run a similarly named theatre) who feel it is appropriate that an entire people and country should actually be erased and turned into the imagination of one white man.  We seek to learn how we can best communicate our protest (you know, as opposed to the multiple letters that have been written and ignored and the reaching out to a person who keeps saying she seeks to learn and engage but doesn’t respond to those who are trying to) so as to avoid this sort of confusion in the future.  We are not willing, however, to change our social protest in response to a couple of offensive statements and letters, without consulting us (yes, WE were not consulted, even though we asked many questions which went unanswered), by people who appear not to have read my awesome work and are therefore unable to consider my piece in its artistic context.  In our promotion of our peaceful protest, freedom of expression has always been, and always will be a central concern.

There have been many letters and articles written on both sides, but obviously I am going to say that the other side has had none and call them wrong, without listening to them.

We welcome your comments directly.

Thank you for all your support and friendship through the years.  This is a difficult issue for us and we will take any responsibility for mistakes we make – we always have more to learn.  But I’m basically saying, we didn’t make any, so ha.

With best wishes,
Ancient Chinese Genius.

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