L*******F**, Equity Council & Pi***M*****

If you wrote these three “incidents” into a script no one would believe it.
It’s too fanciful, it’s OTT.

Yet it’s all real.

January, 16, 2020 L*******F** appears on #BBCQT where this delightful gentlemen [please read using a very heavy and sarcastic tone] gaslightedUniversity Lecturer Rachel Boyle . The Minority Ethnic Members Committee (MEMC) quite rightly challenges this unacceptable behaviour. Calling on all members of Equity to denounce LF’s behaviour. There is no place in modern society for racism or misogyny. Apparently this call to arms from an elected committee was frowned upon by Equity’s ruling body, The Council. Who then blocked the MEMC from accessing their twitter account. Claiming that the statement issued by the MEMC only came from two of the committee members. Which is factually incorrect.The Equity senior management released a statement in The Stage  January, 20. Which is when the issue ceased being about LF’s disgusting and unacceptable behaviour (he has form it should be said on airing his hurtful and harmful views) on prime time television. But about how The Equity senior management was treating one of its own elected committees. And what message this was sending out to the union’s BAME membership.
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Following on from this news twitter was more than active as people tweeted their support for their the MEMC

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By silencing and censoring what the MEMC could and could not say it was taken by many across the board, that Equity’s senior management (which incidentally is all white) itself has much more work to do when it comes to issues related to race and ethnicity.

Equity then broke their silence on the matter and issued another statement in The Stage on 21, January, 2020. Maxine Payne Vice Chair of The Equity Council said:

it[was] a “mistake to criticise a member of the profession” without consulting the union.
the committee had “inadvertently broken” union rules.

Equity admitted to deleting the MEMC tweets. But has made no apology for this.
Christine Payne went on to praise the work of the various Equity committees saying

[They] identify how the union can improve the working lives of our members who are the victims of prejudice, discrimination and abuse because of their ethnicity, gender, sexuality or disability.

“It was a mistake to criticise a member of the profession without consultation with the union. What the union does in such a situation is to speak to its members, understand all the complexities of the situation and look for a resolution.

Christine Payne also said

Racism is real. It is not a figment of people’s imagination.  It hurts, it is damaging, it splits communities and it denies people opportunities.
The union relies on all our equality committees to identify how the union can improve the working lives of our members who are the victims of prejudice, discrimination and abuse because of their ethnicity, gender, sexuality or disability.  Members of our committees are passionate, focussed and know what they are talking about because they live it – every day of their life.

I am very grateful that members of our profession are prepared to put their heads above the parapet for their fellow members and I am proud of their commitment.

The union has rules which are a protection for both the union as an organisation and its members.  These rules are not easy bedtime reading and sometimes they are inadvertently broken. It was a mistake to criticise a member of the profession without consultation with the union. What the union does in such a situation is to speak to its members, understand all the complexities of the situation and look for a resolution.

Screenshot 2020-01-24 at 08.04.03

The MEMC found many supporters and not just from BAMEs.
The Christine Payne statement for Equity, in my personal view, at best is patronising. It shows a tacit lack of any real substantive understanding of the reality, and continuous issues of racism and discrimination, within its own organisation and the rank and file membership.

Some took to social media to state they would be handing back their Equity Union membership. I for one will not be giving LF, his supporters or like minded people the satisfaction of seeing this Equity member (who happens to be BAME) leave.

If all of this was not enough we are then subjected to  Piers Morgan on daytime TV during ITV’s #GMB, 21, January, shamelessly mocking the Chinese and their language. the ITV GMB Twitter was inundated with complaints and criticism and quite rightly so.

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Apparently there was so much angry tweeting that #ITV #GMB did an Equity and deleted all the tweets (there’s a pattern here don’t you think?) And that was left was this

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As Peter Egan so rightly pointed out these difficult conversations need to be had in public. They have to include the very people that the prejudice, hate, unconscious bias, affect. Without our participation these conversations are meaningless and substantive change will never really be achieved.

