Asian-American performance is the focus of "Word Up!", a festival of nine works presented at Los Angeles' David Henry Hwang Theatre ending July 18. A co-production of the East West Players and the Mark Taper Forum's Asian Theatre Workshop, "Word Up!" draws from L.A. Asian artists and other local theatre professionals to present a portrait of the Asian American experience. Performances began July 8.
Featured in the festival are:
July 8-9, 15-16: Giant Oranges, written by Dennis Dun and Cynthia Leung, takes three multi-generational Chinese men on a road trip to the Disneyland Hotel, where a relative leapt to his death. Dun performs the piece, directed by Luis Alfaro.
July 8, 15: Nobody Moves, Nobody Gets Hurt, written and performed by Eric Steinberg, explores the modern cultural taste for violence through the story of "The Man With No Name," an American Ulysses. Robert Egan directs.
July 9: Pointless, written and performed by Alec Mapa (M. Butterfly), is a comic rant about the issues of the day, celebrities and Mapa himself.
July 10-11, 17-18: Appearances, written and performed by Paula Weston Solano, follows a group of characters making appearances throughout 20th century America. Jessica Kubzansky directs.
July 10-11, 17-18: Deadwood to Hollywood, written and performed by Amy Hill, is a humorous travelogue, journeying from camel-riding in Pakistan to Hill's brother's "Sacred Love Institute" in Redondo Beach. Anne Etue directs.
July 10-11, 17-18: New Culture for a New Country, written and performed by Alice Tuan, is about a handless immigrant girl's search for Wu Chen Rong, the woman who taught her English and befriended her when she arrived in America in a bag of rice.
July 10-11, 17-18: Smash Hits and Pop Flies, written and performed by Dan Kwong, is a collection of stories excerpted from his solo pieces, "Monkhood in 3 East Lessons," "The Dodo Vaccine," "Tales from the Fractured Tao" and "Samurai Centerfielder Meets the Mad Kabuki Woman."
July 10-11, 17-18: Talking With My Hands written and performed by James Sie, looks at Sie's life as a Chinese-Italian growing up in New Jersey and his search for a racial identity. East West Players Resident Director Chay Yew (Red) directs.
July 16: Maps of City & Body, written and performed by Denise Uyehara, is the multi-disciplinary story of girl whose body is marked by a blue jewel-like map that reveals the stories of her Jewish and Chicana neighbors.
Tickets are $10 per show or $30 for a festival pass. For more information and a complete show schedule, call the East West Players at (213) 625 7000. The David Henry Hwang Theatre is located at 120 N. Judge John Aiso Street between First and Temple in Little Tokyo.
-- By Christine Ehren