Soho Rep. presents the New York Premiere of Obie Award-winning playwright Christopher Chen’s Passage (April 23-May 26), a fantasia on colonialism past and present that asks the question: if Country Y occupies Country X, can someone from Country X and someone from Country Y ever form a mutual relationship? Directed by Saheem Ali, Passage is a playful and gripping experiment that isolates power as the sole differentiator between people challenging the arbitrary binaries that define how we live.
Saheem Ali, the rising star director behind Donja R. Love’s Fireflies and The Sugar in Our Wounds, and the upcoming performance of Christopher Urch’s The Rolling Stone at Lincoln Center Theater, directs a cast including Andrea Abello, Purva Bedi, Yair Ben-Dor, Lizan Mitchell, K.K. Moggie, Howard W. Overshown, Linda Powell, and David Ryan Smith. The creative team includes Arnulfo Maldonado (Scenic), Toni-Leslie James (Costumes), Amith Chandrashaker (Lighting), Mikaal Sulaiman (Sound), Ryan Courtney (Props), and Nicole Marconi (PSM).
Saheem Ali, who grew up in Kenya amidst the legacy of British colonial rule, describes the play’s themes as intensely, personally relevant. Ali is drawn to the structural and theatrical challenge Chen’s script poses: to stage a representation of power without the typical signifiers. One way of addressing this challenge, for Ali, was to cast all actors of color eschewing the overt social connotations of casting white people as the oppressors and people of color as the oppressed. Ali explains, The process has been a real stripping away Chris’ script starts by stripping away identity in all its forms (characters in the play are named for letters in the alphabet), and even as we’ve been exploring possibilities of the play’s physical landscape in rehearsal, it’s continued to be, ‘take away, take away, take away.’ We’re in the process of getting to the core of the theatrical event.
Chen’s distinctive and exhilarating storytelling (The Brooklyn Rail) was last on display in New York in 2016, in his intricately constructed, unrelentingly destabilizing puzzle of a play (The New York Times, in a Critics’ Pick review), Caught. He refers to Passage as his most instinctive, impulsive play, saying, I am a mixed race person, and I almost feel my cultural inheritance is defined by the duality at play here; I’ve simultaneously sort of but not fully fit in anywhere, and understood and not understood both sides fully. I wanted to put this struggle to understand and connect my own vulnerabilities on the table with this one. Openness is a big part of the play, I wanted to make this play an open vessel, allowing POC movements past and present across a century of time, across different continents to course through the work.
Soho Rep. Artistic Director Sarah Benson says, I could not be more thrilled to be producing Chris Chen’s brilliant and highly inventive play. This is writing for the theater at its very best Chris pries open an imaginative space that is exhilarating and unsettling. Saheem Ali has championed Chris’ writing (and this play in particular) and I simply cannot wait to see the production they make together. I have followed the productions Saheem has created for several years and have been blown away by his irreverence and wit his practice melds true theater experimentation with bold populism.
Performance Schedule and Ticketing
Performances of Passage will take place April 23 – May 26 (see schedule of times above) at Soho Rep., located at 46 Walker Street in Manhattan. Critics are welcome beginning May 1 at 7:30PM for an official opening May 5. Admission tickets are $35 general/$65 premium through May 26, and can be purchased by visiting sohorep.org or calling 212.352.3101. $30 general rush and $20 student rush (with a valid school ID) tickets are available at the box office 30 minutes prior to curtain for each performance. $0.99 Sunday tickets will be offered on May 5, 12, and 19 at 7:30pm and are available first come, first served at the box office only. There are no advance sales for Rush or $0.99 Sunday tickets.
Passage was developed with support from The Ground Floor at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Berkeley CA. It was originally produced by the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia (Blanka Zizka, Artistic Director), and was presented as part of the Contemporary American Voices Festival at Long Wharf Theatre, 2017.
