Ma-Yi Theater Company Announces 30th Anniversary Season

Ma-Yi Theater Company Announces 30th Anniversary Season

Since its founding in 1989, Ma-Yi Theater Company has distinguished itself as one of the country's leading incubators of new work shaping the national discourse about what it means to be Asian American today. Building on the recent success of the Lortel Award-winner KPOP and Mike Lew's Teenage Dick, Ma-Yi is pleased to announce programming for its 30th anniversary season.

Ma-Yi's 2019-2020 season opens with the world premiere of Felix Starro, a new musical by Jessica Hagedorn and Fabian Obispo based on a powerful short story by acclaimed Filipino American writer, Lysley Tenorio. Felix Starro centers on the struggles of a young, undocumented immigrant in San Francisco and his famous faith healer grandfather. It marks the first-time-ever a musical created by Filipino Americans will be presented Off-Broadway. Directed by Ma-Yi's Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña, Felix Starro also marks the long overdue return to New York stages of novelist and playwright Jessica Hagedorn whose critically-acclaimed Dogeaters (The Public Theater, 2001) was called "imaginative and fluidly impressionistic" (New York Times). Felix Starro runs August 23 - September 15 at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street, Manhattan) with an opening night of September 3.

Ma-Yi's 30th anniversary season continues with a return engagement of Kristine Haruna Lee's critically acclaimed Suicide Forest. Declared a New York TimesCritic's Pick during its brief run at The Bushwick Starr, Suicide Forest is a bilingual nightmare play excavating the Japanese-American consciousness and its looming relationship with sex, suicide, and identity. In her review for The Times, Laura-Collins Hughes urged audiences to "go see... this nightmare-vision play about Japanese-American identity" adding this "wild ride of a production [is] heart-stingingly tender." Directed by Aya Ogawa, Suicide Forest runs February 25-March 22, 2020 at A.R.T./New York's Mezzanine Theater (502 W 53rd Street, Manhattan) with an opening night of March 1, 2020.

A soon-to-be-announced co-production with one of New York's most celebrated theater companies runs April-May, 2020 and will close Ma-Yi's 30th anniversary season.

"Thirty years is a long time, but in some ways, a blip on the on-going histories of Asian American theater making," said Ma-Yi's Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña. "Ma-Yi's focus remains on creating opportunities for Asian American theater artists to work both in New York and across the country. Ma-Yi believes that it's not enough to keep plays in endless development cycles to satisfy diversity goals. They must be produced. This thirty-year milestone is preceded by decades of struggles and activism, an "unbroken thread," as Roberta Uno puts it. When I look at the younger generations of Asian American artists today, I am excited about all the possibilities they hold."

Tickets to Felix Starro, priced at $52.25 - $82.25, are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting or by calling Telecharge at 212-239-6200.

Ma-Yi's Theater Company's 2019-2020 Season

Felix Starro
Book & Lyrics by Jessica Hagedorn

Music by Fabian Obispo

Orchestrations by Paulo K Tiról

Choreography by Brandon Bieber

Directed by Ralph B. Peña

August 23 - September 15, 2019

Opening: September 3, 2019

Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street, Manhattan)

Felix Starro is a musical by Jessica Hagedorn and Fabian Obispo, based on a powerful short story with the same title by acclaimed Filipino American writer, Lysley Tenorio. Protagonist Felix is a famous faith healer in the Philippines, whose clients once included celebrities and big politicians. After falling on hard times, Felix decides to go to San Francisco for one last healing mission with ailing Filipinos in the Bay Area. Junior, Felix Starro's nineteen-year-old, orphan grandson, goes along as his assistant. Unbeknownst to Felix, Junior has plans of his own.

Felix Starro explores issues of faith, family, love, loss, betrayal, and what it means to be an undocumented Filipino immigrant in America.

Felix Starro is the original Filipino American Musical we have all been waiting for. It is the first musical created by Filipino Americans to be presented Off-Broadway.

Jessica Hagedorn is the award-winning author of Dogeaters and The Gangster Of Love, novels which she has also adapted for the stage. Other books include Toxicology, Dream Jungle, Manila Noir, and Danger And Beauty. She is presently working on a musical play about the pioneering, all-female rock band, Fanny.

