Photo by Aaron Fenster, courtesy Mu Performing Arts
I don’t know a lot about theater. I worked for a small local theater company in 2010 and I volunteered backstage in my high school’s theater program on occasion. That may sound like something, but I’m not very familiar with theater etiquette or terminology and the history of most well-known plays is largely lost on me. What I do know is that theater is art and art shouldn’t perpetuate racism, and that’s why I don’t understand why Miss Saigon is being given a platform and why there are people out there that think that’s okay. But fear not, there is hope.
Art doesn’t just exist to promote communication and visual intrigue, but to debunk antiquated stereotypes and messages founded in ignorance—and I’m happy to announce that Saymoukda Vongsay’s Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals is the perfect remedy to whatever racial mayhem stories like Miss Saigon may leave in their wake. It features a well-crafted Asian-American female lead surrounded by a diverse cast of characters aiding her on a journey of self-discovery and compassion in the midst of a violent zombie apocalypse. I know, I see you about to buy tickets.
If you want to see a show like Miss Saigon I can’t stop you, but I can tell you that just because a story is a work of fiction doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have real reverberations for real people in real communities. I can’t stop you from seeing Miss Saigon, but if you are interested in stories that present the perspective of an Asian character that isn’t degrading or degraded, I can most definitely offer you a better alternative.
Hear Julia Nekessa Opoti's interview with Saymoukday Duangphouxay Vongsay.
Coverage of issues and events affecting Central Corridor communities is funded in part by a grant from the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. Reporting for this article also supported in part by Bush Foundation.
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