PRIYA SINGH – Female. Indian-Singaporean. Mumbai accent, rounded out by years of British education.
SUNNY LEE – Female. Chinese-Singaporean. American dudebro-speak, becomes more Singlish/Hokkien depending on her audience.
RUKI MINAMI – Female. Japanese. Noticeable Japanese accent. Crisp English.
BUILT SUTTIKUL – Female. Thai-American. Californian. Verging on valley-girl.
SOO-JIN PARK – Female. South Korean. Strong Korean accent but excellent English.
XIAO CHEN – Female. Chinese. The weakest English speaker.
MARCEL BENOIT – Male. Strong French accent with fluent-ish English.
All characters are in their mid-twenties / early thirties.
Casting note, courtesy of the author:
“Casting this play is really fucking hard. If you want to put on this play, make sure you have the resources to cast it properly.
Generally speaking, we’ve found that you can be more flexible with the ethnicity of actors playing the 'Westernized' Asians in the team: Priya, Built, to a certain extent Sunny. And of course Marcel. But the actors must have some ethnic or cultural resonance with their character. Have an open dialogue with the actors you’re auditioning, reach out to your local Asian theater community, be culturally cognizant, and just generally don’t be a dick about it.
With the 'homeland' Asians (Ruki, Soo-Jin and Xiao), it is absolutely imperative that the actors be non-native English speakers from the specific cultural background of their characters. Trust me. I’ve seen the alternative. It doesn’t work.
I don’t mind if you move around some of the phraseology but generally speaking, stick to the text. The highly specific language in this play is the result of extensive development, as well as my life experience. There is no one way of speaking Singlish, or Californian English, just as there’s no one way to define 'dudebro-speak'. Collaborate with the actors to determine their character’s idiosyncratic mode of speaking and their level of English fluency, and be open to adjusting this as your process evolves.”