Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang Photos: Rick Shiomi Checks out Performing Arts Playwrights Series in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection of Library of Congress; Attends “Asian American Plays for a New Generation” Book Signing in NY on 7/29

Rick Shiomi in the Asian Reading Room of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. on July 27, 2011. Photo by Lia Chang

Rick Shiomi in the Asian Reading Room of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. on July 27, 2011. Photo by Lia Chang

Tonight, I am meeting up with groundbreaking Asian-North American playwright, teacher, and taiko troupe leader, Rick Shiomi, who is making a rare NYC appearance to discuss and present readings from the new anthology “Asian American Plays for a New Generation” (Temple University Press, June 2011), which he co-edited with Josephine Lee and Don Eitel. Hosted by Julie Azuma and Tamio Spiegel, the event begins at 6:30pm at 12 West 18th Street, #3E in New York.

“Asian American Plays for a New Generation” features seven plays. Six of those were developed and produced by Mu Performing Arts, the Midwest’s foremost pan-Asian performing arts organization, founded in Minneapolis in 1992.

“Bahala Na” by Clarence Coo is about the relationship between a grandmother and her grandson who is gay. “Happy Valley,” by Aurorae Khoo, focuses on the plight of the Chinese in Hong Kong when the former British colony comes under Communist Chinese rule. “Asiamnesia,” by Sun Mee Chomet examines the issues facing Asian American women in theater and society. “Sia(b),” by May Lee Yang, is about a young Hmong woman understanding her own identity. “Walleye Kid, The Musical,” by Sundraya Kase, R.A. Shiomi and Kurt Miyashiro is based on the Japanese folktale, “The Peach Boy.” “Ching Chong Chinaman,” by Lauren Yee, is a comedy that explores the stereotype of Asians as “the model minority.” “Indian Cowboy,” by Zaraawar Mistry, focuses on pre- and post-9/11 life in America’s South Asian communities.

Lia Chang is Queen for the day, doing a monologue in the character of Queen Elizabeth II from "Happy Valley," by Aurorae Khoo, with Rick Shiomi on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 in the Mary Pickford Theater in the James Madison Building in Washington D.C. Photo by Reme Grefalda

Lia Chang is Queen for the day, doing a monologue in the character of Queen Elizabeth II from "Happy Valley," by Aurorae Khoo, with Rick Shiomi on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 in the Mary Pickford Theater in the James Madison Building in Washington D.C. Photo by Reme Grefalda


I shared the stage with Shiomi on Wednesday, July 27, at the Mary Pickford Theater in the James Madison Building in Washington D.C., during an event sponsored by the Library of Congress’Asian Division celebrating the release of “Asian American Plays for a New Generation”, where I got to be Queen for the day, when he handed me a monologue in the character of Queen Elizabeth II from “Happy Valley,” by Aurorae Khoo. Fun, fun fun!
Rick Shiomi views my display of photos “In Rehearsal”, drawn from the Lia Chang Theater Portfolio at the Library of Congress/AAPI Collection.  Photo by Lia Chang

Rick Shiomi views my display of photos “In Rehearsal”, drawn from the Lia Chang Theater Portfolio at the Library of Congress/AAPI Collection. Photo by Lia Chang


We headed back to the Asian Reading Room in the Jefferson Building where a display of my photographs titled “In Rehearsal” is on view through Aug. 2.
Lia Chang Theater Portfolio features Thom Sesma’s Makeup Transformation as Scar in Disney’s “The Lion King Las Vegas”; rehearsals of a staged concert of Robert Lee and Leon Ko’s musical “Heading East” starring BD Wong at the Asia Society in New York.  Photo by Lia Chang

Lia Chang Theater Portfolio features Thom Sesma’s Makeup Transformation as Scar in Disney’s “The Lion King Las Vegas”; rehearsals of a staged concert of Robert Lee and Leon Ko’s musical “Heading East” starring BD Wong at the Asia Society in New York. Photo by Lia Chang


Drawn from the Lia Chang Theater Portfolio, the 36 photographs on display feature Thom Sesma’s Makeup Transformation as Scar in Disney’s “The Lion King Las Vegas”; rehearsals of a staged concert of Robert Lee and Leon Ko’s musical “Heading East” starring BD Wong at the Asia Society in New York; of David Henry Hwang’s play, “ChingLish,” which premiered at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago this summer and is bound for Broadway this fall; and of “Bakwas Bumbug!,” a pop opera by Samrat Chakrabarti and Sanjiv Jhaveri, which recently made its off-Broadway debut.
Works by Christine Toy Johnson are on display in the Asian Reading Room of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. through August 2, 2011.  Photo by Lia Chang

