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ASIANS and AMAZONS BY ABALOS
inside news about Asians and women on stage
SLANT: Perry Yung, Wayland Quintero, Rick Ebihara. Photo by Perry Yung
SLANT: “ArchipelaGo!” by SLANT is a collection of pan-Asian and Asian America family stories, told vaudeville-style, for kids and grownups from Nov. 18 to Dec. 5 at La MaMa E.T.C. 74A East Fourth Street. The upstart trio of Rick Ebihara, Wayland Quintero, and Perry Yung, who broke in with ingenious modern dance-cum-rock-'n-roll musicals (beginning with “Big Dicks Asian Men,” 1994), are now family men and making shows that are fun-filled and geared toward their own kids, their future kids, other people’s kids, and even grown-ups. For tickets, call 212- 475-7710 or visit www.lamama.org. For more info visit www.slantperformancegroup.com.
“ArchipelaGo!” is the group's first show based on personal family stories. An archipelago is a collection of islands and this play is a collection of their famly memories. Says Perry Yung, “I see my daughter and I want her to know my history.” The idea is to shift their focus to family lore, while keeping to the now-traditional SLANT formula of outrageous Asian humor, a mixture of American pop and syncretic Asian music, and modern choreography. To adapt to the needs of family-friendly theater, SLANT is going heavy on the puppetry and light on the language. Gone are the trademark double-entendres, whose meanings would have sailed over the heads of the tots. This one's even for babes in arms, who Yung says, can cry and become part of the show.
Basically the show tells stories from the experiences of the three men's immigrant forebears who came to this country from islands. From Perry Yung comes the lengthy detention of his grandfather by U.S. immigration officials at Angel Island in California. From Rick Ebihara comes the story of the detention of his grandfather at the Topaz internment camp for Japanese Americans in Utah during Word War II. From Wayland Quintero comes a Filipino fable, a percussive rhythm scene, and stories of “men cooking” passed on by his father, an immigrant from the Philippines. These are combined to inspire a story about a modern day recluse who chooses to “detain” or isolate himself, combining this thematically with the metaphoric symbolism of a man being an island unto itself. The show culminates in a routine inspired by the monkey-honoring cultures of Southeast Asia in which a Brooklyn recluse with his toy monkey gong and a percussion band poeticizes about tradition in a chanted poem called “Fake Princess.” Instrumentation includes Japanese shakuhachi flutes, shamisen (Okinawan banjo), harmonica, piano, guitar, woks/pots/and pans, and innovative Philippine micro-gongs. Perry Yung, a professional shakuhachi maker, actually carves a bamboo flute onstage in this production. It's played like a science project segment on Saturday morning kids show.
Traditionally, SLANT is known for works that are cutting-edge, merry and outrageous. The Village Voice (Laurie Stone) described SLANT's debut work, “Big Dicks Asian Men,” as “a satirical revue as raucous as it is deadpan, as unironed as it is deliberate, as piercing as it is self-exposing.” Brad Bradley (Manhattan Mirror) called it a “buoyant and at the same time adorable low-budget satire.” Reviewing a subsequent production at Pan Asian Rep, D.J.R. Bruckner (New York Times) wrote, “SLANT must be incapable of dullness. This trio...seem inhabited by a single mischievous and merry spirit. They are good, if loud, musicians; they can dance; all are acrobats if not gymnasts, and no matter how much fun they poke at other people, they laugh at themselves more than at anyone else.” The show's charm was not lost on out-of-town critics. The Philadelphia Weekly wrote, “Through dance, rock, and inventive dialogue, their pithy lessons induce convulsive laughter that makes their medicine easy to swallow and long- lasting. They polish their limber bodies and deadly wit with a chamois drenched in a winning sense of fun.” LA Weekly opined, “SLANT is poised to tweak the mainstream with their beyond SNL appeal.”
Richard Ebihara was raised in Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio. He has performed with Pan Asian Rep in “Forbidden City Blues,” “Cambodia Agonistes” and “Letters From a Student Revolutionary” with Theaterworks USA in “From Sea to Shining Sea” and “The Velveteen Rabbit.” He has also performed with Chen and Dancers in Symphony Space's Selected Shorts. He played the lead in “The Last Hand Laundry in Chinatown” in 1999 at La MaMa. He has been a member of the Labapalooza Puppet Lab Project at St. Ann’s in Brooklyn for the past two years, where he developed “47th Street Hotel,” which was produced last month as part of the La MaMa Puppet Series Festival. He is married to singer Erin McDonnell.
Wayland Quintero was born in the Philippines, grew up in Hawaii, and performed in the Bay area with Tandy Beal & Co. before moving to NYC in 1989. An MFA graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, he has toured with Ping Chong & Co. (in “Deshima”), Chen & Dancers and Gus Solomons Jr. Dance Co. He has choreographed dance works presented by DTW, Dia Center, St. Mark's Dance Space, among other venues. A former member of the Kinding Sindaw Company, Quintero directed its productions of “Rajah Mangandiri” and “Lemlunay” at La MaMa. He has served on NEA and LMCC grants panels and is currently the Projects Manager at the Asian American Arts Alliance. He is married to dancer Desiree Quintero, a member of the Dharmaswara Balinese Gamelan and Dance Ensemble.
Perry Yung is Chinese-American, originally from San Francisco. He trained extensively there in Chinese dance, martial arts and Martha Graham technique. He was a featured performer in Ping Chong's “Deshima” and Theodora Skipitares' “Under the Knife III” and a lead dancer in Muna Tseng's “The Pink,” all at La MaMa. As a member of La MaMa's Great Jones Repertory, he played the title role in the most recent tour of Ellen Stewart's “Mythos Oedipus” and appeared in La MaMa Umbria productions of Huseyin Katircioglu's “The Garden of the Deer” and Andrea Pacciotto's “Geranos.” He appeared in “The Trojan Women,” directed by Andrei Serban with music by Elizabeth Swados, in its tour to Seoul, Korea, The Republic of China at Taipei, and most recently, Japan. He is married to Maura Donohue, artistic director and choreographer of InMixed Company, and father of a daughter, Sasa Mai Ying Yung. The three men of SLANT are past recipients of a NYFA Fellowship, a Jerome Foundation commission, a Joseph Papp Public Theater Play Development Commission, and a Rockefeller fellowship as part of DTW’s Mekong Project.
Nicky Paraiso and projected photo of his childhood home in Flushing, Queens. Foreground figures in projection are Nicky and his father, Nicasio. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
NICKY PARAISO IN HOUSE/BOY: The Club at La MaMa in association with Ma-Yi Theater Company present”House/Boy”, a new solo play written by and starring Nicky Paraiso, directed by Ralph Peña, beginning November 4 at The Club at La MaMa 74A East 4th Street. ”House/Boy”, an autobiographical solo play with music and multimedia that examines identity, sexuality and the enduring theme of what "home" means to Filipino Americans -- is the third part of Nicky Paraiso's ASIAN BOYS TRILOGY. Its predecessors were ASIAN BOYS (P.S. 122, 1994, co-produced by Ma-Yi Theatre Ensemble) and HOUSES AND JEWELS (1994, DTW). Both were stories of growing up gay and Filipino in Queens, where Filipino Americans, like many other Asians, tend to see themselves as strangers in a strange land. Performances of HOUSE/BOY run November 4-21. For tickets, call 212-475-7710 or visit www.lamama.org.
