I had two people contact me to help promote some events that deal with Asian culture and Asian Pacific Heritage Month. I thought I would highlight them here as we are coming up on Asian Pacific Heritage Month. One is a children’s play which is set in China during the Qing Dynasty. The other is an award-winning documentary film which is part of the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival.
The Emperor’s Nightingale – All Asian Cast
For all ages: Adventure Theater Musical Theater Center in Glen Echo, MD is putting on the play “The Emperor’s Nightingale”.
The Emperor’s Nightingale premiers on April 22, 2016, so I have not seen it yet. It runs until May 30, 2016. This play is an adaptation of “The Nightingale” by Hans Christian Andersen and it takes place in 18th Century China during the Qing Dynasty.
What makes this play unique is that it features an all-Asian-American cast, playwright, director, choreographer, lighting designer, costume designer, and Princess Grace Award recipient scenic designer, Hana Sooyeon Kim. Wow! That is extraordinary that ATMTC has made this an all Asian cast.
It is fabulous that our children have a chance to see actors who look like themselves, as well as so many behind the scenes artists. I applaud Adventure Theater for bringing both this show and the all-Asian cast to its lineup in 2016 and for celebrating Asian Pacific Heritage Month with this show.
Why is this so special?
I book the cultural arts assemblies for the PTA at my child’s school. And I am also the Asian Culture Chair, so I always give all of my money for the Asian Culture committee to the Cultural Arts and Assemblies Committee to get an Asian assembly each year. And it is not that easy to book Asian artists. There are just not as many as I would like. I have booked Asian artists for three years and two out of those three years I have booked traveling artists because I could not get much locally. And the one show I booked that was local was the Smithsonian Associates Discovery Theater on Tour presenting Asian tales in a show called “Tigers, Dragons and Other Wise Tales“. They did a fabulous job with this show, but were the actors Asian? I didn’t ask, but none of the actors looked particularly Asian to me. It was possible that they were. The actor who announced he was from Japan looked white to me, but he didn’t say he was Japanese, only he was from Japan.
I asked Adventure Theater to send me the press release so I could find out about the show before I see it. Here is a little about what the story is about.
This brand-new adaptation is set in the Qing Dynasty, eighteenth century China, and brings to light the younger days of Emperor Qian Long, who would become one of the greatest rulers of the Middle Kingdom. It takes a magical bird to help the headstrong and aimless prince to become a true leader.
Natsu Onoda Power, director of the production and assistant professor of theater in Georgetown University’s Department of Performing Arts, says of the production, “A young leader, a prince, who learns to prioritize the people he serves over his personal aspirations; he learns to listen to and act on behalf of the underrepresented. It’s such a timely and beautiful story to tell in Washington, DC right now.”
Tickets are available now for the show.
Reunification – a documentary about the contemporary immigrant experience.
This award-winning film will have its Washington, D.C. premiere screening at the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival on Saturday, April 23 at 6pm at The Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema (807 V Street, NW Washington, DC 20001).
Between faded family photographs, old video footage, and interviews collected through the years, Alvin Tsang’s REUNIFICATION bears the look and feel of a documentary that’s taken decades to produce. Perhaps it required all that time for Tsang to fully process his family’s history and confront his own emotionally turbulent upbringing. For the audience though, that passing of time is key to the film’s powerful portrayal of tireless emotional reconciliation.
When his mother and two siblings first immigrated from Hong Kong to Los Angeles in the early 1980s, six-year-old Alvin was forced to stay behind with his working, and consequently absent, father. Spending the following three years often alone in an empty apartment, he longed for his family’s reunification. However, upon Alvin and his father’s arrival to America, that dream was utterly and permanently shattered under circumstances the filmmaker has yet to fully comprehend to this day.
REUNIFICATION is Tsang’s poetic and self-reflexive exploration of many unresolved years – poetic in its wonderfully articulated narration and in its restraint as he grasps for any semblance of explanation. Backed by an achingly beautiful score, the film moves moodily across different channels and modes, bending into labor histories and Hong Kong’s colonial trajectories, wading in the mire of nostalgia, grief, and confusion that is his past. And in his search for answers, Tsang turns the camera on his own family, cautiously prodding for answers, but fully acknowledging that the only closure he can get will be from deciding for himself how to move on. –Brandon Yu
My Tsang recommends that it is for age 15 and older. Here is the screening and ticket information.
Here is the trailer for Reunification