Potter actress condemns theatre for China play with no East Asian actors


HARRY Potter actress Katie Leung has slammed a leading theatre for putting on a play set in China – with an all white cast.

Katie, who plays Cho Chang in the Potter series, has said it is “unacceptable” for the London theatre to use no East Asian performers in the production.

The Print Room is putting on a production of Howard Barker’s In the Depths of Dead Love in January, which according to their website is “set in ancient China”.

Characters in the play include Mrs Hu, Lord Ghang and Lady Hasi but not a single British East Asian actor has been cast.

The theatre was criticised after releasing their cast last week, with one online article suggesting it was “hideous, insulting, disrespectful and yes, racist.”

Following the criticism, the venue released a statement saying that the play is not set in China or “any actual real ‘where’.”

But Leung, from Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, hit back claiming the theatre was not acknowledging that China is “a real place with real people.”

Writing on Twitter this morning (Thu), Leung said: “Describing your story set in China as ‘a fable, mythical, ancient, metaphorical, abstract, folkloric’ and now ‘not in any actual real ‘where’?!

“China is a REAL place with REAL people. Using what suits and then disposing of the rest at your pleasure is unacceptable.

She then posted a link to a Facebook status by fellow actor Daniel York, which stated: “You have elected in your wisdom to produce Howard’s play, set in China with characters with Chinese names but who apparently aren’t Chinese, with white Caucasian actors.

“I know you say it’s not “real”. But China IS real. Chinese PEOPLE are real. If you wanted to be “not real” why not invent a fictional world?

“The question we keep asking is: would you do the same and call the country “Africa” or “India”? I’m tempted to think not.”

After being labelled as “racist” for their cast selection, the theatre had initially replied: “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. No offence was intended and, as we explain below, none should be taken.

“The Print Room has long been a champion of multiculturalism and diversity in the arts in London. We have produced, are producing and will continue to produce pieces from around the world.

“In the Depths of Dead Love is not a Chinese play and the characters are not Chinese. The production references a setting in Ancient China and the characters’ names are Chinese.

“These are literary allusions in Howard Barker’s fable and never intended to be taken literally. 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’.”

Describing the drama on their website, the Print Room had previously written: “Set in ancient China, In the Depths of Dead Love tells of a poet exiled from the Imperial Court & the favour of the Emperor, who scrapes a living by renting his peculiar property – a bottomless well – to aspiring suicides.”

In the Depths of Dead Love is due to run at the Print Room from 16 January to 11 February.

As well as starring in the Harry Potter Series, where she plays Harry’s crush Cho Chang, Leung has also featured in the TV adaption of Agatha Christie’s Poirot and several stage productions.

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