Diversity for Dummies

Originally Published in HOWLROUND, March 25, 2017

The first thing to say about this “Quick Start” manual is that I’m a dummy myself. In all the years I’ve grappled with diversity, the one constant has been recalibration. What was diverse ten years ago is privileged today, and today’s diversity models will become obsolete in the coming years. Historically disenfranchised groups are just now finding their voices after decades, even centuries, of silence. Diversity requires periodic check-ins, assessment, and retuning.

“I think it’s fair to say that the theatre community is committed to the ideals of diversity. This guide will focus on implementation, which can be trickier. And while every exercise in diversity must include gender, physical abilities, and age (to name just a few), this guide will focus on ethnic diversity.”

Here are a few ways you can check on your theatre’s diversity smarts.

It’s not really about numbers—but look at them anyway.

Diversity is not a numbers game, but a quick look at your digits can be telling. How many people of color work in your back office? How many artists of color perform on your stages? Divide those numbers by your total employees, and the total number of artists you employed for the season. What number do you get?

Compare that number to your community’s demographics. Don’t use your ticket subscriber base, use the population of the geographic area in which you operate. Don’t gerrymander or re-district your sample area. Is your diversity percentage a close approximation of your area’s ethnic diversity? If not, why not?

Here’s a sample comparison between New York City’s 2010 ethnic demographics and a hypothetical theatre company’s organizational and season programming numbers. The total columns at the bottom and the far right have a story to tell. It may not be the full story, but it deserves close investigation.

If your theatre has been around ten or twenty years, take a look back and see how your organization and programming lines up with the demographic changes in your community over time. That may tell another story.

Don’t lump all peoples of color into one category. One ethnic group is not a surrogate for the other. In other words, just because you hired four black actors for the season, you’re not off the hook from hiring performers of other ethnicities.

Here’s a link to the US Census Bureau, where you can look up your city’s data.

Who’s in charge?

Let’s look at agency, and the power to make decisions.

Look at your organization’s hierarchy. Who are the top decision-makers? Who has the power to advance a play into production? For many theatre organizations, one person holds this power.

Who are the other gatekeepers in your organization? This includes your literary managers, casting directors, and associate producers. Oftentimes, they are the sentries that give or deny access to your theatre. Is diversity a part of their operational objectives? Are they empowered to open your theatre’s doors to artists of color?

Putting managers of color in these positions is important—as important as providing them with the training and work environment to succeed.

White men run a majority of theatres in the US, and that needs to change. Not because white men are incapable of empathy or because they don’t have a sense for what’s right or wrong—we need diverse leaders because it drives innovation, adaptability, and organizational smarts. Diverse thinking is crucial in navigating a world in flux, and ultimately, in how the theatre responds to its changing environs.

Who’s on stage?

I have heard Artistic Directors and Managing Directors boast of how diverse their organization is. “Our back office is a veritable Rainbow Coalition!”

But wait. Aren’t you running a theatre? How diverse are the faces you put on stage? What opportunities are there to diversity your casting practices?

Are you color conscious when you choose a play? How white is Thornton Wilder’s Grover’s Corner? What about Shakespeare’s Elsinore? How about Tobias and Agnes’s household in A Delicate Balance? Is ethnicity a marker of historical accuracy? There are many arguments for and against “authenticity,” which we won’t parse here. What’s important is that you’re aware of the implications of your decisions and how they affect who gets on stage.

This might be a good time to touch on the implicit canard in the term “colorblind casting.” It is not meant to provide cover for casting white actors in roles written for performers or color. It is not meant to allow a theatre to cast a white actor as Martin Luther King, Jr., by invoking the what’s good for the goose argument, or the “if we’re truly after equality, then any actor can play any role.” Why not? Because colorblind casting is intended to correct a gross inequity in American theatre, where more than 75 percent of all roles go to white actors. Calling on the goose/gander equation doesn’t work because inequality is the current norm. A tit for tat proposal only works when all parties are on equal footing, so that for every tit, the corresponding tat is intended to rebalance the equation.

