But Still Like Air

But Still Like Air

Foreword by Roberta Uno
Copyright Date: 1997
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 520
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  • Book Info
    But Still Like Air
    Book Description:

    In this pathbreaking volume, Velina Hasu Houston gathers together eleven plays that speak in the "hybridized, unique American voices of Asian descent -- and often dissent." These writers resist the bigotry that attempts to target them solely as people of color as well as the homogenizing tendencies of a multiculturalism that fails to recognize the varied make-up of Asian America. Anthologized for the first time, these plays testify to the rich complexity of Asian American experience while they also demonstrate the different styles and thematic concerns of the individual playwrights.What are Asian American plays about? Family conflicts, sexuality, social upheaval, betrayal ... the stuff of all drama. Whether the characters are a middle-aged Taiwanese woman who is married to an Irish American and who dreams of opening a Chinese restaurant, a Chinese American female bond trader trying to survive a corporate takeover, or an ABC (American Born Chinese) gay man whose lover has AIDS, their Asian-ness is only a part of their story.As a playwright, Houston is keenly aware of the rigid formulas that often exclude writers of color and women women writers from mainstream theater.But Still, Like air, I'll Risebrings forth vibrant new work that challenges producers and audiences to broaden their expectations, to attend to the unfamiliar voices that expresses the universal and particular vision of Asian American playwrights.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0612-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Roberta Uno

    Velina and I never formally decided to have an annual conversation; it is something that evolved out of our “bicoastal” friendship as we have followed the lines of our separate paths—lives that defy geometry, running simultaneously parallel, divergent, and intersecting. The conversation insists on beginning somewhere in the middle of where it last ended. It is continuous and looping, always breaking with news, and yet echoed in memory. It is a conversation about new projects, ideas, our children, our passions, the latest play, politics, our mothers, health, the distance traveled.

    This particular conversation, Velina maintains her good humor while...

  4. Acknowledgtnents
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Velina Hasu Houston
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xxii)
    Velina Hasu Houston

    To be marginalized in the United States is (especially for those marginalized because of their ethnicity) to have much of one’s experience inadvertently or conveniently omitted from the nation’s “history.” Written from the heterosexual, patriarchal, Eurocentric perspective, this incomplete history presents itself as unchallengeable, immortal, and righteous; any examination of it meets cries of indignation. Drama has long been a means for the voices marginalized by the dominant society to document their own histories.

    Yearning to be free from the limitations imposed on the exotic or the marginal, the soul of color wants to be valued as an individual and...

  6. Talk-Story
    (pp. 1-48)

    Many times I think of you, many dreams to remember

    You haunt all my thoughts, my life

    Dreaming brings you close to me, dreaming makes me wonder

    When will you return this time?

    Although you are so far away I always will remember

    Though we are apart the memories still linger

    Always smiles with the sighs, always tears with the laughter

    Till the day we'll be together ... come that day

    (Tell me you will be returning, tell me no more yearning)

    [Lights up.DEEis heard as young girl urgingFRANK,narrating. Whether 70 years old or younger, he...

  7. Day Standing on Its Head
    (pp. 49-88)

    I awoke from a deep sleep ... I had the strangest feeling. That my arm was disappearing. Becoming invisible ... I wasn’t dreaming, I was awake, or at least I believed so. I turned to my wife .... She must have been having a dream because when I touched her arm she whispered a name I had never heard before . . . .

    “Raoul.” . . . [Asshe fades to black, opens eyes]

    The feeling left. I went back to sleep.[Lights dip to black, then up again]Theincident was soon forgotten as I was quite busy...

  8. Kokoro (True Heart)
    (pp. 89-130)

    Yasako: A tiny rock is cast out to sea by the great Sun Goddess Amaterasu and it grows into an island, strong and unwavering, beautiful and bright. I am a root in this soil. I grow best here, all blossoms, all fruits, always. [a beat] But, one day, the gardener comes and I am transplanted. The winds, the rain, the gnawing forces of erosion transform the blossoms, scattering them into the river of time.

    [She removes a silky American flag from her kimono sleeve and billows it about her as the figure ofFuyoappears as a shadow lit behind...

  9. Dance of the Wandering Souls
    (pp. 131-156)

    SETTING: A battlefield. Fire caused by burning camps and outposts lights up the whole area. Loud war cries mingle with the sounds of musket fire.

