Entertainment Spotlight

  • Catching Up: Santana, Taj Mahal and a déjà vu ‘Blue Christmas’

    Posted by Ben Fong-Torres

    Catching Up: Santana, Taj Mahal and a déjà vu ‘Blue Christmas’
    By Ben Fong-Torres It’s short shrift time. I have a life that’s ripe (and slightly wrinkled) for blogs and tweeting; for facebooking and updating. I’m just no good at it. My last column here on AsianConnections was about the memorial in late July for my sister Shirley. My last posting on the authors’ site, Redroom, was about a radio promo tour I did (20 stops, all on the phone...

Backstage Pass Articles

  • Extended to March 24: David Henry Hwang's The Dance and the Railroad at the Signature Theatre & Lark Play Development Center

    Posted by Lia Chang

    New York City

    Signature Theatre (James Houghton, Founding Artistic Director; Erika Mallin, Executive Director) and Lark Play Development Center (John Clinton Eisner, Artistic Director; Michael Robertson, Managing Director) are presenting the Contemporary Chinese Playwriting Series, curated by Signature’s Residency One Playwright David Henry Hwang, whose play THE DANCE AND THE RAILROAD, directed by May Adrales, opened at Signature on Monday, February 25, 2013 and has been extended until March 24, 2013.

    David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang


    The two theatre companies also hosted a group of distinguished playwrights, directors, translators, adaptors, and actors in a cross-cultural dialogue through the development and presentation of English-language versions of four contemporary Chinese plays. The play translations—co-commissioned by the companies—were presented in readings as part of the translation development process on March 15, 16 and 17 in the Studio Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues).

    A vital component of David Henry Hwang’s residency at Signature, and an extension of Hwang’s many international collaborations at the Lark Play Development Center, the Contemporary Chinese Playwriting Series is aimed at exposing U.S. audiences to the diverse, dynamic world of contemporary Chinese playwriting while fostering a conversation between Chinese and U.S. artists.. The four contemporary Chinese plays include:

    PLAYING THE VIOLINby Wei-Jan Chi, literal translation by Cheng-Han Wu, adaptation by Madeleine George, directed by Daniel JaquezReading on Friday, March 15 at 7:00 p.m.Summary: The death of Liu San’s best friend starts him on a wild ride through hidden memories and alternate realities.

    THE CAPTAINby Nick Yu, literal translation and adaptation by Zhao Binghao, directed by Josh HechtReading on Saturday, March 16 at 2:30 p.m.Summary: Sixty years after being rescued from drowning...

  • Kenny Endo and Kaoru Watanabe Celebrate New CD, Convergence with Concerts in Washington D.C. and NY

    Posted by Lia Chang

    Kenny Endo, one of the most acclaimed Japanese taiko drum performers in the world and Kaoru Watanabe, Brooklyn based Japanese flute and taiko drummer, are celebrating their new CD, Convergence, with guest artist Sumie Kaneko on koto and shamisen at Shapeshifter Lab, 18 Whitwell Place in Brooklyn, NY on Tuesday, March 5, 2013. Doors open at 7:30pm and tickets are $12 at the door. Take the R train to Union. Click here for more information.

    Kenny Endo, Lia Chang and Kaoru Watanabe.

    I caught up with Kenny and Kaoru at their sold-out concert on Saturday, February 23, 2013, presented by The Music From Japan (MFJ) Festival 2013 at New York City’s Baruch Performing Arts Center. An informative lecture/demo preceded the powerful program “Rhythms of Japanese Drums and Flutes – Kenny Endo and Kaoru Watanabe: Taiko and Fue” which celebrated the unique rhythmic and timbral scope of Japanese music and showcased Japanese drums and bamboo flutes in music both new and traditional.

    Kenny Endo and Kaoru Watanabe. Photo by Lia Chang

    “Rhythms of Japanese Drums and Flutes — Kenny Endo and Kaoru Watanabe: Taiko and Fue” juxtaposes arrangements of traditional Japanese music with original compositions and improvisations by the two performers themselves. Both born in the United States, Endo and Watanabe each spent ten years honing their craft in Japan and are leading exponents of their instruments; as Endo explains, their work “is informed by the traditional music of Japan as well as the improvisational characteristics of American jazz.”

    Kenny Endo shows off his newly released collaboration with Kaoru Watanabe- Convergence. Photo by Lia Chang

    Their new collaborative album, Convergence, is now available on CD Baby. A taiko master, Endo was featured on the PBS special Spirit of Taiko (2006) and as artist-in-residence at New York’s Lincoln Center Institute. His soundtrack credits include Apocalypse Now and Avatar, and he has opened for The Who, played...

  • Hold These Truths Opening Night at Honolulu Theatre for Youth's Tenney Theatre with Daniel Dae Kim, Joel de la Fuente and Jeanne Sakata

    Posted by Lia Chang

    Playwright Jeanne Sakata flew to Honolulu on Thursday, February 21, 2013 for a double celebration, to attend the opening night performance of Hold These Truths, her acclaimed Off Broadway one-man show inspired by the true story of second generation Japanese-American Gordon Hirabayashi, which opened at Honolulu Theatre for Youth’s Tenney Theatre, and to celebrate her husband Tim’s 60th birthday.

