Chay Yew Helmed CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND by Lauren Yee Set for Signature Theatre, February 4 – March 8, 2020

World Premieres from Dominique Morisseau, Katori Hall, and More Lined Up for Signature's 2019/20 Season

Steinberg Award-winner Lauren Yee begins her Residency 5 with the New York premiere of Cambodian Rock Band, directed by Chay Yew, February 4 – March, 2020 on the Irene Diamond Stage during the 2019-2020 Signature Theatre Season.

Lauren Yee Wins Steinberg-ATCA Award For CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND

Ms. Yee recently received the Steinberg-ATCA Award and the Whiting Award for Cambodian Rock Band, awarded to ten diverse emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama.

Don’t miss this powerful play, currently running at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, directed by Chay Yew and Victory Gardens in Chicago, directed by Marti Lyons.

Greg Watanabe, Rammel Chan, Eileen Doan, Peter Sipla, Aja Wiltshire and Matthew Yee in Chicago Premiere Of CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND at Victory Gardens 

The Rise of Playwright Lauren Yee

Yee joins four other resident playwrights in a season that will feature six works  including two productions by Signature’s new Residency 1 playwright Anna Deavere Smith, world premiere plays from Residency 5 playwrights Katori Hall and Dominique Morisseau, and a new production of a Pulitzer Prize-winning play from Legacy playwright Horton Foote.

All performances will take place at the company’s Frank Gehry-designed Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues). Signature is proud to continue the groundbreaking Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access, its one-of-a-kind commitment to providing subsidized, affordable tickets to every seat at every performance during a production’s regular run. All tickets will be $35 for the 2019-2020 Season.

Obie, Lortel and MacArthur Award winner Anna Deavere Smith will join Signature as Residency 1 playwright in the 2019-2020 Season. Residency 1 is Signature’s core Playwright-in-Residence program that produces multiple plays by one writer over the course of a year. Signature will produce two of Smith’s plays – Fires in the Mirror, directed by Saheem Ali, and Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, directed by Taibi Magar – in the 2019-20 Season, with a new play to be produced in an upcoming season.

Residency 5 will feature two world premieres, with The Hot Wing King by Katori Hall, directed by Steve H. Broadnax III, and Confederates by Dominique Morisseau, directed by Kamilah Forbes. The groundbreaking Residency 5 program supports playwrights with exceptional resources for five years, so they can create new work, and guarantees each playwright a minimum of three productions at The Pershing Square Signature Center. The program includes a diverse community of playwrights as they build bodies of work, and offers commission support, health benefits and a stipend to attend theatre. In addition to Hall, Morisseau and Yee, the program’s current playwrights are Annie Baker, Martha Clarke, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Samuel D. Hunter, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, The Mad Ones and Dave Malloy.

Signature’s Legacy Program, a homecoming for past Signature Playwrights-in-Residence, will feature a new production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Young Man from Atlanta by Horton Foote, directed by Foote’s longtime collaborator Michael Wilson.

Signature’s current 2018-2019 Season continues with a new production of Curse of the Starving Class by Legacy playwright Sam Shepard, directed by Terry Kinney, beginning performances on April 23, 2019, and the world premiere of the chamber choir musical, Octet by Residency 5 writer Dave Malloy, directed by Annie Tippe, beginning performances on April 30, 2019.

Tickets to the initial runs of all Signature Productions at The Pershing Square Signature Center are $35, part of the groundbreaking Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access, a program that guarantees affordable tickets to every Signature production through 2031. This spring, Signature will offer its millionth subsidized ticket through the Signature Ticket Initiative. Serving as a model for theatres and performing arts organizations across the country, the Initiative was founded in 2005 and is made possible by lead partner The Pershing Square Foundation with additional support provided by the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, Margot Adams, The SHS Foundation, Unlikely Collaborators, the Lily AuchinclossFoundation, Consolidated Edison Company of New York, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

Subscriptions to the 2019-2020 Season are on sale now by calling Ticket Services at 212-244-7529 (Tues. – Sun., 11am – 6pm) or by visiting www.signaturetheatre.org.

Greg Watanabe, Rammel Chan, Eileen Doan, Peter Sipla, Aja Wiltshire and Matthew Yee in Chicago Premiere Of CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND at Victory Gardens

Victory Gardens Theater continues its 44th season with the Chicago Premiere of Cambodian Rock Band, written by Lauren Yee, featuring songs by Dengue Fever and directed by Marti Lyons. Cambodian Rock Band runs April 5 – May 5, 2019 with press performance on Friday, April 12, 2019 at 7:30pm at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue. Victory Gardens is also pleased to announce a partnership with Lincoln Hall to present Dengue Fever in concert on Wednesday, May 1, 2019.

Rammel Chan, Matthew Yee and Greg Watanabe. Photo Credit: Liz Lauren
Rammel Chan, Matthew Yee and Greg Watanabe. Photo Credit: Liz Lauren

Cambodian Rock Band is presented with City Theatre Company and Merrimack Repertory Theatre. Following the run at Victory Gardens Theater, Cambodian Rock Band will be presented at City Theatre Company in Pittsburgh, PA, September 14 – October 6, 2019, and Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, MA, October 16 – November 10, 2019.

Rammel Chan and Greg Watanabe. Photo Credit: Liz Lauren
Rammel Chan and Greg Watanabe. Photo Credit: Liz Lauren

Part comedy, part mystery, part rock concert, this thrilling story toggles back and forth in time, as father and daughter face the music of the past. Neary, a young Cambodian American, has found evidence that could finally put away individuals who carried out the Cambodian genocide. But her work is far from done. When Dad shows up unannounced-his first return to Cambodia since fleeing 30 years ago-it’s clear this isn’t just a pleasure trip. A wild rock-and-roll journey through the eyes of father and daughter, Artistic Director Chay Yew brings the world premiere journey of Lauren Yee’s (Samsara) Cambodian Rock Band from South Coast Repertory Theatre to Victory Gardens.

Matthew Yee and Rammel Chan. Photo Credit: Liz Lauren
Matthew Yee and Rammel Chan. Photo Credit: Liz Lauren

The cast of Cambodian Rock Band includes Rammel Chan (Duch), Eileen Doan (Pou/Guard/Keyboard), Peter Sipla (Rom/Journalist/Drums), Greg Watanabe (Chum/Bass), Aja Wiltshire (Neary/Sothea/Vocals), and Matthew Yee (Leng/Ted/Guitar).

