Clearday is a cosmetics company on the rise: Based in Singapore, launching a global skincare line, and bringing a start-up mentality to the big leagues. But a draft ad for their latest skin whitening cream surfaces on YouTube, gathering views and outrage. As morning nears in the U.S. market—19,643 views. 467,327. 654,398.—Clearday’s all-female team hustles to contain the damage before Buzzfeed weighs in. Someone’s definitely getting fired. A comedy from rising Thai-Australian writer Anchuli Felicia King about toxic corporate culture, selling whiteness, and shame as both a cultural commodity and canny marketing strategy.
raises complex, important questions with humor, honesty, and nuance.
incredible cast...Each actress is more formidable than the next.
[Anchuli Felicia King] smartly takes a scalpel to issues like class and cultural authenticity
More plays like White Pearl should be written, and theater companies should strive to stage them.
It begins with a string of YouTube comments on an anonymously uploaded draft of an ad for White Pearl, the Singaporean company Clearday’s™ new skin whitening cream. The ad is racist, very racist. Like, how-did-anyone-in-their-right-mind-ever-approve-this racist. Clearday’s™ autocrat, Priya Singh, races against the clock, trying to handle this “incident” before the ad is picked up by the Western media. She is determined to find out who is responsible, and she’s out for blood. Priya and her sidekick, Sunny Lee, set their eyes on Xiao Chen, the head of the Chinese branch responsible for the ad campaign. Unfortunately for them, they’ll have to wait for Xiao to stop crying in bathroom first.Read More
“Grotesquery, shock, and comedy are all inextricable for me. Ugliness in human nature is funny,” reflects Anchuli Felicia King on the style she works in. “Maybe the best way to talk about it is capitalist realism—meticulous grotesquery, showing how capitalist conditions influence human behaviors.” This rapacious curiosity and desire to tailor new modes of expression for the particularities of one mainstream and therefore nearly invisible structure or another (millennial culture, ever-shifting technologies, the cold hard realities of capitalism through a global lens) are as close to hallmarks of King’s ever-shifting roles and styles in the theater. King has worked professionally as a sound designer, a projections designer, a scholar, an arts administrator, and a dramaturg.Read More
Early morning. Singapore. The headquarters of Clearday Cosmetics. An ad for their latest skin-whitening cream leaked on YouTube a few hours ago, it’s racking up views and media interest for its shocking racist set-up and imagery, and CEO Priya Singh knows her job: Stop the story before the US market opens. As Priya leads her team through damage control (how to get the ad down, who’s taking the fall, how to appease the disgust of the West without alienating the customers across Asia who will think that it’s funny), Anchuli Felica King’s brash and bleak comedy White Pearl raises questions about large-scale systems—global capitalism, beauty standards, corporate culture—and the individuals trying to ride the riptides.Read More
Studio Theatre is delighted to welcome Desdemona Chiang, who will be directing White Pearl, the second show in our Main Series. She is a seasoned director of both classics and new plays, and this will be her directorial debut in DC. In this interview with assistant director Marielle Burt, Desdemona discusses her personal connections to White Pearl, the unique casting process for this production, and her thoughts on beauty industry trends.Read More
According to r/SkincareAddiction, a popular forum on reddit, “having a core [skincare] routine provides your skin with all the necessary steps to keep it clean, healthy, and protected.” (reddit is a multi-vocal, online watering hole for all kinds of ideologies and obsessions.) Clearday, the fictional company in Anchuli Felicia King’s White Pearl, would add a fourth adjective to that list: white.Read More
Anchuli Felicia King’s White Pearl is set within the confines of Clearday Cosemetic’s headquarters, however outside the windows of the glass conference room, the city-nation of Singapore looms large, influencing the character’s cut-throat moves calculations. Explaining the resonance that Singapore holds globally and why she chose this setting over her native Australia, the UK, or the US—all markets similarly driven by whiteness—King said of Singapore; “It’s a liminal space and it exists at a really interesting nexus in the global economy and culture. And it’s a former colony,” making it the perfect place to explore late-stage capitalism, post-colonialism, and millennial corporate culture gone awry.Read More