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Nancy Jessup: School’s play marred by racial stereotypes

To the editor:

On March 23 I went with my daughter, some friends and a group of high school students visiting from Japan to see “Anything Goes” at Hampshire Regional High School. It was a spectacular production with impressive dance numbers and very talented acting.

However, the performance was marred for me by the depiction of the two Chinese characters who were portrayed using demeaning stereotypical language and gestures. My daughter and a friend of hers who was there with us are both from Vietnam. They told me they didn’t know what to feel when they saw this.

I didn’t have the language to explore with the Japanese students what their response was, but I was horrified. I understand the play was written in the 1930s when such portrayals were standard. There is no excuse to perpetuate negative racial stereotypes. What a great educational opportunity it would have been to discuss with the cast a more appropriate way to portray two people from China. To me, it was the equivalent of portraying an African-American person in black face.

Nancy Jessup

Florence

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