As a long term member of Equity I am absolutely livid to say the least.  I remembers the last days of the Union under Derek Bond (this was prior to me becoming a member)  and his opposition to the cultural embargo of South Africa and its then apartheid system. When I finally managed to gain membership of Equity under the old closed shop rules, I very quickly became disillusioned by the internal politics and yes racism within the union, back in the 80s. For a while I was active and actually  served on the Oriental and Afro Asians Committee, which then became the Afro-Asian committee, which in turn is now the MEMC. But I felt I had to withdraw from being an active participant in the union because of industry wide and union racism and discrimination.  I’d have recently become more and more disposed to my union encouraged by the voice and actions coming from it and was seriously considering take a more active part. This latest incident has confirmed, how little progress the union executive has actually made. I say executive as opposed to many of the rank and file members.

Equity’s BAME membership have been trying to have these conversations, it seems to me, since time – well stretching back at least thirty years.

 

louis mahoney

Now is the time for the Equity to take its turn, follow the example of their duly elected committees, stand up and put their collective heads above the parapet.

 

 

 

 

BEATS.org issue statement re Wild Goose Dreams

BEATS.org’s statement released on Monday, 9 December 2019

It’s tough when there are so few opportunities for British East Asian Artists (BEAA) to see, not one but two opportunities being handed over to non-UK artists.
Not that I or the anyone from the BEAA community bear any ill will to our American colleagues. We welcome them and wish nothing but the best for them.

It still rankles.
Here in the UK where there is a paucity of representation of BEAs.
When we do see ourselves on stage or screen, invariably it is as foreigners with accents, outsiders, sometimes beings that are less than human.
We are most definitely not routinely seen as “British” or “normal” (whatever that might be).

Inevitably advocacy groups such as British East Asian Artists and BEATS.org are will call out this behaviour. Criticising the mindset that facilitates the erasure of BEAs from the UK cultural landscape. This situation is not helped when organisations such as Yellow Earth, an NPO funded theatre company; receiving UK tax-payers money, who’s mission statement says:-

Screen shot of YET mission statement

YET advocates for greater visibility of BEAAs, but fails to say a single thing about the erasure of BEAs roles in UK productions, being given to non-UK based artists!
Instead prefers, it seem to use tragedy and social media to promote its own artistic agenda – or maybe I’m being harsh. But using the tragic death thirty-nine people of East Asian decent as a reason a theatrical production should move forwards was in my view at best insensitive and ill advised at the time.





Some of this “silence” this reluctance to speak out is historical. We have to shoulder some of the responsibility for not speaking out in the past. This silence has helped to facilitate the erasure of ourselves in UK culture. It has fed the paucity of BEA representation in the arts. It has enabled the privileged white lens to dictate and curate how BEA are represented. It has allowed the strangle hold on funding and made the position of the white privileged, middle-class, invariably male, oxbridge educated gate keeper almost inviolable.

But it’s 2019, I hear you say. Iit’s post Orphan of Zhao. We’ve seen the stage successes of Chimerica, World of Extreme Happiness, The Forgotten and Summer Rolls. The RSC employed an entire company of BEAAs for their groundbreaking production of Snow In Midsummer; it then beggars disbelief as to why not just one production but two (King of Hell’s Palace) in a short space of time would need to fly in actors from the states.

Detractors will argue and allude, its because those protesting have a chip on their shoulder. Most definitely not. I know that our communal hearts sing whenever we see that a BEAA has landed a role in a play or bagged a role on TV or in a film. We will support our fellow artists in any way that we can. Don’t forget that you can support a work even if you disagree with it, because supporting the arts does not mean you blindly have to agree or like everything.

We as a community have some hard questions to ask of ourselves.
There are many difficult conversations that have to be had.

Why do BEAs continue to be marginalised, side-barred and ignored.
Why do some of our own publicly funded organisations prefer to stay silent and play up to the “model minority” stereotype, instead of challenging and calling out working practises and unacceptable mindsets, that prevent BEAAs from being made visible and elevated.

There are no easy answers, these questions go to the dark underbelly of any group in society.
We are picking at historical biases that none one really wants to face.
We have to face and correct our own demons, we have to ALL lead by example.
We have to break the cycle which means changing the narrative from within as well as externally.




