Jessica Ko, Amy Kim Waschke, Daisuke Tsuji, Will Dao, Cristofer Jean, James Ryen, Moses Villarama, Román Zaragoza, Olivia Pham, Monique Holt and Natsuko Ohama Set for U.S. Premiere of Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s SNOW IN MIDSUMMER at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Román Zaragoza, Jessica Ko, Olivia Pham, Amy Kim Waschke, Moses Villarama. Photo by Jenny Graham.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival will open the U.S. premiere of Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s Snow in Midsummer, directed by Justin Audibert, on August 5 in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. Preview performances began on August 2 and the play runs through Oct. 27, 2018.

Román Zaragoza, Jessica Ko, Olivia Pham, Amy Kim Waschke, Moses Villarama. Photo by Jenny Graham.
Román Zaragoza, Jessica Ko, Olivia Pham, Amy Kim Waschke, Moses Villarama. Photo by Jenny Graham.

Cowhig’s thriller, based on the classical Chinese drama The Injustice to Dou Yi That Moved Heaven and Earth by Guan Hanqing but set in contemporary China, explores the legacy of trauma, the heart of injustice and the lengths to which we go for love. Sentenced to death for a murder, a woman swears vengeance before her execution-cursing her city from beyond the grave to a catastrophic drought. Three years later, a wealthy businesswoman visits the parched, locust-plagued city to take over an ailing factory. When her young daughter is tormented by a mysterious apparition, locals are forced to face a past that no one wants to remember.

“If the central character of the original play, a young impoverished widow, had died three years ago in today’s China,” Cowhig asks, “what might her life have been like? If she had been executed by the State, what might have happened to her body? And, to make the ghost of this woman a protagonist, who truly guides the story, what might she want and to what end might she go to get what she wants?”

Snow in Midsummer, the first production in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Chinese Translations Project, had its world premiere at the RSC in 2017. The Evening Standard praised the production as “a beguiling and unexpected evening” that has “an unusual and most particular sense of grace and beauty.”

Director Justin Audibert, who also helmed the world premiere in Stratford-upon-Avon, says this adaptation “comes to the heart of what I think a play is. It should be a living, breathing, changing work of art. It shouldn’t be an ossified or fossilized text that has a kind of sacredness about it. That doesn’t mean that thematically you shouldn’t be trying to wrestle with the amazing themes that the original had, which include oppression and justice and virtue. As we look around in the world in the year 2018 in this incredible moment of change to do with the #MeToo movement, it is an absolute honor and privilege to be exploring and examining those themes and sharing this story with an audience today.”

Audibert adds, “And amidst all of the gore and tragedy, there are plenty of laughs in the play.”

The cast of Snow in Midsummer features Jessica Ko as Dou Yi, Amy Kim Waschke as Tianyun, Daisuke Tsuji as Handsome Zhang, Will Dao as Rocket Wu, Cristofer Jean as Dr. Lu and Judge Wu, James Ryen as Master Zhang, Worker Huang and People’s Liberation Officer 1, Moses Villarama as Worker Fang, People’s Liberation Officer and Horse-Face, Román Zaragoza as Worker Zhou, People’s Liberation Officer 3 and Ox-Head, Olivia Pham as Fei-fei, Monique Holt as Worker Chen and Natsuko Ohama as Mother Cai and Nurse Wong.

Scenic design for Snow in Midsummer is by Laura Jellinek, costumes are by Helen Q. Huang and lighting is by Jane Cox. Paul James Prendergast and Tei Blow are composers and sound designers. Choreography is by Maija García, Amrita Ramanan and Christine Mok are production dramaturgs and David Carey and Rebecca Clark Carey are voice and text directors. Shishir Kurup is Associate Director. Kalen Feeney is Sign Coach/VGC Adapter and U. Jonathan Toppo is fight director. Jeremy Eisen is production stage manager and Peter Royston and Emily Robinson are assistant stage managers.

Snow in Midsummer runs through Oct. 27, 2018, in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. Tickets are available at the OSF Box Office, via phone at 800-219-8161, or online at www.osfashland.org and osfashland.org/SnowInMidsummer.