Now the focus shifts to Paraiso's father, who died in 1987, and that peculiarly Filipino prototype: the houseboy. ”House/Boy” features two interwoven stories with Paraiso playing and singing at a grand piano and speaking directly to the audience in a confessional way. Scenes are punctuated with songs Paraiso has written, plus a few drawn from the American cabaret songbook and Filipino love songs delivered in their native language. Nicky's parents, Nicasio and Agustina, had known each other in the Philippines, but Nicasio had moved to the U.S. in his twenties. Here he married an Irish-American woman and settled in the Bronx; they had a son, Michael, to whom the show is also dedicated (Nicky hardly knew him). The marriage broke up and Nicasio returned to the Philippines to find a suitable wife, this time someone Philippine-born. He was reunited with Agustina, who was the last of her sisters to wed and was already known as a spinster. When Nicky was in his thirties, in '83, she was homesick and returned to the Philippines without her husband. To Nicasio, a Pullman porter on the New Haven Railroad, the house in Queens was home. He was its caretaker and he was waiting for Nicky to take it over (an ideal he shared with Agustina, interestingly enough). But all Nicky wanted, like others of his generation, was to get out of Queens. Children of first generation immigrants are the borough's largest export. Nicky wanted to become a Manhattan artiste.
After Nicasio died in Christmas of 1987, Nicky brought his elder's ashes back to the Philippines. His mother was living there with a houseboy, and this is where "I Never Sang for My Father" gets entwined with another theme. The houseboy, named Efren Martinez, was tall, lanky, flamboyantly gay and effeminate; "the stereotypical effeminate houseboy," says Nicky. When Nicky visited in '83 and '85, it was as if the son was actually intruding on the private world of a houseboy and his mistress. One night, Efren endured a frightening nightmare (in Philippine myth, there is a nightmare in which a spirit appears and takes your soul away). The next morning, Agustina found her brother-in-law's gold watch missing. The houseboy, accused of stealing, left in a huff and was never heard from again.
Nicky Paraiso was a member of Meredith Monk/The House and Vocal Ensemble (1981-1990), touring extensively throughout the US, Europe and Japan. He has also worked with Jeff Weiss and Carlos Ricardo Martinez since 1979 and was an actor and musical director in "Come Clean" and the Obie-winning "Hot Keys." He is also affiliated with Yoshiko Chuma and the School of Hard Knocks, with whom he has appeared in four major productions since 1988. He is also a frequent performer with Ma-Yi Theatre/NATCO. Paraiso's awards include a 1987 Bessie and a NYSCA Performance Art Initiative Grant. He was nominated for the prestigious Cal Arts/Alpert Award in 1998. His films include "Book of Days," "Fresh Kill" and "Jeffrey."
In 1994, in "Notes on a Stonewall Summer" (American Theater), critic Charles McNulty wrote that "Asian Boys" demonstrated "that musical talent and daring honesty can often be as liberating as the most flamboyant cross-dressing." Musing on the aesthetics of minority theater, he added, "Paraiso demonstrates that there is nothing implicitly undramatic about the marginalized self. For the artist with vision, there's no need to travel far and wide to find a subject bristling with conflict, ambiguity and theatrical life."
MOM, DAD, I'M LIVING WITH A WHITE GIRL: Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, directed by Tisa Chang, opened its 28th season with the U.S. premiere of “Mom, Dad, I'm Living With a White Girl”, a sparkling comedy/satire about dating and disownment, juxtaposed with outrageous B-movie fantasies at the West End Theatre, 263 West 86 St, 2nd floor. In “Mom, Dad, I'm Living With a White Girl”, traditional Chinese parents are delivered their worst nightmare: their son wants to live with a white girl! Gasoline and Zippo lighters meet when Mark Gee introduces his girlfriend, Sally Davis, to his horrified immigrant parents. Directed by Ron Nakahara, the play runs through Nov. 7. For tickets, call TicketCentral: 212/279-4200 or visit
Interwoven into this domestic comedy is a ribald send-up of a B-movie called Wrath of the Yellow Claw. The character of the Yellow Claw is, not surprisingly, The Mother, with Mark's dad taking the role of her henchman. They are pitted against Mark and Sally, who appear as secret agents. When Mark confesses his love for Sally, for example, his mother turns into the Yellow Claw, producing a poisoned chopstick to stab the poor boy in the heart! In the end, fantasy and reality blur into one as Mark's worlds collide, and, when forced to make a choice between family and lover, he surprises everyone!
Playwright Marty Chan’s “Mom, Dad…” has been produced in eight cities in his native Canada. The script won the Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award for Best New Work, and the Adams Chinese Theatre Society Award (at Harvard U). On TV, Marty has worked on the series The Incredible Story Studio, recipient of a Gemini Award (Canadian equivalent to our Emmy). He has written other plays and TV shows, and hosted his own radio commentary show for six years. This year, his children's novel, The Mystery of the Frozen Brains, will be published. Despite all his successes, Marty's mother would still like for him to become an accountant.
In the role of the Mother is Bea Soong, her 8th production with Pan Asian Rep. Bea was recently seen in the TV series The Jury, and in several currently running commercials and movies. The cast also includes Pun Bandhu, Mary Kickel, and Henry Yuk.
ASIANS ON CHEKHOV: A number of Asians honor Chekhov in the 5th annual “Chekhov Now Festival,” a festival of new theatre works inspired by the plays, one-acts, letters, and fictions of the beloved Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov presented by the LITE Company at the Connelly Theatre at 220 E. 4th Street in Manhattan thru November 21. The “Chekhov Now Festival”, the only one of its kind, is organized and presented by Laboratory for International Theatre Exchange (The LITE Company) helmed by Artistic Director Adam Melnick, Literary Manager Peter Campbell, and Producer Steven McElroy. This year's “Chekhov Now Festival” will feature 8 new works during its run. Plays to note include: “Cherry Orchard: Firs’ Dream”, (Performances 11/2, 11/5, 11/6, 11/7, 11/9) adapted and directed by Sonoko Kawahara, begins with the last scene of Chekhov's “Cherry Orchard” and is told as a dream from the perspective of the character Firs. As well as “Three Sisters”, (Performances 11/11, 11/12, 11/13), a Korean production of this Chekhov classic by the Seoul Factory of Performing Arts under Artistic Director Hyoung Taek Limb, is interpreted through Grotowski Yoga and traditional Korean Mask Dance. Cast features Soo-Mi Yoo as Olga, Young-Sun Lee as Masha, Kinam Koo as Irina, Sangjin Lee as Andrei, Deok-Sun Youn as Vershinin, and Yeon-Hee Lee as Natasha. For reservations, contact TheatreMania at 212-352-3101 or visit www.TheatreMania.com or contact The LITE Company directly at 212-414-7773 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information regarding the festival please visit www.chekhovnow.com.
CONCERT OF EXCELLENCE: Second Generation’ Concert of Excellence willhonor the artistic achievements and career excellence of Hollywood leading lady Kelly Hu (The Scorpion King, X-Men 2), Academy Award-nominated Pat Morita (The Karate Kid, Happy Days), and Martial arts film star Donnie Yen (Hero, Shanghai Knights) on Monday, November 22, 7:30PM at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Frederick P. Rose Hall at Broadway at 60th Street in New York City. This one-night-only benefit performance will feature special guests, including Ralph Macchio, host Beau Sia, Broadway stars, and performances from Mamma Mia!, Jekyll & Hyde, Making Tracks and The Wedding Banquet: The Musical. The 2G Kids ensemble, sponsored by Chase Home Finance, will sing a special tribute to food, glorious Asian food. For tickets, call 212-561-1658 or visit http://coe.2g.org..
