‘The Chinese Lady’ Has Bay Area Premiere at Magic Theatre

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Mina Morita of Crowded Fire Theater directs.

SAN FRANCISCO — Lloyd Suh’s “The Chinese Lady,” directed by Mina Morita, is having its Bay Area premiere through Nov. 3 at the Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, 2 Marina Blvd., Building D, Third Floor, San Francisco.

Mina Morita

“One of the joys of being a part of Magic is to experience playwrights over time, as their singular lens on the world sharpens,” said Artistic Director Loretta Greco. “There is perhaps no better example of this than the trajectory of Lloyd Suh’s work as he has grown from an adventurous emerging playwright (‘American Hwangap,’ ‘Jesus in India’) into the gravitas of mid-career. We are thrilled to welcome Lloyd and his revelatory ‘The Chinese Lady’ back home, to Magic, where this stirring play began.”

“It’s so meaningful to be able to bring this play to the Bay Area,” said Suh, “which was essential to the history it aims to excavate. It’s even more meaningful to bring it to Magic, which has been a critical artistic community to me for more than a decade. I’m honored and thrilled!”

“It is no small thing to consider whose gaze shapes history and therefore our current framing of the world,” said Morita. “This conjuring of Afong Moy, a person who really lived in our midst, is a graceful act of purpose — a reshaping of our understanding.”

Inspired by the true story of the first Chinese woman to arrive on American soil, “The Chinese Lady” follows Afong Moy after she is brought from China to America and put on display for an eager public yearning to learn of the exotic East. Leavened with humor and insight, Suh explores the way we consider both ourselves and others.

The cast features Rinabeth Apostol as Afong Moy and Will Dao as Atung.

In addition to Morita, the creative team includes Jacquelyn Scott (set design/props design), Abra Berman (costume design), Wen-Ling Liao (lighting design), Sara Huddleston (sound design), Liz Matos (stage manager) and Sonia Fernandez (dramaturg/local casting). The scenery is engineered and built by Acme Scenery Company. The producers are Nancy Livingston and Fred Levin.

The play runs approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. Showtimes: Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets, priced from $15 to $75, are available online at http://MagicTheatre.org; by calling (415) 441-8822; or visiting the box office, Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during non-performance dates. On performance dates, the box office is open Tuesday through Friday from 12 to 5 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday one hour prior to the show.

Magic Theatre is located in the Marina District of San Francisco, at the historic Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture. The entrance to Fort Mason is at the intersection of Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street. The performance schedule is Tuesday at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday – Saturday at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

About the Playwright

Lloyd Suh

Lloyd Suh is the author of “Charles Francis Chan Jr’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery” (NAATCO, Guthrie with Mu, and others), “Franklinland” (Jackalope), “The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go!” (Children’s Theatre Company, Ma-Yi with La Mama, ArtsEmerson, Cultural Center of the Philippines), “American Hwangap” (Magic Theatre, Ma-Yi, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Halcyon/A-Squared, and with PCPA in Seoul), “Jesus in India” (Magic, Ma-Yi), “Great Wall Story” (Denver Center), and others.

He has received support from the NEA Arena Stage New Play Development program, Andrew W. Mellon Launching New Plays initiative via the Lark, NYFA, NYSCA, Jerome, TCG, Dramatists Guild, and the New York Community Trust (Helen Merrill Award). He is an alum of Youngblood and the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, and from 2005-2010 served as artistic director of Second Generation and co-director of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab. He serves on the Dramatists Guild Council and has since 2011 served as director of artistic programs at The Lark.

About the Director

Mina Morita is the artistic director of Crowded Fire Theater, a critically acclaimed, intrepid company dedicated to developing a fierce contemporary theater canon that reflects the plurality of our world. Her directing credits include: “Crazy Wisdom” by Scoop Nisker at Berkeley Rep, “Sisters Matsumoto” by Philip Kan Gotanda at CenterRep, “By and By” by Lauren Gunderson and “The Great Divide” by Adam Chanzit at Shotgun Players, and “Both Your Houses” by Susan Soon He Stanton — a co-commission between ACT and Crowded Fire.

CFT directing credits include “Church” and “The Shipment” by Young Jean Lee (TBA nominated for best co-direction), Idris Goodwin’s “Blackademics,” Christopher Chen’s “A Tale of Autumn,” and “Banish Darkness,” an immersive collaboration between orchestral hip-hop, dance, and poetic theater. Previously, she served as artistic associate at Berkeley Rep and in 2016 she was chosen as one of the YBCA100 for “asking questions and making provocations that will shape the future of culture.”

About the Cast

Rinabeth Apostol

Rinabeth Apostol is happy to return to the Magic, where she was last seen in Jessica Hagedorn’s “Dogeaters.” 2018-19 season projects include “House of Joy” (CalShakes), “Vietgone” at Capital Stage, “King of the Yees” (SF Playhouse), “A Thousand Splendid Suns” (Seattle Rep, ACT) and the world premieres of “Two Mile Hollow” (Ferocious Lotus); and “we, the invisibles” (Humana Festival, ATL).

Select credits include: “The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga” (TheatreWorks); the West Coast premiere of “peerless” (Marin Theatre Company; BATCC Award winner, Principal Actress in a Play), “The Hard Problem” and “Monstress” (ACT), Eugenie Chan’s “Madame Ho,” “Othello” (Marin Theatre Company), “Aliens with Extraordinary Skills” (B Street Theatre), “The Kite Runner” and “Of Mice and Men” (San Jose Rep), and “Red” (TheatreWorks), as well as collaborations with Berkeley Rep, Playwrights Foundation, Crowded Fire, and Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, among others.

Apostol also appears onscreen in several independent films, commercials, and national campaigns. She is a proud member of PlayGround, Ferocious Lotus Theatre Company, and SAG/AFTRA. Up next: “Groundhog Day” at SF Playhouse. www.rinabeth.com

Will Dao

Will Dao is thrilled to return to the Magic, where he has previously participated in the Asian Explosion and Virgin Play Festivals. He spent four seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where he played Rocket Wu in “Snow in Midsummer,” Sam/Juliet in “Shakespeare in Love,” Peter Simple in “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” Asian Guy/American Guy/Nhan/Khue in “Vietgone,” Cleomenes in “The Winter’s Tale,” and Demetrius in “Antony and Cleopatra.” He was recently seen as Actor 3 in San Francisco Playhouse’s “King of the Yees.”

Additional credits include work with AATC, A.C.T., Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Bindlestiff, Central Works, Crowded Fire, Golden Thread, Killing My Lobster, LATC, NYMTF, Playground, Playwrights Foundation, Seattle Rep, Shotgun Players, and Theatreworks. He is a proud company member of Ferocious Lotus. He holds a B.A. in theater and East Asian studies from Oberlin College. www.willdao.com

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