Ann Starbuck's Solo Show to Open 6/2 at Hudson Guild Theater
At the young of age 21, Ann Starbuck faced a very grave situation on the other side of the world. A college student studying abroad and nearly fluent in Chinese, she had been recruited by the CNN Beijing Bureau to assist with language translation and navigating the local scene.
It was June 4th and 5th, 1989 when the Tiananmen Square Massacre occurred following six weeks of anti-government protests in a number of key Chinese cities. The official government numbers are in the hundreds, but many other sources say thousands were killed and up to 35,000 more were injured. A number of these young Chinese protestors were Ann's classmates and several of them her close friends. This event was the culmination of her nine months spent as a visiting student and part time CNN staffer, while navigating through the most interesting, sometimes terrifying, and life changing experiences a world traveler could possibly have.
"Anytime there is a gathering of citizens in a large square, I go right back to the events of the spring of 1989," says Starbuck. "Sometimes when I question why I have the need to tell this story, I realize it's still happening all over the world--as the Arab Spring, the protests in Chile, in the Ukraine-and that there's a chance to help people of all nationalities find peace and freedom through humor and honoring our humanity."
Her truly one woman play, which she affectionately and ironically named Tiananmen Annie, is the by-product of her coming of age experience overseas at a time when major changes were taking place in the world that billions of people could watch in real time. Starbuck tells the story of China on the brink of change from the voice of an old woman with bound feet to a heroic hunger striker among a cast of other colorful characters. Today in China there is an entire generation in the dark about the events of June 4th because it remains forbidden to discuss.
A gifted actor, producer and writer, Ann has been writing bits and pieces of this story since returning to the U.S. as a way to preserve the experience as well as honor the lives of everyone involved in the conflict. In 2003, she considered writing a one woman play and having her long time, entertainment industry colleagues, Richard Embardo (an award winning Solo show director) and Julie Lawrence (an experienced theater producer) assist her and the timing was just not right then. Ann chose to take a "break" from acting (nearly a decade long) and put a number of her dreams on pause while she and her husband had their one child, a son, and mostly focused on being a wife, mother and second bread winner for her family.
Flash forward to 2012, while Ann was working as a post coordinator on Season 2 of the HBO hit television series Game of Thrones, she started having recurring dreams about the one woman show, Tiananmen Annie. When Game of Thrones went on hiatus that June, she knew she had to act again, but mostly Ann knew she must write Tiananmen Annie and tell this story. She immediately contacted Embardo, who she remembers literally said, "What took you so long?" and Lawrence is co-producing.
The show opens Monday, June 2nd at the Hudson Guild Theater at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles and runs through June 30th to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. The total running time is 75 minutes and tickets are $20.00. For more information about Tiananmen Annie or to purchase tickets call (323) 960-7780 or visit: One Woman Solo Show Tiananmen Annie Brings Deeper Understanding, Dose of Humor & Humanity