The program includes featuring Asian American artists performing production numbers from the best of Broadway, including “Bombay Dreams,” “Pacific Overtures,” and Second Generation’s original musicals, “Making Tracks” and “The Wedding Banquet.” In addition, The Children’s Choir of Excellence will perform.
Pat Morita is best known as the beloved Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid movies. A famed film and television actor, Pat’s filmography includes Happy Days, Mulan, and 1967’s Thoroughly Modern Millie. Breaking ground as an Asian American actor in Hollywood, Pat began as a comedian, and has been in over a hundred films and TV shows. Kelly Hu was the first Asian American to win the title of Ms. Teen USA. She has starred in blockbuster hits like The Scorpion King and X-Men 2. Kelly's many credits include, The Doors, Growing Pains, Nash Bridges, & Martial Law. Kelly has carved a position as one of the entertainment industry’s most successful Asian Actresses in America. Donnie Yen is a famed martial artist, actor, director, and filmmaker. Donnie has achieved international success with films like Hero, Shanghai Knights, Once Upon a Time in China II.Donnie has distinguished himself as a formidable figure in action cinema as an action director and choreographer. He won the 2000 World Stunt awards for Iron Monkey.
Founded in 1997 by actor/singer Welly Yang and other Asian American Broadway performers, Second Generation is a non-profit theater company dedicated to bringing world-class Asian American stories to the world's stage. The company is committed to promoting excellence in the arts as a vehicle for celebrating our human commonality and bridging cultural understanding. At the core of the company's work is a belief that the arts have a profound ability to touch people, and that we have the responsibility to use that power to affect social and artistic progress. By infusing America's cultural life with the vitality of Asian American artists, Second Generation continues to enrich and diversify the cultural landscape of America.
The company first burst onto the nation's stage with its acclaimed Off-Broadway musical Making Tracks in 1999. The show has continued to grow and develop over the past few years with productions throughout the U.S. and Taiwan. Most recently, Making Tracks completed a record-breaking two-month run in Seattle from March-May of 2002 at the Village Theatre. In the winter of 2002-2003, Second Generation will unveil its exclusive musical adaptation of Ang Lee's award-winning film The Wedding Banquet in Taipei, Singapore, and Hawaii, with plans to bring it back to the U.S. soon afterwards. The company offers free, public performances of original works as part of an ongoing In the Works reading series often at the Joseph Papp Public Theater and New York Theater Workshop. Second Generation also produces cabaret performances in venues throughout New York City, including the recent I Enjoy Being A Girl. Second Generation's concert's and cabarets have been seen at numerous campuses across the country, including Columbia University, Harvard University, Dartmouth University, University of Delaware, Pace University, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, among others. Second Generation continues to reach out to the nation's youth through its continued college tours.
PACIFIC OVERTURES: “Pacific Overtures” will begin previews on Friday, November 12 with an opening slated for Thursday, December 2 at at Studio 54 (254 West 54th St.. Presented by Roundabout Theatre Company in association with Gorgeous Entertainment (Kumiko Yoshii & Michael Wolk, Producers), B.D. Wong stars as “Reciter” in Stephen Sondheim’s and John Weidman's Tony® Award-winning musical. Directed and choreographed by Amon Miyamoto, “Pacific Overtures” tells the story of Commodore Matthew Perry's arrival in the “Floating Kingdom” of Nippon in 1853. This landmark musical chronicles the influence America had upon Japan, detailing and dramatizing the westernization of Japanese culture. The style of the musical is based on the ancient form of Japanese Noh theatre. This is a limited engagement through January 30th, 2005. For tickets, call Ticket Services at 212-719-1300 or visit www.roundabouttheatre.org.
The cast also includes: Eric Bondoc, Evan D’Angeles, Joseph Anthony Foronda, Yoko Fumoto, Alvin Y. F. Ing, Fred Isozaki, Francis Jue, Darren Lee, Hoon Lee, Michael K. Lee, Ming Lee, Telly Leung, Paolo Montalban, Alan Muraoka, Mayumi Omagari, Hazel Anne Raymundo, Yuka Takara, Kim Varhola and Scott Watanabe. The theatrical run of Pacific Overtures will include a lobby installation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Visualizing Cultures Project co-developed by Pulitzer-prize winner John Dower and Professor Shigeru Miyagawa. http://blackshipsandsamurai.mit.edu. This unique and exciting intersection of the Academy and Broadway will provide audiences a glimpse into the wonderful and rarely seen imagery created at the time of the Perry.
Conceived as a sort of Japanese playwright's version of an American musical about American influences on Japan, “Pacific Overtures” begins its journey to the present day in July 1853. Since the foreigners were driven from the island empire, explains the Reciter, there has been nothing to threaten the changeless cycle of their days. Elsewhere, wars are fought and machines are rumbling but in Nippon they plant rice, exchange bows and enjoy in peace and serenity. But President Fillmore, determined to open up trade with Japan, has sent Commodore Perry across the Pacific, and. to the consternation of Lord Abe and the Shogun's other Councillors, US warships have been sighted at Okinawa. Kayama is appointed Prefect of the Police at Uraga to drive the Americans away - news which leaves Tamate, his wife, grief-stricken. As he leaves, she expresses her feelings in dance as two Observers describe the scene and reveal her thoughts in "There Is No Other Way". As a Fisherman, Merchant and other locals relate the sight of the "Four Black Dragons" roaring through the sea, an extravagant Oriental caricature of the USS Powhatan pulls into harbour: Commodore Perry announces that he must meet the Shogun within six days or else he will shell the city. Faced with this ultimatum the Shogun takes to his bed. Exasperated by his indecision, his Mother with elaborate courtesy, poisons him with "Chrysanthemum Tea."
With the Shogun dead, Kayama devises a plan by which the Americans, thanks to a covering of tatami mats and a raised Treaty House, can be received without having, technically, to set foot on Japanese soil. He and his aide the fisherman Manjiro set off for Uraga, forging a band of friendship through the exchange of "Poems". Already, though, events are moving beyond the control of the old order: the two men pass a Madam instructing her inexperienced Girls in the art of seduction as they prepare to "Welcome to Kanagawa" the foreign devils. Commodore Perry and his men come ashore and, on their "March to the Treaty House", demonstrate their goodwill by offering such gifts as two bags of Irish potatoes and a copy of Owen's "Geology of Minnesota". The negotiations themselves are seen through the memory of an old man and his younger self -"Someone In a Tree", watching silently as history changes course. Initially, it seems as if Kayama has won: the Americans depart in peace. But then the barbarian figure of Commodore Perry leaps out to perform a traditional Kabuki "Lion Dance", which ends as a strutting, triumphalist, all-American cakewalk.
