“Vancouver” | Image provided by Ma-Yi
NEW YORK – Ma-Yi Theater Company, one of the country’s leading incubators of new work shaping the national discourse about what it means to be Asian American today. Following Ma-Yi Studios’ recent opening, a digital streaming center and live capture studio, Ma-Yi announced programming for its Spring 2021 season, including collaborations with artists in China, the Philippines, and Japan. The season, running February 11–May 3, 2021, illustrates that by putting artists and craftspeople to work, innovation and compelling storytelling can thrive despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Ma-Yi’s Spring 2021 season includes three live readings and begins on February 11 with Clippy and Ms. U, written by Ohnobu Pelican and directed by James Yaegashi. This reading, presented in partnership with Japan Playwrights Association, Tohoku Branch, marks Ma-Yi’s participation in 10 Years from the Great East Japan Earthquake of 3/11: A Reflection Through Plays, an international event reflecting on the shinsai triple disaster (earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown) in northern Japan through the prisms of Japanese plays that tell stories of the intervening years.
Additional readings include Stefani Kuo’s timely new play, Final Boarding Call, shown March 10–14, presented in partnership with WP Theater. It tells the stories of the current Hong Kong protests. The final reading of the season is Once Upon A (Korean) Time, featured on April 7, is a new play by Daniel K. Isaac that mixes traditional Korean fables with the Korean War’s horrors.
Launching February 25, Rest is a 16-minute audio meditation exploring the meaning of silence and space in our pandemic lives following “the longest and most coherent global seismic noise reduction in recorded history” (New York Times). Using data collected from seismographs worldwide following the coronavirus shutdowns and quarantine living recordings, composer and sound designer Frederick Kennedy has created a personalized sonic experience.
Vancouver, written and directed by Filipino American Ralph B. Peña, Ma-Yi Theater’s Artistic Director, was conceived immediately after the live theater shuttered in March 2020. He reached out to Puppet Director Tom Lee to ask about a collaboration.
“I’ve always wanted to work with Tom on this story,” says Peña, “and the form seemed like a perfect fit for the safety requirements of working during the pandemic.”
Presented in association with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival on April 19, Vancouver centers on a Japanese American family who returns to the US from Japan to settle in the Pacific Northwest. They face challenges in their lives as they try to recalibrate their identities.
Odets in Staten Island, shown on May 3, builds on the critically-acclaimed success of the play Sophocles in Staten Island. Obie-winner and Ma-Yi affiliated artist Ron Domingo, along with his charming family, moved beyond the Greeks to embrace American playwright Clifford Odets‘ social protest theater. The play was written by Michie Barall and Sung Rno and directed by Jack Tamburri.
In 1989, Ma-Yi was founded with the primary mission to develop and produce new and innovative plays by Asian American writers.
Its numerous acclaimed productions include Mike Lew’s Teenage Dick and Bike America, Qui Nguyen’s The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G and Soul Samurai (with Vampire Cowboys), and Hansol Jung‘s Among The Dead. Other productions include: Rescue Me by Michi Barall, Lloyd Suh’s The Chinese Lady, and Lonnie Carter’s The Romance of Magno Rubio.
The Ma-Yi Writers Lab, a signature program founded in 2004, is the largest resident company of Asian-American playwrights ever assembled. The Lab encourages a new generation of Asian American artists to voice their experiences while developing a steady stream of quality new works by Asian American playwrights for Ma-Yi’s own performing repertory. New jobs created at the Writers Lab have gone on to successful productions worldwide, such as Victory Gardens, Laguna Playhouse, Long Wharf Theater, Woolly Mammoth, and the Actors Theater of Louisville, to name a few.
Ma-Yi’s productions have earned 10 Obie Awards, 5 Henry Hewes Award nominations, a Drama Desk nomination for Best Play, and the Special Drama Desk Award for “more than two decades of excellence and for nurturing Asian-American voices in stylistically varied and engaging theater.”
Ma-Yi Theater is under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña.