THE NIGHT THEY INVENTED ORIENTALISM. When I continued my conversation with Mary Jane, I realized that I had missed the point of The King and I. A major set piece of the show is “The Small House of Uncle Thomas”, an extended performance of UNCLE TOM’S CABIN by a group of Thai children. While most of The King and I presents Thai culture through uncomprehending Western eyes, “The Small House of Uncle Thomas” takes the point of view of Siamese people trying to understand the West. The cultural presumptuousness goes both ways. The King and I opened in 1951, 27 years before Edward Said’s pathbreaking book. (Thanks to Mary Jane for the caption.)

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