Asian American Plays for a New Generation

Asian American Plays for a New Generation

Josephine Lee
Don Eitel
R. A. Shiomi
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 327
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt14bt6qf
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  • Book Info
    Asian American Plays for a New Generation
    Book Description:

    Asian American plays provide an opportunity to think about how racial issues are engaged through theatrical performance physical contact, bodily labor, and fleshly desire as well as through the more standard elements of plot, setting, characterization, staging, music, and action.

    Asian American Plays for a New Generationshowcases seven exciting new plays that dramatize timely themes that are familiar to Asian Americans. The works variously address immigration, racism, stereotyping, identity, generational tensions, assimilation, and upward mobility as well as post-9/11 paranoia, racial isolation, and adoptee experiences.

    Each of these works engages directly and actively with Asian American themes through performance to provide an important starting point for building relationships, raising political awareness, and creating active communities that can foster a sense of connection or even rally individuals to collective action.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0517-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[viii])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)
    Josephine Lee

    One might well ask whether “Asian American plays” are more than a collection of works that just “happen” to be written by Asian Americans. What follows by way of introduction are some reflections that argue for more than just this casual connection. my argument is that “Asian American plays” first and foremost comment on the distinctive relationship between racial and theatrical performance. Thus, drama, while often thought of as a subset of literature more generally, really deserves its own space for discussion, as it references theatrical enactment—the live encounter of performers and audiences in a particular time and place...

  4. 1 Indian Cowboy
    (pp. 11-32)
    Zaraawar Mistry

    Indian Cowboypremiered at mixed Blood Theatre in minneapolis from January 27, 2006, to February 12, 2006. Commissioned by Jack Reuler and Mixed Blood Theatre, with development of the script supported by the Jerome Foundation, the play was performed by Zaraawar mistry and created in collaboration with Kathleen Sullivan, with original music composed and performed by Keith Lee.

    Indian Cowboyfollows the life of the actor Gayomar Katrak from his adoption by a Parsi family of three brothers and a sister in Hyderabad, India, to his trials and tribulations as an actor in the United States. It is a touchstone...

  5. 2 Walleye Kid: The Musical
    (pp. 33-100)
    Kurt Miyashiro, R. A. Shiomi and Sundraya Kase

    Walleye Kid: The Musicalwas first produced by Mu Performing Arts and presented at Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis from March 11, 2005, to March 27, 2005, under the direction of Jon Cranney. A revised version, directed by Jon Cranney, was presented at the Ordway Center’s McKnight Theater from January 18, 2007, to February 3, 2007.

    After the Korean War ended in 1953, approximately 110,000 children were adopted from South Korea, with about 75,000 children going to the United States and the rest to such places as Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Scandinavian countries, and Great Britain. In the 1980s, more...

  6. 3 Happy Valley
    (pp. 101-172)
    Aurorae Khoo

    Happy Valleywas produced by Mu Performing Arts and presented at Intermedia Arts in minneapolis from September 16, 2005, to October 2, 2005, under the direction of Jennifer Weir.

    Happy Valleyfollows a quartet of memorable characters during Hong Kong’s 1997 transition from British to Chinese rule. Each of them—the vulnerable adolescent, Tuppy; her uncle Chester, the Filipino housekeeper, Winnifreda; and Chester’s love interest, Victoria—reveals fantasies that sustain their sense of integrity during this tumultuous time. Tuppy clings to her uncle’s tales of joining British high society, Chester imagines selling racehorses to the rich and powerful, and Winnifreda...

  7. 4 Asiamnesia
    (pp. 173-204)
    Sun Mee Chomet

    Asiamnesiawas produced by Mu Performing Arts and presented at the Playwright’s Center in Minneapolis from September 13, 2008, to October 5, 2008, under the direction of Randy Reyes.

    American popular culture has been rife with the typecasting of Asian women, from the submissive and suicidal Madame Butterfly and the infamous Mata Hari to the prostitute Suzy Wong.Asiamnesiabegins with a history lesson about famous female performers whose professional careers and personal identities are tied up with these images: Anna May Wong, the famous star of the silent screen; Isabel Rosario Cooper, the Filipina actress famous for the first...

  8. 5 Sia(b)
    (pp. 205-222)
    May Lee-Yang

    Sia(b)was produced by Mu Performing Arts and performed by May Lee-Yang and Katie Ka Vang at the Playwright’s Center in Minneapolis from September 13, 2008, to October 5, 2008, under the direction of Robert Karimi.

    In the introduction toBamboo among the Oaks: Contemporary Writing by Hmong Americans, the volume’s editor, Mai Neng Moua, describes the relative obscurity of Hmong American writers and the more general invisibility of Hmong individuals and communities even in Asian American representation. Despite local awareness of active political figures such as Minnesota State Senator Mee Moua and a vibrant arts culture that includes a...

  9. 6 Bahala Na (Let It Go)
    (pp. 223-264)
    Clarence Coo

    Bahala Nawas produced by Mu Performing Arts and presented at Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis from September 14, 2007, to October 7, 2007, under the direction of Jennifer Weir.

    AsBahala Nabegins, Amah, a one-hundred-year-old Chinese grandmother, lies in a hospital, felled by a stroke; as the play ends, we see her wake to a moment of reconciliation with her gay grandson, Jason, who introduces her to his adopted baby daughter. The story, as we might guess, is a weighty one: one that traces her life from her arranged marriage to a Chinese man in the Philippines through...

  10. 7 Ching Chong Chinaman
    (pp. 265-318)
    Lauren Yee

    Ching Chong Chinamanwas produced by Mu Performing Arts and presented at Mixed Blood Theatre from February 14, 2009, to March 1, 2009, under the direction of Jennifer Weir.

    In Frank Chin’s playThe Chickencoop Chinaman(1972), the aptly named character Tom lectures the rebellious Tam Lum on the value of being the “model minority”: “We used to be kicked around, but that’s history, brother. Today we have good jobs, good pay, and we’re lucky. Americans are proud to say we send more of our kids to college than any other race. We’re accepted. We worked hard for it.”¹ Lauren...

  11. Afterword
    (pp. 319-323)
    R. A. Shiomi

    Mu Performing Arts participated in the development and produced the world premieres of all but one of the plays in this anthology. The question that comes to mind is “How on earth did this happen?” The answer is a story that blends my own personal and artistic journey with the emergence here of a new community of Asian American theater artists.

    My career in theater began in San Francisco with the Asian American Theater Company (AATC), where I wrote my first play,Yellow Fever, in 1982. It was a hit there, receiving a “Bernie” and a Bay Area Theater Circle...

  12. Contributors
    (pp. 325-326)