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Spelling Bee is in Britain 
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Post Spelling Bee is in Britain
By chance I saw that The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is at last in Britain and recently opened at the Donmar Warehouse in London. One of my favorite shows. :D

http://www.donmarwarehouse.com/p100.html

Wish that page had some video teasers. :(

Just wondered if any of our Brit regulars have seen it? It looks as if they will play it as "Americans' but the Marcy Park role is not asian but a white girl. I'd like to see it played as "Brits" but for some reason the British don't understand the idea of a spelling competition. :-k

If I'm right and Spelling Bee hasn't made it to Britain till now I'm surprised that it took this long. It has had many productions in Australia. The Aussies seem to like the show.

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Fri Feb 25, 2011 3:41 pm
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Post Re: Spelling Bee is in Britain
Marcy Park not Asian? Isn't a lot of jokes contingent on the fact that she is Asian and raised in a "tiger family?"


Fri Feb 25, 2011 4:59 pm
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Post Re: Spelling Bee is in Britain
Pounce wrote:
It looks as if they will play it as "Americans' but the Marcy Park role is not asian but a white girl. I'd like to see it played as "Brits" but for some reason the British don't understand the idea of a spelling competition. It has had many productions in Australia. The Aussies seem to like the show.


The concept of a "Spelling Bee" is - while easily understood - something that doesn't really happen in the UK or Australia for that matter. I'd say that it is something that is thought of as being very much 'American' in the public perception.

The Australian productions I have seen have all retained the American setting.

mastachen wrote:
Marcy Park not Asian? Isn't a lot of jokes contingent on the fact that she is Asian and raised in a "tiger family?"


Similarly, in the productions I have seen over here Marcy Park is not always identifiably Asian and it works fine. I'm not familiar with the term "tiger family" though.


Fri Feb 25, 2011 5:15 pm
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Post Re: Spelling Bee is in Britain
The production I saw a weekend ago didn't have an identifiably "Asian" Marcy Park , no jokes about her "kind" of family, just that her family pushed her to excel and she felt the pressure.

I didn't feel the production suffered from the issue at all. (Very happy with it and actually enjoyed it more than the other show I saw that day.)


Fri Feb 25, 2011 6:44 pm
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Post SPELLING BEE is in Britain
I have a friend who lives in London who saw the show both in New York and in the UK. He enjoyed the British production, but not as much as the New York production.

Pounce wrote:
I'd like to see it played as "Brits" but for some reason the British don't understand the idea of a spelling competition. :-k

That's because the Brits already know how to spell properly. ;) But this statement reminds me once again of how it appears that everything in the States has to be made competitive for it to hold any kind of validity. Good spelling should be valued for what it is, a valuable tool for communication, not for what it can get you. :problem:

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Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:51 pm
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Post Re: Spelling Bee is in Britain
The "tiger family" I'm referring to is a term coined by Yale law professor Amy Chua, a self-described Tiger Mom. Sorry if it's an obscure reference. She was in the news a lot over the last few weeks and I thought people would've known what I meant. It's really hard to describe what a tiger mom is though... lol


Sat Feb 26, 2011 8:12 pm
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Post SPELLING BEE is in Britain
mastachen wrote:
The "tiger family" I'm referring to is a term coined by Yale law professor Amy Chua, a self-described Tiger Mom. Sorry if it's an obscure reference. She was in the news a lot over the last few weeks and I thought people would've known what I meant. It's really hard to describe what a tiger mom is though... lol

I don't think it's that obscure given, as you've mentioned, the recent newsworthiness bestowed upon Amy Chua: after all, her controversial book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, is currently on the New York Times bestseller list and has been for some time now. For anyone interested, there's a review here and a related article here. And the book also has a synopsis on Wikipedia.

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Post Re: Spelling Bee is in Britain
RainbowJude wrote:
[color=#008000]
mastachen wrote:
The "tiger family" I'm referring to is a term coined by Yale law professor Amy Chua, a self-described Tiger Mom. Sorry if it's an obscure reference. She was in the news a lot over the last few weeks and I thought people would've known what I meant. It's really hard to describe what a tiger mom is though... lol

I don't think it's that obscure given, as you've mentioned, the recent newsworthiness bestowed upon Amy Chua: after all, her controversial book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, is currently on the New York Times bestseller list and has been for some time now.


