Spotlight

Featured Articles

  • Memories of Sweet Caroline, and of Oakland's Chinatown by Ben Fong-Torres

    Posted by:

    Berkeley, California 

    Memories of Sweet Caroline,

    and of Oakland’s Chinatown 

    by Ben Fong-Torres

     

    Caroline Chin was a neighbor and classmate of mine when we grew up in Chinatown, Oakland, in the ‘50s. We went to Lincoln Elementary, Westlake Jr High, and Chinese school together.

    She went on to become a teacher, an administrator and, finally, principal at (full circle) Lincoln School, in the early 2000’s, just before retiring. Under her leadership, it became a California Distinguished School, and would go on to become a National Blue Ribbon School. At her various stops, she encouraged kids and teachers alike to "work hard; learn a lot."

    A large, overflow crowd--maybe 750 or 800--learned a lot about Caroline Chin Yee, who passed away last month, at her services at the First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley.

    Caroline had what appeared to have been a full and perfectly balanced life. She and her husband since 1968, Gary Yee, were devoted to their church – and to traveling the world. She even combined globetrotting with teaching, once in Zhongshan; another time, in Edinburgh, Scotland.  She had wonderful siblings, two children, grandkids and in-laws. One niece, Terri Lee, introduced herself as “the oldest of her nieces. So I’m guessing I was her favorite.” 

    She and others, family and friends, told of Caroline’s dedication to them, and to children in general, and to the wider community.

    Caroline passed away on February 21; her memorial was on March 16. The family took time to plan a service, and a reception, that would chronicle her marvelous life, her achievements and the people she touched. Even with the passage of time, there was a palpable sense of shock from this loss.

    I had seen Caroline here and there in recent years. Just last October, she attended an informal  Westlake Jr. High reunion in Oakland’s Chinatown and consented to say a few words to a filmmaker (AsianConnections founder Suzanne Joe Kai) for her documentary about me,...

  • Mar. 8-24: Kurt Kwan, Sara Ochs, Eric Sharp and More Set for Mu Performing Arts production of R.A. Shiomi’s Yellow Fever in Guthrie’s Dowling Studio

    Posted by:

    Minneapolis, MN

    Mu Performing Arts production of Yellow Fever, written by R.A. Shiomi, will be performed in Guthrie’s Dowling Studio from March 8-24, 2013 and directed by Rick Shiomi. The play is a groundbreaking noir comedy in the Asian American theatrical canon told through the eyes of Sam Shikaze, a nisei (second generation Japanese) Canadian detective that explores themes of political deception and cultural assimilation.

    Sara Ochs and Kurt Kwan in R.A. Shiomi’s Yellow Fever

    Yellow Fever premiered in San Francisco in 1982 and was produced Off-Broadway to critical acclaim by Pan Asian Repertory Theater later that same year. The New York Times‘ Mel Gussow called the show, “…so captivating that it makes one eager for further adventures of the inimitable Sam Shikaze,” and named it a “New York Times Critic’s Pick.” Edith Oliver of The New Yorker observed, “Yellow Fever is a funny mystery-a real mystery that is, that parodies private eye movies and also tucks in quite a lot of social comment without ever breaking its own comic mood.”

    Yellow Fever features Mu favorites including Kurt Kwan (Sam Shikaze), Sara Ochs (Nancy Wing), and Eric Sharp (Captain Kadota). Guthrie audiences may remember Kwan from his starring roles in Mu’s Dowling Studio productions ofCowboy Vs. Samurai and Yellow Face as well as recent appearances with Ten Thousand Things Theater. Ochs and Sharp were both featured in Mu’s recent smash hit Into the Woods. Ochs was seen in Company at Theater Latté Da this fall and Sharp performed in Frank Theatre’s The Way of Water.

    The cast also features Wade Vaughn (Jameson), Jeannie Lander (Rosie), Alex Galick (Chuck Chan) and Brandon Ewald (Mackenzie). Vaughn and Walking Shadow Theatre Company were recognized with a 2012 Ivey Award for their production of Compleat Female Stage Beauty.

    Set in Vancouver’s Little Tokyo, Yellow Fever follows 1970s detective Sam Shikaze as he attempts to solve the disappearance of the...

  • SF State University celebrates its new President Leslie E. Wong

    Posted by:

    New President Leslie E. Wong SF State University Photo: CA State University

     

     San Francisco

    A week-long celebration begins March 9 to 15, 2013 to commemorate the investiture of San Francisco State University's 13th President, Leslie E. Wong.

    The formal investiture of President Wong will take place Thursday March 14, at 2pm in McKenna Theatre on campus.