About the Artists
Christopher Chen (Playwright) is an Obie Award-winning playwright whose work has been produced across the United States and abroad. His plays include Caught (Obie Award for Playwriting, Barrymore Award, Drama League Nomination), The Hundred Flowers Project (Glickman Award, Rella Lossy Award, James Tait Black Award shortlist), Into The Numbers (Belarus Free Theater International Contest of Modern Drama- 2nd Place), The Late Wedding, Mutt and You Mean To Do Me Harm. Chris is the recipient of the Lanford Wilson Award, The Sundance Institute/Time Warner Fellowship, the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, and he is the inaugural recipient of the Ollie Award. Current commissions include The Aurora, LCT3, Manhattan Theatre Club, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Playwrights Horizons and the Royal Shakespeare Company. A San Francisco native, Chris is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, and holds an M.F.A. in playwriting from S.F. State.
Saheem Ali (Director) is a proud immigrant from Kenya. Recent credits include Fireflies (Atlantic Theater Company), Dangerous House (Williamstown Theater Festival), Sugar in Our Wounds (MTC), Tartuffe (Playmakers Rep), Where Storms Are Born (Williamstown), Henry V (NYU Tisch), Twelfth Night (Public Theater), Kill Move Paradise (National Black Theater), Diaspora (Gym at Judson), Nollywood Dreams (Cherry Lane), The Booty Call (Inner Voices) and Dot (Detroit Public Theater). He has workshopped new plays at Playwrights Horizons, Playwrights Realm, MCC, New York Stage & Film, Page 73 and The Lark. He is a Usual Suspect and former Directing Fellow at New York Theater Workshop, Sir John Gielgud SDCF Fellow and a Shubert Fellow.
Andrea Abello is a Colombian-American actor, poet, and teaching artist. She is stoked to be making her Off-Broadway debut at Soho Rep! Regional: Emmy in A Doll’s House, Part II (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis), World Premiere of Dave Malloy and Anne Washburn’s Little Bunny Foo Foo (Actors Theatre of Louisville). NYC workshops: How to Defend Yourself (Humana Festival workshop), The Place Women Go (WP Theatre and Colt Coeur) and more at The Lark, INTAR, The Drama League, Repertorio Espa ol. Professional Training Company at Actors Theatre of Louisville. BFA from NYU Tisch. A gigantic thanks to the folks over at HCKR Agency, TBD Casting, Saheem, my parents, Nathi, Abuelito, and Cal for all of their support. andreaabello.com
Purva Bedi Soho Rep Debut. Off-Broadway: India Pale Ale (Manhattan Theatre Club), Dance Nation (Playwrights Horizons), An Ordinary Muslim (NYTW), Uncommon Sense (Tectonic), IDIOT! (HERE), Veil’d (WP), Rise of Dorothy Hale (St. Luke’s). with Target Margin as Associate Artist: Reread Another, Tempest, Second Language, Ten Blocks on the Camino Real, Old Comedy, 5 Hysterical Girls Theorem. Regional: Rice Boy (Mark Taper), My Wandering Boy (South Coast Rep). Film: Sully, Equity, Kumare, Cosmopolitan, Green Card Fever, American Desi. TV: “High Maintenance,” “She’s Gotta Have It,” “Person of Interest,” “Madame Secretary”, “Nurse Jackie.” Member The Actor’s Center Workshop Company, Founding member Disha Theatre. Teacher Anthony Meindl Actors Workshop. She Co-Created Assembled Identity (HERE) last spring. Purva studied at Williams College, BADA and Public Theatre Shakespeare Lab. Purva is represented by Artists & Representatives and managed by Sirensong Entertainment.
