2020 Association for Asian American Studies Conference
April 9-11, 2020
The Executive Board of the Association for Asian American Studies expresses its strong support for the Asian American scholars, activists, students, and community members who responded to the staging of Miss Saigon at Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wisconsin in April 2019. These scholars and activists drew on the long tradition of Asian American studies in seeking to educate the public about the history of Asian American and Pacific Islander criticism of and protest against the racist and sexist stereotypes of Miss Saigon. The last-minute cancellation by Overture Center of a planned panel on Asian American and Pacific Islander perspectives on Miss Saigon, and the refusal by the producers of Miss Saigon to include a program note on Asian American and Pacific Islander responses to the show, displayed a lack of respect for Asian American studies scholars and an indifference to the concerns of the Asian American community.
We call on Overture Center to respond to the concerns of its Asian American and Pacific Islander community by taking the following actions:
· Committing to place an Asian American /Pacific Islander-authored show, with substantial, complex roles for Asian American and Pacific Islander performers, on one of its main stages.
· Committing to not bring Miss Saigon back in the future.
· Investing more resources in serving local Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, particularly Southeast Asian communities.
· Develop programming that supports Asian American and Pacific Islander arts.
· Seek substantive participation on their organization’s boards and committees by representatives of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the region.
The Board commends the activism of students, teachers, and other committed members of the greater Madison community in Wisconsin for engaging in community organizing to raise consciousness and to compel Overture to reflect on its actions, what it had done and what it has left undone. The Board encourages Asian American studies colleagues and students, as well as members of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities across the United States to look to the Wisconsin community as a model to engage in community organizing to challenge the heretofore unreflective staging of Miss Saigon, and to bring to bear more than two decades of critique of this musical by Asian American studies scholars. It especially encourages those within the vicinity of the Miss Saigon’s 2019-20 tour to consider lodging protests against its production. The tour dates and locations can be found here: https://www.miss-saigon.com/us-tour/tour-dates.