Gotanda’s ‘I Dream of Chang and Eng’ at UCSC

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SANTA CRUZ — Philip Kan Gotanda’s “I Dream of Chang and Eng” will be performed from May 25 to June 3 at the Mainstage Theater at UC Santa Cruz’s Theater Arts Center.

“I Dream of Chang and Eng” follows the story of the original Siamese twins as they attempt to re-mount their successful European “freak-show” tour under the watchful eye of circus impresario P.T. Barnum. From this perspective, the twins look back on their life together — a childhood in Siam (Thailand), a long voyage across the ocean, life on a plantation in America — and their search for meaning in a life spent center stage.

Featuring puppetry, a Greek chorus, and freak-show trickery, the play spans three continents and several decades in a sweeping, surrealistic journey of discovery.

Philip Kan Gotanda and Mochi.

Showtimes are Friday and Saturday, May 25-26, at 7 p.m.; Sunday, May 27, at 3 p.m.; Thursday, May 31, Friday and Saturday, June 1-2, at 7 p.m.; Sunday, June 3, at 3 p.m. Doors open 30 minutes before curtain. Running time is approximately 2 hours, 15 minutes (including one intermission).

There will be post-show talk-backs after both Saturday performances — with director Gina Marie Hayes and members of the cast on May 26 and with Gotanda, UCSC alumna and writer/performer Brenda Wong Aoki, and musician Mark Izu on June 2.

Admission is $15 general, $12 for seniors (62+) and students with ID. Special offer: Buy one, get one free on May 27 and 31.

For tickets, call the UCSC Ticket Office, (831) 459-2159, or Santa Cruz Civic (831) 420-5260; email [email protected]; or visit http://arts.ucsc.edu/news_events/”i-dream-chang-and-eng“.

About the Playwright

Over the last three decades, Gotanda has composed many plays designed to broaden theater in America. Through his plays and advocacy, he has been instrumental in bringing stories of Asians in the United States to mainstream American theater, as well as to Europe and Asia. The creator of one of the largest bodies of Asian American-themed work, Gotanda’s plays and films are studied and performed at universities and schools across the country.

Gotanda wrote the text for and directed the production of then-Berkeley Symphony Orchestra Maestro Kent Nagano’s “Manzanar: An American Story,” an original symphonic work with narration, in 2005.

“After the War,” which premiered at the American Conservatory Theater in 2007, chronicles San Francisco’s Japantown in the late 1940s, when Japanese Americans returning from the internment camps encountered a flourishing African American jazz scene.

A Japanese translation of Gotanda’s “Sisters Matsumoto” opened in Tokyo with the Mingei Geikidan Company. The play focuses on a Japanese American farming family returning to Stockton after World War II.

“The Wind Cries Mary” is set in the tumultuous heyday of social upheaval that was San Francisco in 1968, while “Ballad of Yachiyo” is about a girl’s coming of age in Hawaii in 1919. In “A Fist of Roses,” Gotanda explores male violence; in “Under the Rainbow,” he looks at racial and gender stereotypes.

Gotanda’s other plays include “A Song for a Nisei Fisherman,” “Yankee Dawg You Die,” and “Fish Head Soup.”

He is also a respected independent filmmaker whose works have been seen in film festivals around the world. His films include “The Kiss” and “Life Tastes Good.”

Gotanda holds a law degree from Hastings College of Law, studied pottery in Japan with the late Hiroshi Seto, and resides in Berkeley with his actress-producer wife, Diane Takei.

His play collections include “No More Cherry Blossoms” and “Fish Head Soup and Other Plays,’ published by the University of Washington Press. Other published plays include “The Wash,” “The Dream of Kitamura,” “Day Standing on Its Head, and “Yohen.” (The latter play was performed by Danny Glover and the late Nobu McCarthy at East West Players.)

Among other honors, Gotanda has received Guggenheim, Pew Charitable Trust, Rockefeller, and National Endowment for the Arts awards, and he has been recognized by such organizations as the Japan Society of Northern California, National Japanese American Historical Society, Asian American Theater Company, and the City of Stockton.

For more information, visit his website, www.philipkangotanda.com, or his Facebook page.

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