Matthew Yee and Aja Wiltshire. Photo Credit: Liz Lauren
Matthew Yee and Aja Wiltshire. Photo Credit: Liz Lauren

The creative team includes Matt MacNelly (music direction), Yu Shibagaki (scenic design), Izumi Inaba (costume design), Keith Parham (lighting design), and Mikhail Fiskel (sound design).

Greg Watanabe. Photo Credit: Liz Lauren
Greg Watanabe. Photo Credit: Liz Lauren
Cast of Cambodian Rock Band. Photo Credit: Liz Lauren
Cast of Cambodian Rock Band. Photo Credit: Liz Lauren
Cast of Cambodian Rock Band. Photo Credit: Liz Lauren
Cast of Cambodian Rock Band. Photo Credit: Liz Lauren
Cast of Cambodian Rock Band. Photo Credit: Liz Lauren
Cast of Cambodian Rock Band. Photo Credit: Liz Lauren
Aja Wiltshire and Greg Watanabe. Photo Credit: Liz Lauren

Lead Partner for the Victory Gardens Theater production of Cambodian Rock Band is the National Cambodian Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial located at 2831 W. Lawrence Avenue, Chicago, IL. www.cambodianmuseum.org

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.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

Lauren Yee Wins Steinberg-ATCA Award For CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND

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” by Lauren Yee has been named the winner of the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, recognizing playwrights for the best scripts that premiered professionally outside New York City during 2018.

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.

According to adjudicators on the ATCA New Plays Committee, “Cambodian Rock Band” offers “a very involving story about war, selfishness, atrocity, betrayal, revenge, retribution, and guilt-laden survival.” “The notion of exploring the Cambodian holocaust through contemporary investigation, past survivor memories, and rock and roll is absolutely inspired, and to execute it with such unexpected humor and supple time shifts is a real accomplishment.” “It’s refreshing to see a playwright move so deftly between three eras. The transitions felt seamless.” “This play felt at once fresh and deeply grounded in history.”

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

The award, presented April 6 at the 2019 Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville, carries a $25,000 prize. “Cambodian Rock Band” had its world premiere at South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa, California.

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.

Ms. Yee recently received The Whiting Award for “Cambodian Rock Band,” awarded to ten diverse emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama.

Don’t miss this powerful play, currently running at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, directed by Chay Yew and Victory Gardens in Chicago, directed by Marti Lyons.

Rammel Chan, Eileen Doan, Peter Sipla, Greg Watanabe, Aja Wiltshire and Matthew Yee Set for Chicago Premiere Of CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND at Victory Gardens 

The Rise of Playwright Lauren Yee

Lauren Yee is a playwright born and raised in San Francisco. She lives in New York City. She received her bachelor’s degree from Yale University and her MFA in playwriting from UCSD. Lauren’s work includes King of the Yees, The Great Leap, Cambodian Rock Band, Ching Chong Chinaman, The Hatmaker’s Wife, and others. She was a Dramatists Guild fellow, a MacDowell fellow, a MAP Fund grantee, and others. She is the winner of the Kesselring Prize and the Francesca Primus Prize. She has been a finalist for the Edward M. Kennedy Prize, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the ATCA/Steinberg Award, and others. The Hatmaker’s Wife was an Outer Critics Circle nominee for the John Gassner Award for best play by a new American playwright. Lauren is a member of the Ma-Yi Theatre Writers Lab, a 2018/2019 Hodder fellow at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, and a New Dramatists playwright.

Two citations, with prizes of $7,500 each, were awarded to Noah Haidle for his play “Birthday Candles” and to Jen Silverman for her play “Witch.”

The ATCA adjudicators assessed that “Birthday Candles,” which chronicles a woman’s life while she makes an onstage cake “somehow bakes up the simple and the cosmic into a profound experience.” “Far from a gimmick play. It’s a beautiful one that walks a fine line that stays specific while occupying the universal.” “Birthday Candles” had its world premiere at Detroit Public Theatre.

According to panelists, “Witch” is “a beautifully balanced play” centered on “a silver-tongued Devil, and a gutsy unpopular woman with a great head on her shoulders.” “I’ve never seen a ‘deal with the devil’ concept blow away my expectations the way this one did.” “Witch” had its world premiere at Writers Theatre in Glencoe, Illinois.

At $40,000, the Steinberg-ATCA is the largest national new play award program of its kind. ATCA began honoring new plays produced at regional theaters outside New York City in 1977. Plays receiving a production in New York City during the award cycle are not eligible for consideration. The Steinberg/ATCA award has been generously funded by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust since 2000.

Six finalists and the award and citation recipients were selected from eligible scripts recommended by ATCA members from around the country. They were evaluated by a committee of theater critics, led by Lou Harry of louharry.com and the podcast “Lou Harry Gets Real.” Other participants included Nancy Bishop (Chicago, IL), Lindsay Christians (Madison, WI), Mike Fischer (Milwaukee, WI), Amanda Finn (Chicago, IL), Melissa Hall (Indianapolis, IN), Pam Harbaugh (Indialantic, FL), Mark Lowry (Dallas, TX), Jonathan Mandell (New York, NY), Julius Novick (New York, NY), Marjorie Oberlander (New York, NY), Kathryn Osenlund (Philadelphia, PA), Wendy Parker (Midlothian, VA), Wendy Rosenfield (Philadelphia, PA), Martha Wade Steketee (New York, NY), and Perry Tannenbaum (Charlotte, NC).

“Short of having an unlimited travel account, there’s no better way to get a sense of the vibrancy of theater across America than serving on the Steinberg judging panel,” said committee chair Lou Harry. “Once again, the wealth of offerings prompted fierce, thoughtful debate leading not only to a set of deserving honorees but also to a renewed hope for the future of American theater. Thanks to the Steinbergs, these plays will have extra light shining on them.”