Who’s watching?

Do you have a subscriber base? How does it break down ethnically? Why? Does your pricing exclude certain communities? How about your marketing outreach? What has shaped your audience make-up over time?

Here’s a big hurdle for some theatres. When the audience watching is overwhelmingly white, why should a theatre care about choosing plays that are not? For the majority of theatres that find themselves in this position, there’s a good chance they’ve already proven to themselves that their audiences are delighted by diverse programming. Theatre audiences are voyeurs at heart, and relish being able to look into lives other than their own.

But there’s a more important and compelling reason to present a multiplicity of perspectives to our audiences: empathy. Forces that underscore differences and divisions shape our world today. Theatre can propose a compelling alternative by putting a human face on “the other,” and stressing the truism that we are more alike than we are different. If we do this often enough, theatre can be an agent for change.

Note that I inserted a caveat in that last sentence. “If we do this often enough…” One-offs won’t do it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this refrain, “We did an Asian play, but Asian audiences didn’t come.” You can’t expect to mobilize a community that you’ve ignored in the past. You have to engage, and engage again, and again. And again. You have to earn its trust.

This is true for audiences and communities of all colors.

It’s going to cost you.


Diversity requires dedicated resources. You have to invest in it.

As a business proposition, it’s a no-brainer. According to the US Census, just “over half—50.2 percent—of US babies younger than one year old were racial or ethnic minorities. In sheer numbers, there were 1,995,102 minority babies compared with 1,982,936 non-Hispanic white infants.”

This is what drove Google to increase its workforce diversity initiative budget from $115 million in 2014, to $150 million in 2015.

No theatre has $150 million to spend on a diversity initiative, but a close and honest look at your organization will likely reveal practices that should be made more inclusive. But let’s talk about the scary stuff: Box office/Earned Revenue.

Theatres are terrified of losing income because they took a chance on a play their audiences are not familiar with, or “can’t relate to.” A sea of empty seats is a scary sight, but as I said previously, you can’t expect them to come if you’ve never put in the work. It’s also wrongheaded to put up a play featuring Asian American actors and assume the Asian American community will come rushing to your doors. Don’t blame the community if they don’t know you.

This is where the investment opportunities come in.

Put more muscle in your outreach programs. Consider going to communities of color and presenting work there. Not everyone can come to you. Make the first move, and keep making moves. Earning trust takes time and tenacity.

Prepare for the possibility of reduced box office revenue. This may not happen. In some cases, the opposite could be true—a box office bonanza. But there are risks in choosing unknown artists—that is, artists not familiar to your theatre patrons. These are the risks you have to take, not once, but multiple times until your audiences no longer think of diversity as a concession, and begin to accept it as the norm.

Cast a wider net. Diversity is not low-hanging fruit that you can pick and enjoy without much effort. You have to work at it. Sometimes you won’t get enough actors of color to respond to you casting call. Maybe no plays by writers of color crossed your desk for consideration this season. Don’t give up. Go out and get them. Call your colleagues and ask for referrals. Partner with community organizations to get the word out. Make noise and let the world know you want it.

Last word.

This guide is meant to stop theatres from paying lip service to diversity. Giving a playwright of color five workshops without ever producing the play may earn you the heterogeneity badge, but it falls way short of making your theatre an exemplar of diversity.

You have to try harder than that.


ACT Launches New Strands Residency with 3 Lab Members



at_ja14_American-Conservatory-Strand-Theater_SOMLauren Yee, Don Nguyen, andDustin Chinn from Ma-Yi Writers Lab to Participate


The New Strands Residency gives American playwrights the opportunity to create and develop new works in residence at A.C.T.’s state-of-the-art Strand Theater

SAN FRANCISCO (March 28, 2017)—Today, American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.)’s Associate Artistic Director Andy Donald announced the first projects to be chosen for A.C.T.’s inaugural New Strands Residency program. Three playwrights/plays from New York City’s acclaimed Ma-Yi Theater Company will participate. They include: The Great Leap by Lauren Yee, The Man from Saigon by Don Nguyen, and Snowflakes, or Rare White People by Dustin Chinn. The New Strands Residency gives emerging and established American playwrights the opportunity to create and develop new works in residence at A.C.T.’s state-of-the-art Strand Theater, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Central Market neighborhood.

