Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang Photos: Christine Toy Johnson, Angela Lin, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Susan Hyon, Jake Manabat, David Shih in Jen Silverman’s Crane Story at The Cherry Lane

Christine Toy Johnson and David Shih Photo by Lia Chang

Christine Toy Johnson and David Shih Photo by Lia Chang

Last week, I documented the first night of tech for the world premiere of Jen Silverman’s Crane Story, helmed by Katherine Kovner and presented by The Playwrights Realm, at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York.

David Shih, Jake Manabat and Angela Lin Photo by Lia Chang

David Shih, Jake Manabat and Angela Lin Photo by Lia Chang

Inspired by the Japanese legend of the Crane Wife, Jen Silverman’s odyssey unfolds in the space between two worlds as Cassis, a Japanese American girl played by Angela Lin, embarks on a quest to save her brother’s soul from the Land of the Dead.

Stage manager Joanne E. McInerney helps Louis Ozawa Changchien with his costume. Photo by Lia Chang

Stage manager Joanne E. McInerney helps Louis Ozawa Changchien with his costume. Photo by Lia Chang

Crane Story interweaves Japanese Bunraku-inspired puppetry, music, and folklore to weave a universal story of love, loss and life. The title of the play is derived from the ancient Japanese Myth of The Crane, a mystical creature that can live a thousand years and, to anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes, can grant a wish.

Angela Lin and Louis Ozawa Changchien Photo by Lia Chang

Angela Lin and Louis Ozawa Changchien Photo by Lia Chang

Louis Ozawa Changchien, Susan Hyon, Christine Toy Johnson, Angela Lin, Jake Manabat, Barret O’Brien and David Shih are featured in the Crane Story at the Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce Street in New York, from September 6 – October 1, 2011. Crane Story previews begin Tuesday, September 6, at 8:00pm for an opening Thursday, September 15, at 8:00pm. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8:00pm with an additional performance on Monday, September 12, at 8:00pm.

Susan Hyon and Angela Lin Photo by Lia Chang

Susan Hyon and Angela Lin Photo by Lia Chang

Creating the Bunraku-inspired puppets is Puppet Kitchen.

Susan Hyon, David Shih and Jake Manabat navigate their puppets. Photo by Lia Chang

Susan Hyon, David Shih and Jake Manabat navigate their puppets. Photo by Lia Chang

“The play has been such a personal journey for me,” said Ms. Silverman, who grew up in a number different countries including Japan and was influenced by a cultural grab-bag of stories like Hansel & Gretel, Norse mythology and The Crane Wife. “I’m also still asking myself questions about all of the different worlds in the play-the underworld, the rainy spirit world, Tokyo- and how these worlds build on each other and where they connect.”

Louis Ozawa Changchien and Angela Lin Photo by Lia Chang

Louis Ozawa Changchien and Angela Lin Photo by Lia Chang

The Playwrights Realm, under the leadership of Artistic Director Katherine Kovner and Producing Director Stephanie Ybarra, is New York’s largest theater dedicated solely to supporting early-career playwrights through Off-Broadway productions, new plays and the professional development of playwrights.

Concentrating on emerging young playwrights, The Playwrights Realm produces only a single full Off Broadway play each year. This year that one full production of this five-year-old developmental theatre company is Crane Story, developed over four years with a series of workshops and readings.

Christine Toy Johnson  Photo by Lia Chang

Christine Toy Johnson Photo by Lia Chang

Previous Playwrights Realm full productions include last season’s Gonzalo Rodriguez Risco’s Dramatis Personae (2010), Christopher Wall’s Dreams of the Washer King (2010), Anna Ziegler’s Dov and Ali (2009) and Anton Dudley’s Substitution (2008).

Christine Toy Johnson  Photo by Lia Chang

Christine Toy Johnson Photo by Lia Chang

Scenery is by Michael Locher, lights by Ji-Youn Chang and costumes by Moria Clinton. Music and sound is by Nathan Roberts. The production stage manager is Joanne E. McInerney.