Since the inception of ATCA’s new play award, honorees have included Lanford Wilson, Marsha Norman, August Wilson, Arthur Miller, Mac Wellman, Adrienne Kennedy, Donald Margulies, Moises Kaufman, Craig Lucas, and Robert Schenkkan. Last year’s honoree was The Book of Will by Lauren Gunderson. Visit americantheatrecritics.org for a full list of previous winners and finalists.

The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust was created in 1986 by Harold Steinberg on behalf of himself and his late wife. Pursuing its primary mission to support the American theater, it has provided grants totaling millions of dollars for new productions of American plays and educational programs for those who may not ordinarily experience live theater.

The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) was founded in 1974 and works to public awareness of the role of theatre critics and to raise critical standards within the profession. It is the only national association of professional theater critics, with over two hundred members working in print, broadcast, and online media. ATCA is a section of the International Association of Theatre Critics / Association internationale des critiques de théâtre (IATC-AICT), a UNESCO-affiliated organization that sponsors seminars and congresses worldwide.

Other playwriting awards presented by ATCA include:

The M. Elizabeth Osborn Award, honoring emerging playwrights.
The Francesca Primus Prize, bestowing an annual $10,000 award funded by the Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation, to honor outstanding contributions to the American theatre by female artists who have not yet achieved national prominence.
Additionally, ATCA members recommend candidates for the Tony Award for Regional Theatre presented annually by the American Theatre Wing/Broadway League, and also vote on the annual inductions into the Theater Hall of Fame.

Rammel Chan, Eileen Doan, Peter Sipla, Greg Watanabe, Aja Wiltshire and Matthew Yee Set for Chicago Premiere Of CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND at Victory Gardens

Greg Watanabe
Greg Watanabe
Greg Watanabe

Victory Gardens Theater continues its 44th season with the Chicago Premiere of Cambodian Rock Band, written by Lauren Yee, featuring songs by Dengue Fever and directed by Marti Lyons. Cambodian Rock Band runs April 5 – May 5, 2019, with press performance on Friday, April 12, 2019 at 7:30pm at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue. Victory Gardens is also pleased to announce a partnership with Lincoln Hall to present Dengue Fever in concert on Wednesday, May 1, 2019.

Cambodian Rock Band is presented with City Theatre Company and Merrimack Repertory Theatre. Following the run at Victory Gardens Theater, Cambodian Rock Band will be presented at City Theatre Company in Pittsburgh, PA, September 14 – October 6, 2019, and Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, MA, October 16 – November 10, 2019.

Part comedy, part mystery, part rock concert, this thrilling story toggles back and forth in time, as father and daughter face the music of the past. Neary, a young Cambodian American, has found evidence that could finally put away individuals who carried out the Cambodian genocide. But her work is far from done. When Dad shows up unannounced-his first return to Cambodia since fleeing 30 years ago-it’s clear this isn’t just a pleasure trip. A wild rock-and-roll journey through the eyes of father and daughter, Artistic Director Chay Yew brings the world premiere journey of Lauren Yee’s (Samsara) Cambodian Rock Band from South Coast Repertory Theatre to Victory Gardens.

“Yee’s play is a fierce, gorgeous, heartwarming, comedic fairy tale.” – Los Angeles Times

“Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band is a work of incredible theatrical deftness, brutal honesty, pure heart and wit. Her play breathes life to the timely issues in our divided nation: immigration, race, genocide and human rights abuses; the rights of refugees and emigres; the consequences of apathy when a country shifts under a brutal regime; and the destruction of freedom of expression in the midst of political transitions and upheavals,” says Chay Yew, Artistic Director. “In Lauren’s astute eyes, one thing remains consistent throughout our temperamental world: the constancy, the resilience and enduring power of art and artists. Cambodian Rock Band celebrates the indomitable legacy of art and music; how artists capture our individual and national spirit and hopes; and the uncanny ability of art to inspire, to affirm our humanity, and to bring us together.”

The cast of Cambodian Rock Band includes Rammel Chan (Duch), Eileen Doan (Pou/Guard/Keyboard), Peter Sipla (Rom/Journalist/Drums), Greg Watanabe (Chum/Bass), Aja Wiltshire (Neary/Sothea/Vocals), and Matthew Yee (Leng/Ted/Guitar).

The creative team includes Matt MacNelly (music direction), Yu Shibagaki (scenic design), Izumi Inaba (costume design), Keith Parham (lighting design), and Mikhail Fiskel (sound design).

Lead Partner for the Victory Gardens Theater production of Cambodian Rock Band is the National Cambodian Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial located at 2831 W. Lawrence Avenue, Chicago, IL. www.cambodianmuseum.org

Lia Chang
Lia Chang

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.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

BD Wong, Arye Gross, Tim Liu and Ruibo Qian in A.C.T.’s THE GREAT LEAP through March 31

Tim Liu, Ruibo Qian, BD Wong. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) is presenting award-winning Bay Area playwright Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater (415 Geary St., San Francisco) through March 31, 2019.

Tim Liu, Arye Gross. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tim Liu, Arye Gross. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

When a college basketball team from San Francisco is invited to China for an exhibition game in 1989, a smack-talking American coach prepares to take on his protégé-now grown and bent on crushing the Westerners. But after a public high school star from Chinatown joins the American team, his actions in Beijing become the accidental focus of attention, escalating the fractured history between the coaches. Funny, urgent, and contemporary, this slam dunk of a sports drama from Yee-developed at A.C.T.’s New Strands Festival in 2017-explores cultural identity, global politics, and the collision of cultures and generations. Under the direction of two-time Obie Award winner Lisa Peterson, The Great Leap soars through time and leaps across continents from the hardball courts of San Francisco’s Chinatown to a Beijing on the brink of a revolution, building tension right up to the buzzer. Press night for The Great Leap will be held on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Single tickets (ranging from $15-$110) are available at the A.C.T. Box Office at 415.749.2228 or online at www.act-sf.org. Ticket prices are subject to change without notice.

Arye Gross. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Arye Gross. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Following rave reviews and audience acclaim in The Great Leap at off-Broadway’s Atlantic Theater Company this past spring, Tony Award winner and San Francisco native BD Wong (The Orphan of Zhao at A.C.T.; “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”) will reprise his role as “Wen Chang.” Joining him are (in alphabetical order) Arye Gross (ABC’s “Castle”; Wild Oats at South Coast Repertory Theatre) as “Saul,” Tim Liu (A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey; Incident at Hidden Temple at Pan Asian Repertory Theatre) as “Manford,” and Ruibo Qian (Bull in a China Shop at Lincoln Center Theater; Water by the Spoonful at The Old Globe) as “Connie.”

