PACIFIC OVERTURES, World Premieres & More Set for East West Players 2024 Season

The previously announced dystopian love story Kairos by Lisa Sanaye Dring and directed by Jesca Prudencio premieres the season.

By: Feb. 01, 2024
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PACIFIC OVERTURES, World Premieres & More Set for East West Players 2024 Season East West Players has unveiled its the 2024 Season. The previously announced dystopian love story Kairos by Lisa Sanaye Dring and directed by Jesca Prudencio premieres the season, followed by the cautionary historical reimagining Unbroken Blossoms by Philip W. Chung and directed by Jeff Liu. Culminating the 2024 Season is the EWP return of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s groundbreaking Tony Award winning musical Pacific Overtures. PATSY by Alison Minami will tour as EWP’s 2024 Theatre for Youth production.
 
East West Players’ 2024 Season proudly features two world premiere plays on its mainstage, both written by celebrated EWP artists. Kairos playwright Lisa Sanaye Dring performed in the cast of East West Players’ Wrinkles(2011), was a member of the 2019 inaugural EWP Playwrights Group, and continues to be a playwriting teaching artist for EWP’s Arts Education program. Unbroken Blossoms playwright Philip W. Chung was a Co-Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Lodestone Theatre Ensemble, as well as the consulting producer of the 2023 KCET/Artbounddocumentary, East West Players: A Home on Stage, currently available for streaming at eastwestplayers.org/artbound. The 2024 Season closes with the historic return of Pacific Overtures to the EWP mainstage. The Tony Award winning musical from the legendary musical duo of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman will be EWP’s third production of Pacific Overtures, and will be the historic company’s 13th Sondheim production.


About the Shows

Kairos

The 2024 Season springs to life with Lisa Sanaye Dring’s Kairos. Directed by Jesca Prudencio (EWP’s Interstate: A New Musical), Kairos is the story of two people falling in love during a tectonic shift in society. Their nascent relationship is tested by the advent of Prometheus, a procedure that grants immortality to a select few. What happens to commitment, meaning, and care when linear time breaks open? At once a dystopian science-fiction play and a dark-comedy love story, Kairos is a deeply sensitive investigation of two humans whose ideal “happily-ever-after” is terrifyingly outpaced by relentless technological and societal upheaval.
 
Lisa Sanaye Dring, a longtime member of the East West Players community as both a performer and teaching artist, makes her EWP playwriting debut as the inaugural production of our mainstage 2024 Season.Kairos was originally developed as part of the Geffen Writers' Room 2021/2022. Kairos is produced at East West Players as part of a National New Play Network (NNPN) Rolling World Premiere. Other Partner Theaters are Know Theatre of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH) and Theatre Nova (Ann Arbor, MI). For more information, please visit nnpn.org. 
 
Kairos will be presented at the David Henry Hwang Theater in the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 in Little Tokyo. Kairos will perform April 4 through April 28, 2024 with opening night on Sunday, April 7. This production is supported in part by the S. Mark Taper Foundation.


Unbroken Blossoms

The second production of EWP’s 2024 Season is Philip W. Chung’s Unbroken Blossoms, directed by Jeff Liu (EWP’s The Brothers Paranormal, EWP’s Chinglish). Wong, an idealistic family man, and James, a cynical, aspiring filmmaker, are hired as the Chinese American consultants for Broken Blossoms, Hollywood's first onscreen interracial love story... between a white actress and a white actor in yellowface makeup. If the circumstances weren’t already questionable enough, the consultants must contend with the outsized ego of the film's director D.W. Griffith, who is attempting to belie criticisms of racism after the release of his controversial film The Birth of a Nation. Based on actual events, this world premiere production illuminates a historical conflict just behind the silver screen.
 
Originally presented in 2015 by Visual Communications in partnership with East West Players, Philip W. Chung's Unbroken Blossoms premieres in EWP’s 2024 Season. This historical reimagining of the making of a boundary-breaking Hollywood classic shines a light on the collateral damage in the search for "authentic" representation, and asks what price we pay for our art.
 
Unbroken Blossoms will be presented at the David Henry Hwang Theater in the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 in Little Tokyo. Unbroken Blossoms will perform June 27 through July 21, 2024 with opening night on Sunday, June 30.


Pacific Overtures

The 2024 Season culminates with the Tony Award winning musical Pacific Overtures, with music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by John Weidman, additional material by Hugh Wheeler, and orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick. 1853, and it’s the end of the world. Commodore Matthew C. Perry intends to open the gates of isolationist Japan. When Samurai Kayama and America-loving fisherman Manjiro are tasked with meeting the American gunboat docked on the coast of Kanagawa, little could they know that they would irreversibly change the “Floating Kingdom.” The original Broadway production of Pacific Overtures was directed by Harold Prince, and produced by Harold Prince in association with Ruth Mitchell.
 
