In preparing for its current production of The Joy Luck Club, Vintage Theatre found itself in a bind: In this town's small theater scene with its even smaller pool of Asian actors, how was the company going to stage a play requiring an all-Asian cast of 21 actors? (See http://blogs.westword.com/showandtell/2012/04/the_joy_luck_club_runs_through.php). Somehow, Vintage was able to round up that cast. But what does this challenge say about opportunities for local actors of different ethnicities? Is feast or famine inevitable, or do audiences need to be trained to accept more on-stage diversity, regardless of the subject matter being acted out?
That's some of what will be addressed at tonight's Melting Pot Mixer at the Aurora Fox Arts Center, which includes a panel discussion, a talent mixer for actors of all ethnicities and a reading of the play Nothing But Skin, the story of a well-to-do African-American family on a less-than-serene summer vacation, by local playwright Josh Hartwell. The event was created after some discussion between director donnie betts and Fox producer Charles Packard, a talk that was compounded by the fact that the theater's coming season will include The Color Purple. "We started to wonder: Where are we going to find enough black actors to do that?" notes Fox spokeswoman Patricia Wells. "We're not the only company with this problem, even though there's a great ethnic richness in this area. To do Joy Luck, you need an Asian cast, but how do you get good Asian actors if Asians are not given enough of a chance to practice their craft on stage"
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A panel discussion on diversity gets things rolling at 5 p.m., followed by the mixer at 6 p.m., featuring a slew of Denver-area directors and producers; the reading starts at 7 p.m. The panel and mixer are free, but the reading is $5 (mixer attendees and Fox season-ticket holders will be admitted free); no reservations are needed. The Aurora Fox is at 9900 East Colfax Avenue; get details at www.aurorafoxartscenter.org or call 303-739-1970.
Mon., May 21, 5 p.m., 2012