Inside Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND Opening Night; Extends Again at Signature Theatre Through March 22

Photography, Theater

CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND opening night toast at Signature Theatre in New York on February 24, 2020. Photo by Lia Chang

A fabulous time was had by all at the opening night of the New York premiere of Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band at the Pershing Square Signature Center on February 24. Scroll down for photos of the opening night party.

Tamlyn Tomita, Randall Friesen, Chay Yew, Sandra Oh and Daniel Blinkoff. Photo by Lia Chang

Helmed by Chay Yew and featuring songs by Dengue Fever, Cambodian Rock Band began preview performances on February 4 on The Irene Diamond Stage and due to popular demand, has extended for the second time by one week and will now play through March 22nd.

Lauren Yee, Signature Theatre’s Artistic Director Paige Evans, Executive Director Harold Wolpert. Photo by Lia Chang

Guitars tuned. Mic checked. Get ready to rock! Called “the first great play of 2020” by TheaterMania, The New York Times says “there is a compelling heart of darkness in Cambodian Rock Band.” New York Magazine calls it a “powerful, killer Khmer-language rock show” and it is deemed “part-play, part rock concert, and excellent” by The Daily Beast.

Daniel Blinkoff, Tamlyn Tomita, Lauren Yee, Signature Theatre’s Artistic Director Paige Evans and and Executive Director Harold Wolpert. Photo by Lia Chang

The cast of Cambodian Rock Band includes Francis Jue as Duch, Abraham Kim as Rom/Journalist, Jane Lui as Pou/S21 Guard, Joe Ngo as Chum, Courtney Reed as Neary/Sothea and Moses Villarama as Ted/Leng/Cadre.

Moses Villarama, Francis Jue, Jane Lui, Courtney Reed, Joe Ngo, Abraham Kim. Photo by Lia Chang

The creative team for Cambodian Rock Band includes Takeshi Kata (Scenic Design), Linda Cho (Costume Design), David Weiner (Lighting Design), Mikhail Fiksel (Sound Design), Luke Norby (Projection Design) and Matt MacNelly (Music Supervision). The Production Stage Manager is Charles M. Turner III and casting is by Caparelliotis Casting.

Chay Yew, Moses Villarama, Francis Jue, Jane Lui, Lauren Yee, Courtney Reed, Joe Ngo, Abraham Kim. Photo by Lia Chang

Team CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND. Photo by Lia Chang

For more information visit signaturetheatre.org.

Courtney Reed, Amy Kim Waschke, Tamlyn Tomita, Daniel Dae Kim, Jane Lui, Daniel Blinkoff and Chay Yew. Photo by Lia Chang

Randall Friesen, Jane Lui, Chay Yew, Lia Chang, Tamlyn Tomita, Daniel Blinkoff. Photo by Garth Kravits

Video and Photos: Inside the 2nd Asian American Night of Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND at Signature Theatre https://wp.me/pXK8r-2RV

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 has appeared in the filmsWolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2020 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

Inside the 2020 TCG Gala: Our Stories Honoring David Henry Hwang and NC Black Rep’s National Black Theatre Festival with André De Shields

Awards, Benefits, Photography, Theater

Hadestown star André De Shields, a TCG/Victory Gardens Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellow, 2020 Grammy winner and 2019 Tony winner arrived at The Edison Ballroom in New York just in time to catch an excerpt of Holy Ground, a documentary film celebrating the legacy of the National Black Theatre Festival® (NBTF) and its founder Larry Leon Hamlin, “Mr. Marvtastic,” at the 2020 TCG Gala: Our Stories on February 3, 2020.

Melissa Joyner, kb saine, Jackie Alexander, Clarielle Marsh, André De Shields, Michael Dinwiddie, Teresa Eyring and Erich McMillan-McCall. Photo by Lia Chang

The film features interviews with Black Theatre legends, groundbreaking performances, archival NBTF footage, and a behind-the-scenes look at NC Black Rep, while shining a light on the birthplace of NBTF, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the City of Arts and Innovation. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Ka’ramuu Kush, Holy Ground promises to be one of the most entertaining and culturally significant films in in the history of Black Theatre.

kb saine, Woodie King, Jr. Michael Dinwiddie, Elizabeth Van Dyke and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, celebrated the NC Black Rep’s National Black Theatre Festival® (NBTF), Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang and TCG’s arts advocacy at the federal level during a festive evening.

Lia Chang, David Henry Hwang, Kathryn Layng, Alyse Alan Louis and Billy Bustamante.

Performance highlights included James Jackson, Jr. singing “Memory Song” from A Strange Loop, written by Michael R. Jackson and directed by Stephen Brackett.

