Summer Update: Ma-Yi Lab Members In the News


Stephenie Soohyun Park and Francis Jue in Lauren Yee’s play “King of the Yees” at Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. (Liz Lauren)

Lauren Yee’s KING OF THE YEES  follows her father’s history and family name (well sort of)

Labbie, Lauren Yee’s, KING OF THE YEES  had a World Premiere at Center Theatre Group‘s Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City recently. The (semi-autobiographical/fantastical)

“In the play — and in real life — Larry is a proud member of the Yee Fung Toy Family Assn., a Chinese American men’s club formed 150 years ago. As a public-minded booster with a strong attachment to his proud Yee lineage, Larry refuses to acknowledge that his club is on the rocks — as is the financially beleaguered Chinatown of San Francisco, where the Yees had prospered for generations. In the play and in life, Lauren uses “King of the Yees” to explore Chinese American identity as filtered through the microcosm of Chinatown — a community she views as socially backward and derelict. Purposefully clueless about Chinese culture, she has married a non-Asian and is moving for her husband’s job to Germany — as far from her ethnic roots as she can get.” more from LA TIMES

“…cheeky playwright with a highly developed sense of the improbable, Lauren Yee brings her fable full circle with a touching coda about family heritage that may provoke unanticipated tears…she boldly wields her distinctively offbeat humor to connect us to our better selves.”

See photos here, Photo Flash: “George Takei and More Celebrate KING OF THE YEES Opening at the Douglas”.  The premiere is followed by a production at ACT Theatre

King of the Yees (Directed by Desdemona Chiang) will also be produced at A Contemporary Theatre (Seattle) in September and (Directed by Sherry Yoon) National Arts Centre and Gateway Theatre (Ottawa, Canada) in October and November of this year.


Lauren Yee

THE GREAT LEAP: Also inspired by events from her own father’s life involving his short-lived basketball career, the co-world premiere will be at Denver Center in February of 2018 and March at Seattle Rep Directed by Eric Ting.

Yee’s in a word, Directed by Jocelyn Brown, will be produced at Chance Theatre (Anaheim, CA) in September 2017 after a recent run at Lesser America (New York City) (Directed by Tyne Rafaeli).

Two of Yee’s plays were at or near the top of the Kilroy’s List this year.

Lauren Yee: “You never quite know what you have until you see it in front of an audience. Plays are meant to be experienced live, collectively, and in real time. That experience is valuable. As for an audience member during a workshop, they get to be in on the ground floor. You get to see a living, breathing play as it changes and adapts. Is every play going to go on to a long and healthy life? No, but that’s part of the fun. You get to see the path towards plays becoming what they’re supposed to be. It’s the ultimate R&D lab experience.” from an interview


Writers Lab member Dipika Guha joined the Core Writer Program at the Playwrights’ Center. The program provides play development workshops and professional support to 25 to 30 playwrights from across the country over a three-year term.


Dipika Guha

Earlier this year, Guha was commissioned among seven playwrights to write a short play to be presented with the 2017 launch of the Princeton and Slavery Project with McCarter Theatre Center in partnership with Princeton University.

Next year, Mosaic Theater Company Special Event Series will feature Guha’s Yoga Play, a satire of corporations and fitness trends directed by Mosaic Theater Associate Artist Jennifer L. Nelson on January 29, 2018. “YOGA PLAY is a wicked satire about finding enlightenment in a world determined to sell it, one pair of yoga pants at a time”

Guha is also currently translating Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor for Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Play on! project, along with Labbies, Lloyd Suh (Henry V), and Hansol Jung (Romeo and Juliet).


Hansol Jung

Hansol Jung

Ml-Yi patrons will remember Hansol Jung as author of Ma-Yi’s mainstage production of Among The Dead last year.

Hansol Jung‘s play, Cardboard Piano, opens in early 2018, at DiversionaryTheatre stage as part of the University Heights company’s recently announced season. Her Wild Goose Dreams (Kilroys 2016) recently played at Public’s Shiva Theater in NYC and premieres on the West Coat at La Jolla Playhouse in September 2017.

Jung’s Wolf Play, was part of Victory Gardens 2017 IGNITION Festival of New Plays this month. “An American father un-adopts a Korean boy but just before he leaves the new house, the ex-father finds out that the new couple to whom he has “re-homed” his ex-son, is lesbian. This doesn’t sit well with ex-father at all. The boy is actually not a real boy. He is a puppet. And his puppeteer is the Emcee of the evening, and spinner of the night’s tale: a lone wolf.” 


Clarence Coo

Clarence Coo

The Birds of Empathy by Labbie, Clarence Coo, about a socially awkward gay man who is obsessed with birds, was presented at Playwrights Foundation‘s (a new-play incubator) 40th annual Bay Area Playwrights Festival in July. Coo is one of ten recipients of the 2017 Whiting Awards and a $50,000 cash prize intended to provide writers with the opportunity to develop new work on a full time basis.