Upcoming engagement programming related to Snow in Midsummer includes a Festival Noons Talk on “The Ghost on Stage: Snow in Midsummer’s Dou Yi Battling Across Time, Space and Culture” with Jo Palazuelos-Krukowski on Sept. 1. Tickets and information are available at osfashland.org/FestivalNoons. A weekend class on “Unfolding Snow in Midsummer” will be offered Sept. 1-Sept. 2. Information and registration is available online and by contacting Group Sales, Monday-Friday, at 866-545-6337.

A sign-interpreted performance is scheduled for Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. Contact the Box Office at 800-219-8161 or email boxoffice@osfashland.org to purchase tickets in the Deaf Community section; these tickets not available online. Information on additional accessibility accommodations is at www.osfashland.org/Accessibility/.

Lead Sponsor of Snow in Midsummer is Yogen and Peggy Dalal. Producing Sponsor is Charlotte Lin and Robert P. Porter. Partners are The Kinsman Foundation and Anonymous. OSF’s 2018 season is sponsored by U.S. Bank.

OSF’s full 2018 playbill includes Othello, Sense and Sensibility, Destiny of Desire, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! and Snow in Midsummer in the Angus Bowmer Theatre; Henry V, Manahatta and The Way the Mountain Moved in the intimate Thomas Theatre; and Romeo and Juliet, The Book of Will and Love’s Labor’s Lost in the outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre.

Founded by Angus Bowmer in 1935, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) has grown from a three-day festival of two plays to a nationally renowned theatre arts organization that presents an eight-month season of up to 11 plays that include works by Shakespeare as well as a mix of classics, musicals and world-premiere plays. OSF’s play commissioning programs, which include American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle, have generated works that have been produced on Broadway, throughout the American regional theatre, and in high schools and community theatres across the country. The Festival draws attendance of more than 400,000 to approximately 800 performances every year and employs approximately 575 theatre professionals.

OSF invites and welcomes everyone, and believes the inclusion of diverse people, ideas, cultures and traditions enriches both our insights into the work we present on stage and our relationships with each other. OSF is committed to equity and diversity in all areas of our work and in our audiences.

OSF’s mission statement: “Inspired by Shakespeare’s work and the cultural richness of the United States, we reveal our collective humanity through illuminating interpretations of new and classic plays, deepened by the kaleidoscope of rotating repertory.”

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Production Photos: Brooke Ishibashi, Abraham Kim, Raymond Lee, Jane Lui, Joe Ngo and Daisuke Tsuji in World Premiere of Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band at South Coast Repertory

Brooke Ishibashi, Joe Ngo, Jane Lui, Raymond Lee and Abraham Kim in South Coast Repertory's world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Tania Thompson/SCR.

Part comedy, part mystery and part rock concert, playwright Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band explores an overlooked chapter of history-1970s Cambodia with its vibrant surf-rock music scene and then under the Khmer Rouge regime. The play features songs by the Long Beach-based band Dengue Fever. The world premiere of this South Coast Repertory commission is directed by Chay Yew on the Julianne Argyros Stage, March 4-25. Tickets are available at www.scr.org.

Joe Ngo and Raymond Lee in South Coast Repertory's world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Tania Thompson/SCR.
Joe Ngo and Raymond Lee in South Coast Repertory’s world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Tania Thompson/SCR.

The cast features Brooke Ishibashi, Abraham Kim, Raymond Lee, Jane Lui, Joe Ngo and Daisuke Tsuji.

 Brooke Ishibashi, Joe Ngo, Jane Lui, Raymond Lee and Abraham Kim in South Coast Repertory's world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Tania Thompson/SCR.
Brooke Ishibashi, Joe Ngo, Jane Lui, Raymond Lee and Abraham Kim in South Coast Repertory’s world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Tania Thompson/SCR.

“Since I first heard Dengue Fever’s music, I’ve been obsessed with the history of Cambodia’s surf-rock scene and the country’s dark Khmer Rouge years, when so many people, including those in the arts, perished,” Yee said. “I never knew quite how to write about it in a way that celebrated the individuals behind the music. Until now.”

 Daisuke Tsuji and Joe Ngo in South Coast Repertory's world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Tania Thompson/SCR.

Daisuke Tsuji and Joe Ngo in South Coast Repertory’s world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Tania Thompson/SCR.

Cambodian Rock Band is set in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and moves back and forth in time. It’s the story of a young Cambodian American who has found evidence that could finally put away one of the Khmer Rouge’s chief henchman, a man who oversaw the country’s most notorious prison. But her work is far from done. Her Dad shows up unannounced-his first time back in Cambodia since fleeing 30 years ago- and it’s clear that this isn’t just a pleasure trip for him.

