Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang Photos: Playwright Lonnie Carter Talks TRIM, The Tiger Woods What If Story, The Romance of Magno Rubio and The Lost Boys of Sudan

Gelo Francisco, Jon Jon Briones, Antoine Reynaldo Diel and Jet Montalibano / Photo by Hydee Abrahan/Studio 1003A critically acclaimed production of Lonnie Carter’s OBIE award-winning The Romance of Magno Rubio is currently playing through December 11, 2011 at [Inside] the Ford in Hollywood, in rep with the world premiere of Ang Romansa ni Magno Rubio, a new translation in Tagalog, with five performances each week, three in English and two in Tagalog. The productions of The Romance of Magno Rubio / Ang Romansa ni Magno are directed and translated by Bernardo Bernardo who appeared in Ma-Yi’s Off-Broadway production of The Romance of Magno Rubio in New York, and are presented by PAE Live! in association with Good Shepherd Ambulance Company.

(l-r) Paolo Montalban, director Loy Arcenas, playwright Lonnie Carter, Ramon de Ocampo, JoJo Gonzalez , Arthur Acuna and Bernardo Bernardo at the May 27, 2007 opening night party of The Romance of Magno Rubio at Cendrillion in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

(l-r) Paolo Montalban, director Loy Arcenas, playwright Lonnie Carter, Ramon de Ocampo, JoJo Gonzalez , Arthur Acuna and Bernardo Bernardo at the May 27, 2007 opening night party of The Romance of Magno Rubio at Cendrillion in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

A high-energy stage adaptation of Carlos Bulosan’s seminal short story about a love struck Filipino migrant worker in 1930s California, The Romance of Magno Rubio uses clever word play, rhymes, rhythms and Philippine love songs (“kundimans”) to reveal the lives of migrant workers, their struggles and dreams, and their longings for home and a better life.

Jon Jon Briones (Magno Rubio), Antoine Diel (Prudencio), Elizabeth Rainey (Clarabelle), and Muni Zano (narrator) each appear in both the English (E) and Tagalog (T) casts, while Giovanni Ortega (E) and Frederick Edwards (T) share the role of Nick; Erick Esteban (E) and Gelo Francisco (T) are Claro; and Eymard Cabling (E) and Jet Montelibano (T) double as Atoy.

The Romance of Magno Rubio premiered off Broadway in 2002 at New York’s Ma-Yi Theatre Company where it received rave reviews and eight OBIE citations. That production subsequently traveled to the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila, then received its West Coast premiere at the Laguna Playhouse. Other notable productions include the Midwest debut at Victory Gardens in Chicago and the Los Angeles premiere at LATC.

The Romance of Magno Rubio / Ang Romansa ni Magno runs through December 11. Performances in English are on Thursdays and Fridays @ 8pm and Sundays @ 3 pm. Performances in Tagalog are on Saturdays @ 3 pm and 8 pm. The performance on Sunday, Dec. 4 (in English) will be signed for the hearing impaired. Tickets are $25. Full-time students with ID are $12.

[Inside] the Ford is located in the Ford Theatres complex at 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood, CA 90068, just off the 101 Hollywood Freeway across from the Hollywood Bowl and south of Universal Studios. On-site, non-stacked parking is free. For reservations and information, call the Ford Theatres Box Office at 323.461.3673 (323.GO1.FORD) or go to www.FordTheatres.org.

I first met Carter in 1993, when I portrayed Princess Noel opposite André De Shields in Gulliver, the first in his trilogy of The Gulliver Plays, at La MaMa in New York.

 André De Shields and Lia Chang in a scene from Lonnie Carter's Gulliver at La MaMa in New York, September 1993.

André De Shields and Lia Chang in a scene from Lonnie Carter’s Gulliver at La MaMa in New York, September 1993.

 

Playwright Lonnie Carter Photo by Lia Chang

Playwright Lonnie Carter Photo by Lia Chang

Carter’s plays have been produced by The Yale Repertory Theater, the American Place Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, the Long Wharf Theater and at the first Asian-American Theater Festival in New York City (2007), the Los Angeles Theater Center’s Latino Theater Festival (also 2007) and festivals abroad (the Philippines and Romania). His plays include China Calls, The Sovereign State of Boogedy Boogedy, The Gulliver Plays (Lemuel, Gulliver, and Gulliver Redux, published by Broadway Play Publishing), Baby Glo, Wheatley (the Colonial HippeHoppe story of Phillis Wheatley), Concerto Chicago, and most recently The Lost Boys of Sudan, produced by the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis (Tony Winner for Best Regional Theatre 2003). The Lost Boys (and Girl) of Sudan was produced by Victory Gardens in 2010.

