Yangtze Rep Awards Project YZ $10K Residencies To Nana Dakin And Chika Shimizu

Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin and Đavid Lee Huỳnh will present new work.

By: Jun. 18, 2024
Yangtze Rep Awards Project YZ $10K Residencies To Nana Dakin And Chika Shimizu
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Yangtze Repertory Theatre has revealed the newest members of Project YZ, the company's AAPI Artist Residency program. Launched in 2022, the goal of Project YZ is to support and build an artistic home for AAPI immigrant artists.

The 2024 recipients, who will each receive $10,000 ($5,000 unrestricted, $5,000 in professional development) in support over one year, are director Nana Dakin and set designer Chika Shimizu. During their one-year residency, Yangtze Rep will connect Dakin and Shimizu with other collaborators, offer research support, and facilitate interviews and focus groups. Dramaturgical development and discussion with Yangtze's artistic staff will take place throughout the residency.

Chongren Fan, Artistic Director of Yangtze Rep, remarked, “Creating theater is fulfilling and exciting, but at the same time can be daunting and exhausting. Project YZ exists to make space for theater makers from different disciplines without the pressure of the show-must-go-on mantra. It is an artistic haven for experimentation and risk-taking. We are thrilled to welcome Nana and Chika, two extraordinary artists, to Project YZ, and join their creative journey as collaborators and thought partners.”

Director Nana Dakin will use her residency to develop “GRIT GRIN,” a new devised work that looks at how the cultural identity of Thai women intersect with the pursuit of their ambitions.

Dakin commented, “One of the most defining cultural characteristics of Thai people is their smile. “GRIT GRIN,” is a nod to this cultural idea, but what I want to know is what Thai women in America are fighting FOR with their smiles… what must they grin through? I am interested in their ambition, their endurance, and their resiliency. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to originate this work with Project YZ and can't wait to begin.”

Set designer Chika Shimizu will develop an experimental one-act performance that integrates puppetry, music, and animation. The play centers on two young siblings who unexpectedly find themselves in a fictional, confined environment—a reflection of both the recent pandemic and the global conflicts of our world today. 

Shimizu said, “My faith as a set designer is to provide a ‘home' to the characters, letting them feel love and courage to tell their stories. I am truly grateful for the creative opportunity and Project YZ's generous support. I am very much looking forward to another (and greater) collaboration with Yangtze Rep and am thrilled to work with many other AAPI artists through the residency program.” 

Yangtze Rep is also pleased to announce that its 2023 Project YZ resident artists, playwright Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin and writer and performer ?avid Lee Hu?nh, will present work-in-progress showings of their new work 

On June 19 at 8PM, Yangtze Rep will present a work-in-progress showing of  Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin's Chinatown Burlesque (Working Title), which follows four Asian American performers working to keep San Francisco's Chinatown nightclubs afloat in the mid 1960s. This play uses music and movement to explore this singular, bygone entertainment industry. The reading takes place at Ripley-Grier Studios, Room 17H, located at 520 Eighth Ave in Manhattan.

On June 22 and 23 at 8 PM, Yangtze Rep will present a work-in-progress showing of X#*! you very much, Mom, a performance where theater meets TED Talk meets dark family secrets. In the original work, writer and performer ?avid Lee Hu?nh shares how the effects of French colonialism have shaped Vietnam, rippled out, and made it so #%@#ing hard for his mom to say, “I love you.” It is told with whimsy, sardonic humor, and heart. Performances take place at the HB Studio’s Helen Gallagher Studio, located at 120 Bank Street in Manhattan.

Both performances are free, however, reservations are required and can be made at www.yzrep.org.

Project YZ is Yangtze Rep's first residency program. Now in its third year, Project YZ is focused on supporting the artistic journey of each resident artist with a process that values open dialogue, honest conversation, and bold endeavors. The goal is to create a sense of belonging through artistic discovery. 

The inaugural Project YZ resident artists were director Rui Dun and playwrights Yilong Liu and Minghao Tu.