Jen Silverman, American born, was raised in America, Europe and Asia. Her plays have been developed with New Georges, where she is an Affiliated Artist, New York Stage & Film, Powerhouse Theatre Company at Vassar College, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, the hotINK International Festival, The Lark Playwrights Week and Seven Devils Playwrights Conference. Her work has been produced in the NYC International Fringe Festival, in New Mexico, Seattle, D.C. and L.A., and her short play The Education of Macoloco won the 2009 Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Play Festival and was published by Samuel French. Ms. Silverman just received a commission for a new play from InterAct Theatre and the NNPN.

Louis Ozawa Changchien and Angela Lin with director Katherine Kovner. Photo by Lia Chang

Louis Ozawa Changchien and Angela Lin with director Katherine Kovner. Photo by Lia Chang

Katherine Kovner founded The Playwrights Realm five years ago. For Playwrights Realm she has directed Dov and Ali by Anna Zeigler and Substitution by Anton Dudley. Other directing credits include Roxy Font by Liza Lentini at the New York Fringe Festival (four stars from Time Out magazine) and won the Fringe’s Best Ensemble Award, Elliot: A Soldier’s Fugue by Quiara Allegra Huades at Luna Stage, Iphigenia and Other Daughters by Ellen McLaughlin also at Luna Stage and Lizardskin by Jen Silverman at The New York Fringe Festival. She has developed work with New York Theater Workshop, Soho Rep, New Dramatists, New Georges, EST and Classic Stage Company where she was an Artistic Associate. Ms. Kovner is a member of the Lincoln Center’s Director Lab and an affiliated artist with New Georges.

Louis Ozawa Changchien and Angela Lin Photo by Lia Chang

Louis Ozawa Changchien and Angela Lin Photo by Lia Chang

Crane Story performs Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8:00pm with an additional performance Monday, September 12, at 8:00pm.

Tickets for Crane Story are $30 and available through TeleCharge at 212-239-6200 or online at www.playwrightsrealm.org.
September 6 – October 1
Cherry Lane Theatre
Crane Story
Cherry Lane Theatre
38 Commerce Street (Off 7th Avenue, 1 block south of Bleecker)
Buy-One-Get-One discount at broadwayoffers.com, includes $31 for 2 tickets.

Other Articles by Lia Chang
Photos: Yellow Fever Playwright Rick Shiomi Explores New Territory with An All-Female Cast
Photos: Working Theater’s Production of Rob Ackerman’s CALL ME WALDO at Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex through March 11, 2012
Photos: Larry Bryggman, Denise Burse, Peter Jay Fernandez, Tim Hopper, Arliss Howard, Kobi Libii, Mary McCann, Neil Pepe, David Pittu, Steve Rosen, Sheila Tapia, Debra Winger at Atlantic Theatre’s Opening Night of Gabe McKinley’s CQ/CX
Athol Fugard’s Blood Knot, starring Colman Domingo & Scott Shepherd in The Alice Griffith Jewel Box at The Pershing Square Signature Center through March 11, 2012
Linsanity: Sport Illustrated Cover Guy New York Knicks Starting Point Guard Jeremy Lin
Broadwayworld.com Photo Flash: Library of Congress’ IN REHEARSAL Exhibit
Up Close and Personal with Darren Pettie, Star of The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore
The Playwrights Realm Presents Jen Silverman’s CRANE STORY at the Cherry Lane Theatre, 9/6-10/1
Coming to America through The Angel Island Immigration Station
Celebrating my mom – AN ACTIVE VISION: BEVERLY UMEHARA…LABOR ACTIVIST…1945-1999
Jarlath Conroy Leads Cast of Pinter’s The Homecoming at CENTERSTAGE in Baltimore
Jarlath Conroy in The SEAGULL
Juicy Buns at Ollie’s
The Dish on Susur Lee and Shang
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, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist.

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 lia@backstagepasswithliachang.com.

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