Daniel K. Isaac and Shannon Tyo in THE CHINESE LADY. Photo by Eloy Garcia.

Ma-Yi Theater Company’s 2018-19 Season includes Lloyd Suh’s THE CHINESE LADY, Orlando Pabotoy’s SESAR, Kristine Haruna Lee’s SUICIDE FOREST and Sam Chanse’s FRUITING BODIES

Daniel K. Isaac and Shannon Tyo in THE CHINESE LADY. Photo by Eloy Garcia.
Daniel K. Isaac and Shannon Tyo in THE CHINESE LADY. Photo by Eloy Garcia.

Ma-Yi Theater Company – which has had a breakout season with the award-winning success of the musical KPOP, and recently with Mike Lew’s new play TEENAGE DICK (at The Public Theater) – announces its 2018-19 season of new works, according to the company’s Producing Artistic Director, Ralph B. Peña. Among the offerings will be world-premieres of plays that have been created and developed through Ma-Yi’s celebrated Writers Lab, which has the distinction of being a primary incubator of new Asian American theater and the largest collective of Asian-American Playwrights in the world.

Among the season highlights will be Ma-Yi’s first partnership with The Bushwick-Starr in April; and two plays in rep in October. Ma-Yi previously enjoyed considerable success in 2014 with its two-play repertory engagement of Chairs and a Long Table (Han Ong) and Livin La Vida Imelda (Carlos Celdran) at Theatre Row.

The new plays on tap for 2018-19 are: THE CHINESE LADY based on the true story of America’s first female Chinese immigrant, who was made a carnival attraction; SESAR about a teenage Filipino boy obsessed with understanding Shakespeare after having watched an excerpt from “Julius Caesar” on The Cosby Show; SUICIDE FOREST about a dispirited Japanese businessman and the sexually-confused teenage girl he encounters; and FRUITING BODIES about a scientist whose visit to an enchanted forest in the Pacific Northwest brings him face to face with his younger self, his future son, and the scientist’s own homophobia.

In a statement by Ma-Yi’s Producing Artistic Director, Ralph B. Peña, Mr. Peña said: “Our next season features new works by artists exploring the personal and political, who take deep dives into real and imagined histories that ask important questions about who we are today, and how we got here. We’re excited to present the world premiere of Samantha Chanse’s “Fruiting Bodies,” a play developed at the Ma-Yi Writers Lab and directed by Shelley Butler, and to partner with Bushwick Starr in presenting “Suicide Forest” by Kristine Haruna Lee, directed by Aya Ogawa. We’re riding the momentum created by “KPOP,” and “Teenage Dick,” and hope to continue making exciting theater.”

SESAR and THE CHINESE LADY will perform in rep October 20 – November 18 at Theatre Row (410 W. 42nd Street). Click here for tickets.

SESAR, written by and starring Orlando Pabotoy, who previously acted with Ma-Yi, makes his debut as a first time playwright; directed by Richard Feldman (The Juilliard School), Sesar, depicts the story of a 16-year-old Filipino boy, who having just watched an excerpt of “Julius Caesar” on The Cosby Show, locks himself in the only family bathroom to dive head first into the world of ancient Rome, determined to make sense of Shakespeare. Eventually, the boy’s father who happens to be an ex-politician, joins the boy in the bathroom. Using his own political experiences to help explain the life of Caesar, a father lovingly instructs his young son about power, ambition, and well, life.

The Chinese Lady, written by Lloyd Suh (The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go!), directed by Ralph B. Peña (Among The Dead), and starring Shannon Tyo (Bright Half Life), and Daniel K. Isaac (Showtime’s “Billions”), is inspired by the true story of America’s first female Chinese immigrant. It is a tale of dark poetic whimsy, a piercing portrait of America as seen through the eyes of a young Chinese woman; Afong Moy reflects on life in 1834 and beyond, as she is brought to the United States from China and put on display for the American public as “The Chinese Lady.”

Daniel K. Isaac and Shannon Tyo Star in Barrington Stage Company and Ma-Yi Theater Company’s World Premiere of Lloyd Suh’s THE CHINESE LADY through August 11 

Lloyd Suh is a founding member of Ma-Yi’s celebrated Playwrights’ Lab, the author of American Hwangap, The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go!, Jesus in India, The Children of Vonderly, and others which were produced by Ma-Yi, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and La Mama ETC among others. An alum of Youngblood and the Soho Rep Writer Director Lab, and from 2005-2010 served as Artistic Director of Second Generation and Co-Director of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab. He has served since 2011 as Director of Artistic Programs at The Lark.

