Saturday, July 24, 2010

Show #39 "American Night" at Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Here's a question for you: How many ethnic, cultural, racial, political and religious stereotypes can you portray (and totally blow out of the water) in one matinee?

I sort of lost count on that one, but my lame answer is this: LOTS.

This world premiere presentation of "American Night" was a non-stop, multi-media, multi-racial and multi-laugh whirlwind that spoofed so many of our whacky and (unfortunately) commonly held stereotypes in American society.

Hardly any group in our country was spared. In fact, if I was a member of a group that was NOT spoofed today, I would have felt a little left out.

This is a story of Juan Jose, an immigrant from Mexico who is studying for his citizenship exam. Desperate to pass this test and become an American, Juan pulls an all-nighter hitting his text book on US history and government. But, his all-night session is interrupted with what comes naturally: sleep.

Sleep, perchance to dream......

And dream he does, with all sorts of crazy and twisted results. This isn't revisionist history, this is hilarious history.

As anyone who reads this blog has figured out, I am a HUGE supporter of non-traditional (and multi-racial) casting in plays. If no one ever did this, I would hardly have ever gotten on stage during my life.

Here we have intentional non-traditional casting, done with a wink and a chuckle. There is a Japanese guy playing a Japanese guy. There is a black guy playing a Japanese guy. There is this Hispanic guy playing a sumo wrestler. But hold on, there is also a black cowboy, a Mexican revolutionist, a white lady tea party member and a Japanese Mormon.

Hey, I didn't even mention the Ku Klux Klan-er, Japanese game show host, Sacajawea and Jackie Robinson. Huh? Doesn't make any sense?

It would, but only if you saw this crazy, zany and wonderful take on American history.

Can you tell I loved it?

Yep....ethnic stereotypes are terrific, when placed in the right hands. And I am so glad we Asians (more specifically we Japanese) were included in this comical odyssey. It made me raise my hands cheering. Others noticed my excitement. One of the actors (the Japanese one) stopped and gave me a high five during his entrance. Just as the spotlight was on us.

How cool is that?

1 comment:

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