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LUCKY, A Play Inspired By Jennifer Pan True Crime, To Perform At 2019 Next Stage Festival

LUCKY, A Play Inspired By Jennifer Pan True Crime, To Perform At 2019 Next Stage Festival

From Montreal-based playwright Marie Barlizo, LUCKY examines the harmful stereotype of Asians as the "model minority"-submissive, intelligent, well behaved-and the consequences of such cultural preconceptions. Inspired by the real-life story of Markham's "Golden Child", Jennifer Pan, LUCKY debuts in a workshop production directed by Sophie Gee at the 2019 Next Stage Theatre Festival, curated by the Toronto Fringe, from January 10 to 20 at the Factory Theatre Studio.

Nina, a young Filipino student (Katharine King), can't meet her parents' high expectations. An encounter with Sylvain (Christian Jadah), a former skinhead haunted by his violent past, sparks a thrilling plan that could change both their lives...but he soon realizes she isn't who she claims to be. Exposing the dark side of the Asian-immigrant dream, LUCKY is a raw and topical examination of how fear of the "other" affects the perception and treatment of immigrants, and how cultural expectations can shape identity and self-esteem.

First performed at the 2018 Montreal Fringe Festival, where it was described as "intricate, intimate and engaging" (CultMTL), LUCKY draws on the shocking tragedy of Jennifer Pan, the Vietnamese-Canadian woman who was convicted for the kill-for-hire murder of her immigrant parents in 2010. After failing to graduate from high school, and under tremendous pressure to succeed, Pan forged report cards and feigned early college acceptance-but her perfect façade started to unravel when her deceptions turned deadly.

The playwright said she felt an immediate personal connection to Pan when she discovered her story: "I was my parents' golden child - I understand only too well what it means to be trapped by high expectations. I wrote LUCKY because I want to open up the discussion about the extreme pressures we, in the Asian community, put on our children and the effects on their mental health." Born in the Philippines and raised in Montreal, Barlizo was the first visible minority to graduate from the National Theatre School's Playwriting Program.

In an effort to broaden the resonance of Pan's story, Barlizo transposed the script to Montreal's Filipino community. The playwright also consulted Christian Picciolini, a former neo-Nazi who now advocates for peace through his organization, Life After Hate, and is the author of "Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead", which details his life as leader of one of the earliest North American skinhead organizations.

Marie Barlizo is a playwright, dramaturg and emerging TV writer. She is a graduate of the National Theatre School's Playwriting Program and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from UBC. She is Canada Council's Playwright-in-Residence at Imago Theatre, the playwriting mentor for Black Theatre Workshop's Artist Mentorship Program and for the MAI, where she will be the Artist-in-Residence from November to January. She writes to introduce theatre audiences to different stories that reflect the vibrant multicultural society she knows and to give Asian actors opportunities to work.

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