Asian Canadian Breakthrough in Miller Play

A View from the Bridge
by Arthur Miller
Director: John Juliani
Pacific Theatre, 1420 West
12th Ave., Vancouver
Nov. 13-22, Tues.-Sat. at
8 p.m. with matinees Sat. At 2 p.m.
Tickets: $10 to $21.50 at 731-5518

Reviewer: Ed Farolan

I was, more than anything else, curious and expectant to see how Terry Jang Barclay, founder of Building Bridges Equity Co-op, would have Asian Canadian actors play Italian roles and give justice to this 1955 Miller classic. And from what I saw on opening night, the production was not only impressive but it confirmed what Barclay aimed at doing--to get Asian Canadian actors to play roles they wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to play.

In an interview with The Province, Barclay, the son of Scottish and Chinese parents, said that he chose this play as a vehicle for Asians because “the Italian culture is similar to Asian culture with family and honor...” The play is set in New York and is about an Italian American family who house a pair of illegal immigrant relatives from Sicily.

The actors performed their roles as Miller intended in his original script. Barclay, who played the lead role as Eddie Carbone, the blue collar worker from the docks, with his his rough, uncouth manner and a raspy voice, due partially to Barclay's recovering from a recent respiratorial illness, was outstanding as the traditional Italian, or similarly, Asian, whereby honor is more important than life ; Daniel Chen as Rodolpho and Hiro Kanagawa as Marco, were excellent in their roles as the illegal Sicilian immigrants, sporting the Sicilian accent, and their powerful performance ; Vera Wong as Beatrice, Carbone’s wife, and her niece Catherine played by Kamilyn Kaneko, were notable, sporting the Italian Brooklyn accent, but more so, in their strong dramatic portrayal of the Miller characters.

John Juliani directed the play the way it was intended to be directed, with no qualms of whether the actors were Asian or Americans or Canadian. The impression I had was he was doing his job as a director of a classic Miller play, and he delivered with flying colours. In his notes, he tried to remain faithful to the play without trying to adapt it in a Vancouver locale, or trying to fit it to the Asian Canadian ambience. And he was true to his vision, and I believe that the opening night audience appreciated this.

I look forward to seeing more productions from Terry Jang Barclay’s group, particularly in this day and age when Asians now, particulary in Vancouver, are making their cultural presence known in the Arts world. I also commend John Juliani for his participation and interest in developing the Asian Canadian presence in Canada.