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