Miraculous Mandarin Cancellation

 Storefronts Seattle has cancelled the remaining performances of The Miraculous Mandarin by Spectrum Dance Theater, which Storefronts was slated to present in Chinatown this past weekend and next.

The Storefronts program is obligated to protect the interests of a balance of groups and constituents. In this case, that meant cancelling our own programming, as the show is inappropriate for a general audience.

We regret any inconvenience to the audiences who had hoped to see the piece, and to the artists who have worked so hard to prepare the production. We will announce any plans to remount the show in a more appropriate venue as soon as they’re solidified.

About storefrontsseattle

Activating neighborhoods and overlooked spaces by filling vacant urban spaces with art installations, pop-up boutiques, galleries, and community groups since 2010.
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2 Responses to Miraculous Mandarin Cancellation

  1. Spider Kedelsky says:

    Did you ever think to go and watch the work before it was presented? That would seem to have been the wise thing to do with anything that could be potentially controversial or “inappropriate” for your audiences.

    From your response –” Miraculous Mandarin is about prostitution, and drug addiction, and violence, and also about the “other,” the outsider, and the team at Storefronts thought it would be a challenging, engaging, topical, and positive part of the cultural life of Chinatown and specifically of Hing Hay Park, an obvious hub of real-life prostitution, drug addiction, and violence.”

    “Watching the opening night’s performance, however, the Storefronts leadership found it obvious that the show was, in fact, not appropriate for a general audience.”

    “Prostitution”, “drug addiction”, “violence,” “challanging,” and “general audience.” Not always the best combination. I hope Spectrum, a terrific and innovative company under the direction of Donald Byrd, and Storefrontseattle can work it out for another time and place, but unfortunately damage has been done. Very sad for all involved. Good luck with your other programs. Always enjoy seeing what you are up to.

  2. Andrea Wagner says:

    I admire Storefront Seattle’s adventurous and timely arts initiatives. The recent news of the organization censoring one of its own programs is consequently especially disappointing.

    In notices about Miraculous Mandarin in Spectrum’s materials as well as in the region’s news and arts sources, it is apparent that Spectrum Dance and Donald Bryd have given a great deal of serious consideration to the work’s history, context, content and venue. They have been very clear about their recommendation that it is intended for a mature audience and that this site-specific performance was created quite intentionally for Hing Hay Park and its surroundings. I was, and still am, looking forward to seeing it there.

    Storefronts Seattle statements infer that there is a difference of opinion between the leadership of your organization and Spectrum Dance’s of where the line of what constitutes material inappropriate for a ‘general audience’ is drawn. Where this performance actually crosses the line or who exactly comprise a ‘general audience’ is not clear from these statements. To hide behind the children and the ‘general audience’ without clear guidelines of where that line, or what can be done to mitigate it, is, is murky at best; disingenuous and dangerous at worst.

    I sincerely implore Storefronts Seattle to work with Donald Byrd and Spectrum Dance to find a solution that allows the remaining scheduled performances of Miraculous Mandarin to take place in the Bush Hotel windows above Hing Hay Park. Here are a few suggestions for how that might happen: Engage in dialog with Donald Bryd; articulate which parts of the material render it unacceptable; determine whether changes are necessary and/or possible while maintaining the integrity of the work and its subject matter. Consider whether additional measures, beyond those Spectrum Dance already has in place to inform and engage the public, are necessary; and if so, implement them. These might include creating increased distance (i.e. cordon off a larger area than the production currently does) from the site lines of the second story windows where the performance takes place, or installing additional on-site signage and/or stationing additional staff or volunteers in a broader radius to inform passersby of the performance. Consider providing children with alternative activities in International Children’s Park, fewer than two short blocks from Hing Hay Park, during performance time. Engage in public dialog about what constitutes ‘appropriate’, where and for whom; and how society can embrace a diverse and expansive range of artistic expression.

    The premiere of Bartok’s Miraculous Mandarin was cancelled after its first performance over 100 years ago. Since that time, prostitution and drugs have not gone away. As exemplified by Storefronts Seattle’s current stance, neither has the way our society deals with arts relating to this subject matter. Storefronts Seattle has an opportunity to help change this scenario by working to ensure that this current chapter ends not in an act of censorship, but a solution that opens minds and advances public dialog.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Andrea Wagner
    Member, general audience

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