From the first rehearsal: actors Brooke Ishibashi, Jane Lui, Abraham Kim, Joseph Ngo, Daisuke Tsuji and Raymond Lee with playwright Lauren Yee (center). Courtesy of Facebook
From the first rehearsal: actors Brooke Ishibashi, Jane Lui, Abraham Kim, Joseph Ngo, Daisuke Tsuji and Raymond Lee with playwright Lauren Yee (center). Courtesy of Facebook

Yee is a finalist for the 2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for her play The Great Leap (world premiere through March 11, Denver Center for the Performing Arts). Her other plays include King of the Yees (Goodman Theatre, Center Theatre Group), Ching Chong Chinaman, The Hatmaker’s Wife, Hookman, In a Word, Samsara and The Tiger Among Us. She was a Dramatists Guild Fellow, a MacDowell Fellow, a MAP Fund grantee, a member of The Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group, a Time Warner Fellow at the Women’s Project Playwrights Lab, the Shank Playwright-in-Residence at Second StageTheatre, a Playwrights’ Center Core Writer and held the Page One Residency at Playwrights Realm. In a Word won the Francesca Primus Prize and was a finalist for the American Theatre Critics Association/Harold and Mimi Steinberg Award. The Hatmaker’s Wife was an Outer Critics Circle nominee for the John Gassner Award for best play by a new American playwright. She earned a BA from Yale University and an MFA from the University of California, San Diego.

Lauren Yee
Lauren Yee

Yee wrote Cambodian Rock Band on commission through SCR’s CrossRoads program, which develops plays that explore the cultural diversity of Orange County through artist residencies. For Cambodian Rock Band, Yee’s residency cast a wider net, including Long Beach. CrossRoads is supported by a grant from the Time Warner Foundation.

Abraham Kim, Daisuke Tsuji, Joe Ngo, Brooke Ishibashi, Raymond Lee and Jane Lui in South Coast Repertory's world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Danielle Bliss/SCR.
Abraham Kim, Daisuke Tsuji, Joe Ngo, Brooke Ishibashi, Raymond Lee and Jane Lui in South Coast Repertory’s world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Danielle Bliss/SCR.
Chay Yew. Photo by Lia Chang
Chay Yew. Photo by Lia Chang

The design and creative team includes Takeshi Kata and Se Oh, scenic design; Sara Ryung Clement, costume design; David Weiner, lighting design; Mikhail Fiksel, sound design; Matthew MacNelly, music director; and Joanne DeNaut, CSA, casting. The production manager is Joshua Marchesi and the stage manager is Bryan Sommer. Andy Knight is the dramaturg.

Cambodian Rock Band has generous support from Honorary Producers Carolyn and Bill Klein and Samuel and Tammy Tang. The media partners are KCRW, Orange Coast Magazine and the Orange County Business Journal. This play is a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award.

Tickets start at $23. Discounts are available for full-time students, patrons 25 years of age and under, fulltime educators, seniors and groups of 10 or more. For complete information, visit: www.scr.org.

Tickets: May be purchased online at www.scr.org, by phone at (714) 708-5555 or by visiting the Box Office at 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa. Performances run March 4-25. Ticket prices start at $23. Low-priced previews run March 4-8. SCR’s performances run Tuesdays-Sundays; there are no performances on Mondays.

Lauren Yee’s THE GREAT LEAP, is among 10 Finalists Selected for the 2017-2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Lori Tan Chinn
Lia Chang. Photo by Lori Tan Chinn

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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Brooke Ishibashi, Abraham Kim, Raymond Lee, Jane Lui, Joe Ngo and Daisuke Tsuji set for World Premiere of Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band at South Coast Repertory, March 4-25

Abraham Kim, Daisuke Tsuji, Joe Ngo, Brooke Ishibashi, Raymond Lee and Jane Lui in South Coast Repertory's world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Danielle Bliss/SCR.
Lauren Yee
Lauren Yee
Chay Yew. Photo by Lia Chang
Chay Yew. Photo by Lia Chang

Part comedy, part mystery and part rock concert, playwright Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band explores an overlooked chapter of history-1970s Cambodia with its vibrant surf-rock music scene and then under the Khmer Rouge regime. The play features songs by the Long Beach-based band Dengue Fever. The world premiere of this South Coast Repertory commission is directed by Chay Yew on the Julianne Argyros Stage, March 4-25. Tickets are available at www.scr.org.