Michael Lew and Rehana Lew Mirza are “BHANGIN’ IT!”


Michael Lew – Co-director, Ma-Yi Writers Lab and Ma-Yi Resident Playwright

Rhinebeck Writers Retreat presented the first reading of the new musical, BHANGIN’ IT, book by Rehana Lew Mirza and Mike Lew and music and lyrics by Sam Willmott, on May 1 in New York City for an invited industry audience. BHANGIN’ IT was selected for Rhinebeck Writers Retreat’s Triple R program, which gives musical theatre writers 2 readings and a residency to do extensive development in a compressed time frame, culminating in the May 1 staged reading.


Rehana Lew Mirza – Ma-Yi Resident Playwright

Inspired by the high-stakes world of intercollegiate bhangra (Indian folk dance) competitions, BHANGIN’ IT follows a biracial girl named Mary who gets kicked off her bhangra team, the unstoppable Michigan State Bengal Tigers. Haunted by an accusation of not being “Indian enough,” Mary grabs her best friend and cheerleading drop-out Sunita, and together they form a rag-tag multicultural bhangra team of their own. Along the way, BHANGIN’ IT wrestles with love, betrayal, and the cultural traditions we inherit versus those we create.

Mirza and Lew are Ma-Yi’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Resident Playwrights, and Micheal Lew is co-Director of The Ma-Yi Writers Lab, along with A Rey Pamatmat. The three Labbies will also serve as Panelists on  The 24 Hour Plays – a rigorous professional experience for artists 25 and under. Over the course of a weekend, artists engage in intensive workshops, panel discussions, and finally, their own production of The 24 Hour Plays.

A Rey Pamatmat

A Rey Pamatmat Co-director of Ma-Yi Writers Lab

Rey Pamatmat‘s play, A POWER PLAY; OR, WHATS-ITS-NAMEdirected by May Adrales, was recently part of Atlantic Theater Company’s Asian American Mixfest along with plays by Carla Ching, Qui Nguyen (co producer), A. Rey Pamatmat, Madhuri Shekar and Lloyd Suh (also co-producer). In addition to the full length readings Atlantic Theater Company commissioned Labbies Leah Nanako Winkler and Jiehae Park to create short one-acts for the event.


Dustin Chinn Headshot

Dustin Chinn

Dustin Chinn recently completed Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor Awards Residency. The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work included 18 projects accepted into its sixth annual Summer Residency Lab. The projects were chosen from almost 600 submitted applications, the most the program has ever received. Over an intense four-week period, residents shared ideas, broke bread, and created new plays. Dozens more local and out-of-town actors and directors joined the Summer Residency Lab as part of these projects, bringing the number of participating artists close to 100. Chinn worked on his play, Colonialism is Terrible, But Pho is Delicious, a triptych that spans the evolution of Vietnamese noodles, which, in his words, are ‘indisputably better on the West Coast than in New York.’



Mia Chung is a recent recipient of The Jerome Fellowship

Playwright Mia Chung, whose “You For Me For You” had a successful Mu Performing Arts production at the Guthrie Theater a year ago, has won a Jerome Foundation fellowship. The fellowship comes with an $18,000 stipend and $1,725 in play development funds. The Chicago-area premiere of Mia Chung’s You for Me for You,” about two sisters who escape from North Korea only to be separated at the border, will open Sideshow Theatre Company’s 2017-2018 season on March 4, 2018.

Mia is the recent recipient of a week long residency at Page 73, home for the development and production of new work by early-career playwrights. Mia will be using her residency to collaborate with director Ken Rus Schmoll on Catch As Catch Can.


Mashuk Mushtaq Deen

Mashuk Mushtaq Deen

Labbie, Mashuq Mushtaq Deen also received the Page 73 summer residency (only 4 per year), and will be using his residency to collaborate on The Betterment Society with director Jessi Hill and composer Nell Shaw Cohen.

As part of Mosaic Theater Company’s series “Transformational Journeys: Inspired Singular Explorations” in rep with The Real Americans, Deen’s DRAW THE CIRCLE  performed by Mashuq Deen as well, will play at Atlas Performing Arts Center, Lab II this December, directed by Chay Yew. “Gender transition can be a test for any household—but when Mashuq Mushtaq Deen comes out to his conservative Muslim family, traditional values and Western ideals collide in an hilarious and moving immigration journey unlike any other.”


Rattlestick Playwrights Theater will also feature Deen’s DRAW THE CIRCLE presented in repertory and in its upcoming season and  will kick off their season with Writers Lab Member Diana Oh‘s {my lingerie play} 2017: Installation #9: THE CONCERT AND CALL TO ARMS!