James Jackson, Jr. Photo by Lia Chang

Playwright and actress Nambi E. Kelley shared Dr. Maya Angelou’s manifesto for the National Black Theatre Festival, originally delivered by Angelou at the inaugural Festival in 1989, and then read her poem, Alone.

André De Shields and Nambi E. Kelley. Photo by Lia Chang

Ms. Kelley also gave props to Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre in New York where she served as a playwright in residence from 2015 -2017. In 2019, she was awarded the inaugural Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin Rolling World Premiere Award at the National Black Theatre Festival commission from NC Black Rep to develop a play based on the life of Dr. Maya Angelou, and guarantees the play three productions at NC Black Rep, Hattiloo Theatre in Memphis, and Ensemble Theatre in Houston. Her new play, Phenomenal Woman: Maya Angelou, will open at NC Black Rep in May 2020.

Producer Steven Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey introduced NBTF artistic director Jackie Alexander and board president Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin.

The performances continued with a song from Soft Power, written by Hwang, with music and additional lyrics by Jeanine Tesori, and directed by Leigh Silverman. The scene was introduced by Silverman and featured “Happy Enough” sung by Alyse Alan Louis and Billy Bustamante.

Called “thrilling, moving, and revolutionary,” by Variety, Soft Power premiered in May 2018 at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles where it won 6 Ovation Awards, including Best New Production, and enjoyed a successful run in Fall 2019 at The Public Theater.

Alyse Alan Louis and Billy Bustamante. Photo by Lia Chang

Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of The Public Theater, introduced Hwang who received a standing ovation.

Below is David’s acceptance speech:

David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

“Thank you Oskar, for being my friend, my artistic collaborator, and now my producer for almost 30 years. And thanks to Alyse and Billy and Leigh and Sam and Jeanine for bringing some Soft Power into this room!

Oskar Eustis, Lynn Nottage and David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

TCG suggested I might accept this amazing honor with a story from my life. However, I happen to be a playwright who has been putting those stories into my shows, and often, in case anyone missed it, naming the main character “DHH.” So let me try instead a story comprised of many.

I once asked my friend, the playwright Philip Kan Gotanda, what he would not have predicted when we began writing plays with Asian American stories in the late-1970’s. Philip replied, “I never even thought we would be studied in schools and colleges.”

So I want to recognize my fellow artists along the way who told their stories without expectation about where their hard work and passion would lead, but simply because these stories had to be told.

• Thanks to actors like Mako, who co-founded East-West Players in Los Angeles, where I hung out as a 10 year-old when my mother was a rehearsal pianist for one of their early shows. Without any of us knowing it at the time, they put into my head the idea that people who looked like me could be actors, directors, and artistic leaders.
• Thanks to the Asian American playwrights who preceded me like Wakako Yamauchi and Momoko Iko and yes Frank Chin, who did come into my life later on to call me a sell-out and a white racist, but before that, made me realize that such a thing as an Asian American playwright could exist.
• Thanks to the playwrights of my generation, like Philip Gotanda, who I toured with in a band playing what I sometimes now refer to as Asian American protest music, until we both walked away from performing to pursue the much more practical career path of playwriting. While we were still musicians, we were brought up to Vancouver once for a gig produced by a community organizer named Rick Shiomi, who would also become a playwright and later the artistic director of Theatre Mu in Minneapolis.
• Thanks to all the Asian American Theatres, including the wildly creative, anarchic, sometimes rather dangerous Asian American Theatre Company in SF, where I once threw a chair through a window and also met an actress named Emilya Cachapero who let me sleep on her and her then-boyfriend Jim’s couch for a whole summer.
• Thanks to the Asian American actors, whose names I’ve never learned, but in 1979, staged the first “yellow face” protest in New York history outside the Public Theater, which had hired a non-Asian actor for an Asian role. Joe Papp, who was still the Producer then, responded by hiring one of the protesters onto his staff to find plays for Asian actors, which led to the production of my first show, FOB, a year later. And that makes me the proud beneficiary of affirmative action.

This is how artistic movements grow, through the intersection of circles which start to converge – young artists who make work simply out of a need to tell their stories, without knowing where their paths will lead. Intersecting with circles of allies and supporters, who decide for whatever reason – artistic, political, commercial, they’re all good enough, in my view – to devote their resources and influence and boost these voices.

Snehal Desai, Emilya Cachapero, David Henry Hwang, Mia Katigbak, Soriya Chum, Billy Bustamante and Alyse Alan Louis. Photo by Lia Chang

For me, that includes so many people, many of whom are in this room, thank you for being here. I only get to tell my stories – even still today – because of you all. But at this event, I particularly want to remember Peter Zeisler and Lindy Zesch, who ran TCG for almost 25 years. They began inviting me to panels and events after my first play was produced, then put me on TCG’s board in the mid-1980’s, when I was only in my 20’s. And a shout-out to my longtime collaborator Terry Nemeth, who has not only kept my plays in print for almost 40 years, but has arguably kept play publishing itself alive in America all this time.