Works by Christine Toy Johnson are on display in the Asian Reading Room of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. through August 2, 2011. Photo by Lia Chang


The photos are part of a display drawn from the Performing Arts Playwrights Series in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection, celebrating works by Asian American playwrights, which includes original scripts by Velina Hasu Houston, Christine Toy Johnson, Lani Montreal, Edgar Mendoza, Jeanne Sakata, as well as published scripts by Frank Chin, Philip Kan Gotanda, David Henry Hwang, Genny Lim, Chay Yew and others.
Performing Arts Playwrights Series in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection Photo by Lia Chang

Performing Arts Playwrights Series in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection Photo by Lia Chang


The Asian Division Reading Room is located in Room 150 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The hours are 8:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m.
Rick Shiomi checks out the Performing Arts Playwrights Series in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection Photo by Lia Chang

Rick Shiomi checks out the Performing Arts Playwrights Series in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection Photo by Lia Chang


The Library of Congress is a central repository for all types of Asian publications that are not broadly available at other locations in the United States. Initiated in 1869 with a gift of 10 works in 934 volumes offered to the United States by the Emperor of China, the Library’s Asian collection of more than 2 million items is the largest and most comprehensive outside of Asia. For more information about the division and its holdings, go to www.loc.gov/rr/asian/.
Performing Arts Playwrights Series in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection, celebrating works by Asian American playwrights, features original scripts by Velina Hasu Houston, Christine Toy Johnson, Lani Montreal, Edgar Mendoza, and Jeanne Sakata.  Photo by Lia Chang

Performing Arts Playwrights Series in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection, celebrating works by Asian American playwrights, features original scripts by Velina Hasu Houston, Christine Toy Johnson, Lani Montreal, Edgar Mendoza, and Jeanne Sakata. Photo by Lia Chang


Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at myLOC.gov.

Check back for my complete coverage of the collection.


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All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2011 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com.

Other Articles on “Asian American Plays for a New Generation” & “In Rehearsal”
Temple Press: Rick Shiomi recounts his tour for “Asian American Plays for a New Generation”
Mu Blog: Rick Shiomi’s Book Tour Logbook
knightarts.org: Reading on the road inside the book tour
Broadwayworld.com Photo Flash: Library of Congress’ IN REHEARSAL Exhibit
Lia Chang Theater Portfolio at Library of Congress Features Photos of Thom Sesma’s Makeup Transformation as Scar in Disney’s The Lion King Las Vegas, Robert Lee and Leon Ko’s Heading East Starring BD Wong, David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish, and Samrat Chakrabarti and Sanjiv Jhaveri’s Bakwas Bumbug! on View Through August 2
“Asian American Plays for a New Generation”, A New Anthology of Asian American Plays Is Subject of Book Talk
broadwayworld.com: Chinglish in Rehearsal
asiancemagazine.com: New Anthology of Asian American Plays Book Talk
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography


Lia Chang is an actor, performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

As a photographer and videographer, Lia collaborates with artists, organizations and companies in establishing their documentary photo archive and social media presence. She has been documenting her colleagues and contemporaries in the arts, fashion and journalism since making her stage debut as Liat in the National Tour of South Pacific, with Robert Goulet and Barbara Eden. Lia currently plays Nurse Lia on “One Life to Live”. She has appeared in Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and “New York Undercover”.

Selections of Lia’s archive of Asian Pacific Americans in the arts, fashion, journalism, politics and space are now in the newly created LIA CHANG THEATER PORTFOLIO in the ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN PERFORMING ARTS COLLECTION housed in the Library of Congress Asian Division’s Asian American Pacific Islander Collection.

Lia’s portraits and performance photos have appeared in Vanity Fair, Gourmet, German Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, The Paris Review, TV Guide, Daily Variety, Interior Design, American Theatre, Broadwayworld.com, Life & Style, OUT, New York Magazine, InStyle, Timeout.com, Villagevoice.com, Playbill.com, Theatermania.com, thelmagazine.com, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post. A former syndicated arts and entertainment columnist for KYODO News, Lia is the New York Bureau Chief for AsianConnections.com. She writes about culture, style and Asian American issues for a variety of publications and this Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog.

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