To the surprise of Lord Abe, now the new Shogun, and Kayama, now Governor of Uraga, the Americans return to bid the Japanese court "Please Hello" and to request formal trading arrangements. They are followed by a Gilbertian British Admiral, a clog-dancing Dutch Admiral, a gloomy Russian and a dandified Frenchman all vying for access to Japan's markets. Manjiro continues to dress with painstaking slowness into ceremonial robes for the tea ritual, but Kayama is adopting the manners and dress of the newcomers, proudly displaying his new pocket watch, cutaway coat and "A Bowler Hat". But there are other less pleasant changes prompted by westernisation. Three British Sailors mistake a "Pretty Lady" for a geisha, the girl cries for help and a Swordsman kills the fleeing Tars. Reporting on the situation to the Shogun, Kayama himself is killed by a cloaked assassin - his former friend, the fisherman Manjiro. In the ensuing turmoil the puppet Emperor seizes the real power from the Shogun and vows that Japan will modernise itself. As the country moves from one innovation to the "Next!", the Imperial robes are removed layer by layer to show the Reciter in T-shirt and black trousers. Contemporary Japan - the world of Toyota and Seiko, air pollution and contaminated beaches -assembles itself around him. "There was a time when foreigners were not welcome here. But that was long ago," he says. "Welcome to Japan."
B.D. Wong plays Reciter. B.D.’s first book, Following Foo (the electronic adventures of the Chestnut Man) published by HarperCollins, is in bookstores now. It chronicles the dramatic and theatrical E-mail correspondence he initiated with nearly a thousand friends, family, loved ones (and even “forwarded strangers”) after the extremely premature birth of identical twin sons, who were conceived through surrogacy with his partner’s sister’s egg and his sperm. The ordeal brought his family to the foreign and terrifying environment of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at a world-class teaching hospital. On HBO’s first one hour drama, Oz, Mr. Wong played Father Ray Mukada, Oswald Penitentiary’s conflicted and beleaguered prison chaplain, since its premiere, as well as joining the cast of NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” as forensic psychiatrist Dr. George Huang. He has guest starred on “X-Files”, “Sesame Street”, and “Chicago Hope”, as well as appearing in HBO’s film version of Randy Shilts’ book And the Band Played On. He also co-starred with comic Margaret Cho on her series “All-American Girl” as a member of television’s first Asian-American family when the ABC situation comedy aired in 1994. Mr. Wong has been nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award for his portrayal of General Gong Fei in the off-Broadway play Shanghai Moon. He made his Broadway debut in M. Butterfly, a play by David Henry Hwang. His work, in arguably the breakthrough performance of that season, earned him the Outer Critics Circle Award, Theatre World Award, Drama Desk Award, Clarence Derwent Award, and the coveted Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award. No other actor has won all five of these awards for one role in a Broadway play. In addition to his substantial work Off-Broadway and in American regional theatre, he received critical acclaim for his performance in the Broadway revival of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown as the intellectual, blanket-dependent Linus. B.D. Wong has worked on more than twenty films, among them: Jurassic Park, The Freshman, The Ref, Executive Decision, and The Salton Sea. Moviegoers may perhaps remember him most vividly for his diverse work in Seven Years in Tibet, Father of the Bride (Parts I and II), and as the voice of the heroic “Shang” in Disney’s animated hit, Mulan. He recently completed filming Stay with director Marc Forster. B.D. Wong was born and raised in San Francisco, and currently resides in New York City.
BASIL TWIST’S DOGUGAESHI: World-renowned, Obie Award-winning puppeteer Basil Twist transforms Japan Society's 278 seat auditorium into an intimate, 70-seat black box theater to present the world premiere of “Dogugaeshi.” Blending centuries of tradition with his own inimitable style, “Dogugaeshi,” commissioned by Japan Society, is Twist's lavish and grand 60-minute homage to Japanese puppet theater and one of its most fascinating and nearly extinct components. With original music composed and performed by Yumiko Tanaka, the piece runs Nov. 18 – 23. For tickets, call 212- 752-3015 or visit www.japansociety.org.
While doing research for his acclaimed Symphonie Fantastique, maverick puppet artist Basil Twist became intrigued by the rarefied and dying tradition of Japanese dogugaeshi, a complex scene change mechanism used in puppet theater of the Awaji region in which dozens upon dozens of sliding screens and inverting doors, each one more elaborate and beautiful than the next, gradually open to the final palace tableau. For his Dogugaeshi, Twist reinvents the art form, employing four puppeteers (including himself). The piece's only figurative puppet, a meticulous recreation of a gorgeous Japanese fox Twist encountered on his travels, guides the audience through the ever-changing forest of screens, unfolding both abstract and modern imagery inspired by Japan. This intimate performance features original shamisen (a three-stringed lute) compositions created and performed live by authorized master musician Yumiko Tanaka, who has collaborated with numerous renowned Western artists such as John Zorn, Elliot Sharp and Heiner Goebbels.
Japan Society supported Mr. Twist’s journey to Japan for extensive research on dogugaeshi: "While originally used as a set change," reports Twist, "the dogugaeshi section became so popular and intricate, that it was eventually placed at the end of a production so the audience would stay from start to finish--the dessert after the full-course meal. My research took me into the mountains of Japan, where people would fondly recount the complete thrill of watching the dogugaeshi in candle-lit, open-air theaters. Farmers could recall every detail of sumptuous screens long-since lost. When I heard from several sources of a legendary 88 screen dogugaeshi, I knew that I had to do this piece with at least 88 screens to bridge this all but vanished art form into the 21st Century."
Originally from San Francisco, Basil Twist is a third generation puppeteer. He became the only American to graduate from the École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mezieres, France, one of the world’s premiere puppetry training programs. Twist’s work was first spotlighted in New York with the Bessie Award-winning The Araneidae Show. In 1998 Twist received a Drama Desk Award nomination for his work with Theatre Couture’s Off-Broadway hit Tell Tale at the Cherry Lane. Twist received a 1999 Drama Desk Nomination, a UNIMA Citation of Excellence and an OBIE Award for Symphonie Fantastique, currently playing Off-Broadway at Dodger Stages. In 2000, Twist’s Lincoln Center commissioned Petrushka was awarded a UNIMA Citation of Excellence. Along with creating Master Peter’s Puppet Show for Eos Orchestra, Twist developed the puppetry for Paula Vogel’s Long Christmas Ride Home which opened at The Vineyard in November 2003 and was the underwater puppetry consultant for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He is currently collaborating with director Lee Breuer on the upcoming Mabou Mines' opera Red Beads. He will also create a new staging of Respighi's "La Bella Dormente Nel Bosco" for Spoleto, USA and The Lincoln Center Festival set for a world premiere in May 2005. Twist is the director of The Dream Music Puppetry Program at HERE Arts Center.
THE FEMALE TERRORIST PROJECT: The Committee (Ken Urban, Artistic Director) will present the world premiere of Mr. Urban’s smart and topical new play “The Female Terrorist Project,” directed by Laramie Dennis, as the first offering of the company’s second season, at The Chocolate Factory, 5-49 49th Avenue. L.I.C., NY. “The Female Terrorist Project,” takes place in futuristic America, where bombings, kidnappings and terror alerts are daily occurrences. A historian named Amelia chronicles the lives of famous female terrorists, from a Palestinian hijacker to an anti-abortion assassin. After being dogged by protesters and secret agents, Amelia meets a mysterious woman who makes her an offer she can’t refuse. “The Female Terrorist Project” runs through Saturday, November 20. For reservations, call 718-482-7069 or visit www.thecommitteetheatre.org.
