The OBIE Award-winning NAATCO, National Asian AmericanTheater Company, concludes their 25th anniversary season with the New York Premiere of MJ Kaufman’s Sagittarius Ponderosa. Ken Rus Schmoll directs an all-Asian American cast that includes Daniel K. Isaac (of TV’s “Billions”), Mia Katigbak, Glenn Kubota, Bex Kwan and Virginia Wing.
This Off-Broadway limited engagement at 3LD (80 Greenwich Street at Rector) will begin performances October 24th, with Opening Night set for October 31st. Performances continue through November 19th only.
This is the final offering of the 25th Anniversary Season, representing the third of NAATCO’s three programs: a play not written by, for, or about Asian Americans, but presented with an all-Asian American cast.
Archer, still known as Angela to his family, returns home to Central Oregon to be with his ailing father. With a hard-of-hearing Grandma obsessed with planning her “granddaughter’s” wedding, a father who keeps sneaking out for sugar binges, and a mother wound tightly with worry and anger, Archer goes through the transitions of life and death, growth and decay, and the passage of time, revealing the enduring ties between the roots beneath our feet and the mysteries of the human heart.
MJ Kaufman is a playwright and devised theater artist working in New York and Philadelphia whose work has been seen at the Huntington Theatre, New York Theater Workshop, the New Museum, Clubbed Thumb, New Georges, Page73, Colt Coeur, Yale School of Drama, Lark Play Development Center, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Aurora Theater, Crowded Fire, Fresh Ink Theatre, New Harmony Project and performed in Russian in Moscow. MJ has received awards and commissions from the Program for Women in Theater, the Playwrights Foundation, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, Young Playwrights Inc., and the Huntington Theatre, where MJ is also a playwriting fellow. MJ received the 2013 ASCAP Cole Porter Prize in Playwriting, the 2013 Global Age Project Prize, and the 2010 Jane Chambers Prize in Feminist Theatre. MJ is currently a member of The Public Theater’s Emerging Writers’ Group, a core playwright at InterAct Theatre, a member of the WP Theater Lab, and Colt Coeur Company member. Originally from Portland, Oregon, MJ attended Wesleyan University and recently received an MFA in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama. MJ has taught playwriting at Wesleyan University, SUNY Purchase College, the University of the Arts and as a teaching fellow at Yale College.
Ken Rus Schmoll’s recent credits include Lucas Hnath’s Hillary and Clinton at the Philadelphia Theatre Company, Anne Washburn’s Antlia Pneumatica at Playwrights Horizons, Max Posner’s Judy for Page 73, Kate E. Ryan’s Card and Gift for Clubbed Thumb, Jenny Schwartz and Todd Almond’s Iowa at Playwrights Horizons, Ayad Akhtar’s The Invisible Hand at New York Theatre Workshop, John Banville’s Love in the Wars at Bard SummerScape, and George Brant’s Grounded for Page 73. He is a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop, an affiliated artist with Clubbed Thumb, co-mentor of the Clubbed Thumb Directing Fellowship, a three-time Sundance Theatre Institute alum, a former co-chair of the Soho RepWriter/Director Lab, and the recipient of two Obie Awards and a Lucille Lortel nomination. Upcoming: Annie Baker’s John at ACT, Tony Meneses’s The Women of Padilla at Two River Theatre, and a workshop of Anne Washburn’s 12-hour play The Octavia at the University of Washington School of Drama.
Sagittarius Ponderosa will have scenic design by Kimie Nishikawa, costume design by Brynn Almli, lighting design by Oliver Wason, projections design by Thomas Kavanagh, puppet design by Tom Lee; and sound design by Miles Polaski. Props Master is Chloe Kirkwood..
Under the leadership of Artistic Producing Director Mia Katigbak and co-founder Richard Eng, NAATCO was founded in 1989 to assert the presence and significance of Asian American theatre in the United States, demonstrating its vital contributions to the fabric of American culture by offering European and American classics as written with all Asian American casts; adaptations of these classics by Asian American Playwrights; and new plays – preferably world premieres – written by non-Asian Americans, not for or about Asian Americans, but realized by an all Asian American cast. NAATCO puts into service its total commitment to Asian American theatre artists to more accurately represent onstage the multi- and inter-cultural dynamics of our society. By doing so, they demonstrate a rich tapestry of cultural difference bound by the American experience. The enrichment accrues to each different culture as well as to America as a whole. NAATCO performs the western classical repertory as written, with no forced Asian cultural associations. The repertory’s importance comes not only through the valuable training it provides for theatrical craft, but also from its ability to reach across ethnic boundaries to illuminate abiding characteristics of human nature. For her performance in the 2013 production of Clifford Odets’ Awake and Sing!, Mia Katigbak won an OBIE Award. She is also the recipient of the 2016 Lilly “Trailblazing” Award Honoring Achievements of Women in the Theater. NAATCO was the recipient of the 2016 Ross Wetzsteon Award and the 2012-13 Lucille Lortel Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women for their work “highlighting the multi- and intercultural dynamics of our society” and the 2006 Rosetta LeNoire Award from Actors’ Equity Association in recognition of its contribution toward increasing diversity and non-traditional casting in American theatre. NAATCO received an OBIE Grant in 2000 in recognition of the season’s productions: William Finn’s Falsettoland and the Brecht/Weill pieces, He Who Says Yes/He Who Says No. The first offering of the 25th Anniversary Season, a remount of Awake and Sing! at The Public Theater, was nominated for a Drama League Award this year. For more information, visit www.naatco.org.
Sagittarius Ponderosa is produced and presented at 3LD Art & Technology Center. 3LD exists to produce new, original works in theater, performance, media and hybrid forms. Working out of a strong literary tradition, our mission is to explore the new narrative possibilities created by digital technology, and to provide an environment for our artists to create new tools and modes of expression so that they can excel across a range of disciplines.
Performances are Monday through Saturday evenings at 7:00pm with matinees Saturday at 3pm. Tickets are from $10 to $40, and may be purchased at BrownPaperTickets.com. For more information, visit www.naatco.org.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.