“When we put the call out to the Ma-Yi Writers Lab for the inaugural year of this program, we were overwhelmed by the amount of spectacular new work that came in from its membership,” says Donald. “These are all writers who are zeroed in on today’s American culture––its contradictions, its divisive politics, its future—so choosing just three was an enviable challenge. We could not be more thrilled to share Lauren, Don, and Dustin’s searing, often hilarious, deeply personal, and poignant work and watch it continue to grow with this esteemed group of directors and our San Francisco audience.”

Each year, A.C.T. will partner with a nationally recognized new-work incubator to select three playwrights who will spend a week in San Francisco. This year’s partner theater company is the Drama Desk and Obie Award–winning not-for-profit Ma-Yi Theater Company. Based in New York City, Ma-Yi is one of the country’s leading incubators of new work shaping the national discourse about what it means to be Asian American today.

Over the course of their residency, the three playwrights will participate in a reading of their work, develop and workshop their plays-in-progress with directors and a shared ensemble of actors, and sit on various panel discussions. The New Strands Residency culminates with a free public presentation of their work during A.C.T.’s annual New Strands Festival, now in its second year, taking place May 19–21, 2017. The complete lineup for the New Strands Festival will be announced in early April 2017.

The three selected playwrights/plays from Ma-Yi Theater Company for the 2017 New Strands Residency are:


lauren-headshot-3 - small

The Great Leap 

by Lauren Yee

Directed by Lisa Peterson— When an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for a “friendship” game in the post-Cultural Revolution 1980s, both countries try to tease out the politics behind this newly popular sport. Cultures clash as the Chinese coach tries to pick up moves from the Americans and Chinese American player Manford spies on his opponents. Inspired by events in the playwright’s father’s life.

Ma-Yi Theater Company Writers Lab Member, Don Nguyen

The Man from Saigon 

by Don Nguyen

 Directed by Hal Brooks— As Saigon nears collapse in 1975, a South Vietnamese intelligence agent forges a complicated friendship with Richard Armitage, a charismatic US officer who would later become George W. Bush’s deputy secretary of state. A political thriller based on the story of the playwright’s father.

Dustin Chinn

Snowflakes, Or Rare White People 

by Dustin H Chinn

Directed by Mina Morita— In a non-dystopian future, the dwindling white American population is protected by the federal government. Two of the last White Americans are brought to Nueva New York’s Museum of Natural History but are “freed” by a disgruntled activist. Is America ready for their return?

The New Strands Festival features new theatrical pieces, works in progress, and readings, as well as experimental work by innovative artists across different disciplines, including music, animation, and more. Devoted to supporting local, national, and international artists in the creation and completion of original theater, the New Strands Festival enables artists to connect and communities to experience theatrical projects as they take shape, all under one roof at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater.

The inaugural New Strands Residency with Ma-Yi Theater Company is supported by a Building Demand Grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the new A.C.T. Asian stARTup initiative to bring together Asian/Asian American artists and tech workers in the Bay Area.

The New Strands Festival is made possible by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Fund for New Works, Theatre Forward, and the Priscilla and Keith Geeslin New Strands Fund.

READ MORE about the New Strands Residency Program or A.C.T.’s New Play Commissions.

Mia Katigbak Awarded Distinguished Achievement Fellowship from The William & Eva Fox Foundation and TCG.

Mia Katigbak

Ma-Yi Theater offers heartfelt congratulations and continued success to Mia Katigbak, recipient of the Distingushed Achievement Fellowship from The William & Eva Fox Foundation and Theatre Communications Group (TCG). This award supports actors with 20 years or more of experience who have amassed a substantial body of work with grants that allow them to pursue continued growth and sustain the longevity of their careers and to adapt to physical changes in casting and as an actor later in their career.