Ralph B. Peña is the current Producing Artistic Director of Ma-Yi Theater Company. Select directing credits include Among the Dead, House Rules (Ma-Yi) The Orphan of Zhao (Fordham Theatre), Macho Dancer: A Musical (Cultural Center of the Philippines), Livin’ La Vida Imelda (Ma-Yi), Lloyd Suh’s The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra GO! (Cultural Center of the Philippines, Children’s Theater Co. and Ma-Yi, Off Broadway Alliance Award). His work has been seen at The NYSF/Public Theater, Long Wharf Theater, Laguna Playhouse, NAATCO, Second Generation, Victory Gardens, and La Mama ETC, among others. He received an Obie Award for his work on The Romance of Magno Rubio.

Suicide Forest will perform at The Bushwick Starr (207 Starr Street, #2-2, Brooklyn, NY. 11237), February 27 through March 26, 2019.

In the spring, The Bushwick Starr, in association with Ma-Yi Theater Company, will present Suicide Forest, written by Kristine Haruna Lee (Memory Retrograde) and directed by Aya Ogawa (Failure Sandwich), about a Japanese salaryman in the 1990’s who desperately searches for his self-worth, while a lonely teenage girl grapples with her sexuality in a nightmarish, male-defined society. When the two find an awkward companionship in each other, they expose their darkest desires fueled by masochism and shame, and must now confront life and death as the notorious Suicide Forest looms over their imagination. Performed by a Japanese heritage cast, Suicide Forest is a bilingual play that breaks through the silence and submissiveness often associated with Japanese and Japanese American identity, examining the role of community and the inner struggles of emotional, psychic and social suicide through the playwright’s lived stories and inner landscape.

Fruiting Bodies was developed with Ma-Yi’s Writers Lab, and will perform at Theatre Row, April 5 through May 9, 2019.

Fruiting Bodies, by Sam Chanse (The Other Instinct), and directed by Shelly Butler (The Gun Show), tells the story of a Japanese American mycologist (mushroom scientist) who forages in a Pacific Northwest forest for specimens. As it turns out, the forest is enchanted, and the man meets his younger self and his future son. This is a trenchant play about tradition and how it flies in the face of contemporary American life, where a father must confront his own homophobia.

Sam Chanse is a resident playwright at New Dramatists and a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab. Select credits include The Opportunities of Extinction (Cherry Lane Mentor Project), Rita Goldberg Playwrights Workshop at the Lark, Ars Nova Out Loud, gilgamesh & the mosquito (with composer/collaborator Bob Kelly; Yale Institute of Musical Theatre), about that whole dying thing (Ars Nova ANT Fest), and Asian American Jesus (with director/collaborator Yasmine Gomez).

ABOUT Ma-Yi Theater Company:
Ma-Yi Theater Company recently enjoyed great critical and wild success with its double-billed TEENAGE DICK at The Public, and with KPOP last fall by Jason Kim; in addition to Carlos Celdran’s LIVIN’ LA VIDA IMELDA, Hansol Jung’s AMONG THE DEAD, A. Rey Pamatmat’s HOUSE RULES, Nandita Shenoy’s WASHER/DRYER, Michi Barall’s PEER GYNT AND THE NORWEGIAN HAPA BAND, Han Ong’s CHAIRS AND A LONG TABLE, and Rehana Lew Mirza’s SOLDIER X. The company won the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for its critically acclaimed production of Lloyd Suh’s THE WONG KIDS IN THE SECRET OF THE SPACE CHUPACABRA GO!

Founded in 1989 and now celebrating its 27th season, Ma-Yi is a Drama Desk, Obie Award and Lucille Lortel Award-winning, Off-Broadway not-for-profit organization whose primary mission is to develop and produce new and innovative plays by Asian American writers.

Since its founding, Ma-Yi has distinguished itself as one of the country’s leading incubators of new work shaping the national discourse about what it means to be Asian American today. Its numerous acclaimed productions include Mike Lew’s BIKE AMERICA and MICROCRISIS, Qui Nguyen’s THE INEXPLICABLE REDEMPTION OF AGENT G and SOUL SAMURAI (with Vampire Cowboys), Mike Lew’s MICROCRISIS and the revival of Ralph B. Peña’s FLIPZOIDS. Other productions include: RESCUE ME by Michi Barall, Lloyd Suh’s AMERICAN HWANGAP and THE CHILDREN OF VONDERLY and THE ROMANCE OF MAGNO RUBIO by Lonnie Carter. Through successful programs such as the Writers Lab, Ma-Yi emboldens a new generation of Asian American artists to voice their experiences, while developing a steady stream of quality new works by Asian American Playwrights for its own performing repertory. New works developed at the Writers Lab have gone on to successful productions around the country, at such theaters as Victory Gardens, Laguna Playhouse, Long Wharf Theater, Woolly Mammoth, and the Actors Theater of Louisville, to name a few. Ma-Yi Theater Company productions have earned 10 Obie Awards, numerous Henry Hewes Award nominations, a Drama Desk nomination for Best Play and the Special Drama Desk Award for “more than two decades of excellence and for nurturing Asian-American voices in stylistically varied and engaging theater.”

Ma-Yi Theater is under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña.

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