East West Players previously produced Pacific Overtures in 1979 with EWP founding Artistic Director Mako reprising his Tony nominated performance as The Reciter. The musical was again produced by EWP in 1998 as the David Henry Hwang Theater’s inaugural performance. 
 
Pacific Overtures will be presented at the David Henry Hwang Theater in the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 in Little Tokyo. Pacific Overtures will perform November 7 through December 1 with opening night on Sunday, November 10. This production is supported in part by the David Lee Foundation.
 
East West Players 2024 Season Memberships are available online at eastwestplayers.org or by calling (213) 625-7000.


Theatre for Youth 2024 Tour

In fall 2024, East West Players Arts Education will launch its annual Theatre for Youth tour. Each year, the company commissions a playwright to create an original piece about a historical AAPI figure, responding to a study reporting that many Americans are unable to even name a prominent AAPI figure. Last year, East West Players commissioned Giovanni Ortega and successfully showcased Sama Sama: Solidarity in the Fields, sharing the history of the Manongs and Bracero Program, and the allyship between Cesar Chavez, Larry Itliong, and other farm worker activists through the eyes of teenagers in today’s society.
 
The 2024 production, PATSY by Alison Minami, will recount the life story of Patsy Mink. Patsy was the first woman of Asian ancestry and the first non-white woman ever elected to the US House of Representatives. Her efforts focused on educational equity, believing it was “the best route to equality and social justice.” She is most known for being the chief sponsor behind 1972’s Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools and workplaces.
 
The Theatre for Youth production tours throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles Public Library system, Los Angeles County Library system, and community centers in the greater Los Angeles Area. For over 25 years, East West Players has had the honor of educating Los Angeles Youth about AAPI history and impacting thousands of students. 
 
Public performances of EWP’s Theatre for Youth show are offered for free to everyone. For more information and performance dates, please visit eastwestplayers.org. Schools, libraries, and community centers interested in hosting this production should contact Arts Education Director, Jade Cagalawan, at jcagalawan@eastwestplayers.org.  


2024 Season Preview Event

The launch of EWP’s 2024 Season will be celebrated at a special, invitation-only preview event on February 25, 2024. The program will feature a presentation from Kairos playwright Lisa Sanaye Dring, a musical performance from Pacific Overtures, featuring original Broadway cast member Gedde Watanabe, and a conversation with Unbroken Blossomsplaywright Philip W. Chung, moderated by Prince Gomolvilas. The 2024 Season Preview Event will be held at 2:30PM on February 25, 2024 in the Tateuchi Democracy Forum at 111 N Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012. A waiting list for free entry to the event will be made available at an upcoming date. 


Calendar Information About the EWP 2024 Season

East West Players 2024 Season Memberships are available 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. Box office is available 11AM - 5PM, Monday-Friday, as well as ninety minutes before all performances. 
 
All performances of Kairos, Unbroken Blossoms, and Pacific Overtures will be presented at the David Henry Hwang Theater in the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 in Little Tokyo. Kairos will perform April 4 through April 28, 2024 with opening night on Sunday, April 7. Unbroken Blossoms will perform June 27 through July 21, 2024 with opening night on Sunday, June 30. Pacific Overtures will perform November 7 through December 1 with opening night on Sunday, November 10. Performance times Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays are at 8PM, with additional 2PM matinees on Saturday and 5PM performances on Sunday. All Saturday 2PM performances are Masked Matinees, making theater more accessible to audiences who prefer a masked experience.
 
Single tickets will be made available at a later date. Performance dates and details are subject to change. East West Players 2024 Season Memberships are available online at eastwestplayers.org or by calling (213) 625-7000.


Playwright Biographies

Lisa Sanaye Dring (Playwright, Kairos) is a writer and director from Hilo, Hawaii and Reno, Nevada. She wrote SUMO in EWP’s writing group, which was recently produced by La Jolla Playhouse and Ma-Yi Theater Company. She has recently worked with Meow Wolf and was a member of The Geffen Writers' Room. Lisa was honored as a recipient of the 2020/21 PLAY LA Stage Raw/Humanitas Prize. She has been a finalist for the Relentless Award, the O'Neill Playwrights' Conference, the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, and a 2x finalist (one honorable mention) for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin, a piece she co-wrote with Chelsea Sutton for Rogue Artists Ensemble and East West Players, was nominated for 7 Ovation Awards including Best Production (winner of 5). Lisa's work has been developed/produced by The New Group, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Circle X, SCF @ Son of Semele, Playwrights’ Arena, Rogue Artists Ensemble, UCSB Launch Pad Series, CalArts, The Motor Company, Theatre of NOTE, and Skylight Theatre. Lisa was a member of writers groups at Boston Court, Circle X, Chalk Rep, and The Vagrancy and has been awarded fellowships at MacDowell, Blue Mountain Center, and Yaddo. Lisa was awarded the 2021 Dorothy and Granville Hicks Residency at Yaddo, which honors one promising young writer a year. She received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Interactive Programming for a piece she co-wrote and co-directed with Matt Hill called Welcome to the Blumhouse Live. lisasanayedring.com
 
