Danny Glover, June Angela to Star in Revival of Philip Gotanda’s ‘Yohen’

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Danny Glover and June Angeles play James and Sumi Washington in “Yohen.”

East West Players (EWP) and The Robey Theatre Company (RTC) are pleased to announce that screen, stage, and television actor Danny Glover and Emmy Award-winning actress June Angela will star in a revival of Philip Kan Gotanda’s “Yohen,” which The Los Angeles Times has praised as “a sprawling performance” and The New York Times has described as “loaded with meaning.”

Directed by Ben Guillory, producing artistic director of RTC, “Yohen” begins performances on Oct. 26, with opening night on Nov. 1.

A co–production between EWP and RTC, “Yohen” had its world premiere at EWP’s David Henry Hwang Theater in 1999, featuring Glover as James Washington and the late Nobu McCarthy as Sumi Washington.

In Japanese pottery, the term “yohen” refers to unpredictable changes that take place in the kiln. James and Sumi Washington are an interracial couple struggling to maintain their 37-year marriage after James retires from the U.S. Army. The dramatic change in routine prompts questions about life, love, and aging, as the couple attempts to repair what’s broken and decide what is worth saving.

“In a season entirely composed of partnerships and co-productions, it’s an honor and privilege to reunite with The Robey Theater Company on this revival of ‘Yohen’ by Philip Kan Gotanda, with Danny Glover reprising the role he first originated,” says EWP Producing Artistic Director Snehal Desai. “East West Players first presented the world premiere of ‘Yohen’ in 1999, and just like the exquisite handmade pottery at the heart of the play, the impact of this story has deepened with time, alongside the strong partnership between our two organizations. We are proud to include The Robey as part of The Company We Keep.”

“The Robey Theatre Company is thrilled to once again collaborate with East West Players to present the revival of the play ‘Yohen’ by Philip Kan Gotanda,” says Guillory. “When our two theaters came together to mount Philip’s two-person play in 1999 with Danny Glover and Nobu McCarthy, we knew we had the ingredients for an exceptional and dynamic artistic combination — one that comes along rarely. The examination of a marital relationship is not new, but the intricacies of its inner workings are always fascinating.

‘This current production with Danny returning as James and the extraordinary artist June Angela as Sumi will further examine this. The revelation in ‘Yohen’ is that there are no fixed and absolute answers; there’s only that ephemeral element we each define as love.”

A native of San Francisco, Glover trained at the Black Actors’ Workshop of the American Conservatory Theatre. It was his Broadway debut in Fugard’s “Master Harold…and the Boys” that brought him national recognition and led director Robert Benton to cast him in his first leading role in 1984’s “Places in the Heart,” an Academy Award nominee for best picture. The following year, Glover starred in two more best-picture nominated films: Peter Weir’s “Witness” and Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple.” In 1987, Glover partnered with Mel Gibson in the first “Lethal Weapon” film and went on to star in three hugely successful sequels.

Glover starred in “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “To Sleep With Anger,” which he executive-produced and for which he won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Actor. He co-founded The Robey Theatre Company with Guillory in 1994.

Angela received Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominations for best leading actress in “Shogun: The Musical.” Other theater credits include playing Tuptim in the Broadway and London Palladium original revival of “The King and I” with Yul Brynner. Angela was honored by Off-Broadway’s Pan Asian Repertory Theater and won a Theater Guild Award as best lead actress in Velena Hasu Houston’s “Tea.” She has starred in productions at the Public Theater, Lincoln Center, LA Theater Works, and Kennedy Center, among others.

TV credits include playing Madam Xing, the family fortune teller, on ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” and being a regular with Pat Morita on his short-lived sitcom “Mr. T and Tina.” She also performed the voice of Anne Frank in National Public Radio’s award-winning “Remembering Anne Frank.” Angela was a regular with Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno on the PBS children’s series “The Electric Company,” for which she received Grammy and Emmy awards.

The creative team includes Christopher Scott Murillo (scenic designer), Michael Ricks (lighting designer), Cory Carrillo (sound designer), Naila Aladdin Sanders (costume designer), Glenn Michael Baker (prop master), and Brandon Hong Cheng (stage manager).

All performances of “Yohen” will be staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso St. in Little Tokyo. Previews are Oct. 26 through 29, with 8 p.m. shows from Thursday to Saturday, and a 2 p.m. matinee show on Sunday. All preview seats are $30.

Regular performances are from Thursday, Nov. 2, through Sunday, Nov. 19, with 8 p.m. shows from Thursday to Saturday, and 2 p.m. matinee shows on Saturday and Sunday. Opening night is Wednesday, Nov. 1, at 8 p.m. The production runs until Nov. 19.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.eastwestplayers.org or by calling (213) 625-7000, making sure to mention any wheelchair/accessible seating needs. Student, senior, and group discounts are available. General admission ticket prices range from $40 to $60.

“Yohen” is part of The Company We Keep, EWP’s 52nd anniversary season, which focuses on community and partnerships. The S. Mark Taper Foundation Endowment supports the continued artistic quality of EWP’s mainstage productions.

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