The cast of “The Female Terrorist Project” will be headed by: Molly Powell (Amelia) and Alison Weller (Karen). Ms. Powell was an original cast member of Moises Kaufman’s The Laramie Project and Ms. Weller was seen earlier this year as Imelda Marcos in The Civilians’ production of The Ladies and was also seen in their Gone Missing, both in New York and London. Rounding out the cast will be: Travis York (last seen in 13P’s production of Anne Washburn’s The Internationalist); Mariana Newhard (Mac Wellman’s Cellophane, directed by Jim Simpson); Zina Camblin (Tectonic Theatre’s The Jonestown Project. La Jolla: I Think I Like Girls; Bash; Thoroughly Modern Millie); Nicole Godino (appeared with the Resonance Ensemble in The Lower Depths); Lael Logan (most recently played the title role in the Dramahaus production of Diary of a Chambermaid and earlier this year appeared in the Keen Company’s productions of The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden and Pullman Car Hiawatha); and David Andrew McMahon (recently appeared in the world premiere of Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice at Madison Repertory Theatre, playing Orpheus; and Tartuffe at La Jolla Playhouse, directed by Des McAnuff). The scenic design will be by David Newell, the costume design by Maggie Dick, and the lighting design by Beth Turomsha.
RUSHDIE FANTASY: The New York City Opera recently opened perhaps its most important commission to date: Pulitzer Prize winning composer Charles Wuorinen’s "Haroun and the Sea of Stories," based on the 1990 novel by the elegant and controversial Salman Rushdie. "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" was the first book Rushdie wrote during the tumult and violence of the fatwa, or death warrant (decreed in 1989 after his fourth novel "The Satanic Verses"). The book began as a bedtime story Rushdie told to his son, and has an effervescent style full of rhymes, humor, and wordplay. But despite its delightful and charming exterior, Haroun is a serious parable about free speech and a warning of the dangers of political repression. City Opera’s new production is to be directed by the renowned theater and opera director Mark Lamos. "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" will be conducted by City Opera’s music director George Manahan. Choreography is by Sean Curran. For tickets, call Ticketmaster at 212-307-4100 or visit www.nycopera.com.
The child Haroun lives in a city so sad its citizens have forgotten its name. Their only source of joy is the cheerful storytelling of Haroun’s father, Rashid, "The Shah of Blah." The greatest of all storytellers, Rashid conjures up magical worlds and brings laughter to this sad city. Then, one terrible day, everything goes wrong. Haroun’s mother leaves home and his father runs out of stories to tell, haunted by his son’s question: "What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?" Haroun is determined to return the storyteller’s gift to his father, so he begins a fabulous quest across strange lands, flying on the back of the Hoopoe bird to The Ocean of Stories to find out what could possibly be wrong. In a series of brilliantly imagined adventures, and with the help of water genies, mechanical birds, and other curious creatures, Haroun defeats an evil despot and restores happiness to his family and the city, returning the free flow of speech for eternity.
In a feat of spare brilliance, British poet James Fenton created the libretto for "Haroun and the Sea of Stories." Fenton's libretto stays very close to the spirit of Rushdie’s original novel, conjuring up a fantasy world in which one never entirely loses sight of harsh political reality and the great issues of freedom of expression and imagination. This unusual cross-section of artists (Wuorinen, Fenton, Rushdie) is serendipitous: unflagging in the face of criticism, they share uncompromising integrity in their work and personal lives; they are all towering intellects in their respective fields, and not only of sharp mind and aesthetic, but with similar (and rather wicked) senses of humor. "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" is sure to be around for some time.
The cast includes Heather Johnson, Heather Buck, Peter Strummer, James Schaffner, Edith Dowd, Kathryn Friest, Matt Morgan, Javier Abreu, Lawrence Long Ethan Herschenfeld, Joel Sorensen, Ryan MacPherson, Wilbur Pauley, Andrew Drost, Robert Mack, Christopher Jackson and Michael Zegarski. According to Fenton, On Valentine’s Day 1989, a “fatwa”, or decree, by the Ayatollah Khomeini was read out on Radio Tehran, informing all the intrepid Muslims in the world that the author of the book entitled “The Satanic Verses” and its publishers had been condemned to death. All zealous Muslims were urged to execute the culprits quickly, and were assured that anyone who lost his life in the attempt would be regarded as a martyr. Shortly afterwards, having attended the memorial service in London for his friend Bruce Chatwin, the novelist Salman Rushdie went into hiding.
This thing that Salman should have seen coming posed, and indeed proved, a danger not only to him but also to his associates: his Japanese translator, Hitoshi Igarashi, was murdered, and his Italian translator and his Norwegian publisher were attacked. Salman himself was reportedly sought out, and it is said that his pursuers on occasion came rather close to finding him. The threat of the Ayatollah was solid enough. And Salman’s many supporters were right to argue that freedom is indivisible, and that the threat to Salman was a threat to all of us. The point would hardly need stressing after September 11, 2001.
”When I was contacted and asked if I would write a libretto based on Haroun, I was not at all surprised that a composer should wish to set this book, for I had already thought what a good musical it would make,” said Fenton, “Indeed there is music, and there is poetry, already in the story, and I have tried to incorporate all or most of it, including the dedication quoted above, since it is so characteristic of Salman.”
PUCCINI’S GOLDEN GIRL: Opera Orchestra of New York opens its three-part opera-in-concert series at Carnegie Hall under the baton of founder/director/conductor Eve Queler with Puccini’s musically daring “La Fanciulla Del West.” “Fanciulla” was premiered by Arturo Toscanini at the Metropolitan Opera in 1910 with the composer in attendance and source playwright David Belasco directing. Belasco and Puccini’s "Golden Girl," a virtuous but pistol-packing California Gold Rush barkeep, falls for a disguised (and secretly virtuous) Mexican bandit, bravely cheats at cards with an amorous sheriff to win his life, and saves him again from lynching by invoking the power of the miners’ affection for her. The score is drenched at once with nostalgia and forward-looking harmonic complexity. For tickets, call 212-799-1982.
The cast includes Jeffrey Picon, Eric Margiore, Matthew Garrett, William Ferguson, Markus Beam, Charles Unice, Stephen Gaertner, Gaston Rivero, Seth Malkin, Marco Chingari, Daniel Mobbs, Rubin Casas, Aprile Millo, Carl Tanner, Carlos Conde, Mary Ann Stewart, Carlos Conde, Guillermo Lagundino, and the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus.
ON CARNEGIE HALL STAGE: The Shanghai Quartet, Friday, Nov. 19, 7:30, Weill Recital Hall, will perform works by Beethoven, Ji-Wen Jiang, and Schubert. On Sat, Nov. 20, 7:30PM Pianist Margaret Leng Tan will play in a George Crumb 75th Birthday Tribute at the Zankel Hall.Other recitals include Min Hwan David Kim, piano, 11/13, 8:30PM, Weill Hall; Edna Yuan-Yuan Chia, piano, 11/14, 5:30PM, Weill Hall; and Andrew Le, piano, 2004 Winner of the Hilton Head International Piano competition, 11/22, 8PM, Weill Hall. For tickets, call CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 or visit www.carnegiehall.org.
AT LINCOLN CENTER: Also at Lincoln Center, on Nov. 15, 7:30PM in the Walter Reade Theater Christopheren Nomura, baritone will be featured in Great Performers’ “What Makes It Great?” with Rob Kapilow. The program is the Art of the Song: Lieder by Brahmns, Wolf and Mahler. For reservations, call 212-875-5766 or visit www.lincolncenter.org. Meanwhile at the Metropolitan Opera, Bass Kwangchul Youn will sing in Aida, Nov. 15, 19 and 27. He will also sing in Tannhauser Nov. 18 & 22. Soprano Hei-Kyung Hong will sing in Carmen Nov. 4, 9 and 12. For tickets, call 212-362-6000 or visit www.metopera.org.