Leigh Silverman, Kathryn Layng, David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

My mother passed away last year. I’m sure she would’ve enjoyed being here because she too always supported me. But her passing reinforces the importance of family, which is such a Chinese-y thing, but also pretty universal, so thank you to my wife, Kathryn, who has always valued the importance of my work, but when our kids were little, also taught me to take weekends off.

Joe Papp gave me my first production because he wanted to create “a theatre which looked like New York.” From the perspective of forty years ago, we have come a long way. But as someone still working today, we have so far to go — to become a theatre which looks like this country. When I think of TCG, I think of the “C:” communication. I’m only here thanks to a web of communication which could link communities. Today, there’s a whole new generation of artists out there, doing the most important thing they can: taking what is unique and idiosyncratic and weird about them as their gift, to make the work only they can make. They will become the new mainstream. Because their stories are our stories.”

David Henry Hwang’s stage work includes the plays M. Butterfly, Chinglish, Yellow Face, Kung Fu, Golden Child, The Dance and the Railroad, and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Elton John & Tim Rice’s Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song(2002 revival) and Disney’s Tarzan. Hwang is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time Obie Award winner, and a two-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is also the most-produced living American opera librettist, whose works have been honored with two Grammy Awards. He co-wrote the Gold Record “Solo” with the late pop icon Prince, and worked for four seasons as a Writer/Consulting Producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series “The Affair.” Hwang serves on the Board of the Lark Play Development Center, as Head of Playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts, and as Chair of the American Theatre Wing. M. Butterfly recently returned to Broadway in a revival directed by Julie Taymor, which marked his eighth Broadway production. East West Players has named its mainstage the David Henry Hwang Theatre and recent honors include his 2018 induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame. Hwang was a Residency One playwright from 2012-14 at New York’s Signature Theatre.

André De Shields and David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

After Hwang’s speech, Jackson performed “Solo,” a song Hwang penned with Prince. The final performance of the evening featured Bustamante, Jackson and Louis performing “What a Wonderful World”.

Alyse Alan Louis, James Jackson, Jr. and Billy Bustamante. Photo by Lia Chang

Alyse Alan Louis, James Jackson, Jr. and Billy Bustamante. Photo by Lia Chang

Click below for full coverage of the night.

Americantheatre.org: 2020 TCG Gala Celebrates Legacies and Potential 

TCG is the primary advocate for the not-for-profit professional theatre in the United States. TCG represents the theatre field both in Washington, D.C., and nationally, to provide timely information for theatres and theatre artists on federal legislation, regulations, and other significant government opportunities and issues. TCG focuses its advocacy in five major areas: 1) increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts; 2) increased funding for arts education within the U.S. Department of Education; 3) favorable tax treatment of not-for-profit arts organizations and charitable contributions; 4) working toward improved cultural exchange by improving visa processing for artists from abroad and increasing funding and 5) White Space – protecting wireless microphones from interference.

Erich McMillan McCall, Nambi E. Kelley, Lia Chang, kb saine, Woodie King, Jr., Michael Dinwiddie, André De Shields and Elizabeth Van Dyke. Photo by Lia Chang

Jerry Patch, Kathryn Layng, David Henry Hwang, James Jackson, Jr., Pun Bandhu and a guest. Photo by Lia Chang

ABOUT THE NATIONAL BLACK THEATRE FESTIVAL
The National Black Theatre Festival® (NBTF) is a program of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company (NC Black Rep). Presented every odd numbered year, the festival hosts upwards of 120 performances, attracts upwards of 65,000 visitors to Winston-Salem, and has contributed over $230 million dollars to the Winston-Salem economy since its inception in 1989. Founded in 1979 by Larry Leon Hamlin, NC Black Rep was the first professional Black theatre company in North Carolina. NC Black Rep’s mission is to engage, enrich, and entertain with innovative programming that resonates across the community and challenges social perceptions. The Company is universally recognized for its artistic and administrative achievements and its international outreach program, the NBTF.

ABOUT TCG’S “OUR STORIES” GALA
TCG’s annual Our Stories Gala supports vital programs and services for the theatre community. Past honorees at the TCG annual gala-now in its eighth year- include actor Brian Dennehy, director Kenny Leon, playwright Lynn Nottage, actress and playwright Danai Gurira, theatrical producers Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey, set designer Ming Cho Lee, lighting designer Jules Fisher, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Vilcek Foundation, producers Ruth and Stephen Hendel, Judith O. Rubin, and the creators of War Paint (Scott Frankel, Michael Greif, Michael Korie, and Doug Wright).

Lia Chang and André De Shields

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 has appeared in the filmsWolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2020 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

Video and Photos: Inside the 2nd Asian American Night of Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND at Signature Theatre

Photography, Theater

Asian American representation is everything!!! On Sunday night, the lobby of the Pershing Square Signature Center in New York was abuzz, filled with Asian American theater artists and members of the Asian American community who turned out to see Lauren Yee’s Award winning play Cambodian Rock Band on the Irene Diamond Stage.

Ellis Gage, Jonathan Castanien, Carolina Do, Lauren Yee, Xiaoqing Zhang, Kevin Schuering, Raymond J. Lee, Hansel Tan, Michael Protacio, Jaygee Macapugay, Alyse Alan Louis. Photo by Lia Chang

When Signature Theatre designated the February 9 performance was Asian American night dedicated to audience members of Asian descent, tickets sold out in 4 hours before the show even opened. The theater company set another Asian American night on February 4 which also sold out. Check out video of the audiences from both nights.

Opening night is set for February 24th and due to popular demand, the production has been extended through March 15, 2020. Click here for more information on the show.

Lainie Sakakura, Frank Yee, Lauren Yee, Isabela Sanchez, Alex Sanchez and Avelina Sanchez. Photo by Lia Chang

Cambodian Rock Band is an intimate rock epic about family secrets set against a dark chapter of Cambodian history. It launches 2019 Steinberg Playwright Award recipient Lauren Yee’s Residency 5.

Moses Villarama, Courtney Reed, Lauren Yee, Francis Jue, Joe Ngo, Jane Lui and Abraham Kim. Photo by Lia Chang

Helmed by Chay Yew and featuring the music of Dengue Fever, the cast includes Francis Jue as Duch, Abraham Kim as Rom, Jane Lui as Pou, Joe Ngo as Chum, Courtney Reed as Neary/Sothea and Moses Villarama as Ted/Leng.

Asian American Night at Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND at Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on February 9, 2020. Photo by Lia Chang

Guitars tuned. Mic checked. Get ready to rock! This darkly funny, electric new play with music tells the story of a Khmer Rouge survivor returning to Cambodia for the first time in thirty years, as his daughter prepares to prosecute one of Cambodia’s most infamous war criminals. Backed by a live band playing contemporary Dengue Fever hits and classic Cambodian oldies, this thrilling story toggles back and forth in time as father and daughter face the music of the past.

Asian American Night at Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND at Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on February 9, 2020. Photo by Lia Chang

In a post on Facebook, director Chay Yew writes, “When art reflects the world…

When we first started Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND, her play shone a light on a largely invisible American community – Cambodian refugees and immigrants – who came to this country having survived a horrific chapter of global history.

During our first week of previews, with our own recent history especially in the last weeks, I can’t help but draw parallels between our country and CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND.

Lauren’s play has become a cautionary tale of the unchecked power and authoritarianism leading to the destruction of human and civil rights, torture and brutality, and genocide.

We need more artists to create work that hold up a mirror to society, to speak truth to power, and to unite our fractured nation.

Resist and rise.”

The creative team for Cambodian Rock Band includes Takeshi Kata (Scenic Design), Linda Cho (Costume Design), David Weiner (Lighting Design), Mikhail Fiksel (Sound Design), Luke Norby (Projection Design), Matt MacNelly (Music Supervision) and Unkle Dave’s Fight-House (Fight Director). The Production Stage Manager is Charles M. Turner III and casting is by Caparelliotis Casting.

Asian American Night at Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND at Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on February 9, 2020. Photo by Lia Chang

Schedule of special events:

Additionally, Signature Theatre will host several special events at The Pershing Square Signature Center in conjunction with its run of Cambodian Rock Band. Signature Spotlight Series is sponsored by American Express.

Thursday, February 13 – Talkbacks with members of the cast and creative team after the show

Sunday, February 16 – Khmer Community Day on February 16 at 2:00 pm. This performance is dedicated to audience members of Asian descent, featuring a pre-show chat with playwright Lauren Yee, as well as a post-show happy hour.

Thursday, February 27 – Talkbacks with members of the cast and creative team after the show

Thursday, March 5 – Talkbacks with members of the cast and creative team after the show

Wednesday, March 11 – Asian American night dedicated to audience members of Asian descent, featuring a pre-show chat with playwright Lauren Yee, as well as a post-show happy hour. Use code CRBAA at checkout.

To purchase tickets for all Signature Productions call Ticket Services at 212-244-7529 (Tues. – Sun., 11am – 6pm) or visit www.SignatureTheatre.org.

