Mia Chung's You for Me for You, Starring Francis Jue, Begins at DC's Woolly Mammoth Nov. 5
By Kenneth Jones
The Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company's world-premiere staging of Mia Chung's You for Me for You, a fantasy about North Korean sisters facing the regime there, begins Nov. 5. The troupe includes Kimberly Gilbert, Jo Mei, Ruibo Qian, Francis Jue and Matthew Dewberry.
You for Me for You is the first production to be supported by Woolly Mammoth's innovative fundraising and play-development program, Free the Beast, which was launched in May.
The Yury Urnov-directed production, officially opening Nov. 9, will play to Dec. 2 in Washington, DC. Woolly Mammoth, the resident company that embraces contemporary work, bills the play this way: "A moving comic fantasy about two North Korean sisters who, facing starvation at the hands of a dizzyingly corrupt regime, make a bargain with a smuggler to flee to the United States. When one of the sisters is too weak to make the treacherous crossing, the other sister makes a promise to race across time and space to save her. With deep heart and surprising humor, You for Me for You both delves into our imagined picture of North Korea and subverts the American fantasy of the immigrant experience."
"Woolly is honored to launch the first major production by Korean-American playwright Mia Chung," Woolly artistic director Howard Shalwitz said in an earlier statement. "In the imaginative tradition of Paula Vogel and Sarah Ruhl, Chung's poetic fantasy movingly depicts the immigrant experience, and stitches together two very different societies — North Korea and the United States — in surprising ways. Our extended process of working on the play has allowed all the artists to engage more deeply, to experiment with new approaches, and to galvanize a shared sense of purpose."
The new play-support program Free the Beast "is raising $4 million to support the production of 25 new plays over the next ten years," according to WM. "Some will be commissioned from scratch; others developed from early drafts. All will be given the time and tending they need by to reach maturity, drawing from a menu of support including commissioning, research enhancement, readings and workshops, larger casts, extra rehearsals, and increased technical resources. Most importantly, each will receive full productions on Woolly Mammoth's main stage."
Free the Beast support for You for Me for You included "a completion commission for playwright Mia Chung, a four-week workshop presentation incorporating music and movement/choreography with Drama Desk and Obie Award-winning Ma-Yi Theater Company in New York City, and a three-day script development workshop and extra rehearsal week at Woolly Mammoth."
Chung is a member of New Dramatists, the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, a RISCA playwriting fellow, and a TCG Global Connections grantee. Her work has been developed by the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, the Brandeis Theatre Company, the Civilians' R&D Group, Doorway Arts Ensemble, the Icicle Creek Theatre Festival, Inkwell Theatre, the Kennedy Center's Page to Stage Festival, the Magic Theatre, Mu Performing Arts, the Page Salon, Playwrights Realm, and Southern Rep. She has degrees from Brown, University of Dublin–Trinity College and Yale.
Following the world premiere of her play at Woolly Mammoth, You for Me for You will have a Boston premiere at Company One in winter 2013.
The production includes set design by Daniel Ettinger, costume design by Frank Labovitz, lighting design by Andrew Griffin, and sound design by Elisheba Ittoop. Additional credits include Mike Iveson, Jr. (composer), Naoko Maeshiba (choreographer), Francis Cabatac (puppeteer), John Baker (dramaturgy) and Marne Anderson (production stage manager).
For tickets and information, visit woollymammoth.net.
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