Recently appearing in Ma-Yi’s rock music adaptation, Peer Gynt and The Norwegian Hapa Band as Ose (Peers mother) and other singing and musical roles in the recently opened play, our patrons will remember Mia’s many key roles in Ma-Yi productions, including House Rules, American Hwangap, Watcher, Last of the Suns, Middle Finger and Flipzoids.

Mia’s Fox/TCG Fellowship award grant will fund a series of intergenerational master classes at Ma-Yi Theater with a small group of advanced-level Asian American actors doing text analysis and scene work, working on a diverse repertory that will include classic and new plays that Ma-Yi and NAATCO continue to develop and produce.

Mia is a co-founder and artistic producing director of the award-winning company NAATCO (National Asian American Theatre Company) and founding director of CAATA (Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists). In addition to her many contributions to Ma-Yi productions, Mia is the 2016 recipient of the Lilly Award for Trailblazing, an Obie Award for Performance, the Lucille Lortel Award through League of Professional Theatre Women, and a Charles Bowden Actor. Her recent New York appearances include, Dear Elizabeth (Women’s Project); Awake and Sing! (NAATCO, Obie Award); Scenes From a Marriage (NYTW); I’ll Never Love Again (Bushwick Starr). Mia received her BA from Barnard College and her MA at Columbia University.

Ma-Yi 28th Annual Gala

Ma-Yi Theater Company requests the pleasure of your presence

at the

28th Anniversary Gala Benefit

in appreciation and gratefulness of our playwrights and honorees


at 6:00 pm on Monday, April 24, 2017

Three Sixty-Tribeca / 10 Debrosses Street / New York, NY 10013

Silent Auction / Premium Beverages / Live Music / Fine Dining / Festive Attire RSVP 4/12/17.


April 24, 2017, 10 Debrosses St, Tribeca THREE SIXTY

This year’s Outstanding Honorees are Elizabeth Roxas Dobrish, legendary prima ballerina of Ballet Philippines and Alvin Ailey Dance Company, and Frank and Lolita Valderrama Savage, an outstanding couple whose knowledge and love for the arts and business make theirs an extraordinary union.

For more information about this event click here.

“SAFE: Three Queer Plays” by Lab Member, A. Rey Pamatmat

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 10, Pearl Studios- 500 8th ave, Room 401,

directed by May Adrales, dramaturgy by Jesse Alick, Sarah Lunnie, and Aaron Malkin.

Ma-Yi Lab Member, A. Rey Pamatmat’s “SAFE:Three Queer Plays” will begin on 11:30 AM on Friday. See schedule below. Space is limited. RSVP to chris@ma-yitheatre.org

with Satya Bhabha, Erica Bradshaw, Nicholas Carriere, Helen Cespedes, Tina Chilip, Daniella De Jesús, Sue Jean Kim, Jacob Knoll, Jon Norman Schneider, and Nick Westrate

11:30am: Reading of “Picture 24″

1:30pm: Reading of “Beautiful Day”

3:30pm: Lunch Break!

4:30pm: Reading of “Here Are Our Monsters”

"SAFE: Three Queer Plays" by A. Rey Pamatmat


I: “Picture 24″ — Joey meets Max, and it’s love at first sight… sort of. Joey meets Chuck, but love has nothing to do with it. While preparing an autobiographical photo series for a public showing, the romance and pornography in Joey’s private life start blurring together. Dot com parties, safe sex that’s hot sex, and dial-up Internet welcome you to a queer love story in the year 2000.

II: “Beautiful Day” — In 2007, Joey, Felicia, Kat, and Matthew reunite for a wedding in their small hometown of Port Huron, Michigan where a constitutional amendment was passed defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Haunted by past lives, they navigate the present traditions of marriage in the five nights preceding one beautiful day.

III: “Here Are Our Monsters” — Rupesh wants to marry Joey; Ilsa wants security for her impending tri-racial, quadra-cultural daughter; Philippa wants to buy a condo; and Joey wants to know why “acceptance” makes him more confused and not less. One week after the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision declaring marriage equality the law of the land, a “no” to a wedding proposal unleashes everyone’s anxieties and makes them wonder whether those monsters can ever be locked back up again.