BD Wong, Arye Gross. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
BD Wong, Arye Gross. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

The creative team for The Great Leap includes Robert Brill (Scenic Designer), Meg Neville (Costume Designer), Yi Zhao (Lighting Designer), Jake Rodriguez (Sound Designer), and Hana Sooyeon Kim (Video Designer).

Tim Liu. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tim Liu. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

In connection with The Great Leap, A.C.T. will offer numerous InterACT events-many of which are presented free of charge-that will give patrons opportunities to get closer to the action while having an entire night out at the theater. Visit act-sf.org/interact to learn more about subscribing to these events throughout the season: Bike to the Theater Night:

Prologue:
Tuesday, March 12, 5:30 p.m.
Before the curtain goes up, get a sneak peek at the artistic process at this fascinating preshow discussion with the director and artistic staff.

Audience Exchanges:
Tuesday, March 19, 7 p.m. | Sunday, March 24, 2 p.m. | Wednesday, March 27, 2 p.m.
After the show, stick around for a lively Q&A session with the actors and artists who create the work onstage.

OUT with A.C.T.:
Wednesday, March 20, following the 8 p.m. performance
The best LGBT night in town! Mingle with the cast and enjoy free drinks and treats at this popular after-party.

Wente Vineyards Wine Series:
Tuesday, March 26, 7 p.m.
Before the show, raise a glass at this wine-tasting event featuring the Bay Area’s hottest local winery.

PlayTime:
Saturday, March 30, 12:45 p.m.
Before this matinee performance, get hands-on with the artists who make it happen at this interactive theater workshop. A.C.T.’s production of The Great Leap is made possible by executive producers The Milledge and Patti Hart Family; Jo S. Hurley; and Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation; and producers Lloyd and Janet Cluff; and David and Carla Riemer.

A.C.T.’s production of The Great Leap is made possible by executive producers Kevin and Celeste Ford; The Milledge and Patti Hart Family; Jo S. Hurley; and Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation; and producers Lloyd and Janet Cluff; and David and Carla Riemer.

Tim Liu, Ruibo Qian. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tim Liu, Ruibo Qian. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tim Liu, Arye Gross. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tim Liu, Arye Gross. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tim Liu, Ruibo Qian. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tim Liu, Ruibo Qian. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Arye Gross. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Arye Gross. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Arye Gross, BD Wong. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Arye Gross, BD Wong. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tim Liu, BD Wong. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tim Liu, BD Wong. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
BD Wong. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
BD Wong. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tim Liu, Ruibo Qian. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tim Liu, Ruibo Qian. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tim Liu, BD Wong, Arye Gross, Ruibo Qian. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tim Liu, BD Wong, Arye Gross, Ruibo Qian. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tim Liu, Ruibo Qian, BD Wong. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tim Liu, Ruibo Qian, BD Wong. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Lia Chang
Lia Chang

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.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

Tony Award winner and San Francisco Native BD Wong, Arye Gross, Tim Liu and Ruibo Qian Set for Lauren Yee’s THE GREAT LEAP at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater, March 6-31

BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon announced the full cast and creative team for award-winning Bay Area playwright Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap, performing at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater (415 Geary St., San Francisco) March 6-31, 2019.

BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang
BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang

When a college basketball team from San Francisco is invited to China for an exhibition game in 1989, a smack-talking American coach prepares to take on his protégé-now grown and bent on crushing the Westerners. But after a public high school star from Chinatown joins the American team, his actions in Beijing become the accidental focus of attention, escalating the fractured history between the coaches. Funny, urgent, and contemporary, this slam dunk of a sports drama from Yee-developed at A.C.T.’s New Strands Festival in 2017-explores cultural identity, global politics, and the collision of cultures and generations. Under the direction of two-time Obie Award winner Lisa Peterson, The Great Leap soars through time and leaps across continents from the hardball courts of San Francisco’s Chinatown to a Beijing on the brink of a revolution, building tension right up to the buzzer. Press night for The Great Leap will be held on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Single tickets (ranging from $15-$110) are available at the A.C.T. Box Office at 415.749.2228 or online at www.act-sf.org. Ticket prices are subject to change without notice.

Following rave reviews and audience acclaim in The Great Leap at off-Broadway’s Atlantic Theater Company this past spring, Tony Award winner and San Francisco native BD Wong (The Orphan of Zhao at A.C.T.; “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”) will reprise his role as “Wen Chang.” Joining him are (in alphabetical order) Arye Gross (ABC’s “Castle”; Wild Oats at South Coast Repertory Theatre) as “Saul,” Tim Liu (A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey; Incident at Hidden Temple at Pan Asian Repertory Theatre) as “Manford,” and Ruibo Qian (Bull in a China Shop at Lincoln Center Theater; Water by the Spoonful at The Old Globe) as “Connie.”

Says A.C.T. Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon: “I am delighted to have this San Francisco story-written by one of theater’s most exciting new voices and developed at A.C.T.’s New Strands Festival-play The Geary Theater. Yee’s basketball play puts a surprising search for self and belonging center court.”

The creative team for The Great Leap includes Robert Brill (Scenic Designer), Meg Neville (Costume Designer), Yi Zhao (Lighting Designer), Jake Rodriguez (Sound Designer), and Hana Sooyeon Kim (Video Designer).

In connection with The Great Leap, A.C.T. will offer numerous InterACT events-many of which are presented free of charge-that will give patrons opportunities to get closer to the action while having an entire night out at the theater. Visit act-sf.org/interact to learn more about subscribing to these events throughout the season: Bike to the Theater Night:

Wednesday, March 6, 7 p.m.
Providing a greener alternative to theater transportation, A.C.T. and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition offer free valet bike parking, as well as a special discount on tickets, for these select performances.

Prologue:
Tuesday, March 12, 5:30 p.m.
Before the curtain goes up, get a sneak peek at the artistic process at this fascinating preshow discussion with the director and artistic staff.