INDIAN DIASPORA FILM FESTIVAL: The Indo-American Arts Council will kick off its 4th annual film festival of the Indian Diaspora from Nov. 4-7. The festival, showcasing cinematic creativity within the South Asian community living outside India, will open at the Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Tehater on Nov. 4 and will continue at the Anthology Film Archives through Nov. 7. Opening night film will be Gurinder Chadha’s “Bride & Prejudice”. Chadha friects “Bride & Prejudice” from a script by Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges which bring to the plot of Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” elements of high style Bollywood romance, Hollywood song and dance and the modern realitites of international romance. The film features Aishwarya Rai, Martin Henderson, Daniel Gillies, Naveen Andrews, Namrata Shirodkar, Indira Varma, Nadira Babbar, Anupam Kher, Meghna Kothari, Peeya Rai and Nitin Chandra Ganatra. Opening night will be followed by a post screening discussion moderated by Richard Pena, Director of the Lincoln Center Film Society and a Gala Opening Night Benefit dinner at the Lincoln Center’s Kaplan Penthouse. The Gala will include a live auction and will honor long time patrons writer Salman Rushdie, filmmakers Ismail Merchant and Mira Nair and actress Shabana Azmi. For opening night tickets, call 212-529-2347 or visit www.iaac.us. For tickets to the Festival at Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Ave, call 212 868 4444 or visit www.smartix.com.
The festival closes on Nov. 7 with a screening of Jagmohan Mundhra’s “Back Waters” produced by Sunanda Murlimanohar, directed by Jag Mundhra and written by Carl Austin. The film is about a wealthy British couple, Andy a writer, and Lili, a soap opera star, get into a car accident, returning home from a big part at Lili’s step brother, Jason’s sprawling estate in the English countryside. The accident leaves the wife paralyzed below the waist while the husband who was driving, miraculously escapes unhurt. The couple arrives in Cochin and rent a houseboat on the backwaters. They hire a masseuse who starts the wife’s herbal therapy treatment. The twist in the story occurs when Andy falls for a fisherman’s wife and his wife is murdered for which he becomes the prime suspect. The film stars Niroclas Irons, Tamzin Outhwaite, Jason Fleyming, Sandra Teles, Gulshan Gover and Milind Gunaji.
Other films include: Friday, November 5. 5pm. Courthouse Theatre
MORNING RAGA, 2004, 100 minutes, English/Telegu with English Subtitles Directed by Mahesh Dattani, Starring: Mahesh Dattani, Shabana Azmi, Prakash Rao, Perizaad Zorabian, Lillete Dubey, Post Screening Discussion with Shabana Azmi. Friday, November 5. 7.30pm. Courthouse Theatre, INDIAN COWBOY, 2004, 86 minutes, English, Directed by Nikhil Kamkolkar, Starring: Nikhil Kamkolkar, Sheetal Sheth, Carla Borelli, Jonathan Sale, Sundra Oakley, Deep Katdare, Cynthia O'Keefe, Scott Boyett, Sunil Malhotra, Ami Shukla, Jayson Berkshire, Post Screening Discussion with Lynda Hansen and Cast/Crew. Friday, November 5. 9.30pm. Courthouse Theatre
SAU JHOOTH, EK SACH, 2004, 110 minutes, Hindi with English subtitles, Directed by Bappaditya Roy, Starring: Mammootty, Vikram Gokhle, Lillette Dubey, Neha Dubey, Joy Sengupta, Kiran Janjani, Tisca Chopra, Meghna Kothari, Post Screening Discussion with Cast/Crew.
Documentary Prog. 1 : Friday, November 5. 9.30 pm Maya Deren Theatre, DANCING ON MOTHER EARTH, 2002, 57 minutes. Directed by Jim Virga, Produced and Edited by Tula Goenka, Post Screening Discussion with Cast/Crew. Saturday, November 6, 12 noon. Courthouse Theatre, BANDHAK, 2004, 115 minutes, English/Hindi with English subtitles, Directed by Hyder Bilgrami, Starring: Farokh Daruwala, Aasha Patel, Murtuza Sabir, Daman,Arora, Manoj Shinde, Meenu Mangal, Ramzan Lakhani, Post Screening Discussion with Cast/Crew, Saturday, November 6, 3pm CourtHouse Theatre
SALAAM BOMBAY, 1988, 114 minutes, Hindi/Marathi with English subtitles, Directed by Mira Nair, Starring: Shafiq Syed, Hansa Vithal, Chanda Sharma, Nana Patekar, Aneeta Kanwar, Raghubir Yadav, Post Screening Discussion with Cast/Crew.
Saturday, November 6, 6pm. CourtHouse Theatre,JANE AUSTEN IN MANHATTAN, 1980, 111 minutes, English, Directed by Merchant-Ivory, Starring: Anne Baxter, Robert Powell, Michael Wagner, Tim Choate, John Guerrasio, Katrina Hodiak, Kurt Johnson, Sean Young,Post Screening Discussion with Colin Stanfield and Cast/Crew, Saturday, November 6, 9pm. CourtHouse Theatre, 19 REVOLUTIONS, 2004, 93 minutes, English, Directed by Sridhar Reddy, Starring: Tarun Arora, Sriya Reddy, Vishwaa, Gulshan Grover, Post Screening Discussion with Cast/Crew. Saturday, Documentary Prog 2: 1pm., November 6, Maya Deren Theatre. TAKE ME TO THE RIVER, 2003, 80 Minutes, Directed and Edited by Kenneth Eng, Post Screening Discussion with Gabby Stein and Cast/Crew; Saturday, Documentary Prog 3: 3 pm., November 6, Maya Deren Theatre, REINVENTING THE TALIBAN, 2003, 55 minutes, Sharmeen Obaid/Ed Robbins, Post Screening Discussion with Diana Lee and Cast/Crew; Saturday, Documentary Prog 4: 6pm., November 6, Maya Deren Theatre, DISCORDIA, 2004, 69 minutes, Directed by Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal. Post Screening Discussion with Fernanda Rossi and Cast/Crew, Saturday, Documentary Prog 5: 9pm., November 6, Maya Deren Theatre, ROCKSTAR AND THE MULLAH, 2003, 50 minutes, Produced by Angus Macqueen, Directed by Ruhi Hamid, GHOOM TANA, 2004, 7 minutes, 30 seconds, Directed by Saquib Malik, Starring: Nandita Das,Salman Ahmad and special voiceover by Naseeruddin Shah., Post Screening Discussion with Vivek Bald and Cast/Crew.
Sunday, November 7, 1pm. Courthouse Theatre, SACRIFICE, 2004, 90 minutes, English, Directed by Frankie Sooknanan, Starring: Frankie Sooknanan, DebbieAnn Pustam, Mahadeo Shivraj, Alisha Persaud, Post Screening Discussion with Marilyn Horowitz and Cast/Crew, Sunday, November 7, 3pm. Courthouse Theatre, SUNDAY AFTERNOON, 2004, 12 minutes, Bengali with English Subtitles Directed by Amit Dutt, Starring: Sudipta Chakraborty, Bhaswar Chatterjee, Arun Mukherjee, Gita Dey, Abir Chatterjee, Rumki Chatterjee, Mou Bhattacharya, Post Screening Discussion with Cast/Crew, Sunday, November 7, 6pm. Courthouse Theatre, BACKWATERS, 2004, 90 minutes, English, Directed by Jagmohan Mundhra, Starring: Nicholas Irons, Sandra Teles, Jason Fleyming, Tamzin Outhwaite, Gulshan Grover, Milind Gunaji.