Diana Oh

Over the course of 4 months, 8 street installations of work connected to Diana Oh‘s {my lingerie play} have taken place in Times Square, Washington, D.C. and New Orleans, which will culminate in Rattlestick’s production through this entertaining concert/play which explores mainstream culture’s relationship to the female and gender-queer body and the deep and complex dynamics that exist regarding sexuality and gender politics.



Susan Soon He Stanton

Labbie Susan Soon He Stanton is one of Six Filmmakers Making ‘Bushwick Beats’ Brooklyn Drama. Susan recently won the eighth annual prize from Leah Ryan’s Fund for Emerging Women Writers for her play We, The Invisibleschosen from over 400 entries. We, the Invisibles is based on the real-life sexual assault case, New York v. Strauss-Kahn in 2011, in which a hotel maid, Nafissatou Diallo, accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn, director of the International Monetary Fund, of assault and attempted rape and was on this year’s Kilroy’s List, along with the plays of many other Labbies.


FB_CoverNew York, NY, July 12, 2017Due to popular demand, Ars Nova “one of NYC’s most adventurous Off Broadway companies” (New York Times), in association with “the foremost incubator of new Asian American theater in the country” (Obie awardMa-Yi Theater and Woodshed Collective, “the exceptional theater company” that turns “spaces into intimate vortexes of wonder” (Gothamist) has released a new block of tickets and has added performances (September 16 & 30 at 3pm) to the world premiere of KPOP, a high-octane immersive event that gives you a backstage pass to a K-pop music factory.


KPOP is here and America will never be the same. Claim your exclusive, all-access pass and immerse yourself in the Korean Pop music factory where stars are made… or broken.

Deborah S. Craig (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) and Vanessa Kai have joined and complete the cast of predominantly Asian and Asian American performers, who now number 18, and also include Julia Abueva, Cathy Ang, Katie Lee Hill (Nerds), Joomin Hwang, Jinwoo Jung, Jiho Kang, Deborah Kim, Susannah Kim, Ashley Park (Sunday in the Park with George, The King and I), Sun Hye Park, James Saito, James Seol (A Naked Girl on the Appian Way, Small Mouth Sounds), David Shih, Jason Tam (If/Then, Lysistrata Jones), John Yi and Ebony Williams (Beyoncé’s Formation World Tour).



KPOP was conceived by Woodshed Collective and Ma-Yi Writers Lab Member Jason Kim (The Model American, HBO’s “Girls”) and features a book by Kim, music & lyrics by Helen Park and Max Vernon (The View UpStairs), an immersive design by Woodshed Collective, choreography by Bessie-nominee Jennifer Weber (The Hip Hop Nutcracker, TruTV’s “Face Off”) and is directed by Teddy Bergman (Empire Travel Agency).




The creative team includes Gabriel Hainer Evansohn (Production Design), Tricia Barsamian (Costume Design), Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew (Lighting Design), Will Pickens (Sound Design), Phillip Gulley (Projection and Video Design), Sujin Kim-Ramsey (Music Director), Helen Park & Max Vernon (Orchestration, Vocal Arrangements, Music Production) and Lizzy Lee (Production Stage Manager).



Performances of KPOP will take place September 5–October 7 (see above schedule) at the A.R.T./New York Theatres, located at 502 West 53rd Street in Manhattan. Critics are welcome as of Tuesday, September 19 for an official opening on Friday, September 22 at 8pm. Tickets, priced at $45 general/$75 premium, can be purchased by visiting or by calling 212-352-3101.




Broadway World

Resident Ma-Yi Playwrights including the baby in all endeavors-Howlround

Mike Lew and Rehana Lew Mirza are the Playwrights-in-Residence at Ma-Yi Theater Company through the National Playwright Residency Program, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

In the interview article by HOWLROUND the parents summarize:

We end our year of including the baby on all of our adventures and endeavors, happy that we’re still playwrights, happy that we’re still married, happy that the baby is still alive, happy for all the opportunities and open doors and kindness bestowed upon us, but also even more aware of the need to find balance within the juggling act.”

Read the full article here.


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In order for us to shift gendered perceptions around parenthood, theatres have to be confronted with actual children. Which means that taking your baby to work is as much a political act as it is a practical one.”


Mike: Once we find a rhythm, the baby completely changes. But we’re artists; our lives have never been stable and within this fellowship (and having a home at Ma-Yi) we’re actually the most stable we’ve ever been.

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Rehana: That’s what being an artist is—being able to adapt and find stability even in the most tenuous of circumstances.

Mike: One thing that isn’t even included in this timeline (because it wasn’t a “public event”) is the fact that throughout the year we were writing and meeting up at Ma-Yi the whole time—a luxury of an artistic home we’re acutely aware is a rarified privilege.

Rehana: And we’ll keep meeting up and writing at that home for as long as they’ll let us.

Mike: So as for the progress of this ongoing experiment in playwright-parenting, check back with us again in a year.

Read the full article here.

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The Labbies
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