Ma-Yi Theater Company has extended Haruna Lee’s Suicide Forest to March 21. Directed by Aya Ogawa, Suicide Forest is a bilingual nightmare play excavating the Japanese-American consciousness and its intimate relationship with sex, suicide, and identity. The encore engagement of Suicide Forest opened on March 3 following a limited run at The Bushwick Starr in 2019. Performances of Suicide Forest take place at A.R.T./New York Theatres Mezzanine Theatre (502 West 53rd Street, Manhattan) with a schedule of Tuesday-Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 5pm.
In 1990’s Japan, a teenage girl (Haruna Lee) grapples with her sexuality in a male-defined society as a salaryman desperately tries to escape his masochistic psyche. Both are clawing for their self-worth. When their journeys collide, they expose their darkest desires. Fueled by shame, they confront life and death with the notorious Suicide Forest looming over their imagination.
Performed by a Japanese heritage cast, Suicide Forest breaks through the silence and submissiveness often associated with Japanese and Asian American identity, examining the role of community and the struggles of emotional, psychic and social suicide through the playwright’s lived stories. The play branches themes of intergenerational trauma, the psychic journey of the immigrant, the coming-of-age and ownership of one’s sexual identity in a hyper-sexualized and male-centered world.
Joining Lee in performance, the cast for Suicide Forest includes Lee’s mother, Aoi Lee, along with Ako, Keizo Kaji, Yuki Kawahisa, Eddy Toru Ohno, and Dawn Akemi Saito.
The creative team includes Jian Jung (scenic design), Alice Tavener (costume design), Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew (lighting & video design) Fan Zhang (sound design), Jen Goma (original music), and Nina Williams-Teramachi (production stage manager).
Haruna Lee notes, “I’ve been asked often, ‘How will an American audience understand this bilingual Japanese-themed play?’ I want to offer that there is no doubt that this is an ‘American’ play. Its only mission has been to reflect truthfully my American immigrant experience.”
Suicide Forest centers the women/trans/non-binary and Asian-diasporic perspective on stage and in process. Ma-Yi Theater Company and the artists involved with Suicide Forest ask writers interested in responding to the play to bring a commitment to examining and dismantling colonization and white supremacy culture.
Performances of Suicide Forest will now take place through March 21 at A.R.T./New York Theatres Mezzanine Theatre located at 502 West 53rd Street, Manhattan. Tickets, priced at $30-$75, can be purchased by visiting ma-yitheatre.org or by calling OvationTix at 866-811-4111. The running time is 90 minutes with no intermission.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the filmsWolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young which will be screened at the inaugural San Francisco Chinatown Community Film Festival at Clarion Performing Arts Center on March 22. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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