ASIANS IN FALL COLLECTION: The Fall Collection, a new multi-media arts festival embracing film, theater and live music performances will run through Nov. 21 in the Lower East Side. For the month of November, the 18 films and nine plays will run in rotation starting at 7:00 p.m. at the LaTea Theater at the CSV in the Lower East Side. On most nights, audiences will then be specially conducted (an event in itself!) to exclusive live music performances by one or more of the 27 musical artists at nearby, high-profile music venues—Pianos, Rothko, Sin-E, The Delancey, Dark Room and La Caverna—starting at approximately 10:00 p.m. each evening. On Saturday evenings all performances—music, films and plays—will be hosted at the LaTea Theater. For tickets, call Smarttix at 212-868-4444 or visit www.smarttix.com. For general information, schedules and tickets visit www.thefallcollection.org.
“The schedule speaks for itself. We’ve been able to secure some of New York’s biggest “buzz” bands and musicians. We canvassed the world family of independent filmmakers and have lined up some of the most-talked about and highly awarded short films recently produced. Our lineup of plays not only turns the spotlight on some of the newest and freshest acting, directing and writing talents that have recently begun making their marks, but also features a play by a ‘living legend’ of Off-Broadway, Maria Irene Fornes, as well as Sophocles’ classic, ‘Ajax,’” said Kelly Markus, The Fall Collection’s executive producer and creative director. “By incorporating all these talented voices and different forms of artistic expression into a single evening, The Fall Collection offers our audience a totally new way to encounter performance and multi-media arts.”
Indicative of the wide-ranging visionary talents of independent filmmakers worldwide, the initial line-up of films include both previously screened award-winning shorts from noted festivals such as Sundance, Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF) and SouthbySouthwest (SXSW) and films featured on PBS and IFC, as well as new and other works never before publicly screened in New York. Reflecting a wide range of independent creative inspiration, these films underscore a vibrancy of vision, talent and artistry rarely seen by mainstream audiences in their neighborhood movie theaters. Films by Asians include “Awkward“, (Nov. 9, 12) about three bored companions experience an awkward moment when they introduce beer to the situation, written and directed by Cesar Kuriyama and “Honey Pie”, (Nov. 15, 18, 19) Girl meets boy. Boy charms Girl. Girl falls for Boy. Boy surprises Girl with kinks of his own, written and directed by Mikal Din.
Cesar Kuriyama is a recent graduate from Pratt Institute of Art and Design in Brooklyn, NY with a BFA in Computer Graphics and Interactive Media. Since it's completion in May 2004, his senior thesis/animated short, "Awkward" has already been selected for screening (or won an award) in at least 10 film festivals around the world. He is currently employed at the New York Film Academy in the 3D animation department, while further pursuing his aspirations as an artist through animation, graphic design, photography and film.
Upon graduating from Academy de Cinematique in France, Mikal Din moved to New York to begin his stateside film career. In Brooklyn he started working in the development department at 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, honing his skills in script and story analysis. With that experience under his belt and on his resume he then started work at the Film Academy of New York, teaching teenage and adult students the bare-bone basics of narrative filmmaking. This experience of teaching—along with a disregard for TV (he had a brief stint as a producer’s assistant at A&E) and a hunger to shoot film again—spearheaded the production of “Honey Pie.” He gathered together his crew/entourage of artists and intellectuals and began shooting the subversive B&W comedy that now thrills and titillates audiences nationwide.
KOREAN TIGER: Beginning November 12, the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater will present “The Newest Tiger: 60 Years of South Korean Cinima”, a 40-film series that traces the arc of this exciting national cinema’s development since mid-century. The series features classics, undiscovered gems, and contemporary hits“The Newest Tiger: 60 Years of South Korean Cinima” is organized by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Korean Film Council with the support of the Korean Film Archive and the Korean Cultural Service New York, under the authority of the Korean Consulate General in New York. The Walter Reade Theater is located at 165 W. 65th St., plaza level. For tickets, call 212- 875-5600 or visit www.filmlinc.com.
In conjunction with “The Newest Tiger” series, there will be two panels featuring critics and scholars exploring Korean cinema in its national, regional, and contemporary contexts. The first, on the history of cinema in South Korea, will take place at Columbia University on Saturday, November 20. The second, on the contemporary scene, will be held at the Walter Reade Theater from 2:30pm to 4:30pm on Sunday, November 21.
Admission for both panels is free. Please check www.filmlinc.com for further details.
More than a hundred years old, Korean film production for much of the twentieth century was troubled by the social and political unrest that shook the country. Since the 1980s, however, veteran directors such as Im Kwon-Taek and Lee Doo-Yung have been able to consistently turn in first-rate work, while younger talents like Jang Sun-woo, Hong Sang-soo, and Kim Ki-duk have broken new thematic and stylistic grounds. With recent awards at the major Cannes and Venice film festivals, and popular and critical acclaim at the New York Film Festival, the cinema of South Korea is one of today’s most respected and eagerly received national cinemas.
Some of the films include: Aimless Bullet / Obaltan, Yu Hyonmok, 1961; Long considered a landmark of Korean cinema, Aimless Bullet caused such a furor when first released that the film was temporarily banned. The screenplay by Lee Chong-gyi was based on several news items that dealt with the explosive growth of shantytowns in Seoul, many of them filled with refugees from the North. Song Chol-oh has a decent job as an accountant, but it seems he spends most of his time keeping his family together. His wife is about to give birth, but frail as she is there’s a strong fear that she won’t survive the delivery. Other family members have drifted into crime or lethargy; meanwhile, Song has to decide if his raging toothache can wait until he gets his paycheck at the end of the month. Largely shot on location, Aimless Bullet is a kind of critical social realism pushed to such an extreme that it takes on vestiges of the surreal. Fri Nov 12: 1; Wed Nov 17: 6:40. To the Starry Island / Keu Some Kakosipta, Park Kwang-su, 1993; As he lies on his deathbed, Moon Duk-bae makes one final request to his son Chae-ku: to be buried on Kwisong, the island on which he was born. Accompanied by his best friend, Chae-ku escorts his father’s remains to the island. But as they approach, a delegation of islanders draws up to them and demands they turn around; Moon Duk-bae, they insist, will never be buried on their island. Thus the stage is set for an emotional confrontation between two visions of Korea’s past and present. Park Kwang-su doesn’t attempt to resolve this dispute nor choose among these accounts. Shown in the 1994 New York Film Festival.,Fri Nov 12: 3; Thurs Nov 18: 6:40.