Fabian Obispo is an internationally renowned composer and arranger, whose choral works have been performed by elite choirs around the world. He is also a well-known sound designer for the theater and is a long-time collaborator with Ma-Yi.

Ralph B. Peña is the current Producing Artistic Director of Ma-Yi Theater Company. He is also the author of the play Flipzoids. Most recently, he directed the critically acclaimed production of The Chinese Lady for Ma-Yi.

Suicide Forest
by Kristine Haruna Lee

Directed by Aya Ogawa

Presented in association with The Bushwick Starr

February 25 - March 22, 2020
Opening: March 1, 2020

A.R.T./New York's Mezzanine Theater: (502 W 53rd Street, Manhattan)

Suicide Forest is a bilingual nightmare play excavating the Japanese-American consciousness and its looming relationship with sex, suicide, and identity. In 1990's Japan, a teenage girl grapples with her sexuality in a nightmarish, male-defined society as a salaryman desperately tries to escape his masochistic psyche. Both are clawing for their self-worth. When their two journeys collide, they expose their darkest desires fueled by shame as they now confront life and death with the notorious Suicide Forest looming over their imagination. Performed by a Japanese heritage cast, Suicide Forest examines the role of community and the inner struggles of emotional, psychic and social suicide through the playwright's lived stories and inner landscape.

Kristine Haruna Lee is a Brooklyn-based theater maker whose work navigates non-linear playwriting, auto-theoretical performance text, and promoting arts activism and emergent strategies for the theater through ethical and process-based collaborations. With her theater company harunalee, she has produced six original works in New York, including Memory Retrograde (The Public's Under The Radar Festival), Sugar Shack (La MaMa Club) and War Lesbian (Dixon Place TONY LGBT Critic's Pick). Lee is a recipient of the Map Fund Grant, Lotos Foundation Prize for Directing, and the New Dramatist Van Lier Fellowship. Her play Suicide Forest is published by 53rd State Press. She teaches playwriting and performance at NYU.

Aya Ogawa is a Tokyo-born, Brooklyn-based playwright, director, and translator. She has written and directed many plays including A Girl of 16, oph3lia (HERE) and Ludic Proxy (The Play Company). Most recently she wrote, directed and performed in The Nosebleed at the Incoming! Series at The Public Theater's Under the Radar Festival. She has translated numerous Japanese plays into English including over a dozen plays by Toshiki Okada; many have been published by Samuel French among others, and produced in the U.S. and U.K. She is a current resident playwright at New Dramatists, Artist-in-Residence at BAX, and a Usual Suspect at NYTW.

Founded in 1989 and now celebrating its 30th season, Ma-Yi Theater Company is a Drama Desk, Lortel, and Obie Award-winning, Off-Broadway not-for-profit organization whose primary mission is to develop and produce new and innovative plays by Asian American writers. Since its founding, Ma-Yi has distinguished itself as one of the country's leading incubators of new work shaping the national discourse about what it means to be Asian American today.

Its numerous acclaimed productions include Mike Lew's Teenage Dick and Bike America, Qui Nguyen's The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G and Soul Samurai (with Vampire Cowboys), and Hansol Jung's Among The Dead. Other productions include: Rescue Me by Michi Barall, Lloyd Suh's The Chinese Lady and Lonnie Carter's The Romance of Magno Rubio.

Ma-Yi Writers Lab, a signature program founded in 2004, is the largest resident company of Asian-American Playwrights ever assembled. Currently led by co-directors Michael Lew and A. Rey Pamatmat, the Lab emboldens a new generation of Asian American artists to voice their experiences, while developing a steady stream of quality new works by Asian American Playwrights for Ma-Yi's own performing repertory. New works developed at the Writers Lab have gone on to successful productions around the country, at such theaters as Victory Gardens, Laguna Playhouse, Long Wharf Theater, Woolly Mammoth and the Actors Theater of Louisville, to name a few.

Ma-Yi's productions have earned 10 Obie Awards, 5 Henry Hewes Award nominations, a Drama Desk nomination for Best Play and the Special Drama Desk Award for 'more than two decades of excellence and for nurturing Asian-American voices in stylistically varied and engaging theater."

Ma-Yi Theater is under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña.

Photo Credit: Maria Baranova

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