East West Players to Present the World Premiere of THE GREAT JHERI CURL DEBATE in September

South Side Chicago meets South Korea in this heartfelt play where a business partnership and a touch of magical realism bring two unlikely friends closer.

By: Aug. 18, 2022
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East West Players to Present the World Premiere of THE GREAT JHERI CURL DEBATE in September

East West Players, the nation's longest-running Asian American theater and the largest producer of Asian American theatrical works, will present the world premiere of The Great Jheri Curl Debate. Written by Inda Craig-Galván and directed by Scarlett Kim, The Great Jheri Curl Debate performs September 15 through October 9, press night is September 17.

​Veralynn Jackson knows hair, her neighborhood, and that the invention of the Jheri Curl marks the end of the world. When she takes a job in Mr. Kim's Korean-owned Black beauty supply store and the posters start talking to her, Veralynn might finally come to know her true calling. South Side Chicago meets South Korea in this heartfelt play where a business partnership and a touch of magical realism bring these two unlikely friends closer to understanding themselves and each other.

The Great Jheri Curl Debate is written by Inda Craig-Galván, an award-winning writer, exploring intra-racial conflicts and politics within the African-American community through plays and television. Her works a hit dog will holler (Skylight Theatre & Playwrights' Arena co-production), Black Super Hero Magic Mama (Geffen Playhouse) and I Go Somewhere Else (Playwrights' Arena) have been produced throughout Los Angeles. The Great Jheri Curl Debate was developed in the East West Players' Playwrights Group and was a finalist for the 44th annual Bay Area Playwrights Festival.

"East West Players is thrilled to see a play developed in our Playwrights Group make its world-premiere on the David Henry Hwang Theater stage," shares East West Players producing artistic director Snehal Desai. "Inda is a prolific playwright who writes with heart and an intoxicating, hypnotic theatrical flair. Along with The Great Jheri Curl Debate, East West Players will be presenting two other productions this fall that center on the conversation between the Black and Asian communities (The Brothers Paranormal by Prince Gomolvilas and When Yuri Met Malcom by Rosie Narasaki). We hope you will join us on this road trip from Chicago to New Orleans to Berkeley. Together these works are an inspiring trio that demonstrate the power, strength, and solidarity that arises when we take the time to listen to each other's stories."

The cast of The Great Jheri Curl Debate comprises Julanne Chidi Hill (Fences, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe: Revisited, ABC's Black-ish) as Veralynn Jackson, Ryun Yu (Hold These Truths, The Language Archive, Netflix's Fuller House) as Mr. Kim, Ray Baker (Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?, Bent, Total Recall) as Jheri Redding, Mildred Marie Langford (Intimate Apparel, Native Son, The Crucible, Amazon's BOSCH) as Lorraine, and Bruce A. Lemon Jr. (What Happens Next, Sundance short film Hallelujah) as Marvin.

The creative team includes direction by Scarlett Kim, dramaturgy by Alice Tuan, costume design by Mylette Nora, hair & wig design by Shelia Dorn, props design by Rye Mandel, scenic design by Carlo Maghirang, projections design by Hsuan-Kuang Hsieh, lighting design by Wesley Charles Siu Muen Chew, sound design by John Zalewski, and stage management by Amber R. Dettmers.

Inda Craig-Galván (Playwright) is a Los Angeles-based playwright and screenwriter. Plays include A Jumping-Off Point (Bay Area Playwrights Festival 2022), Black Super Hero Magic Mama (Kennedy Center Rosa Parks Award, Kesselring Prize, Blue Ink Prize, Jane Chambers Student Award), and Welcome to Matteson! (Blue Ink Prize, Jeffry Melnick New Play Award, NNPN Showcase 2022). Her plays have been developed at the O'Neill, Ashland New Play Festival, Ojai Playwrights Conference, JAW, OSF, Orlando Shakes, Geffen Writers Room, and more. Inda is writing two new plays on commissions with The Old Globe and Round House Theatre. TV credits: Will Trent, Demimonde, Happy Face, How to Get Away with Murder, The Rookie. MFA in Dramatic Writing, University of Southern California.

Scarlett Kim (Director) is a diasporic Korean director, artist and producer who creates overwhelmingly unclassifiable transmedia experiences all over the world, in contexts including and beyond theatre, visual art, XR, film, and social practice, with a deep commitment to centering marginalized voices. Associate Artistic Director and Director of Innovation & Strategy, Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Recent partners: REDCAT, Wrong Biennale, Prague Quadrennial, Shatto Gallery, Chilean National Council of Culture & Arts, Automata, Korea Foundation, Rogue Artist Ensemble, Heidi Duckler Dance, Bound Entertainment, La MaMa Umbria. Previously: Artistic Director, The Mortuary, performance laboratory hosting projects spanning Korean shaman rituals, chamber orchestras, and experimental larps. At CultureHub, a global art and technology community, Scarlett oversaw artistic programming of the LA studio. MFA, Directing, CalArts. BA, Theatre & Performance Studies and Visual Arts, University of Chicago.

All performances of The Great Jheri Curl Debate are presented at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 in Little Tokyo. The Great Jheri Curl Debate performs September 15 through October 9. A press night will be held Saturday September 17, with opening night occurring Sunday September 18. Performance times Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Monday are at 8pm, with additional 2 PM matinees on Saturday and 5pm performances on Sunday. Ticket prices range from $40 to $60. A Pay-What-You-Can performance is scheduled for Monday, September 26 at 8PM.

Tickets may be purchased online at eastwestplayers.org or by calling (213) 625-7000. At time of purchase please mention any wheelchair/accessible seating needs. Student, senior, and group discounts are available. Dates, details, and ticket prices are subject to change.

All patrons must show proof of vaccination and photo ID to be admitted into the theater. EWP has implemented numerous COVID-19 safety protocols to ensure that artists and audience members are able to safely enjoy their experience.

For more information, please visit eastwestplayers.org

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About East West Players

East West Players (EWP), the largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work, was founded in 1965, at a time when Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (APIs) faced limited or no opportunities to see their experiences reflected outside of stereotypical and demeaning caricatures in the American landscape. EWP not only ensures that API stories are told, but works to increase access, inclusion, and representation in entertainment and media.