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Princess Eugenie caught in Yellowface racism row over white actors playing Chinese roles

International Business Times logo International Business Times 25/12/2016 Fiona Keating

Protest organiser Andrew Keates said the princess should not support the play which is 'racist and outdated' © Rex Images Protest organiser Andrew Keates said the princess should not support the play which is 'racist and outdated' The daughter of Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York, Princess Eugenie, has been asked to withdraw her patronage of the Print Room at The Coronet theatre.

Campaigners believe she should step down after the London venue was attacked for 'yellowcasting', where white rather than Chinese actors are hired to take on Asian roles.

The play written by Howard Barker, In the Depths of Dead Love, is set in Ancient China and has characters with Chinese names.

There was anger and outrage on social media. "How could any professional theatre think, that setting a play in ancient China about indigenous people, then casting the piece using only white actors, was not going cause huge offence?" Lucy Sheen, an actor and writer said.

A protest will be staged on 19 January, to coincide with the play's opening night. Andrew Keates, who is the organiser of the protests said Princess Eugenie should not support the play which he says uses the "racist, outdated and unnecessary practice of 'yellowface'".

Keates told the Daily Mail: "As a representative of British East Asians in this country, I do not see how she could lend her name to a theatre that is not supporting racial equality, either actively or through ignorance."

An early example of Yellowface, white actor Boris Karloff plays the 'evil' Dr Fu Manchu © Wikipedia An early example of Yellowface, white actor Boris Karloff plays the 'evil' Dr Fu Manchu

On The Coronet website, a description for the play reads: "Set in ancient China, In the Depths of Dead Love tells of a poet exiled from the Imperial Court & the favour of the Emperor."

However, in a statement released by the theatre, they denied the play was Chinese and that the "characters are not Chinese" but "literary allusions".

Equity, the actors' union waded into the controversy, with General secretary Christine Payne saying: "This casting clearly shows that the Print Room is not engaging with the industry-wide discussion on diversity."

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