Peer Gynt and The Norwegian Hapa Band Rocks On Thru 2/11

Peer Gynt and The Norwegian Hapa Band, by Ma-Yi Theater's Michi Barall, Lyrics by Paul Lieber and Matt Park, Directed and originally conceived by Jack Tamburri

Opening to a full house on January 21, Peer Gynt and The Norwegian Hapa Band follows a modern day Peer (Matt Park) across the globe as he chases and runs away from women, lies cheats and steals to make his fortune, and searches for true meaning. Written by Ma-Yi Writers Lab Member, Michi Barall, the play departs humorously from Ibsen’s six hour classic verse dram, but carries many of the themes of the original through live original music performed and sung by a talented cast. GET TICKETS

Theatre Pizzazz credits the show and crew with a big thumbs up:


Matt Park is transfixing and electrifying in the title role of Peer, a true rock star complete with guitar skills. Also co-composer, he audaciously leads the company through the ups and the downs as Peer’s stories gallop apace. Park’s physical commitment and range matches his fiery and imaginative inner life. Playing all of the women Peer finds himself in trouble with, Angel Desai is dynamic and vibrant, not to mention a killer violinist. Mia Katigbak is commanding and quite a force as Peer’s mother, among other roles, and steps in to tickle the ivories. Rocky Vega fills Solvay, the love of Peer’s life, with breathtaking vitality. Her voice blends styling likened to Regina Spektor and Charlotte Martin, and she’s a talented pianist. The chemistry between Peer and Solvay is just heart-wrenching. Paul Lieber, sharing the composer hat with Park, is always in the moment, whether bandleader, guitarist, or a smorgasbord of acting roles. On drums and mandolin, along with dance captaining and taking on a variety of wacky characters, Titus Tompkins is a knockout. Last but certainly not least, Uton Onyejekwe goes cross-gender as a youthful and warm Helga. This performance beautifully contrasts his strong-willed other roles, in addition to the band’s bassist. 

More Here


EXCLUSIVE: Inside Look at Among the Dead by Hansol Jung

(Left to Right: JESUS, LUKE WOODS, and ANA WOODS)

LUKE WOODS holds ANA WOODS hostage in a small hotel room in Seoul.


While reading her late father’s journal, ANA WOODS finds herself reliving moments from her parent’s past.


Memories of war haunt LUKE WOODS at night.


ANA WOODS (as NUMBER FOUR) shares a tender moment with LUKE WOODS.


Three time periods collide in Hansol Jung’s Among the Dead. Now playing at HERE thru Nov. 26.



Meet the Cast of Among the Dead by Hansol Jung

Ana is an ex-daughter summoned to Korea to retrieve her suddenly dead father’s ashes. Luke is an American soldier sent to Myanmar to survive a world war he probably shouldn’t have volunteered for. Number Four is a Korean comfort woman camping out on a bridge in Seoul, waiting for Luke. Jesus is a bellboy. Three wars of three eras folded into one hotel room, Among the Dead is a dark comedy about a family broken apart by betrayed promises and finding each other through SPAM, journals, and Jesus. Mostly Jesus.


This production is a part of SubletSeries@HERE: Co-op, HERE’s curated rental program, which provides artists with subsidized space and equipment, as well as technical support.






