Kit Yan performs slam poetry about life as a queer transgender during AICA’s Culture Week at CSUF

Each time slam poetry performer Kit Yan used the phrase, “Something is broken” on Monday night, the mantra boomed from the speaker like a cry of pain while he explored the different types of heartbreak he has encountered.

Cal State Fullerton’s Association for Inter-Cultural Awareness invited Yan to CSUF as the kick off performance for its three-day event, Culture Week.

Yan performed at the Underground Pub in the Titan Student Union where he read a few of the poems he had written for his book, “Queer Heartache” and spoke about his experience as a queer, transgender, Asian-American growing up in Hawaii.

“I strung (the poems) together to create this show to go on a journey, like a character does, of discovering identity and to grapple with the issues of being queer,” Yan said.

Beginning with his childhood in Hawaii, Yan spoke of financial struggles his family endured. He opened with a memory of his mother: though she was willing to make the sacrifice to get him braces, Yan declined the offer because he knew his family could not afford to fix his crooked teeth.

Because his family did not believe in wasting anything, everything was given a new purpose, like an old peanut butter jar acting as a thermos or Tupperware container. Yan said he still reuses empty containers as a way to remember the love his parents gave him.

While other families sought financial aid from the government, Yan said agencies that were supposed to help his family did little to support them.

After a brief summary of his childhood, he reflected on his self-discovery as a queer-transgender male. Excited to express himself when he first moved to Boston, he covered his Jeep in stickers to display all of his interests.

When talking about his first sexual experiences with men, Yan said that after experiencing heartbreak, he tried to give up on being queer. However, he realized being straight would not heal the pain caused by the heartbreak he was feeling.

He said his story is not only about his personal heartache and growth, but a way to inspire others to explore their own identity.

“I hope that people come away from watching the show feeling like they also have stories to tell,” Yan said. “There’s a colorful story within all of us.”

 

View the article on Daily Titan, The Student Voice of CSUF

Psalmayene 24 to direct at Mosaic Theater Company next season

Mosaic Theater Company of DC announces an eclectic lineup for the 2018-2019 season, offering serious comic release alongside searing indictment; sustaining its commitment to local writers alongside its long-running Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival, while championing intercultural encounters and honoring iconic figures in African-American culture. In addition, Season Four is the first season to achieve gender parity for Mosaic’s playwrights: four of the plays are written by men, and four by women.

“The process of choosing Mosaic’s fourth season was the most inclusive and comprehensive in our brief but intense history,” says Founding Artistic Director Ari Roth. “That befits a company dedicated more, now more than ever, to forging a Fusion Community in its audience and living out the values of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access, on stage and off. Thematically, we’re spending a little more time in the past-not to turn away from the polarizing present, but to draw sustenance, example, and inspiration from history to meet our challenging moment. We are effectively saying: ‘This is how it’s been done; this is how we fight; this is how we overcome.'”

The 2018-2019 season kicks off with Marie and Rosetta, a musical celebration of two extraordinary Black Women full of flights of joy and gospel jubilation. Written by George Brant, the author of the internationally acclaimed Grounded, this powerful play with music chronicles the unlikely first rehearsal between Rosetta Tharpe and the prim, young, Marie Knight.

The Festival is followed by a bold new adaptation of Richard Wright’s iconic novel about racism, freedom, and justice, Native Son, directed by Helen Hayes Award Winner Psalmayene 24. Native Son will be performed in repertory with The Peacemaker: A Play About Guns in America, written and performed by Aaron Davidman, the creator of Wrestling Jerusalem.

The eight-play season will be rounded out by a workshop series tied to main stage programming, including a commission for director Psalmayene 24: a two-performance workshop entitled My Notes on Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son, a response piece to coincide with Psalmayene 24’s production of Native Son. The workshop series will also include Twice Bereaved by Joshua Sobol and Eyes: A Theatrical Performance Based on Poems of Mahmoud Darwish as part of the Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival.

To read the full article, please visit Broadway World

Seth Rozin’s ‘Human Rites’ at InterAct Theatre: Invigorating, crackling, provocative

 

When Westerners decry the practices of other cultures, and campaign for change, they may mean well. But are they really spreading enlightenment, or shame? Who gets to decide whether an initiation rite is barbaric or an exemplary form of bonding? Are there any cultural absolutes, or are all cultural norms equally valid?

This constellation of questions animates Seth Rozin’s crafty and invigorating one-act play, Human Rites, the third production of InterAct Theatre Company’s 30th anniversary season.