    Playwright Jeanne Sakata with her husband and birthday boy, Tim Patterson. Photo by Phyllis Look

    Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi in Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths. Photo by Lia Chang

    Directed by Lisa Rothe and starring actor Joel de la Fuente, the show is being presented by producer/actor Daniel Dae Kim and Honolulu Theatre for Youth (HTY). The production is dedicated to the memory of the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye, an American hero who was directly involved by the themes of the play. Proceeds will support the non-profit theatre and drama education programs of HTY.

    The limited engagement performance schedule is Friday February 22 at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, February 23 at 8:00 p.m.; Sunday February 24 at 3:00 p.m.; Thursday February 28 at 7:30 p.m.; and CLOSES on Saturday, March 2 at 8:00 p.m.

    General admission is $20 for adults; $15 for students/seniors; limited premium seating available for $30. Tickets may be ordered online at www.htyweb.org or by calling HTY at (808) 839-9885.

    Joel de la Fuente, Tosh Furugori, Gordon Hirabayashi’s sister and Jeanne Sakata

    HOLD THESE TRUTHS is set in Seattle during World War II, where Hirabayashi, a University of Washington student, is agonizing over U.S. government orders to forcibly remove and mass incarcerate all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast. As he fights to reconcile his country’s betrayal with his passionate belief in the U.S. Constitution, Hirabayashi journeys toward a greater understanding of America’s triumphs-and a confrontation with its failures.

    President Obama...

  • Paper Dolls at the Tricycle Theatre in London Extends through April 28, 2013

    Posted by Lia Chang

    By popular demand, the world premiere of Paper Dolls, currently playing at the Tricycle Theatre in London, has been extended through April 28, 2013.Paper Dolls began previews on February 28, 2013 and opened on March 6. Indhu Rubasingham helms The Paper Dolls cast featuring Ron Domingo (Chiqui), Francis Jue (Sally), Jon Norman Schneider (Jiorgio), Tom Berish (Yossi), Jane Bertish (Noa), Noa Bodner (Shoshana/Ensemble), Ilan Goodman (Shirazi/ Ensemble), Shimi Goodman (Ensemble), Harry Dickman (Chaim), Tom Oakley (Ensemble), Angelo Paragoso (Zhan), Caroline Wildi (Adina) and Benjamin Wong (Cheska).

    Photo by Alastair Muir

    Paper Dolls, written by Philip Himberg, Artistic Director of Sundance Theatre, is adapted from the documentary film by Tomer Heymann, which has won multiple awards including three at the 2006 Berlin International Film Festival. Click here for the full performance schedule and to purchase tickets.

    “You know, Yossi, we couldn’t dress like this in the Philippines… wear earrings, dye my hair, put on make up, lipstick. It’s forbidden.”

    In Tel Aviv, Israel, a group of Filipino immigrants work as live-in carers for elderly Orthodox Jewish men. Six days a week, they provide dedicated support to their employers. But on the seventh day, they transform into a homespun, sassy musical drag act. Meet the Paper Dolls!

    An extraordinary true story exploring an unlikely collision of cultures and the universal desire to find ‘home’.

    The Tricycle Theatre269 Kilburn High Road, London NW6 7JRNearest tube: Kilburn (Jubilee Line)Nearest overground: BrondesburyBox office: 020 7328 1000tel: 020 7372 6611fax: 020 7328 0795email: info@tricycle.co.uk

    Lia Chang

    Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist.

  • Mar. 22 - Apr. 13: NAATCO Presents A Dream Play at Here

    Posted by Lia Chang

    The OBIE Award-winning National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO) — now in its 23rd season of presenting classics and new works performed by Asian American actors — will present August Strindberg’s A DREAM PLAY in a new adaptation by Sung Rno and Andrew Pang, directed by Mr. Pang, with previews set to begin March 22 prior to an official opening night of March 27 at HERE, 145 Sixth Avenue (entrance on Dominick, 1 Block South of Spring) in New York.A DREAM PLAY runs through April 13. Tickets are priced from $15 (for preview performances, March 22nd- 26th) – $25 (for performances March 27th – April 13th). For Tickets & Information, please visit www.here.org or call 212-352-3101. This production of A DREAM PLAY is a part of SubletSeries@HERE, HERE’s curated rental program, which provides artists with subsidized space and equipment, as well as technical support.

    Sung Rno’s plays — which include GRAVITY FALLS FROM TREES, wAve, THE TRAJECTORY OF A HEART, FRACTURE and KONISHIKI, MON AMOUR — have been produced by Ma-Yi Theater Company, East West Players, Dance Theatre Workshop, Immigrants Theater Project and NY International Fringe Festival. Andrew Pang is an actor/director who has performed with NAATCO, Ma-Yi and Pan Asian Rep and with the Steppenwolf Theatre in productions directed by Frank Galati.

    Jojo Gonzalez, Siho Ellsmore, Tina Chilip and Dave Shih in NAATCO’s A Dream Play at Here. Photo by William P. Steele

    In A DREAM PLAY, Agnes, a god’s daughter, has lost her way and finds herself falling to the third sphere from the sun, “the densest and heaviest of the spheres that roam in space.” Her father encourages her to descend and observe the “Creator’s children” saying that the world is “not the best for sure, but not the worst. Have courage, child, ’tis but a trial.” Agnes observes at first but, drawn to the human beings she encounters, decides to participate in their lives to better understand them.

    Jojo Gonzalez...