The Orphan of Zhao Controversy Special Issue

Two years ago as part of British East Asian Artists, I was involved in a protest against the casting of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Orphan of Zhao (see blog entries here and here and here). Ashley Thorpe (Royal Holloway) and myself have spent the last year or so putting together a Special Issue of Contemporary Theatre Review on the controversy. It basically uses the controversy to discuss racial politics and casting, and questions whether or not British theatre is as inclusive as it likes to think it is. In it, we have an editorial, our own individual contributions, plus amazing articles from Broderick Chow, Angela Pao and Sita Thomas. The issue also includes an interview with the RSC, an interview with two members of British East Asian Artists, as well as the formal statements released by all parties at the height of the controversy.

In addition to this, there is an open access site that includes Ashley’s reflections on the production’s marketing, Daphne Lei’s analysis of the La Jolla/A.C.T. production in the U.S. (which was cast with all Asian Americans), a clip of Anna Chen’s brilliant poem Yellowface and Daniel York’s absolutely incredible film The Orphan of Zhao Redux. These are all available at

It has been a long and at times stressful road to put this together, but we are all exceptionally proud of this special issue which is the first to address British East Asian representation in theatre. Huge thanks must go to every contributor and to every actor and performer who was involved in making this happen.

Just because it is so brilliant, I am including the short film here too…