Anna May Wong Bioplay By Core Writer John Olive Next Up At The Playwrights' Center
Actress Anna May Wong (1905-1961) was incredibly prolific, appearing in silent movies, "talkies," television, plays and vaudeville. She was also stifled by a close-minded industry which largely limited the Chinese American actress to stereotyped roles, and the Hays code which kept her out of romantic leads. Playwright John Olive says this discrimination is a main reason that Anna May Wong is unknown to many modern film lovers, while names like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and Mae West live on. Olive is hoping to shine a spotlight on Wong with his new play "How The Ghost Of You Clings, The Anna May Wong Story," which will be featured in the Playwrights' Center's Ruth Easton New Play Series on January 8 and 9, 2018. Readings will be at 7 p.m. at the Playwrights' Center, 2301 E. Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis. The readings are free, but reservations are recommended and can be made at pwcenter.org.
Olive will be collaborating with director Rick Shiomi; dramaturg Christina Ham; and actors Sun Mee Chomet* (as Anna), Katie Bradley*, Sherwin Resurreccion*, Daniel Sakamoto-Wengel, Daniel Coleman and Stephanie Bertumen (*Member of Actors' Equity Association).
"As I wrote the play," says John Olive, "my main thing is to educate people about who this woman was, because most people simply don't know. Plus, a lot of the challenges that she faced are still faced by Asian actors. They still have these limited roles that they're asked to play. It's no longer written down the way it was, but it still exists."
"We're so looking forward to having one of the great founders of the Playwrights' Center and long-time Core Writer John Olive back in the theater, sharing this important new work," says Jeremy B. Cohen, producing artistic director at the Playwrights' Center. "This piece launches 2018 with a renewed fervor for promoting greater awareness of our current artists, those whose future burns bright and who will move us all forward into a braver and deeper-spirited world."
John Olive is a widely produced (Manhattan Theatre Club, Old Globe, ACT/Seattle, South Coast Rep, Steppenwolf, the Guthrie and many others) and award-winning (Bush and McKnight Foundations, National Endowment For The Arts, Kennedy Center Award For Drama, others) playwright. Plays include "Minnesota Moon," "Standing On My Knees," "The Voice Of The Prairie," "God Fire," "Singapore," "Evelyn and The Polka King," "Killers" and many others. John has also written extensively in the area of Theater for Young Audiences: Seattle Children's, the Arden, People's Light, First Stage Milwaukee, Oregon Children's, Nashville Children's and many others. John has written novels, screenplays, theater reviews and a book about the magic of bedtime stories, "Tell Me A Story In The Dark."
The Ruth Easton New Play Series provides selected Playwrights' Center Core Writers with 20 hours of workshop time to develop a new play with collaborators of their choice: top local and national actors, directors, designers and dramaturgs. Each play has two public readings, allowing the playwright to experiment and see the play on its feet in front of two different audiences. The Center brings in visiting artistic leaders to see the readings and connect with the playwrights, and more than half of the plays developed in the series over the past decade have gone on to production.
The 2017-18 Ruth Easton New Play Series kicked off in December with Kira Obolensky's "The Overcoat: A Low-Fi Musical," and will also feature "Three Quarter Inches of Sky" by Sherry Kramer on February 5 and 6, "Tiny Houses" by Stefanie Zadravec on March 5 and 6, and "the bandaged place" by Harrison David Rivers on April 9 and 10.
All events in the Ruth Easton New Play Series are free and open to the public. Reserve your spots at pwcenter.org/ruth-easton-series or by contacting the Playwrights' Center at (612) 332-7481 or firstname.lastname@example.org.