Ma-Yi Theater’s “Vancouver” premieres online April 30

by PDM STAFF

| Poster provided by Ma-Yi Theater Company

NEW YORK – Vancouver, a play written and directed by Ralph B. Peña, will debut its online showing on Friday, April 30 at 7 PM ET at https://ma-yistudios.com/, the streaming platform for Ma-Yi’s 2020-2021 season.

Ma-Yi Studios, a digital streaming center and live capture studio, Ma-Yi Theater Company, in association with The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, presents Vancouver’s online premiere, a puppet play centered on a mixed-race family who relocate from Japan to the Pacific Northwest.

Pena created Vancouver in collaboration with puppetry director Tom Lee. The play confronts anti-Asian aggressions through the experiences of one family hoping to find more stability. Or, maybe, acceptance. But where is home exactly?

While the production is available at no cost, Ma-Yi encourages its audience to consider a donation following the directions on the Vancouver website. The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival website, chicagouppetfest.org, will also offer a free link to the production. Vancouver is intended for audiences 13 and older.

Photo | Jaerin Son

Shot on location in September 2020 in a rustic barn in Wisconsin, Vancouver setting provided a controlled environment that allowed all participants to follow strict social distancing and safety guidelines during the creative process.

Vancouver was a gut-level response to the pandemic and the shuttering of live theater,” says Peña. “We had to find a way to work safely, so I thought of puppets, and knew immediately that I wanted to work with Tom Lee. From there, my mind quickly moved to tell the story of a mixed-race Asian American family dealing with racial aggressions.”

“When Ralph approached me about telling a contemporary Asian American story with puppetry, I leaped at the chance to collaborate with him,” said Tom Lee. “Throughout the process, we were dealing with the pandemic and also the painful and ongoing reckoning in the country about racism. We saw elected leaders openly espouse racist rhetoric and split the country into us and them,” Lee added. “Vancouver is not only about trying to make a beautiful piece of art in challenging times. It is about portraying a story of a mixed-race Asian American family navigating the fraught environment of our country. Telling this story is especially crucial at this moment.”

Photo | K.T. Shivak

Vancouver features puppeteers Mark Blashford, Tom Lee, and K.T. Shivak, along with the vocal talents of Cindy Cheung as Amy, Daniel K. Isaac as Lucky, Shannon Tyo as Ashley, and James Yaegashi as Hiro.

The additional creative team for Vancouver includes:
Alec Styborski (editor).
Francisco Aliwalas (director of photography).
Fabian Obispo (composer).
Jaerin Son (lead scenic design).
Chicago Puppet Studio (production design).
K.T. Shivak (puppet design).

Blair Thomas (puppetry consultant), Aaron Herschlag (grip), Eric Roediger (motion graphics), Jesse Jae Hoon (titles), Paul Lieber (sound design), and Three Crown Studios (sound mastering) also joined the team.

Since its founding in 1989, Ma-Yi Theater Company has distinguished itself as one of the country’s leading incubators of new work shaping the national discourse about what it means to be Asian American today.

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