Lauren Yee. Photo by Lia Chang

Lauren Yee is a playwright born and raised in San Francisco. She currently lives in New York City. Her CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND, with music by Dengue Fever and others, premiered at South Coast Rep, with subsequent productions at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, Victory Gardens, City Theatre, Merrimack Rep, Signature Theatre, Portland Center Stage, and Jungle Theatre.

Courtney Reed, Daniel K. Isaac, Virginia Wing and Moses Villarama. Photo by Lia Chang

Her play THE GREAT LEAP has been produced at Denver Center, Seattle Rep, Atlantic Theatre, the Guthrie Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Arts Club, InterAct Theatre, and Steppenwolf, with future productions at Long Wharf, Cygnet Theatre, and Asolo Rep/Miami New Drama.

ENDLINGS cast Emily Kuroda, Jiehae Park, Wai Ching Ho, Brian Ge, Jo Yang, Sarah Shin. Photo by Lia Chang

ENDLINGS cast Emily Kuroda, Jiehae Park, Wai Ching Ho, Brian Ge, Jo Yang, Sarah Shin. Photo by Lia Chang

She is the winner of the Doris Duke Artists Award, the 2019 Steinberg Playwright Award, Whiting Award, Steinberg/ATCA Award, Horton Foote Prize, the Kesselring Prize, American Academy of Arts and Letters literature award, the Francesca Primus Prize and a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton. She has been a finalist for the Edward M. Kennedy Prize and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her plays were the #1 and #2 plays on the 2017 Kilroys List.

Rehana Lew Mirza, Michael Lew, Lauren Yee, Dustin Chinn, Jiehae Park. Photo by Lia Chang

Lauren is a Residency 5 playwright at Signature Theatre, New Dramatists member (class of 2025), Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab member, former Princeton University Hodder fellow, and Playwrights Realm alumni playwright. Her TV work includes Pachinko (Apple) and Soundtrack (Netflix). She is currently under commission from Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Second Stage, South Coast Rep. She completed her BA at Yale and her MFA at UCSD. www.laurenyee.com

The groundbreaking Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access, which recently celebrated its one-millionth ticket sold, is a program that guarantees affordable tickets to every Signature production through 2031. 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. Additional support is provided by the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, Margot Adams, The SHS Foundation, Consolidated Edison Company of New York, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Frank Yee, Lisa Gold, June Jee, May Chen, Tony Jee and Rocky Chin. Photo by Lia Chang

Rocky Chin, Lisa Gold and Frank Yee with a group of students from Yale. Photo by Lia Chang

Inside Asian American Night at Signature’s First Preview of Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND

Asian American Night for 1st Preview of Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND Featuring Francis Jue, Abraham Kim, Jane Lui, Joe Ngo, Courtney Reed, Moses Villarama at Signature Theatre Tonight 

Inside AAPI Happy Hour Featuring The Cyclos; Signature Theatre Extends Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND through March 15 

Asian American and Pacific Islander Happy Hour In Celebration of Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND at Signature Theatre on January 15 

Lauren Yee and Jackie Sibblies Drury Receive 2019 Steinberg Playwright Awards at the 12th Annual “Mimi” Awards

The Rise of Playwright Lauren Yee 

Jo Yang, Garth Kravits, Virginia Wing, Jason Ma and Lia Chang. Photo by Alex Sanchez

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 has appeared in the filmsWolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2020 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

Inside Asian American Night at Signature’s First Preview of Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND

Photography, Theater

Moses Villarama, Courtney Reed, Lauren Yee, Francis Jue, Joe Ngo, Jane Lui and Abraham Kim. Photo by Lia Chang

I continued my Lunar New Year celebration at Signature Theatre’s Asian American night of the first preview of Lauren Yee’s Award winning play Cambodian Rock Band, helmed by Chay Yew and featuring the songs of Dengue Fever at the Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues) on February 4.

The audience at Signature Theatre’s Asian American night of Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND in New York on February 4, 2020. Photo by Lia Chang

The performance was dedicated to audience members of Asian descent with playwright Lauren Yee handing out coveted Cambodian Rock Band buttons in front of the Irene Diamond Stage at the Pershing Square Signature Center pre-show, and was followed by a post-show happy hour. It was a night of epic proportions as I stepped out on the stage to take the photo below of the audience.

The audience at Signature Theatre’s Asian American night of Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND in New York on February 4, 2020. Photo by Lia Chang

In a Facebook post, BD Wong writes,”ASIAN AMERICAN NIGHT” @ Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND. A musical/theatrical experience I recommend. This music, ensconced in a play that highlights everything good about Lauren Yee’s writing, is electric – particularly the musical component – so well executed and full of sexy joy. And there are performances in this production that will knock your zoris off. What a productive artistic acknowledgement of one of the most painful events in human history.

