I caught up with musicologist Joanna C. Lee and veteran music journalist Ken Smith at the Longacre Theatre in New York, after the post-show talkback following the 100th performance of Chinglish, by Tony Award-winning and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist playwright David Henry Hwang, which was recently named by TIME Magazine, Bloomberg Radio, NY1 and WNYC as one of the Top 10 Broadway shows of the year.
Smith and Lee were tapped as cultural advisors by the playwright when Chinglish, his play about an American businessman looking to land a deal in provincial China, had its world premiere at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. Smith writes about their participation as resident Chinglish cultural advisors here.
The husband and wife team are co-authors of the Pocket Chinese Almanac and co-directors of Museworks Ltd., a Hong Kong-based cultural consulting company offering wide-ranging support, from production to translation and media services, for artists and institutions seeking links to and from Asia. Their clients include Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Opera, the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, Holland Festival, Habitat for Humanity, the Hong Kong International Film Festival and Sotheby’s HK.
Lee, a pianist with a doctorate in musicology from Columbia University, was an Honorary Research Fellow of the Centre for Asian Studies, Institute of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong. Smith has covered arts and culture in Asia for the Financial Times since 2003. He is the author of Fate! Luck! Chance! Amy Tan, Stewart Wallace and the Making of The Bonesetter’s Daughter Opera. For the past seven years, he has served as advisor to the Western China Cultural Ecology Research Workshop, an NGO actively devoted to cultural preservation based in Guizhou province.
Goodman associate producer Steve Scott wrote an article entitled, “The Challenges of Chinglish,” that detailed Lee and Smith’s integral and invaluable contributions.
“Finally, to ensure that the complex social interactions of the play adhere to the rather more formal rules observed in China, consultants Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith became crucial members of the Chinglish production team. As the production’s “cultural consultants,” Lee and Smith were invaluable to the accurate creation of the world of Guiyang, China, and its inhabitants.
After a sold-out extended run at the Goodman Theatre last July, Chinglish, featuring Jennifer Lim, Gary Wilmes, Angela Lin, Christine Lin, Stephen Pucci, Johnny Wu and Larry Lei Zhang, opened on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre on October 27, 2011. Hwang received Chicago’s 2011 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Play.
Meet Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith in Ann Arbor, Michigan, San Francisco, CA and in New York as they make a number of personal appearances for their Pocket Chinese Almanac 2012, and with Chinglish playwright David Henry Hwang.
On Friday, January 13, 2012, the Confucius Institute at the University of Michigan is presenting CHINGLISH: A New Comedy on the Misadventures of Cross-cultural Communication, at the Michigan League – Vandenberg Room, 911 N. University in Ann Arbor, Michigan from 4pm-5:30pm. Playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly) will discuss his latest Broadway hit, with Joanna C. Lee and Kenneth Smith. Free and open to the public. All are invited to a reception following the talk.
On Saturday, January 21, 2012, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is presenting Lunar New Year Talk: Decoding the Chinese Almanac’s Predictions for 2012, at 215 Centre Street in New York, from 2:30pm – 3:30pm. To usher in the Year of the Dragon, co-authors Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith will decode the almanac’s predictions for 2012 and share a range of New Year’s traditions designed to protect your household. Admission is $15/adult, $12/student, free for children, MOCA members and seniors (65+). Each participant will receive a free copy of the Pocket Chinese Almanac (valued at $7). RSVP required to email@example.com or 212-619-4785.
On Thursday, January 26, 2012, the co-authors will talk about the Pocket Chinese Almanac 2012, The Pocket Confucius, and The Pocket Tao at Book Passage, 1 Ferry Building in San Francisco at 6 p.m. Lee and Smith will translate and decode predictions for 2012. They’ll also dig beneath both the pop philosophy of Confucius and the scholarly interpretations to rediscover what the Master actually said about moral character and social order.
Other Articles by Lia Chang:
Financial Times Critic Ken Smith Discusses Western Opera’s Recent Success in China with the Three Chinese Tenors at The China Institute in New York on January 21, 2012
Asia Society Honors Chinglish Playwright David Henry Hwang and Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John C. Whitehead at the Waldorf Astoria on January 11, 2012
CHINGLISH Celebrates 100th Performance on 1/5/12 – Meet David Henry Hwang & the Cast After Post-Show Talkback
Photos: Maya Lin, BD Wong, David Henry Hwang, Yeohlee, Oscar L. Tang and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg at MOCA Legacy Awards Gala
Click here for more articles on David Henry Hwang.
AALDEF Honors Parkin Lee, Jean Koh Peters, and CNN’s Fareed Zakaria with 2012 Justice in Action Awards in New York on February 8, 2012
Remembering Civil Rights Leader Gordon Hirabayashi,1918- 2012</a
Cindy Cheung Debuts SPEAK UP CONNIE…Her Solo Show at Stage Left Studio, January 17-25, 2012
Mu Daiko 15th Anniversary Concert and Minnesota Tour, February 9-19, 2012
Aaron Lazar, Kate Baldwin, P.J. Griffith, Raul Aranas Set for the Dallas Theater Center/Public Theater Co-Production of Giant at the Wyly Theatre, January 18 – February 19, 2012
Photos: Yellow Fever Playwright Rick Shiomi Explores New Territory with An All-Female Cast
DOGS LIE, Starring Samrat Chakrabarti, Frank Boyd and Ewa Da Cruz, Nabs ”Best Film (USA)” and ”Feature Film Audience Award” at 2011 ITN Distribution Film and New Media Festival
Photos: “How To Succeed” stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rose Hemingway and John Larroquette at Lord & Taylor for Windows Unveiling
Multimedia: Promises, Promises’ Stars Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes at Lord & Taylor Fifth Ave
Broadwayworld.com Photo Flash: Library of Congress’ IN REHEARSAL Exhibit
Photos: David Duchovny, John Earl Jelks, Amanda Peet, Tracee Chimo at Opening Night Party of Neil LaBute’s Break of Noon
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