Yair Ben-Dor Everything Yair has done in the 8 years since moving from Israel – every play, every film, every subway improv and method acting class, has led him here and he is thrilled to have made it this far. He studied at the Lee Strasberg Film & Theatre Institute and has been all around the US working ever since. He acts, he writes (both for fun and professionally), He performs stand up, he produces, he directs… Hell, he’ll sing for you if the lighting is right and he’d be happy to tell you all about it. You can find out some at www.yairbendor.com but you can find out more by tapping him on the shoulder and saying “Hey, good show! By the way ”
Lizan Mitchell Broadway credits include Electra, Having Our Say and So Long on Lonely Street. Off-Broadway credits include The First Noel, Brownsville Song, Cell, The Hurricane Katrina Comedy Festival, Rosmersholm, For Colored Girls, Gum, Salt and Ma Rose. Regional credits include Richard III (Shakespeare Theatre), Dead and Breathing (London, Liverpool, National Black Theater and CATF), Skeleton Crew (Trinity Rep), A Raisin in the Sun (Arena Stage, Helen Hayes Award), My Lord What a Night (Premiere Stages), The Good Peaches (Cleveland Play House), The House That Will Not Stand (Yale Repertory, Berkeley Repertory, Victory Gardens), An Issue of Blood (Victory Gardens), Dead and Breathing (CATF), The Last Fall (Crossroads Theater), Having Our Say (McCarter), Fabulation (Center Stage) and Woolly Mammoth, Pittsburgh Public Theater, TheaterWorks, Goodman, Proposition Theatre, San Jose Repertory, Crossroads Theatre and the Humana Festival. Film/TV credits include Of Monsters and Men, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Detroit, Brooklynification, Deadbeat, We’ll Never Have Paris, Golden Boy, “John Adams’ (HBO), “The Good Wife,” “Law & Order,” The Human Stain, The Preacher’s Wife, “Sesame Street” and “The Wire”.
K.K. Moggie Off Broadway Includes: The Gravediggers Lullaby (The Actor’s Company) Daphne’s Dive (Signature Theater Company) Charles Francis Chan Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery (NAATCO), Bareknuckle (Vertigo Theater Company), One Night (Cherry Lane) The Golden Dragon (The Play Company), Bottom of the World (Atlantic Theater Company), The Bereaved (Partial Comfort), Grace (MCC), Richard III (CSC), Regional: Mary Stuart (Title role, Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Film: After Party (Best Feature Comedy 2017 Madrid International Film Industry), Home (Dances With Films 2013 Industry Choice Award), Anna and the King, The Sleeping Dictionary. Short Film: You Beautiful Blind Crazy Cripple (lead), The Audition (directed by Martin Scorsese), Memory Box. TV Includes: “The Good Wife” (CBS), “Gossip Girl” (CW), “Mercy” (NBC), “White Collar” (USA) Love to Kevin and Wiley.
Howard W. Overshown Broadway: Saint Joan, Julius Caesar w/ Denzel Washington, A Free Man of Color, Richard III dir. by Sam Mendes. Off-Broadway: YellowMan, Never the Sinner, Beauty On The Vine, Cost of Living. Most Recent: King John (Folger Theatre), Evanston Salt Costs Climbing (White Heron Theatre), View From the Bridge (CTG-Kennedy Center), King Lear (The Guthrie). Film: Never Here, Pride and Glory, Body Of Lies, Lost Cat Corona, Grand Street. TV: “Bull,” “The Affair,” “Elementary,” “White Collar,” “Law & Order/Criminal Intent/SVU,” “Brain Dead,” “Kings”. 2018 Lunt Fontanne Fellow.
Linda Powell’s recent credits include Jen Silverman’s The Roommate at Long Wharf Theater, Waterwell Theater’s The Courtroom and Portia in Compangnia Colombari’s Merchant of Venice. Her Broadway credits include The Trip to Bountiful, On Golden Pond and Wilder, Wilder, Wilder. Off Broadway she has been seen in The Moors, The Christians, A Doll’s House, The Overwhelming, Jar the Floor, Jitney, and Angela’s Mixtape among others. Linda works frequently in regional theaters around the country and her numerous TV and film credits include the current season of “House of Cards” and the upcoming film The Report with Adam Driver and Annette Benning.
David Ryan Smith: Broadway: One Man, Two Guvnors; Passing Strange. Off Broadway: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, Twelfth Night, Romeo & Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Pericles (The Public Theater), Gone Missing (City Center/Encores! Off Center), Mankind (Playwrights Horizons), The Death of the Last Black Man (Signature Theater), The Glory of the World (BAM), #9 (59E59); Marat/Sade (Classical Theater of Harlem). Regional: Shakespeare Theater Company, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theater of Louisville, Barrington Stage, American Conservatory Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Triad Stage, Crossroads Theater Company, California Shakespeare Theater, etc. Film: The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Medal of Victory, Bee Season. Education: MFA, American Conservatory Theater.
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 is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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