Signature Theatre to Host 'Practice & Performance' of KUNG FU Discussion, 3/29

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Signature Theatre to Host 'Practice & Performance' of KUNG FU Discussion, 3/29

Signature Theatre has announced that the "World of the Play" series continues with a panel of experts discussing The Practice and Performance of Kung Fu, presented in conjunction with the world premiere of David Henry Hwang's Kung Fu, on Saturday, March 29th from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues). The event is free and open to the general public (no reservations required).

What is a "true" portrayal of kung fu? In David Henry Hwang's Kung Fu, a young Bruce Lee attempts to bridge the gap between the philosophy of kung fu and the media's depiction of the martial arts. Kung fu students like Lee value the mental aspects of the art form as much as the physical, whereas in film the focus is more on violence and physical dexterity. Somehow, in the transition from classroom to screen, kung fu evolved from a personal practice of self-defense and spirituality to one of mass entertainment. In The World of the Play: The Practice and Performance of Kung Fu, Signature Theatre asks: How did the portrayal of martial arts in film drift so far from the practice? How did Bruce Lee inspire change in both the film and martial arts communities?

Panelists include playwright David Henry Hwang, co-founder of the New York Asian Film Festival Grady Hendrix, and Wing Chun Instructor Allan Lee, who studied with Bruce Lee's renowned teacher Grandmaster Yip Man. The discussion will be led by moderator Brian Phillips.

Brian Phillips (moderator) is the co-editor of the Journal of Human Rights Practice, published by Oxford University Press. Based now in Toronto, he presently works as an independent human rights consultant. From 2003 until 2006, he was Chair of the Oxford Brookes University MA program in Humanitarian and Development Practice (UK) - where he was also Senior Lecturer in Human Rights Practice. He worked as a campaigner and educator for Amnesty International in London from 1989 - 2001 - and was the Campaign Coordinator for the organization's Europe Regional Program from 1995 - 2001.

Grady Hendrix (panelist) is a film programmer and writer living in New York City. He was a regular film critic for the New York Sun for four years and has written for Slate, The Village Voice, Time Out New York, Playboy Magazine, Film Comment, Sight & Sound and Variety. For five years he wrote the script for the Asian Film Awards, a televised Hong Kong film awards ceremony and he is a frequent guest commentator on the BBC and National Public Radio. He is also one of the co-founders of the New York Asian Film Festival, which The New York Times calls "...one of the city's most valuable events" and he still works in the Korean and Hong Kong film industries.

SiFu Allan Che Kong Lee (panelist) is a disciple of the late Grandmaster Yip Man. In 1978, SiFu Lee was appointed Chairman and Director of the Yip Man Wing Chun Martial Arts Association, U.S Chapter by SiFu Yip Chun, the elder son of Grandmaster Yip Man. A firm proponent of the Socratic method of learning, he believes the best way to learn martial art is by questioning and experimentation. SiFu Lee currently teaches Wing Chun in Queens, N.Y, where he also practices Dit Da, a traditional Chinese medicine for trauma and injury.

David Henry Hwang (panelist) was awarded the 1988 Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics, and John Gassner Awards for his Broadway debut, M. Butterfly, which was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. For his play Golden Child, he received a 1998 Tony nomination and a 1997 OBIE Award. His new book for Rodgers & Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song earned him his third Tony nomination in 2003. Yellow Face won a 2008 OBIE Award for Playwriting and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His most recent work, Chinglish, won a 2011 Chicago Jeff Award before moving to Broadway, where it received a 2012 Drama Desk Nomination. Other plays include FOB (1981 OBIE Award), The Dance and the Railroad (1982 Drama Desk Nomination), Family Devotions (1982 Drama Desk Nomination), The Sound of a Voice and Bondage. He co-authored the book for Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida and was the bookwriter of Disney's Tarzan, with songs by Phil Collins. As America's most-produced living opera librettist, he has written works with composers Philip Glass, Osvaldo Golijov, Bright Sheng, Unsuk Chin, and Howard Shore. Hwang penned the feature films M. Butterfly, Golden Gate, and Possession (co-writer), and co-wrote the song "Solo" with composer/performer Prince. He won the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels, 2012 Inge, and 2012 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Awards. Hwang serves on the boards of the Dramatists Guild, Lark Play Development Center, American Theatre Wing, and Actors Fund, and as the Board President of Young Playwrights Inc.

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