Philip W. Chung (Playwright, Unbroken Blossoms) is a writer and producer based in Los Angeles. He was the co-founder/co-Artistic Director for Lodestone Theatre Ensemble, an acclaimed Asian American theater company, where he wrote/produced/directed almost 100 mainstage productions, workshops, readings, and other theatrical events. He was the creative director at YOMYOMF, founded by the Fast & Furious franchise director Justin Lin to tell stories from Asian American and other underrepresented voices. At YOMYOMF, Chung oversaw the hybrid production of David Henry Hwang's Pulitzer Prize-finalist play, Yellow Face, which was adapted by Unbroken Blossoms director Jeff Liu (and is available to watch on YouTube). Unbroken Blossoms was a semi-finalist for the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference and a scripted podcast series version of the story is in development with Clamor Media and YOMYOMF. Previously, Chung has developed/produced projects for Comcast/NBCUniversal, Legendary Pictures, eOne, IFC Channel, Gunpowder & Sky, Google/YouTube, HBO Max/WB, and others. He was the consulting producer on the 2023 KCET/Artbound documentary, East West Players: A Home on Stage (available on YouTube and the PBS app), and recently sold or optioned his screenplays to Netflix and Buzzfeed Studios. His play My Man Kono, a historical drama about Charlie Chaplin's Japanese American valet, will world premiere Off-Broadway at the Pan Asian Rep in early 2025 (the play placed second in EWP's Pacific Century Playwriting competition). He was also commissioned by the Adventure Theatre MTC in Washington, DC to write the book and lyrics for POOP! The Musicalin collaboration with composer Woody Pak (Making Tracks).
 
Stephen Sondheim (Music & Lyrics, Pacific Overtures)  wrote the music and lyrics for Saturday Night (1954), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), Anyone Can Whistle (1964), Company (1970), Follies (1971), ALittle Night Music (1973), The Frogs (1974), Pacific Overtures (1976), Sweeney Todd (1979), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), Into the Woods (1987), Assassins (1991), Passion (1994) and Road Show (2008) as well as lyrics for West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959) and Do I Hear A Waltz? (1965) and additional lyrics for Candide(1973). Anthologies of his work include Side by Side by Sondheim (1976), Marry Me A Little (1981), You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow (1983), Putting it Together (1993/99) and Sondheim on Sondheim (2010). He composed the scores of the films "Stavisky" (1974) and "Reds" (1981) and songs for "Dick Tracy" (1990) and the television production "Evening Primrose" (1966). His collected lyrics with attendant essays have been published in two volumes: "Finishing the Hat" (2010) and "Look, I Made A Hat" (2011). In 2010 Broadway's Henry Miller's Theatre was renamed The Stephen Sondheim Theatre in his honour; in 2019, London's Queens Theatre was also renamed the Sondheim.
 
John Weidman (Book, Pacific Overtures) has written the books for a wide variety of musicals, among them Pacific Overtures (Tony nomination, Best Book), Assassins (Tony Award, Best Musical Revival), and Road Show (Lucille Lortel nomination, Best Musical), all with scores by Stephen Sondheim; Contact (Tony nomination, Best Book; Tony Award, Best Musical), co-created with director/choreographer Susan Stroman; Happiness, score by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie, directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman; Take Flight and Big (Tony nomination, Best Book), scores by Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire; and the new book, co-authored with Timothy Crouse, for the Lincoln Center Theater/Roundabout Theatre revivals of Cole Porter's Anything Goes (Tony Awards, Best Musical Revival; Olivier Award, Best Musical Production). Since his children were pre-schoolers, Weidman has written for Sesame Street, receiving more than a dozen Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing for a Children's Program. From 1999 to 2009 he served as President of the Dramatists Guild of America.
 
Alison Minami (Playwright, PATSY) is a playwright, performer, and educator. She has previously toured in East West Players' Theatre for Youth RESIDENCE ELSEWHERE and When Yuri Met Malcolm. She wrote and performed SHIZZY'S STORY for Enrichment Works. Her full-length plays have had readings or placed in contests around the country including at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Victory Gardens Theater, the Ashland New Play Festival, the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation, Here and Now Theater Company and the Company of Angels. Her storytelling has been featured on the Moth Radio Hour. She is also the creator of the web series ADJUNCT. 




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