Please visit www.yzrep.org for more information. 

About the Artists

Nana Dakin (???? ??????) is a queer Thai American director of new work, classics and devised performance based in NYC. Her work pursues social equity by examining the way culture is constructed and unsettling dormant biases. She is the first Thai theatre director to direct at The Royal Court Theatre in London and in NYC her work has been presented and developed at Ars Nova, Atlantic Theater Company, Bedlam, The Civilians, Clubbed Thumb, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Ma-Yi Theater Company, New York Theatre Workshop, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, The Playwrights Realm, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Soho Rep and more. www.nanadakin.com

Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin (they/she) is a writer, performer, educator, and new work advocate. Kaela's plays include Ping Pong Play (2024 Leah Ryan Fund Prize Winner, Gingold Theatrical Group's Speakers Corner), Tiger Beat (2024 2ST Reading, 2021 Bay Area Playwrights Festival selection, 2021 Seven Devils Conference finalist), High School Coven (2023 Strand Theatre Baltimore Production, 2017 Corkscrew Festival), Call Out Culture (2022 O'Neill NPC Finalist, 2021 NADIA Festival, 2019 Ars Nova's ANTFest), Harpers Ferry 2019 (2022 Know Theatre of Cincinnati production, 2021 Kendeda finalist), and The Well-Tempered Clavier (2020 BAPF finalist, 2019 Paul Stephen Lim Award.) Kaela has received six Kennedy Center awards and has developed work with Breaking the Binary, the Alliance Theater, Gingold Theatrical Group, Exquisite Corpse Company, The Road, the Coop's Clusterf*ck, Playground-NY, and Pipeline Theater Company's Playlab. Commissions include work with Yangtze Rep (Project YZ), EST/Sloan, Montana Repertory Theater, Luna-Stage/">Luna Stage, and College of the Holy Cross. Garvin is the Tank's Pridefest curator and a founding member of Undiscovered Countries, a Brooklyn-based incubator of new interdisciplinary art. They worked on staff at the Sewanee Writers Conference and as the BAPF Season 45 Play Selection Advisor at the Playwrights Foundation. Kaela has taught playwriting at Cornish College of the Arts, Freehold Theatre, and Indiana University. They currently work as the Programming Associate for the Tank NYC and the Literary Manager for Luna-Stage/">Luna Stage in New Jersey, and they'll be joining the Salem State University faculty in the fall as a full-time, tenure-track playwriting professor. www.kaelameishinggarvin.com

?avid Lee Hu?nh is an award-winning actor and writer based in NYC. Off-Broadway: The Merchant of Venice (Theatre for a New Audience), Once Upon A (korean) Time (Ma-Yi Theatre Company), the Drama Desk-nominated Henry VI (NAATCO), Mrs. Warren's Profession (Gingold Theatrical Group) The Trial of the Catonsville Nine (Transport Group), Warrior Sisters of Wu, No-No Boy, Emperor's Nightingale (Pan Asian Rep) Regional: Yale Rep, Denver Center, Alley Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare, Everyman Theatre, Mixed Blood, Shakespeare Theatre Company, and many others. TV/Film: Blue Bloods, FBI, Solitary, Children of the Dust. TEDx Speaker: “Asian Enough?” He stars in the Dungeons & Dragons television show Encounter Party streaming on Freevee and Plex. MFA: University of Houston www.davidleehuynh.com

Chika Shimizu is a Theatrical Set Designer based in New York City. Regionally she has worked with Yale Repertory Theatre (CT Critics Circle Award Nom), Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, Signature Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Portland Center Stage, Cleveland Play House, Geva Theatre, and Paper Mill Playhouse. In New York Chika has worked with WP Theatre, Irish Repertory Theatre, The Barrow Group, and Epic Theatre Ensemble. Her scenic design credits proudly include “Salesman?? ” (2023) and “Romulus The Great” (2018) for Yangtze Repertory Theatre. www.chikashimizu.com 



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