    A celebration dinner honoring President Wong's investiture, and the induction of alumni into the SF State Alumni Hall of Fame will take place on Friday March 15 at the historic Julia Morgan Ballroom in downtown San Francisco.

    The celebration dinner will be emceed by author and former senior editor of Rolling Stone magazine Ben Fong-Torres, also a San Francisco State Hall of Famer.

    After a nationwide search, the California State University Board of Trustees named Dr. Leslie E. Wong, as president of San Francisco State University last May, 2012. Dr. Wong, was the head of Northern Michigan University since 2004. San Francisco State University has a campus of nearly 30,000 students.

    Dr. Wong is a native of Oakland, California. His mother is of Mexican descent from a family of farm workers. His father is Chinese American, and was an executive of the National Dollar Store.

    The full schedule of week-long events are listed at presidentialinvestiture.sfsu.edu

    http://presidentialinvestiture.sfsu.edu/content/leslie-e-wong-phd-13th-president-san-francisco-state-university

     

  • Mar. 6-17: Thom Sesma and Diane Phelan Featured in Prospect’s Death For Five Voices

    Posted by:

    New York City

    Thom Sesma

    Click the title link above for the full story. Photo by Lia Chang: Thom Sesma (The Times They Are A-Changin’, Man of La Mancha, Nick & Nora), Diane Phelan (Prospect’s Honor), Wilson Bridges (Signs of Life), Ryan Bauer-Walsh (Billy Elliot), Meghan McGeary (The Blue Flowerwith Prospect Theater Company, A.R.T. and Second Stage, Prospect’sThe Rockae), Hannah Jane McMurray (The Hidden Sky), and Peter Saide (Jersey Boys) are currently featured in Prospect Theater Company’s inaugural “Prototype Production” with public performances of DEATH FOR FIVE VOICES, an original musical drama inspired by true events in the life of infamous Renaissance composer – and murderer – Carlo Gesualdo.

    Diane Phelan

    Featuring a book by Prospect’s founding artists Peter Mills and Cara Reichel, music and lyrics by Mills and direction by Reichel, DEATH FOR FIVE VOICES began performances on March 6, 2013 at the West End Theatre in the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, 263 West 86th Street in New York, and will continue through March 17, 2013.

    A talkback with Mills and Reichel and other members of the production team will be held on Saturday, March 16th at 5:30pm and is free and open to the public.

    Set amid the political intrigue, religious conflict and artistic vibrancy of the late Renaissance, DEATH FOR FIVE VOICESinvestigates the dark harmonies of Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa – who is remembered for his unusually complex sacred music and for the extravagantly vicious double murder of his wife and her lover. Featuring a sophisticated and intimate choral score, this new musical explores sexual and creative passions while illuminating the fine line between madness and genius.

    Mills and Reichel’s prior collaborations include Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge, Illyria, The Rockae, The Flood, Honor, and The Pursuit of Persephone, among other works. Mills has been honored for his work with the prestigious Cole Porter Award (2011),...

  • Justin Chon stars in 21 and Over

    Posted by:

    Hollywood

    February 26, 2013

    What?!! An Asian American male star in a Hollywood movie that isn't a Kung Fu film? 

    Justin Chon ("Twilight"), steps into the spotlight as the lead character in the comedy 21 and Over, opening in theaters nationwide March 1.

    Chon, 31, was born in Garden Grove in Orange County, California, and was raised in Irvine, California. He attended business school at the University of Southern California. At age 20, Chon began taking acting lessons, inspired by growing up watching his father in black and white films. His father is a former child actor from South Korea.

    AsianConnections' Suzanne Joe Kai chatted with Justin about his new role, 
breaking stereotypes, and what's next in his fast-rising career.  (For the full interview transcript click on the blue headline link above.) 

    Justin: Hey Suzanne, thank you.

    Suzanne: You’re right from Orange County, California!

    Justin: Yeah, Irvine. Yeah, born and raised. I was born in Garden Grove Hospital.

    Suzanne: Can you describe your role in your new film 21 and Over coming out in theaters March 1, 2013?

    Justin: Yeah. I play a character named Jeff Chang. It's his 21st birthday and my two friends come up to celebrate with me but I have a medical school interview the next day. They convinced me to have one beer and obviously that beer turns into absolute chaos. My character's just an average kid. He's actually not that smart, he's like failing out of school.

    Suzanne: What made you jump on board this film?  

    Justin: Well, the guys who wrote it wrote The Hangover and they’re great writers. I just read the script and I loved it. I’m an Asian American actor and it’s a three-dimensional part so it’s great to see somebody who wrote such a great part for an Asian American so I just had to do it. 

The whole movie's mass is with partying but the core of it is really about these three guys and their friendship.

    Suzanne: I think this is one of the very few or if not the first movie...

  • In the news