Last Friday, I got a sneak peek of the Off-Broadway premiere of Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord by NYTW Usual Suspect Kristina Wong, helmed by Obie Award winner and NYTW Usual Suspect Chay Yew (Oedipus El Rey).
Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord began previews on Monday October 25, 2021 at New York Theatre Workshop (79 E 4th Street, New York, NY 10003). Opening night is set for Thursday November 4, with a limited run through Sunday November 21, 2021. Check out my coverage below.
I am looking forward to seeing the special performance for AAPI, BIPOC artists & activists and allies on Saturday, October 30th at 8pm EDT, hosted by the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists (CAATA), Asian American Arts Alliance (A4), and New York Theatre Workshop.
Spend a night of live theatre with community and conversation and learn more about CAATA, A4, and mutual aid groups. There will be a post-show conversation with performer and writer Kristina Wong and director Chay Yew.
On Day 3 of the COVID-19 pandemic, NYTW Usual Suspect Kristina Wong began sewing masks out of old bedsheets and bra straps on her Hello Kitty sewing machine. Before long, she was leading the Auntie Sewing Squad, a work-from-home sweatshop of hundreds of volunteers-including children and her own mother-to fix the U.S. public health care system while in quarantine. It was a feminist care utopia forming in the midst of crisis. Or was it a mutual aid doomsday cult?
As the demand for masks abates and we begin to return safely to space, Kristina is beginning to put her life together post-pandemic cult leadership. With hilarity and boundless generosity, she invites the audience in on her work building community in isolation, while reflecting on what we’ve been through and imagining what we want to become.
Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord features scenic design by Junghyun Georgia Lee (The Chinese Lady), costume design by Linda Cho (The Great Society), lighting design by Amith Chandrashaker (The Lucky Ones), and sound design by Mikhail Fiksel (Dana H.), Projection Design by Caite Hevner, with Stage Management by Katie Ailinger (The Thanksgiving Play) and Joanne Pan.
Kristina Wong is a performance artist, comedian, writer and elected representative who has been presented internationally across North America, the UK, Hong Kong and Africa. Her work has been awarded with grants from Creative Capital, The MAP Fund, Center for Cultural Innovation, National Performance Network, a COLA Master Artist Fellowship from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, as well as nine Los Angeles Artist-in-Residence awards. Center Theatre Group honored her as the 2019 Sherwood Award. Her rap career in post-conflict Northern Uganda was the subject of The Wong Street Journal which toured the US, Canada and Lagos, Nigeria (presented by the US Consulate). Her long running show Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest looked at the high rates of depression and suicide among Asian American women and is now a concert film. Kristina currently serves as the elected representative of Wilshire Center Koreatown Sub-district 5 Neighborhood Council, the subject of her show Kristina Wong for Public Office. In the pandemic, the national tour of that show pivoted to streaming performances from her home and a professional recording for Center Theater Group’s Digital Stage where she is a member of the Creative Collective. As Overlord of the national mutual aid collective Auntie Sewing Squad, Kristina has deepened her practice as a performance artist neck-deep in doing the work of FEMA. kristinawong.com
Chay Yew‘s New York credits include the Public Theater (Mojada, Oedipus el Rey, Durango, Ameriville, Low), Signature Theatre (Cambodian Rock Band), Playwrights Horizons (A Cool Dip in the Barren Saharan Crick), New York Theatre Workshop (The Architecture of Loss), Rattlestick (Draw the Circle), Playwrights Realm (My Mañana Comes), Ensemble Studio Theatre (Where Did We Sit on the Bus?), National Asian American Theatre Company (The House of Bernarda Alba) and Ma Yi Theatre Company (Last of the Suns). His regional production credits include Humana Festival, Mark Taper Forum, Goodman Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, South Coast Rep, Berkeley Rep, Long Wharf, Huntington Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Theatre, Denver Theater Center, Kennedy Center, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Seattle Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Cornerstone Theatre Company, Round House Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Empty Space, Singapore Repertory Theatre, amongst others. His opera credits include the world premieres of Osvaldo Golijov’s and David Henry Hwang’s Ainadamar (Tanglewood Music Center and Los Angeles Philharmonic) and Rob Zuidam’s Rage D’Amors (Tanglewood). An alumnus of New Dramatists, he is a recipient of the Obie Award for Direction. From 2011 to 2020, he was the artistic director of Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago. chayyew.com Facebook, Instagram & Twitter @chayyew
Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts.
The performance schedule for Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord is as follows:
·Week of October 25: Monday-Thursday at 7pm; Friday-Saturday at 8pm
·Week of November 1: Monday-Wednesday at 7pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8pm; Sunday at 2pm & 7pm
·Week of November 8: Tuesday-Thursday at 7pm; Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8pm; Sunday at 2pm & 7pm
·Week of November 15: Tuesday-Thursday at 7pm; Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8pm; Sunday at 2pm
Single tickets for Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord start at $30 and vary by performance date and time. Use code “A4OVERLORD” to access $25 tickets! In order to provide access to those in their surrounding community and those with income limitations, NYTW launched CHEAPTIX, an affordable ticket program. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis, online at NYTW.org or by phone from the NYTW Box Office at 212-460-5475. Standard ticketing fees apply.
Additionally, a $25 day-of CHEAPTIX RUSH will be available for young people, seniors, artists and Lower East Side residents. Rush tickets are subject to availability and are sold cash-only, limit two per person. Proper identification is required for all rush tickets. Youth (ages 25 and under) and seniors (ages 65+) may present an ID indicating date-of-birth; Artists may present an ID and a program or union card; Lower East Side residents may present an ID that includes your address.
NYTW also has a new ticketing initiative for the 2021/22 season which will offer free tickets at all performances to members of our theatre community who lost work during the pandemic and may find cost a barrier to entry to attending shows and participating fully in the return to in-person performances.
A simple submission form will enable participants to select a free ticket from available locations via the NYTW ticketing system, just as they would if they were purchasing. A limited number of tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. While NYTW won’t be able to accommodate every single person who would benefit from the opportunity, the theater hopes in some small way to be of service to the community as it continues to rebuild. For more information about the initiative, visit nytw.org/covid-ticket-initiative.
In preparing for a return to in-person gathering, NYTW is committed to keeping the health and safety of its audiences, artists and staff a top priority. Everyone’s experience and comfort level with the pandemic will look different and NYTW is committed to a whole person approach in safety-first customer service. Changes include updates to ventilation and air filtration systems, creation of a COVID Compliance Team, flexible exchange and past-date policies. In compliance with New York City guidelines, all attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination. Masks are required at all times inside the building and theatre. For updated information about evolving COVID policies, please visit nytw.org/covid.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and an award-winning filmmaker. She is the co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Last Dragon. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short indie films Hide and Seek (Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Best Actress Nomination), Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World Was Young (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative). BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia is also a portrait and performing arts photographer and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia writes about arts and entertainment on her Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog. The Lia Chang theater portfolio collection, 1989-2011, is housed in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) collection located in the Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room and the Lia Chang Photography Collection is currently being archived in The Billy Rose Theatre Division of The New York Public Library.
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