Rozin, the company’s producing artistic director, has wed crackling dialogue with provocative ideas and believable characters. And Human Rites gets the Philadelphia premiere it deserves, with Barrymore Award winner Harriet Power directing a trio of stellar actors: Kimberly S. Fairbanks, Barrymore Award winner Joe Guzmán, and Barrymore Award nominee Lynnette R. Freeman.

Inspired, in part, by the life and research of anthropologist Fuambai Sia Ahmadu and a controversial paper by University of Chicago cultural psychologist Richard Shweder, Human Rites is not for the squeamish. Rozin’s case study for examining clashing cultural perspectives is the practice variously referred to as female circumcision or female genital mutilation (the more loaded term). As one might expect, male circumcision also finds itself in the crosshairs, along with abortion, slavery, and assisted living.

Rozin gives all three of his characters strong, persuasive arguments. No one here is a villain, although Fairbanks’ dean does stumble into self-righteousness. You may remain skeptical – I am –of the notion that cultural practices can’t be fairly judged by outsiders. But you will likely leave the theater engaged in the debate.

To read the full article, please visit philly.com .

Tammy Ryan’s essay “(Women’s) History Matters” published on HowlRound


How Many Plays Can You Name?
For many years as an adjunct professor of playwriting, I never felt a responsibility to introduce my students to “the canon” of dramatic literature. I was a teaching artist, not an academic, and while I would talk about plays being produced locally and nationally, often bring in a scene to illustrate craft, and recommend plays and playwrights I thought my students should read, I resisted including plays on my syllabus. The focus was on play writing, not play reading. This seemed to work for most of my career, since I taught in a conservatory where I could assume the students already knew what plays were. When I started teaching in a university’s English department about five or six years ago, though, I encountered students who’d never experienced a play before. Clearly my old methods were not going to work.

Around the same time, an email from History Matters/Back to the Future dropped into my inbox with an invitation to participate in their One Play at a Time initiative. Registering meant agreeing to teach one play written by a woman playwright from history to my class, and, if I signed up, my students would be eligible to submit to the Judith Barlow Prize. If one of them won, they would get $2500—and I’d win $500. This got my attention, and I began signing up every semester.

I started by teaching Susan Glaspell’s brilliant 1916 one-act play Trifles, which was surprisingly effective in presenting the elements of dramatic writing I covered in class. My students’ work got better, but over time I noticed another shift. Every semester, I’d ask them how many women playwrights they could name. The first time I asked the question, most of my students knew of only a few, like Lillian Hellman and Lorraine Hansberry, and their limited knowledge didn’t seem to bother them. But, as the years have passed, I have noticed that even if my students can’t name many, they are aware that there are plenty of women playwrights, and they should know more of them.

Last fall, when I asked the question to my students (full disclosure: these were the theatre majors), they filled up two dry-erase boards with the names of women playwrights they knew of or had heard of. We’re less than two years away from 2020, and though we aren’t likely to reach full gender parity by then, maybe something in the zeitgeist is moving us in the right direction?

One Play at a Time
The mission of History Matters/Back to the Future is “to promote the study and production of women’s plays of the past in colleges and universities and theatres throughout the country and encourage responses to those plays from contemporaryplaywrights.” (Italics are mine.) The brainchild of Joan Vail Thorne, History Matters came out of a response to the 2009 Emily Sands Study at Princeton University, which examined gender bias in the theatre and confirmed discrimination against female playwrights. Thorne, a veteran regional theatre director, playwright, librettist, and teacher, came of age during the regional theatre movement, which, Thorne reminds me in our interview, was spearheaded by two women: Margo Jones and Zelda Fichandler. “Of course, everyone was enraged and sad,” Thorne told me, speaking of the study, “but we’d heard this before.” In 2002, Suzanne Bennet and Susan Jonas had conducted a study for the NYS Council of the Arts that had revealed the same profound disparity between professional productions written by men versus women on the American stage. Thorne was angry, but she didn’t want to wallow in it. “We were always lamenting,” she said, and her instinctive resistance to lamentation led her to seek out something to celebrate instead.

Thorne and her colleagues—academics and theatre artists—found plays, and a lot of them, written by women who’d been forgotten across decades and centuries. Thorne describes these writers as “young radicals, with tremendous passion,” who were writing plays that “even when they were commercial were about something important.” The plan wasn’t to just blow the dust off old plays; Thorne hoped to connect young playwrights with these works, inspiring them to write their own equally powerful plays. One Play at a Time was launched, and the competition’s prize—named after Judith Barlow, the editor of Plays by American Women, which reintroduced playwrights from 1900 to 1930s and again from 1930 to 1960s to the public—comes with a generous purse, signaling to young writers that their work is worthy of compensation.

To read Tammy’s essay in its entirety, please visit http://howlround.com/women-s-history-matters