André De Shields, Roenia Thompson, Gillian Glasco, Sean Phillips, Lonnie Carter, Forrest McClendon and Alexander Elisa Photo by Lia Chang

(L-R) André De Shields, Roenia Thompson, Gillian Glasco, Sean Phillips, Lonnie Carter, Forrest McClendon and Alexander Elisa Photo by Lia Chang

The Sovereign State of Boogedy Boogedy, perhaps Carter’s signature play was given a staged reading last Valentine’s Day by the Negro Ensemble Company (the NEC), which starred and was directed by André De Shields. The response was so overwhelming that a full production is being planned within the next year. Boogedy was first done at Victory Gardens Theater and then Woodie King’s New Federal Theatre and then again at Victory Gardens and keeps being re-written to reflect the changing times.

Carter is a charter member of the Victory Gardens Playwrights’ Ensemble. (Victory Gardens was the Tony Winner for Best Regional Theatre 2001). He is an Alumnus of New Dramatists in New York and the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. He is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and Marquette University, a Guggenheim Fellow and twice a Fellow of the National Endowment of the Arts and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts. He is an Associate Teacher at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in the Dramatic Writing Program.

Danyon Davis, Jose Joaquin Perez, Nambi E. Kelley, Forrest McClendon, Lia Chang, Lonnie Carter, LeeAnne Hutchison and Mac A. Davis.

Danyon Davis, Jose Joaquin Perez, Nambi E. Kelley, Forrest McClendon, Lia Chang, Lonnie Carter, LeeAnne Hutchison and Mac A. Davis

 

Playwright Lonnie Carter Photo by Lia Chang

Playwright Lonnie Carter Photo by Lia Chang

I caught up with the award-winning playwright when I worked on a staged reading of TRIM, The Tiger Woods What If Story, his brand new Tiger Woods play, co-written with Mac A. Davis, at New Dramatists in New York on October 19, 2011, alongside Danyon Davis, Forrest McClendon, Nambi E. Kelley, LeeAnne Hutchison, Mac A. Davis and Jose Joaquin Perez.

Lia: What do you attribute the success of The Romance of Magno Rubio to?
Lonnie: Magno Rubio is successful because of the huge talents of Loy Arcenas and Jorge Ortoll and Ralph Pena and every brilliant Pinoy (Filipino and Filipina), now too numerous to mention, who had the faith that we could bring Carlos Bulosan’s story of a small brown man with a huge heart and bottomless courage to every person of every stripe in every part of the world.

LeeAnn Hutchison and Danyon Davis Photo by Lia Chang

LeeAnn Hutchison and Danyon Davis Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: What is TRIM about?
Lonnie: TRIM is a What-If Tiger Woods play. What if Eldrick Woods never came back to play golf after his accident? What if he spent his years trying to understand how he got to the point of disaster? His reputation ruined, his family, his children snatched away from him, and all because of his recklessness. Famous people alive and dead come to convince him to do what they want him to do. Jack Nicklaus, Althea Gibson, Oprah Winfrey, Marilyn Chambers, Elin Nordegren, Billy Cracker/Gantry and finally the biggest Daddy of them all, his father’s ghost, Earl Woods. The play is framed by the shock jocks extraordinaire who may just remind you of Howard Stern and Robin Quivers on steroids. The denouement shows little Tiger, aged 2, on the Mike Douglas talk show with Bob Hope and Jimmy Stewart. Little Tiger, at the urging of Earl, shows his golfing promise at that tender age and shows us his future. And he cracks up Bob Hope as well. At play’s end grown-up Tiger may have found some redemption, but we won’t tell you here and now. But no more golf. Nevermore, quoth the Cablinasian, as he so famously dubbed himself on Oprah. TRIM, the What-If Tiger Woods play.

Co-playwrights and childhood friends Mac A. Davis and Lonnie Carter Photo by Lia Chang

Co-playwrights and childhood friends Mac A. Davis and Lonnie Carter Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: What is your history with Mac?
Lonnie: Mac and I went to high school, college and graduate school together (Marquette University). Sometime in senior year college we starred in my first play, on the radio, lo these decades ago. And we’ve been compatriots ever since. Mac wrote TRIM in a burst of five days. He came to me and asked if I would write a climactic speech for Tiger. I was intrigued, but didn’t get around to it. About a year or so later, he said, “Why don’t we split the play 50/50 and you re-write however you like.” That really intrigued me. So, I went to work. I kept the 12 scene structure which I think is just right and quite brilliant of Mac. Some scenes I removed the innards and put in transplanted new ones. Some I left pretty much in tact. And there you have it – Lightning in a Bottle, or so we think in our modest way.

Lonnie Carter, Danyon Davis and Mac A. Davis Photo by Lia Chang

Lonnie Carter, Danyon Davis and Mac A. Davis Photo by Lia Chang

Walter A. (Mac) Davis is the author of a number of books of psychoanalytic cultural criticism. Among them: Inwardness and Existence; Get the Guests; Death’s Dream Kingdom. [For descriptions and selections see www.walteradavis.com] While teaching (25 years at The Ohio State University) he also pursued a second career as an actor and playwright. Roles played include: Hamlet, King Lear and Oscar Madison. Plays written include: An Evening with Jonbenet Ramsey; The San Quentin Monologue. He is currently working on an interminable novel ironically titled The Last Catholic.