WILL DAGGER (Jesus) has helped develop new work at EST, New Dramatists, The Lark, Ars Nova, Primary Stages, Colt Couer, The Actors Studio, The Pearl Theatre, and Naked Angels. Recent credits: The Convent of Pleasure (Cherry Lane), Trees in their youth (Signature Center), Napoleon in Exile (59E59), Tartuffe (Two Headed Rep), Pucker Up and Blow (FringeNYC Best Overall Play), Verano Place (FringeNYC Best Ensemble), and OKAY (Ugly Rhino). Will is the artistic director of Calliope, a theatre company that devises large-ensemble hyperrealistic plays through long-form improvisation loosely inspired by classic works of literature. He also writes songs. Kenyon College, BADA. willdagger.com


JULIENNE HANZELKA KIM (Ana Woods) was previously seen at Ma-Yi in Chairs and a Long Table and I_NY. Broadway: Metamorphoses; Golden Child. Off-Broadway credits include: Yellow Face at The Public; The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow at The Atlantic Theater; The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci at Second Stage; Blood Orange at the Cherry Lane Theatre and the Blue Heron Arts Center; and The House of Bernarda Alba for NAATCO. Regional and Int’l: Phaedra Backwards at the McCarter Theater, Language Rooms at the Wilma Theater; Three Sisters at A.R.T. and the Edinburgh Int’l Festival; Yellow Face at the Mark Taper Forum; Golden Child at The Kennedy Center, A.C.T., Singapore Rep. and Seattle Rep.; Everything That Rises Must Converge and The World is Round with Compagnia de’ Colombari. TV/Film credits include: The Affair (Showtime); Blue Bloods (CBS); Elementary (CBS); The Good Wife (recurring CBS); Royal Pains (USA); Law and Order, CI (NBC); Rescue Me (FX); One Life to Live (recurring ABC); Children of the Northern Lights (ITVS, FutureStates); When We Dead Awaken, The Adderall Diaries; Shadows and Lies; The Tested; Robot Stories; Split; and Life in Bed. Julienne holds an MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Acting Program where she was the recipient of the NYU Departmental Scholarship. She is a proud member of the Workshop Company at The Actors Center, on the steering committee of AAPAC (Asian American Performers Action Coalition), and is the recipient of a Van Lier Literary fellowship.


DIANA OH (Number Four) is an actor, singer/songwriter, bandmate, performing artist, & theatremaker, the inaugural 2016 Van Lier Fellow in Acting with the Asian American Arts Alliance, one of Refinery 29’s Top 14 LGBTQ Influencers, the First Queer Korean-American interviewed on Korean Broadcast Radio, a Radical Diva Finalist, an Elphaba Thropp Fellow at NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program (MFA), a member of Rattlestick’s Actors-Who-Write Lab, a Van Lier Playwriting Finalist at The Lark, a Playwrights Realm Fellow Semi-Finalist, Creator of {my lingerie play}: a genre-bending Rock-Soul concert & performance series in lingerie staged in an effort to provide a saner, safer, more respectful world for women to live in featured on Upworthy, People.com, Huffington Post, Marie Claire Netherlands amongst other publications and on stage at Joe’s Pub, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Lark, & All for One. Sel. Credits: New Line Cinema’s How to Be Single with Dakota Johnson, Cherry Lane’s The Surgeon and Her Daughters, Wifey TV’s Hey Yun, Winter Miller’s Spare Rib, Taylor Mac’s 24 Decade History of Popular Music & many plays by Mariah MacCarthy. She will be in concert in April 2017 at The Center (www.gaycenter.org). Watch her PSA #AsianPeopleareNotMagicians (feat. Ralph Peña!) on Mic.com. The Wall Street Journal & Upworthy call her “bad-ass.” www.mylingerieplay.com


MICKEY THEIS (Luke Woods) made his professional acting debut in the 2013 Yale Repertory Theatre production of Hamlet, featuring Paul Giamatti. He has since appeared off-Broadway in the world premiere of Doug Wright’s Posterity (Atlantic Theater Company) and Desire (The Acting Company), an evening of newly adapted plays based on the short stories of Tennessee Williams. As a musician, Theis has written and performed as a solo artist, for the theater, and with Motel Motel, a band with which he toured internationally. He is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, a recipient of the US State Department “Cultures in Harmony” Grant, the Jerome L. Greene Endowment Fund Scholarship, and the Oliver Thorndike Award in Acting. He appeared in Episode 9 of Vinyl (HBO). His debut album, Range Songs, was released in September, 2016.

Announcing the 2016 – 2017 Season!