Lauren Yee and BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang

If you are Asian American (or connected in some real way to someone Asian American) the experience of seeing such a production on a designated “Asian American Night” is exhilarating – do it if you get a chance, there are two more coming up…it’s a total PARTY. The great Lia Chang took this photo after the performance, and it properly illustrates the energy of the night.”

Tony Award winner and Emmy nominee BD Wong appeared in productions of Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap in New York and San Francisco, then helmed the Pasadena Playhouse production. He can currently be seen as Wally on Comedy Central’s “Awkwafina is Nora from Queens”.

Tabitha Lee, Grant Chang (THE GREAT LEAP), Lauren Yee, BD Wong (THE GREAT LEAP) and Richert Schnorr. Photo by Lia Chang

See you at the next Asian American night on February 9th. Use code CRBAA for Asian American nights listed below at checkout. Opening night is set for February 24th and due to popular demand, the production has been extended through March 15, 2020. Click here for more information on the show.

Lauren Yee. Photo by Lia Chang

Cambodian Rock Band is an intimate rock epic about family secrets set against a dark chapter of Cambodian history. It launches 2019 Steinberg Playwright Award recipient Lauren Yee’s Residency 5.

Courtney Reed, Moses Villarama, Lauren Yee, Joe Ngo, Francis Jue, Jane Lui and Abraham Kim. Photo by Lia Chang

The cast includes Francis Jue as Duch, Abraham Kim as Rom, Jane Lui as Pou, Joe Ngo as Chum, Courtney Reed as Neary/Sothea and Moses Villarama as Ted/Leng.

Lauren Yee, Chay Yew and Nataki Garrett Myers. Photo by Lia Chang

Guitars tuned. Mic checked. Get ready to rock! This darkly funny, electric new play with music tells the story of a Khmer Rouge survivor returning to Cambodia for the first time in thirty years, as his daughter prepares to prosecute one of Cambodia’s most infamous war criminals. Backed by a live band playing contemporary Dengue Fever hits and classic Cambodian oldies, this thrilling story toggles back and forth in time as father and daughter face the music of the past.

James Chen, Joel de la Fuente, Francis Jue, Lia Chang, Kristen Faith Oei. Photo by Garth Kravits

The creative team for Cambodian Rock Band includes Takeshi Kata (Scenic Design), Linda Cho (Costume Design), David Weiner (Lighting Design), Mikhail Fiksel (Sound Design), Luke Norby (Projection Design), Matt MacNelly (Music Supervision) and Unkle Dave’s Fight-House (Fight Director). The Production Stage Manager is Charles M. Turner III and casting is by Caparelliotis Casting.

Additionally, Signature Theatre will host several special events at The Pershing Square Signature Center in conjunction with its run of Cambodian Rock Band. Signature Spotlight Series is sponsored by American Express.

Schedule of special events:

Sunday, February 9 – Asian American night dedicated to audience members of Asian descent, featuring a pre-show chat with playwright Lauren Yee, as well as a post-show happy hour. Sold-out

Matt MacNelly, Lauren Yee, Jane Lui, Jason Liebman, James Chen. Photo by Lia Chang

Wednesday, February 12 – Pre-show spotlight discussion with Chay Yew and Lauren Yee on Wednesday, February 12 at 6:30 pm

Melissa Slaughter, Gen Parton- Shin, Courtney Reed, Erin Quill, Lauren Yee, Alex Chester-Blank, Jason Liebman. Photo by Lia Chang

Thursday, February 13 – Talkbacks with members of the cast and creative team after the show

Sunday, February 16 – Khmer Community Day on February 16 at 2:00 pm.Tonight’s performance is dedicated to audience members of Asian descent, featuring a pre-show chat with playwright Lauren Yee, as well as a post-show happy hour.

Moses Villarama, Francis Jue, Joe Ngo and Joel de la Fuente. Photo by Lia Chang

Thursday, February 27 – Talkbacks with members of the cast and creative team after the show

Daniel Siegel, Hazel Anne Raymundo, Telly Leung, James Babcock, Francis Jue, Andrew Cheng, Kristen Faith Oei. Photo by Lia Chang

Thursday, March 5 – Talkbacks with members of the cast and creative team after the show

Wednesday, March 11 – Asian American night dedicated to audience members of Asian descent, featuring a pre-show chat with playwright Lauren Yee, as well as a post-show happy hour. Use code CRBAA at checkout.

To purchase tickets for all Signature Productions call Ticket Services at 212-244-7529 (Tues. – Sun., 11am – 6pm) or visit www.SignatureTheatre.org.

