Berkeley Rep's CHINGLISH Heads to Hong Kong, March 1-6, 2013
Today, even as American Idiot prepares to sail for Europe, Berkeley Repertory Theatre announced that its upcoming production of Chinglish is headed for Hong Kong. While the Tony Award-winning nonprofit has a long history of presenting work by Asian and Asian-American artists, this will be the first time that one of its shows is seen on the other side of the Pacific. After presenting the West Coast premiere of Chinglish this August in Berkeley, and reprising it in Costa Mesa in January, Berkeley Rep and South Coast Repertory bring their co-production of David Henry Hwang’s bilingual comedy to the Hong Kong Arts Festival in 2013. It plays from March 1 through March 6 in the 1,200-seat Lyric Theatre at the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts.
“Chinglish is an East-West comedy for today, and Hong Kong is the East-West city of today,” Hwang remarks.“So it feels completely right that my play will enjoy its Asian premiere at the Hong Kong Arts Festival, in Leigh Silverman's stunning Broadway production with several members of the original company. It has been my dream for this show, the first bilingual English-Chinese play in Broadway history, to be seen in Greater China, and I have long wanted to bring a show to the HKAF, one of the world's major festivals. So I am deeply grateful to all who have made possible this co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre and South Coast Repertory, sending an international play on a truly international tour.”
“Although Berkeley Rep has collaborated with numerous Asian and Asian-American artists over the years, this is the first time that one of our productions will travel to Asia,” says Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Rep. “Naturally we are quite thrilled. Chinglish is the perfect calling card, as David’s smart comedy zeroes in on the perils of cross-cultural miscommunication in our global age. Along with our partners at South Coast Rep and a terrific team of artists, we are proud to be a part of the 2013 Hong Kong Arts Festival.”
“If the arts offer a mirror in which we see ourselves reflected, then the 41st Hong Kong Arts Festival offers many mirrors reflecting many perspectives – and David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish offers possibly the most acute confrontation of perspectives,” adds Tisa Ho, the festival’s executive director. “Two people, two cultures, and two completely different sets of social conditions come face to face. We get to watch how they see each other, or fail to do so, and perhaps wonder about the acuity of our own perceptions. The Hong Kong Arts Festival is delighted to welcome this production from Berkeley Rep and South Coast Repertory to Hong Kong, a city in which east and west have met and mingled for over a century.”
By increasing its investment in new plays while deepening its connections to the local community, Berkeley Rep has become an international leader in innovative theatre.In the last decade, seven shows developed here have ended up on Broadway. Twelve more landed off Broadway, two moved to London, two turned into films, and others have toured the nation. This July, at the nonprofit’s new facility in West Berkeley, more than 100 artists from across America, Australia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom convened for The Ground Floor, Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work. Next, a new season of exhilarating shows kicks in with an array of artistic innovators who have collectively earned five Tony Awards, 11 Obie Awards, and a Pulitzer Prize. Then American Idiot launches its autumn tour of Ireland and the UK before Chinglish touches down in Hong Kong.
Launched in 1973, the Hong Kong Arts Festival is the region’s premier cultural event. Featuring local and International Artists in an eclectic array of music, theatre, dance, and popular entertainment, the Festival takes place in more than a dozen venues in February and March. It presents performances at the highest standards to enrich cultural life in Hong Kong, serving an annual audience of over 150,000. It presents a diverse range of artistic fare, from classical music to modern dance, showcasing the best of Asian and local talents alongside top artists from around the world.
In addition to Chinglish, highlights of this year’s festival include concerts by Grammy-winning Spanish viol player Jordi Savall, Les Musiciens du Louvre under the baton of Marc Minkowski, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by Riccardo Muti, and the Australian Chamber Orchestra with conductor Richard Tognetti. Operas include Empress Dowager Cixi and Princess Deling by the China National Peking Opera Company, La Traviata and Il Marito Disperato by Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, and the first full revival in 20 years of Robert Wilson and Philip Glass’ Einstein on the Beach. Other stage productions include One Man, Two Guvnors by The National Theatre of Great Britain, American Ballet Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet, and The National Theatre of China’s world-premiere production of Green Snake.
David Henry Hwang won three Obies and the Tony Award for Best Play with popular scripts like M. Butterfly and FOB. Now he’s back with a canny comedy of cross-cultural errors. In Chinglish, an American businessman heads to Asia to score a lucrative contract for his family’s firm – but the deal isn’t the only thing getting lost in translation as he collides with a Communist minister, a bumbling consultant, and a suspiciously sexy bureaucrat. Two-time Obie-winner Leigh Silverman returns to stage the twists in a terrific play she took to Broadway. Love is on the line, and laughter fills the ledger in Chinglish.
The original Broadway creative team continues to collaborate on this production: David Korins (scenic design), Anita Yavich(costume design), Brian MacDevitt (lighting design), Darron L West (sound design), and Jeff Sugg and Shawn Duan (projection design). The assistant director is Oanh Nguyen. The entire ensemble from Berkeley Rep is expected to travel to Hong Kong as well: Vivian Chiu, Celeste Den, Michelle Krusiec, Austin Ku, Alex Moggridge, Brian Nishii, and Larry Lei Zhang.
Chinglish starts previews in Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theatre on August 24, opens August 29, and runs through October 7, 2012. It plays on South Coast Rep’s Segerstrom Stage from January 25 through February 24, 2013, and then appears at the Hong Kong Arts Festival from March 1 through March 6, 2013. For more information, visit berkeleyrep.org or www.hk.artsfestival.org.
Berkeley Repertory Theatre has grown from a storefront stage to an international leader in innovative theatre. Known for its core values of imagination and excellence, as well as its educated and adventurous audience, the nonprofit has provided a welcoming home for emerging and established artists since 1968. In four decades, four million people have enjoyed more than 300 shows at Berkeley Rep. These shows have gone on to win five Tony Awards, seven Obie Awards, nine Drama Desk Awards, one Grammy Award, and many other honors. In recognition of its place on the national stage, Berkeley Rep received the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 1997. Its bustling facilities – the 600-seat Roda Theatre, the 400-seat Thrust Stage, the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, the Osher Studio, and a spacious new campus in West Berkeley – are helping revitalize a renowned city. See tomorrow’s plays today at Berkeley Rep.
Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964 by David Emmes and Martin Benson and now under the leadership of Artistic Director Marc Masterson and Managing Director Paula Tomei, is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. SCR is committed to theatre that illuminates the compelling personal and social issues of our time, on its stages and through its education and outreach programs. Its productions are marked by a balance of classic and modern theatre and SCR is renowned for its extensive new-play development program, which includes the nation’s largest commissioning program for emerging and established writers and composers. Each year, it showcases some of the country’s best new plays in the Pacific Playwrights Festival. One-quarter of its more than 460 productions have been world premieres, whose subsequent stagings achieved enormous success around the world. Two SCR-developed works have won Pulitzer Prizes, and another eight were named Pulitzer finalists. In addition, SCR works have won several Obie Awards and scores of major new-play awards. More information is available at www.scr.org.
CHINGLISH, written by David Henry Hwang and directed by Leigh Silverman, is designed by David Korins (sets), Anita Yavich (costumes), Brian MacDevitt (lighting), Darron L West (sound), and Jeff Sugg and Shawn Duan (projections). The show stars Vivian Chiu, Celeste Den, Michelle Krusiec, Austin Ku, Alex Moggridge, Brian Nishii, and Larry Lei Zhang.
Photo courtesy of Berkeley Repertory Theatre.