Audience Exchanges:
Tuesday, March 19, 7 p.m. | Sunday, March 24, 2 p.m. | Wednesday, March 27, 2 p.m.
After the show, stick around for a lively Q&A session with the actors and artists who create the work onstage.

OUT with A.C.T.:
Wednesday, March 20, following the 8 p.m. performance
The best LGBT night in town! Mingle with the cast and enjoy free drinks and treats at this popular after-party.

Wente Vineyards Wine Series:
Tuesday, March 26, 7 p.m.
Before the show, raise a glass at this wine-tasting event featuring the Bay Area’s hottest local winery.

PlayTime:
Saturday, March 30, 12:45 p.m.
Before this matinee performance, get hands-on with the artists who make it happen at this interactive theater workshop. A.C.T.’s production of The Great Leap is made possible by executive producers The Milledge and Patti Hart Family; Jo S. Hurley; and Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation; and producers Lloyd and Janet Cluff; and David and Carla Riemer.

A.C.T.’s production of The Great Leap is made possible by executive producers Kevin and Celeste Ford; The Milledge and Patti Hart Family; Jo S. Hurley; and Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation; and producers Lloyd and Janet Cluff; and David and Carla Riemer.

Lia Chang
Lia Chang

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.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

Lauren Yee, Martyna Majok, Heidi Schreck and More Among Finalists for Susan Smith Blackburn Prize

Lauren Yee. Photo by Lia Chang
Playwright Lauren Yee at the Atlantic Theater Stage 2. Photo by Lia Chang
Playwright Lauren Yee at the Atlantic Theater Stage 2. Photo by Lia Chang

The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize has announced 10 Finalists for its prestigious playwriting Award, the oldest and largest prize awarded to women playwrights. Chosen from over 150 nominated plays, the Finalists are:

Hilary Bettis (U.S.) 72 miles to go…
Jackie Sibblies Drury (U.S.) Fairview
Debbie Tucker Green (U.K.) ear for eye
Ella Hickson (U.K.) The Writer
Martyna Majok (U.S.) Sanctuary City
Lily Padilla (U.S.) How to Defend Yourself
Nina Raine (U.K.) Stories
Ella Road (U.K.) The Phlebotomist
Heidi Schreck (U.S.) What the Constitution Means to Me
Lauren Yee (U.S.) Cambodian Rock Band

The Winner of the 2019 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize will be named at the Award Presentation, which honors all finalists, on Monday, March 4 at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. The winner will be awarded a cash prize of $25,000 and will also receive a signed print by renowned artist, Willem De Kooning, created especially for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Each of the additional finalists will receive an award of $5,000.

The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize is awarded annually to celebrate women who have written works of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre. Administered in Houston, New York and London, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize is named after the noted American actor and writer who grew up in Houston and lived in London during the last 15 years of her life. Susan believed that society urgently needed more influence from talented women. The purpose of the prize is to honor excellence and to perpetuate the high standards, creativity and vitality that were characteristic of Susan’s life.

Over 450 plays have been honored as finalists of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Many of the Winners have gone on to receive other top honors, including Olivier, Lilly, Evening Standard and Tony Awards for Best Play. Ten Susan Smith Blackburn Finalist plays have subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. The Prize has also fostered an interchange of plays between the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and other English-speaking countries.

Winners of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize include Alice Birch’s Anatomy of a Suicide, Lynn Nottage’s Sweat, Annie Baker’s The Flick, Caryl Churchill’s Serious Money, Paula Vogel’s How I Learned to Drive, Nell Dunn’s Steaming, Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles, Katori Hall’s Hurt Village, Chloe Moss’s This Wide Night, Sarah Ruhl’s The Clean House, Judith Thompson’s Palace of the End, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s Behzti (Dishonour), Dael Orlandersmith’s Yellowman, Julia Cho’s The Language Archive, Gina Gionfriddo’s U.S. Drag, Charlotte Jones’ Humble Boy, Naomi Wallace’s One Flea Spare, and Moira Buffini’s Silence.

Former Judges of The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize over the past forty-one years are a who’s who of the English-speaking theatre and include Edward Albee, Eileen Atkins, Blair Brown, Zoe Caldwell, Glenn Close, Harold Clurman, Colleen Dewhurst, Edie Falco, Ralph Fiennes, Greta Gerwig, Sam Gold, John Guare, A.R. Gurney, Mel Gussow, David Hare, Jeremy Herrin, Garry Hynes, Judith Ivey, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Tony Kushner, Phyllida Lloyd, Francis McDormand, Janet McTeer, Tanya Moodie, Cynthia Nixon, Joan Plowright, Diana Rigg, Marian Seldes, Fiona Shaw, Max Stafford-Clark, Tom Stoppard, Meryl Streep, Daniel Sullivan, Jessica Tandy, Sigourney Weaver, August Wilson and George C. Wolfe among more than 200 artists and theatre professionals from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.

Judges for the 2019 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize are: Michael Buffong (U.K.), Artistic Director of Talawa Theatre; Maria Goyanes (U.S.), Artistic Director of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre; Tony and Olivier Award-winning stage director Marianne Elliott, OBE (U.K.), Playwright and winner of the 2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for The Nether, Jennifer Haley (U.S.), and celebrated stage, television, and film actors, Tamsin Grieg (U.K.) and Marin Ireland (U.S.).

Lia Chang
Lia Chang

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.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

Francis Jue To Star In Lauren Yee’s KING OF THE YEES at San Francisco Playhouse, January 22 – March 2

Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang

San Francisco Playhouse is presenting Lauren Yee’s King of the Yees, headlined by Obie and Lucille Lortel Award-winning actor and San Francisco native Francis Jue, January 22 – March 2. The play, centered on San Francisco’s Chinatown, was inspired by Yee’s family and their deep connections within the community. Joshua Kahan Brody will direct the Playhouse production. San Francisco Playhouse is located at 450 Post St. Floor 2M, San Francisco CA 94102. Click here for tickets.

Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang
Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang

For nearly 20 years, playwright Lauren Yee’s father Larry (played by Francis Jue) has been a driving force in the Yee Family Association, a seemingly obsolescent Chinese American men’s club formed 150 years ago in the wake of the Gold Rush. But when her father goes missing, Lauren (played by Krystle Piamonte) must plunge into the rabbit hole of San Francisco’s Chinatown and confront a world both foreign and familiar. At once bitingly hilarious and heartbreakingly honest, King of the Yees is an epic joyride across cultural, national, and familial borders that explores what it truly means to be a Yee.

The cast features Francis Jue* as Larry Yee and includes Krystle Piamonte, Jomar Tagatac*, Rinabeth Apostol*, and Will Dao*.

Lauren Yee. Photo by Lia Chang
Lauren Yee. Photo by Lia Chang

Playwright Lauren Yee, a Bay Area native, returns for her second San Francisco Playhouse production following 2015’s Glickman Award-winning in a word, which had its world premiere as part of the Playhouse’s Sandbox Series.

“I always felt that my father deserved to have a play written about him-so who better to write it than me?” said Yee. “King of the Yees is a love letter to my family, and to San Francisco and its vibrant and historic Chinatown community. It’s an extreme honor to be back in my hometown and making art for the people I grew up with.”

San Francisco Playhouse’s production of King of the Yees is made possible by Season Producer Andrew Teufel; Executive Producers Clay Foundation – West, William & Marsha Adler; Producers Margaret Sheehan, Betty & Clifford Nakamoto, Geoffrey Jue, Cynthia and David Bogolub, Phyllis & Jerry Rosenberg; Associate Producers Linda Brewer and Margot Golding.

Francis Jue is happy to return to hometown San Francisco, following last year’s Soft Power. Broadway: Pacific Overtures, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and M. Butterfly. Other favorite theatre credits include Yellow Face (Obie and Lucille Lortel Awards, plus Drama Desk and Drama League nominations), In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (AriZoni Award), Miss Saigon (Elliot Norton Award), Kiss of the Spiderwoman (Drama-Logue Award), Cabaret (Bay Area Critics Circle Award), Falsettoland, Kung Fu, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Love’s Labours Lost, Wild Goose Dreams, and Paper Dolls. Film and TV credits include Joyful Noise, and recurring roles on “Madam Secretary”, “Law & Order: SVU”, and “The Good Wife”.

Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band, with music by Dengue Fever, premiered in March 2018 at South Coast Rep and will open at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, and Victory Gardens in 2019. Her play The Great Leap premiered this past season at Denver Center, Seattle Repertory, and Atlantic Theatre with 2019 productions slated for the Guthrie, American Conservatory Theater, Arts Club, and InterAct Theatre. Also upcoming for 2018-19: The Song of Summer at Trinity Rep. Recent honors include the Horton Foote Prize, Kesselring Prize, Primus Prize, a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton, and the #1 and #2 plays on the 2017 Kilroys List, as well as a finalist of both the ATCA/Steinberg Award and the Edward M. Kennedy Prize. She is a Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab member and an alumni playwright of Playwrights Realm. She currently writes for Mixtape (Netflix). Current commissions include Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Lincoln Center/LCT3, Mixed Blood, Portland Center Stage, Second Stage, South Coast Repertory, and Trinity Repertory Company. BA: Yale. MFA: UCSD. www.laurenyee.com

Joshua Kahan Brody’s directing credits include The Last Tiger in Haiti (La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego); True Believer (Theaterlab, New York); Fourteen Flights (Fringe NYC, Official Selection of the Fringe Encore Series; Award for Excellence in Directing); Three Plays in a Tattoo Shop (THE TRIP, San Diego); Pericles and Medea (University of Missouri-Kansas City) and Little Children Dream of God, A Man, His Wife and His Hat, The Santa Barbarians, Titus Andronicus and The Dybbuk (University of California-San Diego). He has assistant directed for productions on and off-Broadway as well as at regional theaters. Mr. Brody received his MFA from University of California-San Diego and his BA from Yale University. He is the recipient of a 2015 Princess Grace Award.

San Francisco Playhouse
Founded in 2003 and boasting 2800 subscribers, San Francisco Playhouse is the only mid-sized professional venue in downtown San Francisco; an intimate alternative to the larger more traditional Union Square Theater fare. Presenting a diverse range of plays and musicals, San Francisco Playhouse produces new works as well as re-imagined classics, “making the edgy accessible and the traditional edgy.” And with its bold Sandbox Series, dedicated to nurturing World Premieres, the Playhouse has become a significant player in developing new works as well. San Francisco Playhouse is committed to providing a creative home and inspiring environment where actors, directors, writers, designers, and theater lovers converge to create and experience dramatic works that celebrate the human spirit.

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers.

Francis Jue, Peter Kim, Michelle Krusiec, Jaygee Macapugay, Joél Pérez, Kendyl Ito, Lulu Fall and More in Rehearsal for WILD GOOSE DREAMS at The Public, Extended through December 16 

Award-winning Broadway Vet Francis Jue Talks about SOFT POWER, KING OF THE YEES, WILD GOOSE DREAMS, “Madam Secretary” and Getting Married 

Final Week to see Billy Bustamante, Kara Guy, Jon Hoche, Kendyl Ito, Francis Jue, Austin Ku, Raymond J. Lee, Alyse Alan Louis, Jaygee Macapugay, Daniel May, Paul HeeSang Miller, Kristen Faith Oei, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Geena Quintos, Conrad Ricamora, Trevor Salter and Emily Stillings in David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER at San Francisco’s Curran 

BD Wong to Revisit Lauren Yee’s THE GREAT LEAP at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater, March 6 – March 31

BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang
BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang
BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang

Following rave reviews and audience acclaim at off-Broadway’s Atlantic Theater Company this past spring, American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon announced that Tony Award winner and San Francisco native BD Wong will reprise his role as ‘Wen Chang’ in award-winning Bay Area playwright Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap, performing at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater (415 Geary St., San Francisco) from Wednesday, March 6, through Sunday, March 31, 2019. Additional casting will be announced at a later date.