Obscurity is relative - it certainly hasn't been newsworthy in Australia! (And I did search for the term "tiger family" on Google and got nothing). Which in a way illustrates the point that what does work in one country or culture isn't necessarily going to translate elsewhere. We know about spelling bees in Australia, but we don't have them. The character of Marcy Park works just as well without the concept of a "tiger family" (which I know is a relatively recently coined term, but it evidently describes a 'type' that is identifiable enough in American culture for the jokes to be considered 'contingent' on that aspect of her character).

Things often have to be changed, deliberately not changed, or - as in the examples we've already discussed - not emphasised in order for a 'local' audience to understand. Changing the setting of 'Spelling Bee' to a British location wouldn't work because Spelling Bees just don't happen in the UK the way they do in the US. A UK audience would know this straight away and it would change their perception of the story.


Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:01 am
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Post Re: SPELLING BEE is in Britain
RainbowJude wrote:
mastachen wrote:
The "tiger family" I'm referring to is a term coined by Yale law professor Amy Chua, a self-described Tiger Mom. Sorry if it's an obscure reference. She was in the news a lot over the last few weeks and I thought people would've known what I meant. It's really hard to describe what a tiger mom is though... lol

I don't think it's that obscure given, as you've mentioned, the recent newsworthiness bestowed upon Amy Chua: after all, her controversial book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, is currently on the New York Times bestseller list and has been for some time now. For anyone interested, there's a review here and a related article here. And the book also has a synopsis on Wikipedia.


I've read the book and it's extremely interesting and hardly controversial. It's not a parenting guide at all, contrary to what the Wall Street Journal would have you believe, but it's just a memoir of her life. I relate to her story and the story of her children because I'm Asian and I was raised almost exactly the same way, and we both have pretty similar views to Western culture.

Thus, in Spelling Bee, I felt like Marcy Park was a nod towards the Asian overachiever stereotype, but I might have thought that way mainly because I'm Asian.


Tue Mar 01, 2011 7:17 pm
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Post Re: SPELLING BEE is in Britain
RainbowJude wrote:
Pounce wrote:
I'd like to see it played as "Brits" but for some reason the British don't understand the idea of a spelling competition. :-k

That's because the Brits already know how to spell properly. ;) But this statement reminds me once again of how it appears that everything in the States has to be made competitive for it to hold any kind of validity. Good spelling should be valued for what it is, a valuable tool for communication, not for what it can get you. :problem:


I was being a bit facetious. I just couldn't understand why it took so long for Spelling Bee to Hop the Pond. The Brits do like intellectual challenges such as debates and even wit (Who's Line Is It Anyway?) but are usually friendly competitions. But The Times recently sponsored a Spelling Bee in Britain, and there are Spelling Bees in Canada and Australia.

English is not a phonetic language so its spelling has its pitfalls.

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Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:40 pm
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Post Re: Spelling Bee is in Britain
I saw the show a couple of weeks ago in London. I loved it but the Guardian review pulled it apart...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2011/fe ... MP=twt_iph

Quote:
Given the Donmar's exemplary musical track record, it is a bit of a shock to find them importing this flimsy, vacuous diversion. Like Grease and Legally Blonde, it has a vaguely academic context. But William Finn's music and lyrics and Rachel Sheinkin's book have little of the brio of those shows and seem unsure whether they are satirising or celebrating a peculiarly American institution.

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Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:56 pm
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Post Re: Spelling Bee is in Britain
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I saw that Guardian review. :evil:

Either the cast did a poor job or Mr Billington is a dolt.

I was surprised by the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. It wasn't in the America Tour. I wondered if they would include "Yankees and Red Socks" as the reference would only be clear to Americans. And he made it sound as if they selected 4 people from the audience when in the US they cull the people waiting to enter the theater and briefly interview each interested person, then call out the names of those selected for a brief orientation of what they have to do. Unless of course Mr Billington missed that part.

But his comments like "I presume the intention is to show that spelling bees are a way for American kids to shed their hangups by exhibiting their verbal prowess." and other just tell me that this guy just doesn't "get it". :-k But then again I've never like The Guardian. [-X

From the posts below his review, it appears that his readers don't agree. :D Apparently Spelling Bee is a bit of a departure from the Donmar's usual offerings of shows for theater snobs?

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