FIVE – nǵh – 五

FIVE – nǵh – 五

Five hands pressed against a window on a bus

Five unremarkable hands

Which is remarkable

Work-stained hands

Soft office hands

Surgeons’ hands

Students’ hands

School children’s’ hands

An innocent action to steady a travelling body?

Perhaps. . .

Five digits spread across the cold clear surface

Protesting, shouting silently

Other bodies have already had their five vital organs pommelled

Their five senses deadened

Their five levels of consciousness assaulted

Leaving five tears of being

Which flow unchecked

Washing in the five stages of fear

Five stages of impunity for torture

Five famous last words before death

“I am going to die”

Leaving those who survive with the five stages of grief

Five angels stand on the head of a pin

Changes have already started and more are to come in the following days and weeks

These five unremarkable hands that press upon the glass

That stretch and ache

Remind us all as their palms shout

“Five demands not one less”

©Lucy Chau Lai-Tuen

Five hands pressed against a

window on a bus

Five unremarkable hands

Which is remarkable

Work-stained hands

Soft office hands

Surgeons’ hands

Students’ hands

School children’s’ hands

Does it really matter whose hands?

An innocent action to steady a travelling body?

Perhaps. . .

Five digits spread across the cold clear surface

Protesting, shouting silently

Other bodies have already had their five vital organs pommelled

Their five senses deadened

Their five levels of consciousness assaulted

Leaving five tears of being

Which flow unchecked

Leaving the fear in five stages

Five stages of impunity for torture

Five famous last words before death

“I am going to die”

Those who survive grapple with the five stages of grief

These five unremarkable hands that press upon the glass

That stretch and ache

Remind us all, as their palms shout

“Five demands not one less”

©Lucy Chau Lai-Tuen

inspired by the photograph taken by @ezracheungtoto

Thoughts from Budapest

It is surreal to be sitting her in Budapest, a little way from the Basilica watching the new Chinese elite pose for photographs, with not a care in the world. There is an endless stream of them, literally, going both ways, to and from the Basilica. These contemporary decendants of Chinese Communism have exchanged Mao suites for Pravda, Gucci and Armani. Whilst still seeing “China” as one country. But it appears to me that only one fifth of the country’s people are able to enjoy this new found wealth.

I am viewed with curiosity. Not by the Hungarians. I try where possible to say in broken Hungarian, hello, thank you and please, which is appreciated. No I’m viewed with suspicion and wary caution by the Chinese tourists. They know, immediately there eyes focus on me, I am not like them. I am not Chinese as they are. I am not mainland Chinese. I am not Taiwanese. I am not Asian-American, I’m not even Hong Kong – Chinese. Though my t-shirt further gives them cause for confusion and concern. My t-shirt says Hong-Kong The World Premiere Sevens Event. I see a flicker of doubt in some of their eyes. Were their initial instincts wrong? They collectively frown. They can spot a fellow “country man” a mile off. Just as I can spot someone in the UK and know whether they are English, British, European, Chinese, Japanese or from Hong Kong. But for me it’s just an observation. I clock it and move on. But for these Chinese tourists who scrutinise me it is an inquisition. They want to question me, but they do not. Instead their eyes linger on me just a little too long.
But I don’t care. Here in Europe, I feel safe, for the time being.

With all that is going on in the world, it seems wrong for this un adulterated display of hedonism to be coming from such an unlikely source, Chinese tourists. It feels like they are playing a collective fiddle as their Rome burns.

And what’s my excuse? To be sitting here watching them, watching me? Well I’m actually working. Filming, so I’m doing more sitting around than anything else – for the time being.

And all the while I’m in Budapest. This soulful, beautiful city. But beneath its grand and wonderful architecture, there is a melancholia. Formed from the city’s past, its tragedies, its conflicts non of which have been forgotten.

It all seems so wrong. Being in the position that I am, having the freedoms that I have, that I more often than not take for granted.
Sipping Madagascan hot chocolate writing a blog entry that in other regions of the would have me at best “reprimanded” at worst incarcerated.