The National Asian American Theater Festival and Conference is coming to Philadelphia this October, and Philadelphia’s Asian Arts Initiative and InterAct Theatre laying the groundwork with a reading series of new plays this Spring. Directed by visiting artist Rick Shiomi, founder of Minneapolis-based Mu Performing Arts, “The Way Home” features contemporary works exploring what “home” means to Asian Americans.
Shiomi and his company have ensured that Asian American theater is part of a flourishing Minneapolis theater scene. “‘The Way Home’ is part of Shiomi’s effort to replicate that model here in Philadelphia,” says Asian Arts Initiative executive director Gayle Isa. “We’re excited to present these fresh playwrights’ work to local audiences for whom Asian American theater might be a brand-new and inspirational experience.”
The series began February 10 with Tiger Style! by Mike Lew and continues Monday, March 17 with Mia Chung’s You for Me for You. The surreal story explores the cyclical nature of immigration: Two sisters are trying to cross from North to South Korea, when one sister falls into a well, the other must prove her nationality in a series of bizarre symbolic gestures. Chung will be in attendance to answer audience questions after the reading.
Later in the spring, The Special Education of Miss Lorna Cambonga by Boni Alvarez (April 21 at InterAct) sees a Filipina schoolteacher recruited by to teach in Los Angeles, only to get schooled herself on dire immigration and urban issues. “The Way Home” concludes with Michael Golamco’s Cowboy Versus Samurai (May 19), an Asian American take on Cyrano de Bergerac that critiques racial identity in the middle-class Midwest.
“The Way Home” comes to Philadelphia at a propitious time, following a “Japanese style” production of Julius Caesar which raised some eyebrows among the local Asian American theater community. With You for Me for You, Shiomi will give us a look at how Asian American playwrights and actors can enrich Philadelphia theater beyond costumes and setting. asianartsinitiative.org, interacttheatre.org.
“The Way Home” Series:
February 10, 2014, 7pm, InterAct Theatre: Tiger Style! by Mike Lew
March 17, 2014, 7pm, Asian Arts Initiative: You for Me for You by Mia Chung
April 21, 2014, 7pm, InterAct Theatre: The Special Education of Miss Lorna by Boni Alvarez
May 19, 2014, 7pm, Asian Arts Initiative: Cowboy Versus Samurai by Michael Golamco.