Mia Katigbak’s “Decolonization: Living The Questions” opens Ma-Yi’s 2021-2022 season

by PDM STAFF

Lloyd Suh’s The Chinese Lady | Photo by Carol Rosegg via Ma-Yi Theater Company

NEW YORK – Ma-Yi Theater Company‘s 2021-2022 season, which runs from September. 2, 2021 to March 31, 2022, began Thursday, September 2 with Fil-Am Mia Katigbak’s creation, Decolonization: Living the Questions, one of its four digital premieres this season. This short video features a group of theatre artists answering the question, “What is your experience with colonialization?”

Decolonization: Living the Questions

Participants include Charles Browning, Peter Jay Fernandez, Peter Kim, Deepa Purohit, Aya Ogawa, Clint Ramos, Jon Norman Schneider, Isuri Wijesundara, Jorge I. Cortiñas, Luke De Silva, Rohini De Silva, Deepti Gupta, David Lee Huynh, Gloria Majule, Thavro Phim, and Adelaida Reyes.

The other 3 digital premieres include Singing in the Apocalypse Now, Sophocles in Staten Island, and The Flowering of Asian American Theater. Ma-Yi returns to an in-person event on February 2022 with Lloyd Suh’s The Chinese Lady.

From October 7 – December 31, 2021, composers and performers Matt Park and Paul Lieber premiere Singing in the Apocalypse Now, a time-jumping, fevered online song-cycle that ties the current pandemic to historical traumas experienced by Park’s Korean American family.

Odets in Staten Island

Building on the critically-acclaimed success of Sophocles in Staten Island, Obie-winner and Ma-Yi-affiliated artist Ron Domingo, along with his charming family, move beyond the Greeks to embrace the social protest theater of American playwright Clifford Odets in Odets in Staten Island, running October 1 – March 31, 2022.

In partnership with ALL ARTS, Ma-Yi will premiere The First Twenty: The Flowering of Asian American Theater on November 9. Created by Ralph B. Peña, this 30-minute documentary showcases the evolution of the Asian American playwright over the last 20 years, taking a close look at the shift in how Asian American plays are broadly perceived, as well as the widening scope of subjects tackled by Asian American writers that move far beyond identity politics. Interviewees include David Henry Hwang, Young Jean Lee, Mike Lew, Rehana Lew Mirza, Lauren Yee, and Chay Yew.

In February 2022, Ma-Yi returns to in-person events by remounting Lloyd Suh’s critically-acclaimed play, The Chinese Lady. Directed by Ralph B. Peña and presented by The Public Theater, The Chinese Lady is inspired by the true story of 16-year-old Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to step foot in America.

“When the pandemic forced the cancellation of two-thirds of our 30th anniversary season, Ma-Yi quickly pivoted to digital theater by opening Ma-Yi Studios, a digital streaming center and live capture studio,” says Ralph B. Peña, Ma-Yi’s Producing Artistic Director. “The goal of Ma-Yi Studios was to keep artists employed by returning the power of creation and dissemination back into their hands. As we look towards our 2021-2022 season, we’re thrilled to partner with The Public Theater on the return of Lloyd Suh’s critically-acclaimed play, The Chinese Lady, while also presenting a series of digital premieres that continue to expand the possibilities of storytelling.”

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. Additional information on Ma-Yi’s 2021-2022 season can be found below.

MA-YI THEATER COMPANY’S 2021–2022 SEASON

Decolonization: Living the Questions
Created by Mia Katigbak
With Charles Browning, Peter Jay Fernandez, Peter Kim, Deepa Purohit, Aya Ogawa, Clint Ramos, Jon Norman Schneider, Isuri Wijesundara, Jorge I. Cortiñas, Luke De Silva, Rohini De Silva, Deepti Gupta, David Lee Huynh, Gloria Majule, Thavro Phim, and Adelaida Reyes
September 2 – December 31, 2021

What does colonialism mean to you? Have you experienced it? How do we talk about it? How do we live with it? What is to be done? Mia Katigbak, Actor-Manager, and Co-Founder of NAATCO, preoccupied with a project on colonialism, responded to Ma-Yi Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña’s offer to commission a short video by posing a question to fellow theatre artists: what is your experience with colonialization? The prompt led Katigbak to contemplate the necessity of keeping the questions alive. The resulting discussion and event is Decolonization: Living the Questions.

Singing in the Apocalypse Now
Written and Performed by Matt Park and Paul Lieber
October 7 – December 31, 2021

A time-jumping, fevered song-cycle by composers and performers Matt Park and Paul Lieber that ties the current pandemic to historical traumas experienced by Park’s Korean American family.

Odets in Staten Island
Written by Michi Barall and Sung Rno
Directed by Jack Tamburri
November 3 – March 31, 2022

Building on the critically acclaimed success of Sophocles in Staten Island, Obie-winner and Ma-Yi-affiliated artist Ron Domingo, along with his charming family, move beyond the Greeks to embrace the social protest theater of American playwright Clifford Odets. This time, the homeschooled teenage kids are studying the U.S. Labor Market using the plays of Clifford Odets as the take-off points. The results are both eye-opening and hilarious, as the family comes to grips with its place on the labor pecking order.

The First Twenty: The Flowering of Asian American Theater
Created by Ralph B. Peña
Premieres Tuesday, November 9 at 8 p.m. on ALL ARTS

The First Twenty: The Flowering of Asian American Theater

This 30-minute documentary film showcases the evolution of the Asian American playwright over the last 20 years, taking a close look at the shift in how Asian American plays are broadly perceived, as well as the widening scope of subjects tackled by Asian American writers that move far beyond identity politics. Interviewees include theater luminaries: Tony, OBIE and Grammy Award winner and Pulitzer Prize in Drama Finalist David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly, Elton John, and Tim Rice’s Aida, Tarzan); playwright, director, and filmmaker Young Jean Lee, winner of the Guggenheim Fellowship, two OBIE Awards and a PEN Literary Award, who was the first Asian American female playwright to have a play produced on Broadway; playwright Mike Lew (tiny father, Teenage Dick), a Guggenheim Fellow and Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Ma-Yi; playwright Rehana Lew Mirza (A People’s Guide to History in the Time of Here and Now, Soldier X), a Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Ma-Yi; playwright Lauren Yee (Cambodian Rock Band, The Great Leap); and playwright and director Chay Yew (Porcelain, A Language of Their Own).

The Chinese Lady
Written by Lloyd Suh
The Barrington Stage Company and Ma-Yi Theater Company Production
Directed by Ralph B. Peña
Presented by The Public Theater
February 2022

The Chinese Lady

“Piercing and intimate… beautifully acted… a time-skipping, gently comical drama inspired by the story of the real Afong Moy.”Laura Collins-Hughes, The New York Times

“Perfect… Wonderful”Helen Shaw, Time Out New York

Inspired by the true story of the first Chinese woman to step foot in America, Lloyd Suh’s critically-acclaimed play, The Chinese Lady, is a tale of dark poetic whimsy and a unique portrait of the United States as seen through the eyes of a young Chinese girl. In 1834, 16-year-old Afong Moy sailed into New York Harbor and was immediately put on display for a paying public who were mesmerized by her exotic ways, and horrified by her tiny bound feet. As audiences follow Moy’s travels through America as a living exhibit for decades, The Chinese Lady reveals centuries of America’s shameful colonial history.

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