Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Reg E. Cathey, Ching Valdes-Aran, Joseph Harrington, Tony Torn and More in La MaMa’s The Tempest through November 2, 2014

Ching Valdes-Aran

Ching Valdes-Aran

The first production of La MaMa’s 53rd Season entitled “LA MAMA EARTH,” featuring works that raise awareness of world ecology and social justice both locally and globally. The centerpiece will be three diverse, international productions and adaptations of William Shakepeare’s The Tempest from the US, Korea and Italy. All performances will be at the Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 East 4th Street, between Bowery & 2nd Avenue). Performances for the limited engagement of The Tempest began on Thursday, October 2nd and continue through November 2nd). Opening Night is set for Thursday October 5th. Tickets will be $40 Adults; $30 Students/Seniors. Performances will be Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 4:00pm.

In announcing the season, La MaMa’s Artistic Director Mia Yoo stated that “La MaMa is honored to have the opportunity to present an American, Korean and Italian production of Shakespeare’s bracing play, The Tempest.” She adds, “I think the productions are going to be vastly different and that’s thrilling.” Noting that “the tide is rising” was a phrase used by Mayor Bloomberg during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Ms. Yoo says, “I wasn’t seeking out productions of THE TEMPEST, but so many artists came to me with an urgent need to express their concerns through their work about global ecology as it relates to the human condition. ‘Now’ is the word that is used again and again in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. I share with the artists the urgency of presenting this work now.”

Tempest 3: The Tide is Rising begins with the world-premiere of a new musical adaptation of The Tempest, created by two prolific American female artists, director Karin Coonrod, and Tony nominated composer Elizabeth Swados (Runaways) About this historic collaboration, Ms. Yoo says “It’s wonderful to watch them use their specific skills – language and music – to create a unique work, unlike anything they have done before. It’s dynamic, particularly how Coonrod uses Swados’s visceral score to create Prospero’s island.”

The international and intergenerational cast features Reg E. Cathey (“The Wire” and “House of Cards”) as Prospero, Joseph Harrington, the 14-year-old star of Broadway’s Billy Elliot, as Ariel and Ching Valdes-Aran as Gonzalo. Also in the cast will be Earl Baker Jr., Angus Hepburn, Slate Holmgren, Miriam A. Hyman, Christopher McLinden, Tony Torn, Sorab Wadia and Liz Wisan.

Scenic design is by Riccardo Hernandez, costumes by Oana Botez, lights by Christopher Akerlind, puppets by Vickie Fremont and choreography by Cara Kjellman. Soo Yeon Lee will musical direct a 3-piece musical ensemble. Voice and text is by Gigi Buffington; Sharon Scruggs is dramaturg.

Ms. Coonrod’s production of THE TEMPEST began in the summer of 2012 when she and Ms. Swados collaborated on a workshop entitled “The Tempest and the Image of the Sea,” at La MaMa’s international studio in Umbria, Italy. A few months later when Hurricane Sandy struck NY and the eastern United State in the fall of 2012, Mia Yoo became determined to have the production completed in time for this 2014 debut.

THE TEMPEST is Shakespeare’s last play – believed to have been written in 1610 – set on a remote island, where Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, plots to outwit his scheming brother and restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place in the kingdom. To accomplish this, Prospero uses illusion and manipulation, conjuring up a massive storm that helps lay bare the truth.

Performances for the limited engagement of The Tempest began on Thursday, October 2nd and continue through November 2nd). Opening Night is set for Thursday October 9th. Tickets will be $40 Adults; $30 Students/Seniors. Performances will be Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 4:00pm.

This will be followed by the US premiere of Seoul, Korea’s Mokwha Repertory Company production of The Tempest, adapted and directed by Tae-Suk Oh. Inspired by a true story from the Korean Chronicles Of The Three Kingdoms, this Tempest is set in 5th century Korea and infuses Shakespeare’s text with elements of traditional Korean folklore. With music played on Korean instruments and performed in richly layered costumes, this mind-bending production explores acts of nature as they are affected by acts of betrayal, love, forgiveness and reconciliation. Four performances only – November 20th – 23rd, at the Ellen Stewart Theatre. Tickets will be $30 Adults; $25 Students/Seniors.

The third production will be the U.S. premiere of Nella Tempesta by Motus Theatre. Italy’s provocative and dynamic MOTUS Theatre Company explores questions of freedom, control and power in Nella Tempesta. Reflecting on the turmoil in our society – the impact of Hurricane Sandy, the consequences of the economic crisis and questioning of future landscapes – Nella Tempesta is created from fragments of novels by authors including: Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, Aldous Huxley as well as Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Une Tempête by Aimé Césaire. This version of The Tempest imagines the play about a world not as it appears to be ending, but a world on the verge of a new beginning. Eight performances only December 11th – 21st. Tickets will be $30 Adults; $25 Students/Seniors.

Throughout the “LA MAMA EARTH” season there will be post-show dialogues with environmental experts and human rights activists on a range of subjects from climate change to other relevant ecological and social issues globally.

An integral part of New York City’s cultural landscape, La MaMa has a worldwide reputation for producing daring work in theatre, dance, performance art, and music that defies form and transcends boundaries of language, race, and culture. Founded in 1961 by theatre pioneer and legend Ellen Stewart, La MaMa is a global organization with creative partners and dedicated audiences around the world. La MaMa presents an average of 60-70 productions annually, most of which are world premieres. To date, over 3,500 productions have been presented at La MaMa with artists from more than 70 nations. Honored with more than 30 OBIE Awards, dozens of Drama Desk and Bessie Awards, La MaMa’s programming is culturally diverse, cross-disciplinary and draws audiences from all walks of life. For the second consecutive year, La MaMa will offer its 10@$10 program whereby 10 tickets are made available for every performance in every theatre in advance for only $10. La MaMa gratefully acknowledges The Coca-Cola Foundation, Ford Foundation, The Howard Gilman Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs for their generous support of Tempest 3: The Tide is Rising.

For additional information and a full performance schedule, please call La MaMa at 212 475 7710 or visit

Other articles by Lia Chang:
July 14-Aug. 8: Reflections And Devotion By Ching Valdes-Aran & Nicole Valdes Schorr at the Philippine Center Gallery
Photos: Ching Valdes-Aran: New and Selected Work on View at the Philippine Center Gallery in New York, October 22-November 2, 2012
2014 AUDELCO Nominations Announced; Ceremony at Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space on November 17
Oct. 15: An Evening with Hollywood Legend Nancy Kwan at the New-York Historical Society
Geoffrey Holder, Artist, Dancer, Choreographer, Two-Time Tony Award-winning Director and Costume Designer for The Wiz, Dies at 84; Son Pens Intimate Account of Last Days
James Yaegashi, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Ernest Abuba, Tsering Dorjee, Takemi Kitamura, James Saito, Jon Norman Schneider set for Sarah Ruhl’s The Oldest Boy in the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at LCT; Previews Begin October 9, 2014
Oct. 10: Baayork Lee to Receive 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award presented by the Actors’ Equity Foundation
Oct. 8 – Nov. 2: Myra Lucretia Taylor, JoJo Gonzalez, Linda Powell, Don Sparks and More set for Long Wharf Theatre’s 50th Season Opening Production of OUR TOWN
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Photos: Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion on View through April 19, 2015 at New York Historical Society
Coming to America through The Angel Island Immigration Station
Museum of the Moving Image Presents A Tribute to Ruby Dee
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Rome Neal Seriously Injured in Fall; Fundraisers Set at The Five Spot on October 12 and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe on November 6
TCG’s SPARK Leadership Program Class of 2014: Victor Maog, Nelson T. Eusebio III, Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr, Snehal Desai, Deena Selenow, Jacob G. Padrón, Jr., Karena Fiorenza Ingersoll, Kelvin Dinkins, LaTeshia Dezelle Ellerson, Lisa Portes
Video: Jeremy Lin Pranks Visitors at Madame Tussauds San Francisco
Oct. 8 – 12: 2014 National Asian American Theater Conference & Festival Lineup
Oct. 10-12: Dan Kwong’s WHAT? NO PING-PONG BALLS? with Kenny Endo at Interact Theatre Company as part of 2014 National Asian American Theater Festival and Conference
David Henry Hwang and Lynn Nottage Appointed to the Playwriting Faculty of Columbia University School of the Arts Theatre Program
Photos & Video: The Wiz’s André De Shields Sang “So You Wanted to Meet the Wizard” in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream at Carnegie Hall 
Joe Mantegna to Helm ‘Criminal Minds’ Season 10 Episode to Honor the late Meshach Taylor
Photos: Maxine Hong Kingston, Billie Tsien, Bill T. Jones, Linda Ronstadt, John Kander, Julia Alvarez, Jeffrey Katzenberg Receive 2013 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama 
Golden Globe Winner James Shigeta, Veteran of Film and TV, Dies at 85; Excerpts of 2007 A/P/A Institute Q & A with Sukhdev Sandhu 
Photos: Artist Arlan Huang, One Brush Stroke at a Time
Late Night Singing with Garth Kravits at 54 Below with The Skivvies, at Jim Caruso’s Cast Party at Birdland and Michael Raye’s Soul Gathering 
Photos and Video: Ben Vereen Performs at Carnegie Hall in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream 
Photos and Video: Obba Babatunde and cast members from the original cast of Dreamgirls perform at Carnegie Hall in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream
Joe Mantegna, Delta Burke, Gerald McRaney, President Bill Clinton and More Remember Meshach Taylor
Photos: Meshach Taylor Celebrates 67th Birthday with Arlene and Joe Mantegna, Delta Burke, Gerald McRaney, Jean Smart, Dennis Franz, Ernie Hudson, John Heard, Keith Szarabajka, Stuart Gordon, Shadoe Stevens and More
Bryan Cranston, Audra McDonald, Neil Patrick Harris, Jessie Mueller, Lena Hall, Sophie Okonedo, Kenny Leon, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, All The Way, A Raisin in the Sun, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and More Take Home 2014 Tony Awards 
Crafting a Career
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, and made her jazz vocalist debut in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2014 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


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