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BWW Review: Nancy Ma Searches for HOME While Growing Up Sandwiched Between Two Disparate Cultures

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Presented by Latino Theater Company

BWW Review: Nancy Ma Searches for HOME While Growing Up Sandwiched Between Two Disparate Cultures

As is the case with theater companies around the world, the Latino Theater Company has taken its Fall 2020 Virtual Season online, streaming a combination of archival footage of past, fully-staged hit productions; live streamed, "sneak-peek" readings of plays set for on-stage production in 2021 (or whenever theater is permitted to resume); live online conversations with company members; and live readings of new plays selected for the company's annual Unmasking New Works play-reading series. All events on the schedule take place at 7 p.m. PT / 10 p.m. ET and are free for viewing at www.thelatc.org/ where a complete listing of productions by date can be found.

Beginning September 22 through October 1, Latino Theater Company is streaming an archival recording of last season's 'Home,' written and performed by Nancy Ma as a coming-of-age tale about growing up sandwiched between two cultures. Desperately seeking approval from her Chinese immigrant family, BWW Review: Nancy Ma Searches for HOME While Growing Up Sandwiched Between Two Disparate Culturesthe very "American raised on television" Nancy journeys away from her home in New York City's Chinatown in search of the American dream, first to living away at college, then to San Francisco, and finally to Los Angeles - only to learn that you can only find "home" when you accept where you come from and those who did their best to allow you to take wing.

This very personal, one-woman show speaks to that universal truth in all our lives, with each of us fighting to be who we are and struggling to live an independent life as best we can. BWW Review: Nancy Ma Searches for HOME While Growing Up Sandwiched Between Two Disparate CulturesBut like Nancy, sometimes that only leads to loneliness - and just being alone - not able to love yourself enough to really love others. But then there are those joyous moments of personal accomplishment when the world is your oyster and you feel your dreams are coming true. Nancy takes along with her on those journeys as well as down into the wells of disappointment when things don't work out as she planned, be it trying to please her parents, boyfriend or just her own need to feel loved exactly the way she is, faults and all.

In her journey to self-acceptance, BWW Review: Nancy Ma Searches for HOME While Growing Up Sandwiched Between Two Disparate CulturesNancy portrays not only her chain-smoking father, her sweatshop-working mother who only wants her daughter to get married and have kids, her traditionally-minded grandmother, her younger sister Joyce, and "better than thou" Uncle Chet, most of whom only speak Chinese, but also through the many friends and acquaintances she meets in high school, college, and when she moves to San Francisco and then Los Angeles to find her way as an actor - much to the disapproval of her family.

The broadcast includes closed captioning, which greatly assists in comprehension as the echoes within the small theater can be very attention-distracting. And with much of the dialogue spoken in Chinese with Chinese closed captions, BWW Review: Nancy Ma Searches for HOME While Growing Up Sandwiched Between Two Disparate CulturesI would be at a loss to follow the story if it weren't for Nancy answering back in a way to cover both sides of all conversations. "Home" is directed by Geoffrey Rivas on a empty stage with 3 wooden chairs, often moved around by Nancy to represent couches, beds, car seats, restaurants and whatever other location being visited. With spotlight-focused Lighting Design by Itzul Virgen, Sound Design by Ivan Robles, and Projections by Yee Eun Nam, each human emotion, character and scene location is brought fully into focus thanks to the intensity with which Nancy immerses herself in her story from moment-to-moment.

With a run time at 90 minutes, I do feel her story and its message could certainly be told in less time as several minor characters, BWW Review: Nancy Ma Searches for HOME While Growing Up Sandwiched Between Two Disparate Culturessuch as Becky the high school cheerleader and Patrick, the crotch-grabbing basketball team captain and student body president, really did little to move the story forward. In fact, there were several others such as Stacy and Phoebe who seemed thrown in just to give Nancy a chance to show off her character acting chops, which really hit a chord when she transformed herself into her closest family members, each of whom offer real insight into the lives of such a traditional, Old World Asian family.

Another coming-of-age play is now streaming is a sneak-peek reading of "Just Like Us" by Karen Zacariás, based on Helen Thorpe's bestselling book of the same name. This documentary-style play follows four Latina teenage girls, two of whom are documented and two who are not, through young adulthood. Their close-knit friendships begin to unravel when immigration status dictates the girls' opportunities - or lack thereof. The play's previously announced Los Angeles premiere will now take place at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in 2021, where LTC has operated since 2006.

For more information about LTC October-December 2020 productions, please visit www.thelatc.org/. All Virtual Season events are free and available for viewing on that site.

Photo credit: Andrew Vasquez



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From This Author Shari Barrett