Posts tagged #Asian American

A NAMT Writers Residency Grant!

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley and I have received a NAMT Writers Residency Grant for my Untitled Asian-American Senior Sex Scandal Murder Mystery Musical! This was a piece that I began writing at the TheatreWorks Writers Retreat earlier this year. The Writers Residency Grant will go toward a reading and other resources to assist me with getting to a full first draft. This is the second time I’ve received this honor - the first being for The Four Immigrants.

I'm so thankful for this amazing support for my quirky idea of a musical. And nervous too, because it's still very much in its early development stages, and I have no idea where this project is taking me creatively. But isn’t that what makes being a writer so thrilling?

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ConFest 2018

Last week, I was in Chicago for ConFest 2018 - the bi-annual gathering hosted by the Consortium of Asian American Theatres and Artists (CAATA). Upon returning, I set out to write a blog post outlining my experience at ConFest, but found that words fell short. Randy Reyes of Theater Mu recently wrote an article for American Theatre magazine, and it seems he faced the same issue. He writes: 

How would I be able to summarize the experiences of attendees who used adjectives like “inspiring,” “incredible,” “exhausted,” “life-affirming,” “breathtaking,” “amazing” and “life changing”?

So similarly, I'll just post his article here in lieu of a blog post. And if you're really curious why ConFest was so "inspiring," "incredible," etc., you can ask me in person next time you see me! ;)

Me with some ConFest colleagues: Traci Kato-Kiriyama, Byron Au Yong, and Howard Ho.

Me with some ConFest colleagues: Traci Kato-Kiriyama, Byron Au Yong, and Howard Ho.

The Four Immigrants: Four Mind-Blowing Moments (A Post-Show Reflection)

When The Four Immigrants opened and folks asked me how I was feeling, my response was something like "Great, but also overwhelming. I think I'm going to be processing this incredible ride for months to come." Now that the show is closed, I am confronted with just how mind-blowing this whole experience has been. Those who know me know how much I love lists, because they help me organize my thoughts. So, in no particular order, here is a list of four mind-blowing moments from the TheatreWorks rehearsals and run of The Four Immigrants.

Auditioning the show at Pearl Studios, NYC

Auditioning the show at Pearl Studios, NYC

Bi-Coastal Auditions
Early in the year, TheatreWorks flew me out to New York and Los Angeles for auditions. This was the first time I have ever been flown to other locations to search for actors. In New York, we were auditioning at Pearl Studios. Several other productions were holding their own auditions in other rooms, including Disney's Frozen (both the Broadway and the California Adventure calls). It was thrilling to consider how many Broadway writers, directors and performers had been in and out of this building!

Overwhelming support from friends old and new
I am floored by how many people came to see the show, particularly those whom I have not seen in such a long time! Folks from every "era" of my life — friends from high school, college, my childhood church, my old corporate job; family members; and colleagues from theatre — surprised me with a text or e-mail saying they were coming to or were at the show. My heart is filled with warmth and gratitude at the outpouring of love and support for the project.

Me, Actor James Seol, and Akiko Kiyama posing with a photo of Henry Kiyama and his parrot

Me, Actor James Seol, and Akiko Kiyama posing with a photo of Henry Kiyama and his parrot

A Visit from the Kiyamas
Akiko Kiyama, the granddaughter of Henry Kiyama (author of the original comic book), flew to California from Japan with her husband Ken'ichi just to see our production of The Four Immigrants. Both were very moved by the performance. Afterwards, when Akiko saw actor James Seol (who plays Henry in the musical), she called him ojiisan - "grandfather." Everyone in the room could sense how special this moment was. There were smiles and tears all around - and lots of photos taken.

Hearing from Asian Americans and Immigrants
While I've been blown away by the positive response from audiences, the reactions from other Asians/Asian Americans have been particularly poignant: how the show made one man feel "proud" to be Asian, how it helped a wife (Asian, but not native to the States) understand more of what her Asian-American husband might have experienced growing up, how a Japanese American felt that the show honored the history of her family and heritage. I've also heard from folks who aren't Asian, but identify as immigrants or are closely connected to their immigrant lineage, saying the show conveys emotions and sentiments they identify with deeply. I'm honored to have created a vehicle for people to process or experience catharsis of some kind — and hopefully keep them entertained along the way.

Thank you to everyone who came to see the show, or who supported it from afar! And of course thank you to the entire cast, crew, creative team, and TheatreWorks for the unforgettable ride this was!