In 2022, Ma-Yi Theater Company, in collaboration with Resident Playwright Jesse Jae Hoon, received a grant from Creatives Rebuild New York’s Artist Employment Program with Ma-Yi Theater Company to create 6 new Lehrstücke (Learning Plays, a form pioneered by Bertolt Brecht) for issues facing working-class Asian Americans in New York City (as well as a new full-length play) – inspired by interviews with organizers like Whitney Hu, Hailie Kim, and Rima Begum and observations of organizing operations such as the Flushing Food Collective. Since May 2023, Jesse has been working with Ma-Yi to develop the first three plays in a series of internal workshops – public showings of the plays will be held in the coming months.

The Plays


This play is a circle. When federal funding for food banks can only provide blocks of fortified cheese, Diana Song and Lanie set out against all the odds to feed their neighborhood. Part-Lehrstück and part raucus comedy, BAGS explores the dishearteningly cyclical nature of organizing and teaches about the importance of continued engagement & the power of mutual aid.

Benedict Cumberbatch, Am I Irredeemable?

Best friends Irene and Mandip can’t focus on their jobs at the nameless national coffee chain and want to change the horrifying shit around them – not knowing where to turn, they seek answers from their personal moral compass: actor Benedict Cumberbatch. A dark satire and a riff on Bertolt Brecht’s Jasager and NeinsagerBenedict Cumberbatch, Am I Irredeemable? teaches about the dangers of seeking change through rugged individualism and consumption.

Always Eat the Food

A landlord. An organizer. All the tenants. Based on Jesse Jae Hoon’s conversation with organizers Rima Begum and Whitney Hu, Always Eat the Food follows the forming of a tenants union against a predatory real estate company.

Design Team

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