Low Life / Ha-Ryu-In-Saeng, Im Kwon-taek, 2004; We’re honored to be able to open this retrospective of Korean cinema with the premiere of Low Life, the most recent (and 99th) film by one of greatest filmmakers working today, Im Kwon-taek. A key figure in Korean cinema for over forty years, Mr. Im, whose earlier films Chunhyang and Chiwaseon were presented at the New York Film Festival, has also been key to creating an international audience for Korean cinema. Low Life focuses on the turbulent 60s in Korea as a burgeoning movement for democracy runs into an increasingly oppressive political regime. Our guide to these changes is Choi tae-wong: Endowed with natural fighting skills, Choi starts off as a hired thug for a powerful criminal boss, gradually working his way up the mob hierarchy. When the going gets tough for the mobs, he goes legitimate and tries his hand at producing films, with little luck. Yet whatever he’s involved with, his attitude remains the same: It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and brute force is often the only real answer to problems. A powerful portrait of a nation in perpetual crisis, given a perceptive, engagingly human dimension by Korea’s master director, Im Kwon-taek. Fri Nov 12: 7:10; Sat Nov 13: 9. The Road Taken / Seontaek, Hong Ki-seon, 2003; “The Road Taken depicts the true story of Kim Sun-myung, a man who was arrested in 1951 for siding with the North during the Korean War. Sentenced to life imprisonment, he spent the following decades being transferred from one prison to the next, together with other Communist sympathizers. The film follows Kim's life from the 1970s, when an unexpected thaw in relations between North and South led to hopes of reunification, up until the 1990s, when Kim was recognized by Amnesty International as the longest-serving political prisoner on earth. For much of his time in jail, Kim faced a choice. Prisoners who agreed to sign a disavowal of their Communist beliefs would be set free immediately. Those who refused would be beaten or locked in isolation, forced to continue serving their sentences. Fri Nov 12: 5; Sat Nov 13: 7, The Lovers in Woomuk-Baemi / Woomuk-Baemi ui Sarang, Jang Sun-woo, 1990; "Jang’s first unqualified success is a tragic comedy about an illicit sexual affair and its socially embarrassing repercussions. A sewing workshop supervisor lives with a bar girl but one night finds himself in bed with one of the women in the workshop, the wife of an impotent and abusive husband. But how can the affair proceed? Discretion is impossible in a small community full of gossip, and neither existing partner will give up without a fight. The story’s underlying dynamics are sexual, emotional, and economic, but Jang anchors it in a warm and humorous engagement with the characters and their raw, human needs." — Tony Rayns, Fri Nov 12: 9:20; Sat Nov 13: 5.
SUSAN SONTAG ON JAPANESE FILM: Japan Society Film Center presents Susan Critic’s Choice: Sontag on Japanese Film, Part II for its fall and early winter programming; screenings run from October 15 – December 17, 2004. As a continuation of Japan Society’s successful 2003 series Critic's Choice: Susan Sontag on Japanese Film, Sontag on Japanese Film, Part II showcases ten classic Japanese films personally selected by Susan Sontag. As a writer, critic, filmmaker and novelist, Sontag is internationally recognized for her literary and intellectual contributions. She has ardently supported Japanese cinema for many years and currently serves as a member of Japan Society's Film Advisory Committee. In her opening lecture to the 2003 series, Sontag emphasized the importance of repeated viewings of classic films, because they teach us about life. Now back by popular demand, this year’s Critic's Choice: Susan Sontag on Japanese Film, Part II offers New York audiences an unparalleled opportunity to experience the riches of classic Japanese cinema, hand-picked by one of the foremost intellectuals of our time. Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street, between First & Second Avenues. For general information, call 212-832-1155 or visit www.japansociety.org.
From "Fires on the Plain"
Tuesday, November 2, 6:30 pm: Drunken Angel (Yoidore tenshi) 1948, 98 min., 35mm, b&w. In Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Written by Keinosuke Uekusa. Cinematography by Takeo Ito. Music by Fumio Hayasaka. With Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune, Michiyo Kogure, Reizaburo Yamamoto, Chieko Nakakita, Noriko Sengoku. Distributed by Janus Films and Home Vision Entertainment. Toshiro Mifune plays an irresistibly alluring young gangster whose power over the streets and a beautiful woman is gradually undermined by tuberculosis. Confusion and corruption in the black markets, dance halls and back alleys fill this early Akira Kurosawa film with the unruly energy of the period following the Japanese defeat in WW II. Monday, November 8, 6:30 pm: Repast (Meshi) 1951, 97 min., 16mm, b&w. In Japanese with English subtitles.Directed by Mikio Naruse. Written by Toshiro Ide and Sumie Tanaka, based on a novel by Fumiko Hayashi. Cinematograpy by Masao Tamai. Music by Fumio Hayasaka. With Setsuko Hara, Ken Uehara, Yukiko Shimazaki, Yoko Sugi, Haruko Sugimura. Print courtesy of The Japan Foundation with permission from Janus Films and Home Vision Entertainment. Setsuko Hara and Ken Uehara, two big stars of the 1940s and '50s, play a young and humble couple who live in Osaka. The husband works as a stockbroker while his wife looks after the house. Five years after their marriage, life seems monotonous--until they are visited by their niece who has fled from her parents. Mikio Naruse dramatizes the subtle emotional relationships among family members in his usual exquisite manner. Monday, November 29, 6:30 pm: Fires on the Plain (Nobi), 1959, 105 min., 35mm., b&w. In Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Kon Ichikawa. Written by Natto Wada from the novel by Shohei Ooka. Cinematography by Sestuo Kobayashi. Music by Yasushi Akutagawa. With Eiji Funakoshi, Osamu Takizawa and Micky Curtis. Print courtesy of The Japan Foundation with permission from Janus Films. Fires on the Plain portrays the soul-searching and despair of a starved and exhausted young soldier on the bleak battlefields of the Philippines. Kon Ishikawa adapted Shohei Ooka's autobiographical war novel and his sincere quest for human values and survival amidst the extreme hardships of the last years of the Pacific war.
AT ASIA SOCIETY: Asia Society will present “Born into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids” by Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman on Thursday, November 18, 6PM at Asia Society and Museum, 725 Park Avenue (at 70th street), New York City. “Born into Brothels” chronicles the lives of the most stigmatized people in Calcutta's red light district: the children of prostitutes. Photojournalist Zana Briski traveled to one of India's most overcrowded regions to photograph the lives of women in brothels. Soon, her bond was extended to the children of the neighborhood. She gave them cameras and taught them to shoot. Together with co-director Ross Kauffman, Briski documents the lives of these children and their creative liberation through art. Winner of the Audience Award at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, Born into Brothels is a humorous and heartfelt story portraying the power of art and the courage of those willing to change their own lives. Photos taken by the children will be on display throughout the evening. A discission with Briski, Kauffman, Lina Srivastava from Kids with Cameras, and Ruchira Gupta, anti-trafficking expert, will follow the screening, highlighting the marginalization of these children and their increased vulnerability to AIDS. Kids with Cameras is a nonprofit organization that teaches photography to marginalized children throughout the world and works to provide scholarships for education beyond photography. For tickets, call 212-517-ASIA or visit www.asiasoc.org.
Kinding Sindaw in "Parang Sabil" (Sword of Honor), Photo by Corky Lee at Mulberry Street Theater
KINDING SINDAW: "Parang Sabil" (Sword of Honor), Kinding Sindaw's newest dance and music drama, will run Nov. 18-28 at LaMaMa ETC on 74A East Fourth Street in Manhattan. The production depicts the conquest of the Tausug people by the Americans, a historical event of the previous century now largely forgotten in Philippine and American histories. The story is immortalized in the "Parang Sabil" ballad of the Tausug people. Kinding Sindaw's adaptation intertwines Tausug dance, music and storytelling with commentary by American writer and journalist Mark Twain, who was morally outraged by the United States' brutal subjugation of the Philippines. For tickets, call 212- 475-7710 of visit www.lamama.org. For more information about the show or the company, call 212-982-2158 or visit www.kindingsindaw.org.
Kinding Sindaw's powerful adaptation intertwines Tausug dance, music and storytelling with the recreation of the 1906 massacre of the Tausugs, an event of American imperialism. [Abalos]
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