We’re thrilled to feature two women playwrights in our 2016 – 2017 Season. In keeping with our commitment to produce the works generated by our playwrights, both are members of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab. Among the Dead will be Hansol’s first production in New York City. There will be plenty more, trust me, but we’re so honored she’s making her debut at Ma-Yi. Hers is a voice that every theater lover will want to hear.

We’ve loved Michi’s writing since she premiered her play Rescue Me with Ma-Yi Theater Company in 2010. Michi conjures worlds that you want to spend time in and explore. With MATT PARK IS PEER GYNT WITH THE NORWEGIAN HAPA BAND she mines Ibsen’s classic to astonishing and devastating effect.

Ralph B. Peña
Producing Artistic Director


A world-premiere play, Among the Dead by Hansol Jung; a new musical by Michi Barall, Paul Lieber, and Matt Park, PEER GYNT & THE NORWEGIAN HAPA BAND; and the special presentation of the hit play The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra GO! by Lloyd Suh in Manila comprise the season to be produced by Ma-Yi Theater Company during their 2016-2017 season, it is announced by the company’s Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña and Executive Director Jorge Z. Ortoll.

MYTC website banner AmongtheDead

November will bring the world-premiere of Hansol Jung’s newest play, Among the Dead, directed by Ralph B. Peña. In Among the Dead, Ana is an ex-daughter, summoned to Korea to retrieve her suddenly dead father’s ashes. Luke is an American soldier, sent to Myanmar to survive a world war he probably shouldn’t have volunteered for. Number Four is a Korean comfort woman, camping out on a bridge in Seoul, waiting for Luke. Jesus is a bellboy. Three wars of three eras folded into one hotel room, Among the Dead is a dark comedy about a family broken apart by betrayed promises, and finding each other through spam, journals, and Jesus. Mostly Jesus.

Performances will run at HERE Arts Center, November 5 – 26th, 2016.

Hansol Jung is a playwright and director from South Korea. Plays include Cardboard Piano (Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville), No More Sad Things (co-world premiere at Sideshow Theatre, Chicago and Boise Contemporary Theatre), Wolf Play, and Wild Goose Dreams. Commissions from Playwrights Horizons, the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation grant with Ma-Yi Theatre and a translation of Romeo and Juliet for Play On! at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Her work has been developed at the Royal Court (London), New York Theatre Workshop, Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor, O’Neill Conference, Sundance Theatre Lab, Lark Play Development Center, Salt Lake Acting Company, Boston Court Theatre, Bushwick Starr, Asia Society New York, and Seven Devils Playwright Conference. She is the recipient of the Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop Fellowship at the Lark, 2050 Fellowship at New York Theater Workshop, MacDowell Colony Artist Residency, and International Playwrights Residency at Royal Court (London). Her plays have received the Paul Stephen Lim Playwriting Award (Among the Dead), Honorable Mention from the 2014 Arch and Bruce Brown Playwriting Competition (Cardboard Piano), and was named 2014 finalist for the Ruby Prize (No More Sad Things). She has translated over thirty English musicals into Korean, including Evita, Dracula, Spamalot, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, while working on several award winning musical theatre productions as director, lyricist and translator in Seoul, South Korea. Jung holds a Playwriting MFA from Yale School of Drama, and is a proud member of the Ma-Yi Theatre Writers Lab.

MYTC website banner no shadeMPPeerGyntNEWThe New Year will begin with the world-premiere of PEER GYNT & THE NORWEGIAN HAPA BAND, with Music by Paul Lieber and Matt Park, Lyrics by Michi Barall, Paul Lieber, Matt Park, and Jack Tamburri Based on Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen.

MATT PARK IS PEER GYNT WITH THE NORWEGIAN HAPA BAND centers on Peer, a brash young man on a journey to discover his ultimate self in this rock music odyssey about risk, reinvention and going roundabout. Ma-Yi Theater Company’s remaking of Ibsen’s classic verse drama asks what it means when we sacrifice everything to be most fully ourselves. Written by Michi Barall and

Directed and Originally Conceived by Jack Tamburri. Music by Paul Lieber and Matt Park. Additional Lyrics from the translation by William and Charles Archer. Orchestrations by Chad Raines.

