Melody Butiu, Kevin Daniels, Fran de Leon, Emily Kuroda, and Jeanne Sakata are featured in the world premiere of Velina Hasu Houston’s new play Calligraphy, presented by Playwrights’ Arena and Latino Theatre Company at LATC (Los Angeles Theatre Center), 514 S. Spring Street in Los Angeles, which begins previews on November 10 and will run through December 12. Opening night is November 12. Jon Lawrence Rivera, Artistic Director of Playwrights’ Arena directs.
With the humor that survival demands, two cousins—one in Los Angeles and one in Tokyo—struggle to navigate change and find new ways of defining themselves as they confront their mothers’ aging. Blending comedy with drama, Houston explores an international family complicated by interracial marriage, feminism, and culture as the West and East collide and converge in adventurous and challenging ways.
Internationally acclaimed playwright Velina Hasu Houston has written over thirty plays including fifteen commissions in a career that began Off-Broadway with TEA at Manhattan Theatre Club and AMERICAN DREAMS at Negro Ensemble Company. In addition to Calligraphy, Houston has several plays, a libretto and a novel in the mix. She is currently working on a new play called The Blacker The Berry about three mixed race women whose lives converge in Los Angeles, and is under commission at LA Opera for a new libretto. Her latest play, The Territory of Dreams, has been described as a feminist, post-Crash (the film) view of life in Los Angeles. She recently completed a novel adaptation of her play TEA.
Houston’s plays have been presented at the Old Globe Theatre, George Street Playhouse, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Smithsonian Institution, Whole Theatre (Olympia Dukakis, producer), NHK (Japan nationwide), Pasadena Playhouse, Syracuse Stage, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, and others including in the People’s Republic of China, Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia. She has been honored by Japan Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, California Arts Council, Sidney F. Brody Foundation, Sidney Poitier, American Film Institute, Pinter Review Prize for Drama, Women in Theatre, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize (finalist), Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics New Play Award (finalist), and others. For film, she has written for Columbia Pictures, PBS, and several indie producers. She is Co-producer of the documentary “Desert Dreamers” (Tivoli Entertainment), narrated by Peter Fonda and premiered by PBS-KQED. She is published by Dramatists’ Play Service, Vintage Books, Smith & Krause, Los Angeles Times, American Theatre, Pacific Citizen, Mademoiselle, Kansas City Star and others. She is a member of Dramatists’ Guild, Writers Guild of America-West, and the League of Professional Theatre Women. Houston serves on the US Department of State’s Japan-US Friendship Commission, US-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange, and Japan-US Bridging Foundation. She served as Research Advisor for Contemporary British, Irish, and American Poetic Drama and Theatre, Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. At the University of Southern California School of Theatre, she is founder of the Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing, Professor of Theatre, Associate Dean of Faculty, Director of Dramatic Writing, and Resident Playwright. Her works are archived in The Library of Congress and The Huntington Library. http://www.velinahasuhouston.com
Playwrights’ Arena, under the leadership of artistic director Jon Lawrence Rivera, is dedicated to discovering, nurturing and producing bold new works for the stage written exclusively by Los Angeles playwrights. Playwrights Arena was founded in 1992 by Jon Lawrence Rivera and Steve Tyler. The Latino Theater Company has demonstrated over 23 years of commitment to creating and producing some of the most exciting main stage theater in the Los Angeles area. It was founded in 1985 by current Artistic Director, Jose Luis Valenzuela.
Diane Levine is the producer and Luis Alfaro is the dramaturg. The design team includes Ann Sheffield, scenic design; Debra Lockwood, lighting design; Robert Blackburn, sound design; Nathan Wang, original music design; and Drew Bird, costume design.
Previews for Calligraphy are November 10 and 11 at 8:00 pm. The production closes on December 12. The performance schedule runs Thursdays-Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 3:00 pm. For tickets go to www.thelatc.org or call (213) 489-0994, Ext. 107. LATC is located at 514 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles, California 90013.
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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.
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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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