    AT RISE: Queen Au Co and her army are in retreat, carrying with them their dead and wounded. Moments later Prince Dai Lan, the commander of the Vietnamese rearguard, appears with his two last fighters. Suddenly one gets hit and falls down. The Prince picks up the wounded soldier and carries him along. Shortly afterward he also gets hit, fatally. The Chinese are closing in. The last Vietnamese warrior wants to drag his wounded friend...

  10. Bondage
    (pp. 157-178)

    Mark: What am I today?

    Terri: Today—you’re a man. A Chinese man. But don’t bother with that accent crap. I find it demeaning.

    Mark: A Chinese man. All right. And who are you?

    Terri: Me? I’m—I’m a blonde woman. Can you remember that?

    Mark: I feel . . . very vulnerable.

    Terri: You should. I pick these roles for a reason, you know.[She unchains him.]We’ll call you Wong. Mark Wong. And me—I’m Tifanny Walker.[pause]I’ve seen you looking at me. From behind the windows of yourengineering laboratory. Behind your—hom-rimmed glasses. Why don’t you...

  11. The Conversion of Ka’ahumanu
    (pp. 179-226)

    Sybil Mosely Bingham (30s, Caucasian)

    Lucy Goodale Thurston (30s, Caucasian)

    Ka’ahumanu (40s Hawaiian)

    Hannah Grimes (20s Hapa haole [Hawaiian/Caucasian])

    Pall (20s Hawaiian)

    THE SET:

    1. Downstage center: a free open space (playing area)

    2. Downstage right: a simple set to suggest the parlor of the mission house (MH). No backdrop, but simple set pieces; a table with benches and a few chairs, one of which should be a Boston rocker.

    3. Behind the playing area: On a slightly raised platform is a lauhala mat with pillows, perhaps a small Western table. This may be backed by a simple panel to...

  12. Cleveland Raining
    (pp. 227-270)

    SETTING: The KIM family lives in a country house in Ohio, about a hundred miles south of Cleveland. The action is divided around the Kim’s garage (a converted barn) and their front porch. The Volkswagen in the garage should be the most real object on stage. Everything else should be fluid, ephemeral, barely real.

    TIME: An apocalyptic time....

  13. Breaking Glass
    (pp. 271-330)

    RICKI: Wait for the light. The light. How it glistens. How it keeps you from seeing clearly, cleanly. The pathway through the glass stopped by the glass. Mesmerized. Quieted. She holds it as far as her arms will reach. She holds it, trying to be part of the light, hoping it will go through her and connect her to something far and unattainable. There is still water there as diamond shapes slide slowly down her hand. Coolness soothes her, captures her. She watches as it trickles till it becomes absorbed. It stops. Stops.

    [Lights up on MEl JEN sitting quietly,...

  14. Junk Bonds
    (pp. 331-394)

    Kent here. I’m fine. Tapir's making a lot of money today. A fuck of a lot of money. Hear the roar of the trading floor? The time to invest is now. Year end, we’re reporting record earnings. That’s right, we’re taking over. Number one. When the news hits the Street, you’ll kick yourself for missing the gravy train. That’s what happens when you hire the best. Sign of a truly gifted managing director is one who’s not afraid of hiring someone smarter than himself. I’m telling you, bunch of anal-retentive Einsteins. All that raw energy and hunger. They glow in...

  15. Kimchee and Chitlins
    (pp. 395-450)

    AT RISE: Suzie Seeto looks longingly at the anchor chair.

    Voice:[Offstage, heavily miked.]Two minutes to air. Two minutes.

    [A Chorus, composed of the BLACK CHORUS and the KOREAN CHORUS,appear behind her.]

    Suzie Seeto: The first time I ever saw an African American, it was no big deal.

    Korean Chorus: Ha! She was petrified.

    Black Chorus: She was calm. She was nonplussed. She was smoooooth as silk.

    Suzie Seeto:[ToBLACK CHORUS.] Thank you.[To audience.]I was five. Maybe I was six.

    Chorus: [ALL.] You were eight.

    Suzie Seeto: I was objective.

    Korean Chorus: You cried...

  16. A Language of Their Own
    (pp. 451-514)

    Mine: I can never forget what he said to me.

    Oscar: I don’t think we should see each other anymore.

    Mine: It wasn’t unexpected. It had to happen the way things were going. Which was nowhere.

    Oscar: Of course, we can still be friends .

    Mine: Sure. Friends. If that’s what you want.

    Oscar:That’s not what I wanted. Not really. But it was all I could say. All I could do.

    Minc: Friends. A change of labels. From lovers to friends . It’s the same person whom you have loved, made love to, thought about day in and day out....

  17. About the Contributors
    (pp. 515-520)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 521-521)