Michi Barall is a NYC based playwright, actor and academic. Her dance-theatre piece, Rescue Me, directed by Loy Arcenas, was produced by Ma-Yi in 2010. Other works include How We Became Nomads, a puppet spectacular about Chingis Khan; Garba Griha: Womb House; and On the Line. As an actor Michi has, among others, appeared in new plays by Julia Cho, Philip Kan Gotanda, A.R. Gurney, John Guare, Naomi Iizuka, Han Ong, Jose Rivera, Paul Rudnick, Charles Mee, Sarah Schulman, Anna Deavere Smith, Diana Son, Dough Wright and Chay Yew. A graduate of Stanford University and NYU’s Grad Acting, Michi is a graduate fellow (ABD) in Theatre/English & Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

MYTC website banner WongKidsManila

The season will begin in September with Lloyd Sud’s play The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go! Directed by Ralph B. Peña, Mr. Suh’s play is presented by the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Ma-Yi Theater Company in association with Tanghalang Pilipino and Philippine Airlines. The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go! was previously mounted by Ma-Yi Theater Company and was Co-Created with Children’s Theatre Company in their 2013/14 season.

In this updated reimagination, Violet and Bruce Wong just don’t fit in with the other Earth kids. Sure, they have super powers, they’re just not very good ones. But when an evil beast called the Space Chupacabra appears, intent on universal destruction, The Wong Kids must travel to outer space in order to stop it … if they can only stop bickering. Using a mix of action-driven storytelling, puppetry, and visual magic, The Wong Kids transports its audience into the far reaches of the galaxy. Playing September 15-25, 2016 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino. 

Lloyd Suh is the author of American Hwangap, The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go!, Jesus in India, Great Wall Story, The Children of Vonderly, Masha No Home and others, produced with Ma-Yi, The Play Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre, La Mama ETC, Magic Theatre (SF), ArtsEmerson (MA), Denver Center Theatre Company, Children’s Theatre Company (MN), East West Players (LA), and internationally at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila, and with PCPA in Seoul, Korea. He has received support from the NEA Arena Stage New Play Development program, the Andrew W. Mellon Launching New Plays Into the Repertoire initiative via The Lark, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, Jerome Foundation, Theatre Communications Group and Dramatists Guild. His plays have been published by Samuel French, Playscripts, Smith & Kraus, Duke University Press and American Theater magazine. He is a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre and The Actors Studio, an alum of Youngblood and the Soho Rep Writer Director Lab, and from 2005-2010 served as Artistic Director of Second Generation and Co-Director of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab. He has served since 2011 as Director of Artistic Programs at The Lark.

Since its founding, Ma-Yi 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. Its numerous acclaimed productions include Mike Lew’s BIKE AMERICA, Qui Nguyen‘s THE INEXPLICABLE REDEMPTION OF AGENT G and SOUL SAMURAI (with Vampire Cowboys), Mike Lew’s MICROCRISIS and the revival of Ralph B. Peña’s FLIPZOIDS. Other productions include: RESCUE ME by Michi Barall, Lloyd Suh’s AMERICAN HWANGAP and THE CHILDREN OF VONDERLY and THE ROMANCE OF MAGNO RUBIO. Through successful programs such as the Writers Lab, Ma-Yi emboldens 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 its own performing repertory. New works developed at the Writers Lab have gone on to successful productions around the country, at such theaters as Victory Gardens, Laguna Playhouse, Long Wharf Theater, Woolly Mammoth, and the Actors Theater of Louisville, to name a few. Ma-Yi Theater Company productions have earned 10 OBIE Awards, numerous 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 and Executive Director Jorge Z. Ortoll.

Applications OPEN for the Writers Lab!


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On Stage
Ma-Yi Theater Company 520 Eighth Avenue, Suite 309 New York, NY 10018 212.971.4862 info [at] ma-yitheatre.org