Lauren Yee is a playwright born and raised in San Francisco. She currently lives in New York City. Her CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND, with music by Dengue Fever and others, premiered at South Coast Rep, with subsequent productions at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, Victory Gardens, City Theatre, Merrimack Rep, Signature Theatre, Portland Center Stage, and Jungle Theatre.

Her play THE GREAT LEAP has been produced at Denver Center, Seattle Rep, Atlantic Theatre, the Guthrie Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Arts Club, InterAct Theatre, and Steppenwolf, with future productions at Long Wharf, Cygnet Theatre, and Asolo Rep/Miami New Drama.

She is the winner of the Doris Duke Artists Award, the 2019 Steinberg Playwright Award, Whiting Award, Steinberg/ATCA Award, Horton Foote Prize, the Kesselring Prize, American Academy of Arts and Letters literature award, the Francesca Primus Prize and a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton. She has been a finalist for the Edward M. Kennedy Prize and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her plays were the #1 and #2 plays on the 2017 Kilroys List.

Lauren is a Residency 5 playwright at Signature Theatre, New Dramatists member (class of 2025), Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab member, former Princeton University Hodder fellow, and Playwrights Realm alumni playwright. Her TV work includes Pachinko (Apple) and Soundtrack (Netflix). She is currently under commission from Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Second Stage, South Coast Rep. She completed her BA at Yale and her MFA at UCSD. www.laurenyee.com

The groundbreaking Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access, which recently celebrated its one-millionth ticket sold, is a program that guarantees affordable tickets to every Signature production through 2031. 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. Additional support is provided by the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, Margot Adams, The SHS Foundation, Consolidated Edison Company of New York, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Asian American Night for 1st Preview of Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND Featuring Francis Jue, Abraham Kim, Jane Lui, Joe Ngo, Courtney Reed, Moses Villarama at Signature Theatre Tonight 

Inside AAPI Happy Hour Featuring The Cyclos; Signature Theatre Extends Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND through March 15 

Asian American and Pacific Islander Happy Hour In Celebration of Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND at Signature Theatre on January 15 

Lauren Yee and Jackie Sibblies Drury Receive 2019 Steinberg Playwright Awards at the 12th Annual “Mimi” Awards

The Rise of Playwright Lauren Yee 

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 has appeared in the filmsWolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2020 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 and Jackie Sibblies Drury Receive 2019 Steinberg Playwright Awards at the 12th Annual “Mimi” Awards

Awards, Photography, Theater

The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust honored Horton Foote Prize-winning playwright Lauren Yee and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury with the 2019 Steinberg Playwright Awards at the 12th Annual “Mimi” Awards on January 13, 2020 held at Lincoln Center Theater.

Jackie Sibblies Drury and Lauren Yee. Photo by Lia Chang

The “Mimi” Awards are presented annually to honor the outstanding artistry and accomplishments of some of the most gifted American Playwrights. Along with a monetary award of $50,000, the playwrights received “The Mimi,” a statuette designed by David Rockwell, Tony Award-nominated scenic designer and architect.

The Steinberg Playwright Awards are presented biennially to playwrights in early and middle stages of their careers, who have distinctive and compelling voices, and whose current bodies of work exhibit exceptional talent and artistic excellence.

2019 Steinberg Awards. Photo by Lia Chang

Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres were served prior to the featured performances and award presentation. 

ARRIVALS

Jackie Sibblies Drury – 2019 Steinberg Playwright Award Honoree

Jackie Sibblies Drury. Photo by Lia Chang

FAIRVIEW -excerpt featuring Hannah Cabell, Natalia Payne, Jed Resnick, Luke Robertson, Roslyn Ruff and Heather Alicia Simms

Hannah Cabell, Luke Robertson, Heather Alicia Simms, Roslyn Ruff, Natalia Payne and Jed Resnick. Photo by Lia Chang

WELCOME
Oskar Eustis, The Public Theater
Steinberg Playwright Awards Advisory Committee

Oskar Eustis. Photo by Lia Chang

AWARD RECIPIENT INTRODUCTION
Sarah Benson, Soho Rep.
Raja Feather Kelly, Choreographer

Sarah Benson and Raja Feather Kelly. Photo by Lia Chang

REALLY
Excerpt featuring Elaine Davis and Kaneza Schaal

Kaneza Schaal and Elaine Davis. Photo by Lia Chang

Jackie Sibblies Drury is a Brooklyn-based playwright. Her plays include Fairview (Pulitzer Prize, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize); Marys Seacole (OBIE Award);  We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915 and Really. Drury’s plays have been presented by Young Vic, Soho Rep, Theater for a New Audience, LCT3, Berkeley Rep, New York City Players and Abrons Arts Center, Victory Gardens, Trinity Rep, Matrix Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, Undermain Theatre, InterAct Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Company One, and The Bush Theatre in London, among others. Her work has been developed at The Bellagio Center, Sundance, The Ground Floor, at Berkeley Rep, Manhattan Theatre Club, Ars Nova, A.C.T., Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, NYTW, PRELUDE, The Bushwick Starr, The LARK, and The MacDowell Colony. Drury is a NYTW Usual Suspect, a United States Artists Gracie Fellow, has received a Van Lier Fellowship at New Dramatists, a Jerome Fellowship at The LARK. Drury has received numerous prizes, including a Windham-Campbell Literary Prize in Drama, a Helen Merrill Playwrighting Award and a United States Artists Fellowship.

