Returning by popular demand, following a sold-out run at The Bushwick Starr, Haruna Lee’s Suicide Forest is a bilingual nightmare play excavating the Japanese American consciousness and its intimate relationship with sex, suicide, and identity.

In 1990’s Japan, a teenage girl grapples with her sexuality in a male-defined society as a salaryman desperately tries to escape his masochistic psyche. Both are clawing for their self-worth. When their journeys collide, they expose their darkest desires fueled by shame as they now confront life and death with the notorious Suicide Forest looming over their imagination. Performed by a Japanese heritage cast, Suicide Forest breaks through the silence and submissiveness often associated with Japanese and Asian American identity, examining the role of community and the struggles of emotional, psychic and social suicide through the playwright’s lived stories.


Photos by Maria Baranova.

Performance space for this production was subsidized by the A.R.T./New York Theatres Rental Subsidy Fund, a program of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York).

For information on the A.R.T./New York Theatres including directions and accessibility information, please visit

Talkbacks & Community Events

Thursday, March 5, 2020 @ 8:30pm


Discussion on Suicide Forest’s designs facilitated by Nia O. Witherspoon with Aya Ogawa (Director), Jian Jung (Scenic Design), and Alice Tavener (Costume Design).

Saturday, March 14, 2020 @ 1-4pm


A conversation for Women, Trans, Femme, and Non-Binary (WTFNB) Asian and Pacific Islanders facilitated and led by Yao (Sex Worker and TGNC Rights Activist), Yin Q(founder of Kink Out) and Xen Nhà (artist and curator of Red Pocket Press). Participants will engage in a discussion on sexuality and gender and how we connect with each other and our sexuality through a paradox of cultural familiarity and subversion.


Saturday, March 14, 2020 @ 7pm


Those who identify as part of the Asian and Pacific Islander diaspora can use the code FORUS to access discounted tickets this night in an audience centered for our community. We ask that patrons who do not identify as such choose another performance date… nobody wants to be that person!

Sunday, March 15, 2020 @ 6:30pm


Facilitated by Eli Nixon and David Mendizábal. This special 90-minute event for non-asian identified audiences explores how audiences can thoughtfully engage with and support work that doesn’t center their experience or perspective.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 @ 8:30pm


Facilitated by Mei Ann Teo with Haruna Lee (playwright) and Aya Ogawa (director).


A.R.T./New York Theatres Mezzanine Theatre 502 West 53rd Street New York, NY 10019

Official Trailer

About the Playwright

Haruna Lee | Playwright, Performer

Haruna Lee is Japanese-Taiwanese-American theater maker whose work navigates playwriting, performance, and promoting arts activism and emergent strategies through ethical and process-based collaborations. Their original work has been hailed by The New York Times as “Vivid, haunted, heart-stingingly tender and explicitly personal.” Recent plays include Suicide Forest (NYT Critic’s Pick, Bushwick Starr & Ma-Yi Theater Company), Plural (Love) (New Georges, Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab), and Memory Retrograde (The Public’s Under the Radar Festival Incoming! Series). As a performer, they’ve worked with Aya Ogawa, Minor Theater, The Drunkard’s Wife, Ralph Lee, Yoshiko Chuma, Taylor Mac, David Lang & Rachel Chavkin, Kate Benson & Lee Sunday Evans, and Anohni- among others. Lee is a recipient of the Lotos Foundation Prize for Directing and the New Dramatists Van Lier Fellowship, and has received support from The Map Fund, Mental Insight Foundation, FCA, NYSCA, and NEA. Their play Suicide Forest is published by 53rd State Press. They currently teach at NYU’s Experimental Theater Wing. MFA Brooklyn College for playwriting with Mac Wellman and Erin Courtney and BFA from NYU Tisch ETW.

About the Director

Aya Ogawa | Director

Aya is a Tokyo-born, Brooklyn-based playwright, director, and translator for the theater. She challenges traditional notions of the American aesthetic and identity by creating plays infused with a multiplicity of perspectives and languages, and by incorporating influences from outside the U.S. – of style, form, and content. She wrote and directed oph3lia at HERE (hailed by The New York Times as “great theater”); Journey to the Ocean, commissioned by The Foundry Theatre; and most recently Ludic Proxy, commissioned by The Play Company, which the NY Theatre Review described as “enchanting and poetic, deeply in tune with the spirit of many different cultures.” She has translated numerous Japanese plays into English, including works by Toshiki Okada, Yudai Kamisato and Satoko Ichihara, among others. Her translations have been described as “fluid and delicious” by American Theatre Magazine, published by Samuel French among others, and produced in the U.S. and U.K.


Design Team

  • Jian Jung | Scenic Design
  • Alice Tavener | Costume Design
  • Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew | Lighting & Video Design
  • Fan Zhang | Original Music & Sound Design
  • Jen Goma | Song Composition & Arrangement

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