Creating Together: A.C.T., Ma-Yi Theater Company, and This Year's New Strands Festival

By Elspeth Sweatman

At this year’s New Strands Festival—a week-long presentation of new theatrical pieces, works in progress, readings, and experimental works by innovative, multi-disciplinary artists—East Coast meets West Coast. A.C.T. is partnering with New York’s Ma-Yi Theater Company to present three new works by Asian American playwrights. Ma-Yi is one of the country’s leading incubators of new work shaping the national discourse about what it means to be Asian American today.

Artwork for A.C.T.'s 2017 New Strands Festival.
The three Ma-Yi plays that are part of A.C.T.’s inaugural New Strands Residency Program are: The Great Leap by Lauren Yee, The Man from Saigon by Don Nguyen, and Snowflakes, Or Rare White People by Dustin Chinn.

Inspired by events in her father’s life, The Great Leap by Lauren Yee centers on an American college basketball team as they travel to Beijing for a “friendship” game in the post-Cultural Revolution 1980s. Cultures clash as both countries try to tease out the politics behind this newly popular sport.

Don Nguyen was also inspired by his parent’s story. A political thriller set in 1975 Saigon, The Man from Saigon tells the story of a South Vietnamese intelligence agent who forges a complicated friendship with Richard Armitage, a charismatic US officer who would later become George W. Bush’s deputy secretary of state.

The third Ma-Yi play, Snowflakes, Or Rare White People by Dustin Chinn, is set in a non-dystopian future in which the dwindling white American population is protected by the federal government. When two of the last White Americans are brought to Nueva York’s Museum of Natural History and are “freed” by a disgruntled activist, is America ready for their return?

“These are all writers who are zeroed in on today’s American culture—its contradictions, its divisive politics, its future,” says A.C.T. Associate Artistic Director Andy Donald. “We could not be more thrilled to share Lauren, Don, and Dustin’s searing, often hilarious, deeply personal, and poignant work and watch it continue to grow with this esteemed group of directors and our San Francisco audience.”

For more information about this year’s New Strands Festival, running May 17–21 at The Strand Theater, 1127 Market St, click here.

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