jakub | April 22, 2023

AMERICAN THEATRE | Theater Mu to Host AAPI Generations Conference


David Henry Hwang (photo by John Pinderhughes), Amy Hill (photo by Brian Bowen Smith), and Rick Shiomi (photo by Lia Chang).

ST. PAUL, MINN.: Theater Mu will host the AAPI Generations Conference May 19-21 at Park Square Theatre in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month along with Theatre Mu’s 30th anniversary. The event will include guests of honor David Henry Hwang, Amy Hill, and Mu co-founding artistic director Rick Shiomi. The opening plenary will feature University of Minnesota professor and Asian American theatre historian Dr. Josephine Lee discussing with Hwang, Hill, and Shiomi their experiences and the changes they’ve seen in Asian American theatre.

“Our 30th anniversary seemed like a perfect time to not only look back on the history
of Mu, but place it in context with the creation and rise of Asian American theatre nationally,” said artistic director Lily Tung Crystal in a statement. “Just as our communities have been incredibly resilient, so has Asian American theatre since its inception. This event is not only a chance for us to salute our elders and for them to gather and reconnect, but it’s also a space for early-career artists to introduce their work and all generations to be in conversation with each other. Together we can usher in the next 30 years and more.”

Highlights of the weekend include a performance by TaikoArts Midwest and the New Eyes play-reading festival, Mu’s longest running tradition. This year’s New Eyes line-up includes a special reading of seminal scenes hand-picked by AAPI theatre elders Hwang, Shiomi, Philip Kan Gotanda, Diana Son, Velina Hasu Houston, and Hill (who is also performing). The festival will also include new works such as Holy Shitake: A Wok-Star Was Born, Katie Chin’s tribute to her mother, local restaurateur Leann Chin.

The closing plenary with More Than a Single Story features Tung Crystal, Ananya Chatterjea of Ananya Dance Theatre, and Lana Barkawi of Mizna, in conversation with multidisciplinary artist Meghan Kreidler about their experiences as Asian American women leaders in the arts.

The rest of the schedule is filled with other community- and Mu-led breakout sessions. Sessions by Wattanak Dance Troupe and Asian Media Access will offer presentations on classical Khmer dancing and the Stop Asian Hate movement from a non-Western perspective. New York-based artist Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin will be discussing how to break down the gender binary in art and everyday life. One panel led by scenic designer Mina Kinukawa will look at the experiences of Asian theatre designers, while another panel will look at writing, casting, and directing inside and outside the Asian American diaspora.

Registration for the AAPI Generations Conference is now open and uses pay-as-you-can ticketing. Attendees who can cover the fair market pricing of the event ($100) are asked to do so. Those who need to can pay as little as $50 per ticket. People can attend the New Eyes Festival readings at no charge.

Theater Mu is one of the largest Asian American theatre companies in the nation and the largest in the Midwest. Founded in 1992, Mu tells stories from the heart of the Asian American experience, presenting a fusion of traditional and contemporary artistic influences, which range from classics to up-and-coming voices in the community. Theater Mu seeks to celebrate and empower the Asian American community via mainstage productions, emerging artist support, and educational outreach programs.

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