DISCLAIMER: This post isn’t going to be super eloquent because I’m really heated and I just want to word vomit this out because I’m feeling all the things and I think maybe some people who feel the same way can benefit from reading this.
I realized this week more than any other week that I’ve been alive that sometimes, theatre can just be really really frustrating. I’m in a show right now called Honeymoon in Vegas at my school, and I was incredibly excited to be a part of the cast. I’ve been rejected from literally every other single show that my school has put on, I think partially because of me but also partially because of the fact that my theatre directors can be pretty biased. I was just cast in the ensemble, but that wasn’t a problem for me because I was just extremely happy to be part of the show. It’s been two weeks since rehearsal started and three people have dropped the show, two of which were featured dancers. Now, in my 17 short years of life, 12 of them were spent studying mainly classical ballet, among other types of dance. I kind of botched my dance audition for this show because I forgot like half of it, so I assumed I wouldn’t be cast as one anyways and I was fine with that. In the first week of rehearsals, the choreographer was impressed at my skills and complimented me a couple times. I pick up choreography pretty fast, and this style of dancing is right up my ally, so when the featured dancers dropped the show, I thought I’d ask the choreographer if I could take one of their places. I told my friend, who was already a lead in the show my plan, and she said to go for it. That night at rehearsal I asked the choreographer and she said that the director had already put that friend in as the replacement and she wasn’t going to replace the other one! It turns out that girl already knew she had the part and encouraged me to ask for the part anyway. At this point, I’m already crushed because I got my hopes up. The next day, she put me as part of the native HAWAIIAN waitstaff. I know that you guys don’t know this, but I am a paper white blonde of Irish decent, so I just thought it was really weird that they cast me as a native hawaiian. The choreographer made the argument that since I can dance, I could help the others with the Polynesian dancing as well. This just makes me extremely uncomfortable, because I definitely feel like my dancing as this part will be culturally appropriating in a sense. This isn’t the thing that bothers me the most though. In the show, there is a character named Mahi, who is of Asian decent. MY DIRECTER CAST A CAUCASIAN ACTOR WHO CAN’T REALLY EVEN SING THE PART WELL INSTEAD OF THE ONE ASIAN GIRL WHO CAN SING THE PART MUCH BETTER ANYWAYS. It’s just infuriating, because it truly shows the favoritism going on, and that they don’t actually care about making beautiful art, they care about who they want to favor over everyone else. I’m just sucking it up because I’m mad at the director and the choreographer, but at least I get to sing and act and dance, and make beautiful art for myself which is what I value over everything. I love theatre, but I sometimes can’t handle the way the business goes. I’ve never been the most naturally talented, and I work really hard for the parts that I do get to play. It’s shocking to me now that I even care about this, because when I was younger, it was never about the part that I played, it was about the art I got to make. It made me feel so good when I just got to leave myself behind and take on a completely different character, no matter how important the character was. I lived for reading books and plays because it was the only thing that let me escape my life and just dream about things other than what I could see or believe. I’m just so frustrated that this show can’t be about that, and instead it’s about the politics of the thing. The only thing that has helped me keep sane is looking into my theatre journal, and reading what I’ve written over the years. In the journal, I write things that inspire me in everyday life, I write about performances that have changed me in some way, and I write about how I feel after I know I’ve done something that I’m proud of.
I hope this little rant can help someone else in a frustrating situation, because issues like this can make you feel so alone and crazy. Thanks for reading! ❤