Theatre News

The Print Room apologises for 'any offence caused' in yellowface dispute

Casting for Howard Barker’s play ”In the Depths of Dead Love” has been called into question

The Print Room
The Print Room
© Marc Brenner

Following their initial statement on the yellowface controversy surrounding an upcoming production of Howard Barker's In the Depths of Dead Love, the Print Room has issued another statement, clarifying their intentions and those of the playwright.

The statement, published on their website on Wednesday evening says: "We are truly sorry for any offence caused by the announcement of our cast for Howard Barker’s remarkable play In the Depths of Dead Love. We can see how it has led to concerns and misapprehensions."

It goes on to reassert that In the Depths of Dead Love is not "a Chinese play and the characters are not Chinese", clarifying that the production "references a setting in Ancient China and the characters’ names are Chinese." The venue claims Barker made these choices as "literary allusions" and they were "never intended to be taken literally".

The statement continues: "The allusions are intended to signify "not here, not now, not in any actual real ‘where’ " and the production, set, costumes and dialogue follow this cue of ‘no place’."

The Print Room has now entered into conversations with the actors' union Equity with regards to "fully exploring the challenges of maintaining artistic freedom while honouring the obligation of a modern arts organisation to actively promote diversity in all its forms."

The full statement can be read here.

In a recent blog, actor Daniel York said: "If you take an East Asian character and cast it with a white actor, you’re effectively saying there is no East Asian actor who was good enough/clever enough/talented enough/capable enough to play it."

Arts writer Howard Sherman weighed in on the debate in an article in The Stage, saying: "Barker cannot claim to be WS Gilbert writing about England in The Mikado, despite its faux Japanese setting. Indeed, he is a historically and socially aware playwright. Saying the work is a fable is not a license to be culturally clueless."