Says Wong: “I’m always looking for the rare work that’s as moving as it is funny, that has characters who are people you’ve never met before but whom you somehow immediately feel familiar with. This play, kind of miraculously, gives me all of it. I love Lauren Yee’s insightful vantage point that looks over family relationships and the unsettled scores such relationships keep, all wrapped up in a fresh athletic metaphor. It’s a play that is so specifically Chinese American, yet somehow all-embracing-and that isn’t an easy feat for a playwright. It is a gift of an opportunity to perform Lauren’s play on one of the great regional stages in the country.”

Lauren Yee, BD Wong, Lisa Peterson, Pam MacKinnon. Photo by Lia Chang
Lauren Yee, BD Wong, Lisa Peterson, Pam MacKinnon. Photo by Lia Chang

Adds MacKinnon: “The Great Leap was already going to be a celebration of San Francisco-a story set here, by a playwright from here, about a sport vital to here. We now add to that a homecoming for San Francisco’s own BD Wong. I cannot wait!”

When a college basketball team from San Francisco is invited to China for an exhibition game in 1989, a smack-talking American coach prepares to take on his protégé-now grown and bent on crushing the Westerners. But after a public high school star from Chinatown joins the American team, his actions in Beijing become the accidental focus of attention, escalating the fractured history between the coaches. Funny, urgent, and contemporary, this slam dunk of a sports drama from Yee-developed at A.C.T.’s New Strands Festival in 2017-explores cultural identity, global politics, and the collision of cultures and generations. Under the direction of two-time Obie Award winner Lisa Peterson, The Great Leap soars through time and leaps across continents from the hardball courts of San Francisco’s Chinatown to a Beijing on the brink of a revolution, building tension right up to the buzzer.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Wong is the only actor ever to have received all five major New York Theater awards for a single role-namely his performance in M. Butterfly (his Broadway debut): the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Theater World Award, the Clarence Derwent Award, and the Tony Award.

Wong gained notice on HBO’s critically acclaimed series “Oz” as the resilient prison priest (Father Ray) for the show’s six-season run. Then, for 11 seasons on the top-rated NBC series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” he played George Huang, an FBI forensic psychiatrist and expert on the criminal mind. Other television credits include NBC’s “Awake,” ABC’s “All-American Girl,” HBO’s telefilms And the Band Played On and The Normal Heart, as well as guest-starring roles on “Sesame Street,” “The X-Files,” “Madam Secretary,” “Nurse Jackie,” and “NCIS: New Orleans.” He most recently has been seen in two drastically different television roles simultaneously: as the nefarious Hugo Strange on “Gotham” and as the mysterious trans-female hacker Whiterose on “Mr. Robot.” For his work on the latter, he received an Emmy, Gold Derby, and a Critic’s Choice Award nominations.

Wong has appeared in more than 20 feature films, including Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Jurassic World, Focus, The Space Between Us, Stay, The Salton Sea, Executive Decision, Seven Years in Tibet, Jurassic Park, Father of the Bride (1 & 2), and The Freshman. He can also be heard as the voice of Shang in the Disney animated films Mulan and Mulan II. He will next be seen in Birdbox.

Wong’s additional New York theater credits include The Great Leap at The Atlantic Theater Company, The Tempest, A Language of Their Own, As Thousands Cheer, Shanghai Moon, and the Broadway revivals of the musicals You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures (the latter for which he received a Drama League nomination for distinguished performance). He recently starred regionally in The Orphan of Zhao at La Jolla Playhouse and San Francisco’s A.C.T. In addition, he has starred in five productions of the one-man musical Herringbone, a project dear to his heart.

Wong holds an honorary M.F.A. from American Conservatory Theater.

Three-, four-, and five-play subscriptions are available and offer incredible savings, unparalleled access, exclusive benefits, and personalized customer service. Subscribers save as much as 50% off single-ticket prices. Students and educators are eligible to save up to half price on subscriptions, and senior discounts are available for certain series. A.C.T.’s competitive subscriber benefits include free ticket exchanges up to the day of your scheduled performance, guaranteed best seating, ticket insurance, access to convenient prepaid parking one block away from the theater, discounts for neighborhood restaurants, and the opportunity to subscribe to Words on Plays, A.C.T.’s in-depth theater guide for each show.

BD Wong, Ned Eisenberg, Ali Ahn and Tony Aidan Vo Celebrate Opening Night of Lauren Yee’s THE GREAT LEAP 

The Rise of Playwright Lauren Yee

Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND and Jaclyn Backhaus’s INDIA PALE ALE are 2018 Recipients of the Horton Foote Prize

Lauren Yee. Photo by Lia Chang

Mari Marchbanks announced today the 2018 recipients of the biennial Horton Foote Prize, named in honor of the late playwright, which recognizes excellence in American theater. The 2018 Prize for Outstanding New American Play, presented to a work produced in the 2016-17 or 2017-18 seasons, is awarded to Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. The 2018 Prize for Promising New American Play, presented to a previously unproduced work, is awarded to India Pale Ale by Jaclyn Backhaus.

Lauren Yee. Photo by Lia Chang
Lauren Yee. Photo by Lia Chang

Their achievements will be celebrated at a private reception on Monday, October 15th at The Lotos Club (5 East 66th Street, New York City). Ms. Yee and Ms. Backhaus will each be presented with $25,000 and a limited edition of Keith Carter’s iconic photograph of Horton Foote, which is found in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

The four judges of the 2018 Horton Foote Prize are two-time Tony Award-winning actress Judith Ivey, serving as Chair; New Georges Artistic Director and playwright Susan Bernfield (Sizzle Sizzle Fly, Tania in the Getaway Van, My Last Car); Two River Theater Artistic Director John Dias; and Ensemble Studio Theatre Director of New Play Development and Associate Director of the EST/Sloan Project Linsay Firman.

On behalf of her fellow judges, Chair Judith Ivey said, “The playwright is the beginning for all other theatre artists. The story, the characters, and the words give the rest of us the opportunity to share that story. It is truly an honor to have been part of this year’s Horton Foote Prize committee. We four all expressed our joy and passion for all six of the final choices. The playwrights all explored the human condition and social circumstances in such creative ways, always with a solid truth and desire to share the inhumanity each character was experiencing. Each one beautifully wrote of the challenges of todays’ world. Making a decision was very difficult for all four of us.”

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.

