Race and performance—and performing race—seem to be a theme for this summer in Seattle. First there was the Cinco de Mayo/"dress like a Mexican" discussion, then the questions opened up around the casting process for a production of Othello (and why so few actors of color showed up to the audition), and now the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society is catching flak for this...

OH DEAR The Mikado by the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society
  • Patrick Andrew
  • UH OH The Mikado by the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society

It's a production of The Mikado, currently running as a rental at the Seattle Rep, by the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society. According to an editorial in the Seattle Times, two actors are Latino, the rest are Caucasian, and KIRO radio host Dave Ross is in the cast. And according to a preview in the Times that ran a few days earlier, G & S affiliate Mike Storie said: "We have stuck very close to the music, the words, the intent of the piece."

Which may be part of the problem. Back to the editorial, by Sharon Pian Chan:

Storie says shutting down “The Mikado” because it offends our current sensibilities would be like banning historic books. “Should Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn be taken off library shelves?” he said. “Huckleberry Finn is all full of slaps on black people.”

Well, no, those books should not be banned. But a theater production of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn should be shut down if the character of Jim, an African American, were played by a white actor with shoe polish smeared all over his face.

Or, as the blogger Angry Asian Man put it: "Take a good, long look at the photo. Does any of that feel right to you? ...the year is 2014, my friends."

I suppose this calls for a Slog poll.