Sarah Benson, Raja Feather Kelly, Jackie Sibblies Drury. Photo by Lia Chang

Mark Drury and Jackie Sibblies Drury. Photo by Lia Chang

Jackie Sibblies Drury and her family. Photo by Lia Chang

Lauren Yee-2019 Steinberg Playwright Award Honoree

KING OF THE YEES
Excerpt featuring Jennifer Lim and Francis Jue.

Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang

Francis Jue and Jennifer Lim. Photo by Lia Chang

Francis Jue and Jennifer Lim. Photo by Lia Chang

AWARD RECIPIENT INTRODUCTION
Joshua Kahan Brody, Director

Joshua Kahan Brody. Photo by Lia Chang

CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND
Excerpt featuring Francis Jue, Abraham Kim, Jane Lai, Joe Ngo, Courtney Reed and Moses Villarama.

Abraham Kim, Moses Villarama, Courtney Reed, Chay Yew (Director of Cambodian Rock Band), Joe Ngo, and Jane Lui. Photo by Lia Chang

Abraham Kim, Moses Villarama, Courtney Reed, Chay Yew (Director of Cambodian Rock Band), Joe Ngo, and Jane Lui. Photo by Lia Chang

Francis Jue and Joseph Ngo. Photo by Lia Chang

Francis Jue and Joseph Ngo. Photo by Lia Chang

Joseph Ngo. Photo by Lia Chang

Lauren Yee is a playwright born and raised in San Francisco. She currently lives in New York City. Her CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND, with music by Dengue Fever and others, premiered at South Coast Rep, with subsequent productions at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, Victory Gardens, City Theatre, Merrimack Rep, Signature Theatre, Portland Center Stage, and Jungle Theatre.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Happy Hour In Celebration of Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND at Signature Theatre on January 15 

Her play THE GREAT LEAP has been produced at Denver Center, Seattle Rep, Atlantic Theatre, the Guthrie Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Arts Club, InterAct Theatre, and Steppenwolf, with future productions at Long Wharf, Cygnet Theatre, and Asolo Rep/Miami New Drama.

Lauren Yee. Photo by Lia Chang

Lauren Yee’s play KING OF THE YEES premiered at The Goodman Theatre and Center Theatre Group, followed by productions at ACT Theatre, Canada’s National Arts Centre, and Baltimore Center Stage. Other plays include CHING CHONG CHINAMAN (Pan Asian Rep, Mu Performing Arts), THE HATMAKER’S WIFE (Playwrights Realm, Moxie, PlayPenn), HOOKMAN (Encore, Company One), IN A WORD (Young Vic, SF Playhouse, Cleveland Public, Strawdog), SAMSARA (Victory Gardens), THE SONG OF SUMMER (Trinity Rep, Mixed Blood), and THE TIGER AMONG US (Mu).

Lauren Yee. Photo by Lia Chang

She is the winner of the Doris Duke Artists Award, the Steinberg Playwright Award, Whiting Award, Steinberg/ATCA Award, Horton Foote Prize, the Kesselring Prize, American Academy of Arts and Letters literature award, the Francesca Primus Prize and a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton. She has been a finalist for the Edward M. Kennedy Prize and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her plays were the #1 and #2 plays on the 2017 Kilroys List.

Lauren Yee and Zachary Zwillinger. Photo by Lia Chang

Lauren is a Residency 5 playwright at Signature Theatre, New Dramatists member (class of 2025), Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab member, former Princeton University Hodder fellow, and Playwrights Realm alumni playwright. Her TV work includes Pachinko (Apple) and Soundtrack (Netflix). She is currently under commission from Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Second Stage, South Coast Rep. She completed her BA at Yale and her MFA at UCSD. www.laurenyee.com

Dr. Jeffrey I. Zwillinger, Claudia S. Zwillinger, Zachary Zwillinger and Lauren Yee. Photo by Lia Chang

In 2008, the Board of Directors created an advisory committee of prominent theater professionals to establish the awards criteria, nominate individual candidates and select each recipient.

Reception in the Vivian Beaumont Lobby