Ms. Ivey continued, “Stylistically daring, Cambodian Rock Band deftly juxtaposes humor and rock music against the terrible truth of genocide. It is a beautiful story of love, forgiveness, and survival. Lauren Yee is a remarkable writer and Cambodian Rock Band is our choice for the 2018 Horton Foote Prize Award for Outstanding New American Play.”

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.

Cambodian Rock Band, with music by Dengue Fever, premiered in March 2018 at South Coast Repertory and will open at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Victory Gardens in 2019. Part comedy, part mystery, part rock concert, Cambodian Rock Band is a thrilling story that toggles back and forth in time, as father and daughter face the music of the past. Neary, a young Cambodian American has found evidence that could finally put away the Khmer Rouge’s chief henchman. But her work is hardly done. When Dad shows up unannounced – his first return trip to Cambodia since fleeing 30 years ago – it’s clear this isn’t just a pleasure trip.

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

India Pale Ale explores what it means to be a Sikh American in this day of racism and fear”, commented Ms. Ivey. “Gorgeously told through a Sikh family’s myth of a family member a century ago being a pirate and what that means in today’s world, framed the play as a modern-day fable rooted in stark reality at the same time. Jaclyn Backhaus has given us a story so richly poetic; it is ambitious and full of life. We are delighted to announce India Pale Ale as our selection for the 2018 Horton Foote Prize award for Promising New American Play.”

The world premiere of India Pale Ale at Manhattan Theatre Club will begin previews October 2, 2018 with opening night set for October 23, 2018 at New York City Center’s Stage I. In Ms. Backhaus’s poignant and smartly funny new play about legacy, life and longing, a tight-knit Punjabi community in a small Wisconsin town gathers to celebrate the wedding of a traditional family’s only son, just as their strong-willed daughter announces her plans to move away and open a bar. As they come together for feasts filled with singing and dancing, one generation’s cherished customs clash with another’s modern-day aspirations, and ghosts and pirates from the family’s past linger in everyone’s thoughts – until one sudden event changes everything.

Ms. Yee and Ms. Backhaus were nominated by South Coast Repertory and Manhattan Theatre Club, respectively. After a national reading committee narrowed the field of entries, ensuring that each script received multiple blind readings, a selection committee including Dramaturg, Tofte Lake Center Director, and University of Texas – Austin professor Liz Engelman, serving as Chair; Seattle-based stage director, producer, and educator Rosa Joshi; award-winning Seattle-based stage director Allison Narver; and American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) Director of Dramaturgy and New Works Joy Meads; selected the top finalists to be presented to the judges.

Previous recipients of the Horton Foote Prize include Lynn Nottage for Ruined, Will Eno for Middletown, David Lindsay-Abaire for Good People, Naomi Wallace for The Liquid Plain, Dan O’Brien for The Body of an American, Suzan-Lori Parks for Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, & 3), Jordan Harrison for Marjorie Prime, and Zayd Dohrn for The Profane.

The Horton Foote Prize is funded by the Greg and Mari Marchbanks Family Foundation of Austin, Texas.

Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band, with music by Dengue Fever, premiered in March 2018 at South Coast Rep and will open at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Victory Gardens in 2019. Her play The Great Leap premiered this past season at Denver Center, Seattle Repertory, and Atlantic Theater with 2019 productions slated for the Guthrie, American Conservatory Theater, Arts Club, and InterAct Theatre. Also upcoming for 2018-19: King of the Yees at Baltimore Center Stage and San Francisco Playhouse, and The Song of Summer at Trinity Rep. Recent honors include the Kesselring Prize, Primus Prize, an upcoming Hodder Fellowship at Princeton, the #1 and #2 plays on the 2017 Kilroys List, as well as a finalist of both the ATCA/Steinberg Award and the Edward M. Kennedy Prize. She is a Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab member and an alumni playwright of Playwrights Realm. She received her BA from Yale University, and her MFA in playwriting from UCSD. Current commissions include Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Lincoln Center/LCT3, Mixed Blood, Portland Center Stage, Second Stage, South Coast Repertory, and Trinity Repertory Company. www.laurenyee.com

Jaclyn Backhaus is a playwright of Punjabi, German, and desert botanical descent. Her play India Pale Ale will receive its world premiere at Manhattan Theatre Club in Fall of 2018 after development at Powerhouse with New York Stage & Film. Select plays: Men on Boats (NYT Critics’ Pick, Clubbed Thumb & Playwrights Horizons, Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Playwriting Award Finalist, published by Dramatists Play Service, Kilroys List 2015), Folk Wandering (Pipeline Theatre Company), You Across From Me (Humana Festival of New Plays), People Doing Math Live! (Under The Radar Festival), and You on the Moors Now (Theater Reconstruction Ensemble, The Hypocrites in Chicago). Jaclyn was the 2016 Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence at Clubbed Thumb and is currently a playwright-in-residence at Lincoln Center. BFA: NYU, where she now teaches. She is co-founder of FRESH GROUND PEPPER, a New York-based arts incubator established in 2009. She lives in Queens with her husband, theater director Andrew Scoville, and their son Ernie.

Horton Foote won the Pulitzer Prize for his play The Young Man From Atlanta and received two Academy Awards for his screenplays for the films To Kill A Mockingbird and Tender Mercies. His work has also been produced on Broadway, off-Broadway as well as in theaters throughout the United States. His many honors, in addition to the Pulitzer and Academy Awards, include Drama Desk, Obie, Outer Critics Circle and Lortel Awards, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Drama and the 2000 National Medal of Arts Award from President Bill Clinton. He is also a member of The Theatre Hall of Fame. In 2008, his play Dividing the Estate won the Obie and Outer Critics Circle Best Play Awards for its Off-Broadway premiere by Primary Stages. In 2008, the play transferred to Broadway under the auspices of Lincoln Center Theater, earning Foote his second Best Play Tony nomination. In 2009-2010, his epic masterwork, The Orphans’ Home Cycle was co-produced by Hartford Stage Company and Signature Theatre Company, and received the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, and the Lucille Lortel Award. In 2013, The Trip to Bountiful was revived on Broadway (winning a Best Actress Tony Award for Cecily Tyson), and premiered in 2014 as a new Lifetime film, earning two Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Movie. His memoirs, Farewell and Beginnings, are published by Scribner.