“Since I first heard Dengue Fever’s music, I’ve been obsessed with the history of Cambodia’s surf-rock scene and the country’s dark Khmer Rouge years, when so many people, including those in the arts, perished,” Yee said. “I never knew quite how to write about it in a way that celebrated the individuals behind the music. Until now.”

From the first rehearsal: actors Brooke Ishibashi, Jane Lui, Abraham Kim, Joseph Ngo, Daisuke Tsuji and Raymond Lee with playwright Lauren Yee (center). Courtesy of Facebook
From the first rehearsal: actors Brooke Ishibashi, Jane Lui, Abraham Kim, Joseph Ngo, Daisuke Tsuji and Raymond Lee with playwright Lauren Yee (center). Courtesy of Facebook

Cambodian Rock Band is set in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and moves back and forth in time. It’s the story of a young Cambodian American who has found evidence that could finally put away one of the Khmer Rouge’s chief henchman, a man who oversaw the country’s most notorious prison. But her work is far from done. Her Dad shows up unannounced-his first time back in Cambodia since fleeing 30 years ago- and it’s clear that this isn’t just a pleasure trip for him.

Yee is a finalist for the 2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for her play The Great Leap (world premiere through March 11, Denver Center for the Performing Arts). Her other plays include King of the Yees (Goodman Theatre, Center Theatre Group), Ching Chong Chinaman, The Hatmaker’s Wife, Hookman, In a Word, Samsara and The Tiger Among Us. She was a Dramatists Guild Fellow, a MacDowell Fellow, a MAP Fund grantee, a member of The Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group, a Time Warner Fellow at the Women’s Project Playwrights Lab, the Shank Playwright-in-Residence at Second StageTheatre, a Playwrights’ Center Core Writer and held the Page One Residency at Playwrights Realm. In a Word won the Francesca Primus Prize and was a finalist for the American Theatre Critics Association/Harold and Mimi Steinberg Award. The Hatmaker’s Wife was an Outer Critics Circle nominee for the John Gassner Award for best play by a new American playwright. She earned a BA from Yale University and an MFA from the University of California, San Diego.

Yee wrote Cambodian Rock Band on commission through SCR’s CrossRoads program, which develops plays that explore the cultural diversity of Orange County through artist residencies. For Cambodian Rock Band, Yee’s residency cast a wider net, including Long Beach. CrossRoads is supported by a grant from the Time Warner Foundation.

Abraham Kim, Daisuke Tsuji, Brooke Ishibashi, Raymond Lee and Jane Lui in South Coast Repertory's world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Danielle Bliss/SCR.
Abraham Kim, Daisuke Tsuji, Brooke Ishibashi, Raymond Lee and Jane Lui in South Coast Repertory’s world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Danielle Bliss/SCR.

The cast includes Brooke Ishibashi, Abraham Kim, Raymond Lee, Jane Lui, Joe Ngo and Daisuke Tsuji.

The design and creative team includes Takeshi Kata and Se Oh, scenic design; Sara Ryung Clement, costume design; David Weiner, lighting design; Mikhail Fiksel, sound design; Matthew MacNelly, music director; and Joanne DeNaut, CSA, casting. The production manager is Joshua Marchesi and the stage manager is Bryan Sommer. Andy Knight is the dramaturg.

Cambodian Rock Band has generous support from Honorary Producers Carolyn and Bill Klein and Samuel and Tammy Tang. The media partners are KCRW, Orange Coast Magazine and the Orange County Business Journal. This play is a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award.

Tickets start at $23. Discounts are available for full-time students, patrons 25 years of age and under, fulltime educators, seniors and groups of 10 or more. For complete information, visit: www.scr.org.

Tickets: May be purchased online at www.scr.org, by phone at (714) 708-5555 or by visiting the Box Office at 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa. Performances run March 4-25. Ticket prices start at $23. Low-priced previews run March 4-8. SCR’s performances run Tuesdays-Sundays; there are no performances on Mondays.

Lauren Yee’s THE GREAT LEAP, is among 10 Finalists Selected for the 2017-2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Lori Tan Chinn
Lia Chang. Photo by Lori Tan Chinn

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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