Nambi E. Kelley and Danyon Davis Photo by Lia Chang

Nambi E. Kelley and Danyon Davis Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: What inspired you to tell the story of The Lost Boys of Sudan?
Lonnie: The Lost Boys of Sudan, through the vision of Peter Brosius and Elissa Adams of the Childrens’ Theatre Company, came to production after a long slog of workshops in New York, DC (at Howard University) and Minneapolis. There was a meeting of minds among Peter, Elissa and me that this story had to be told. It was told again in a revised version – The Lost Boys (and Girl) of Sudan at Dennis Zacek’s Victory Gardens Theater in 2010, directed by the incomparable Jim Corti, and will be told again and revised for its 2013 production in Fargo, North Dakota (no kidding!, it’s where the Sudanese live and have lived for a decade and more). The Fargo farrago will be produced by Dayna DelVal, Director of The Arts Partnership (TAP). wttw.com Hedy Weiss Review

Lost Boys of Sudan at Victory Gardens Theater. Photo by Liz Lauren

Lost Boys of Sudan at Victory Gardens Theater. Photo by Liz Lauren

Lia: What’s next on your plate?
Lonnie: What’s next? Getting TRIM done. The questions that the work raises don’t have to do with Tiger Woods ever winning again. At this writing, maybe he already has or is about to and that’s completely irrelevant. What matters are questions of fame, race, betrayal, paternity, PAPAhood. Big ones. We don’t answer those questions, but we ask and try to get to their meaning. We hope, with humor, insight and compassion.

Also in the works, either a big piece – Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines with Fabian Obispo doing the music – or a small personal piece. Or both.

Playwright Lonnie Carter Photo by Lia Chang

Playwright Lonnie Carter Photo by Lia Chang

The Romance of Magno Rubio / Ang Romansa ni Magno runs through December 11. Performances in English are on Thursdays and Fridays @ 8pm and Sundays @ 3 pm. Performances in Tagalog are on Saturdays @ 3 pm and 8 pm. The performance on Sunday, Dec. 4 (in English) will be signed for the hearing impaired. Tickets are $25. Full-time students with ID are $12.

[Inside] the Ford is located in the Ford Theatres complex at 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood, CA 90068, just off the 101 Hollywood Freeway across from the Hollywood Bowl and south of Universal Studios. On-site, non-stacked parking is free. For reservations and information, call the Ford Theatres Box Office at 323.461.3673 (323.GO1.FORD) or go to www.FordTheatres.org.

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Photo by Lia Chang

Photo by Lia Chang

 

LeeAnn Hutchinson and playwright Lonnie Carter Photo by Lia Chang

LeeAnn Hutchison and playwright Lonnie Carter Photo by Lia Chang

 

Forrest McClendon, Lia Chang and Danyon Davis

Forrest McClendon, Lia Chang and Danyon Davis

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 PHOTOGRAPHY 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.

Other Articles by Lia Chang:
Photos: De Shields, McClendon, Elisa, Glasco, Phillips, Thompson in The Sovereign State of Boogedy Boogedy
Photos: Yellow Fever Playwright Rick Shiomi Explores New Territory with An All-Female Cast
Party 3.0, Scenes from Version 3.0, A New Anthology of Asian American Plays, Edited by Chay Yew at Zacek McVay Theater on 12/4
Photos: Kathie Lee Gifford at the 2011 Lord & Taylor Fifth Avenue Christmas Windows Unveiling in New York
Photos: David Henry Hwang, Jennifer Lim, Leigh Silverman, Samuel L. Jackson, Kenny Leon, David Ives, Douglas Carter Beane and More at The Drama Desk & Fordham University Theatre Program’s “Anatomy of a Breakout” Panel
David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish Takes Home 2 Jeff Awards
Cathy Foy-Mahi Plays Bloody Mary in 2011-2012 National Tour of South Pacific
Photos: Backstage with the Cast of Chinglish and David Henry Hwang at the Longacre Theatre
Lia Chang Photos: Opening Night of Mu Performing Arts’ Katie Hae Leo’s Four Destinies
Lia Chang Photos: Backstage at Mu Performing Arts’ Four Destinies by Katie Hae Leo
Art by Nicholas Galanin Featured in Kindred Spirits, Native American Influences on 20th Century Art, at Peter Blum Soho in NY, 10/29/11-1/14/12
Photos: Crossroads’ Ain’t Misbehavin’
Up Close and Personal with Rick Shiomi, Award-winning Playwright and Artistic Director of Mu Performing Arts
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
Photos: David Duchovny, John Earl Jelks, Amanda Peet, Tracee Chimo at Opening Night Party of Neil LaBute’s Break of Noon
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.
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.

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This entry was posted on November 18, 2011 by in African American Artists, Andre De Shields, Asian American Artists, New York, Non profit, Performance Photography, Photography, Theater, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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