Celebrating Ping Chong's 30 anniversary as an independent theatre artist

Performance Schedule:
October 3- 13, 2002
Annex Theatre
Thursday - Saturday 7:30pm
Sundays 5:00pm

UE 92/02
October 17 - 20, 2002
Annex Theatre
Thursday - Saturday 7:30pm
Sundays 5:00pm

Gala Benefit
October 17, 2002
for more information and tickets call (212) 529-1557. Proceeds will go to Ping Chong and Company.

Video Screenings
of other Ping Chong works will be held in the Annex Theatre Lobby between 6:00-7:30 PM on performance days.

In October, 1972 Ping Chong gathered a group of artists at Meredith Monk's loft in lower Manhattan to make "Lazarus," his first independent theater work. Twenty years later, during a residency at Artist Space, he brought together a group of "new" Americans to create "Undesirable Elements," the first in what became an ongoing series of oral history projects exploring the effects of history and identity on the lives of individuals living between cultures. "UE92/02" will be the sixteenth premiere by Ping Chong at La MaMa, which has been his theatrical home since it produced his Obie-winning "Humboldt's Current" in 1977. His "Kwaidan" (La MaMa, 1998), a puppet work which dramatized Japanese fairy tales, was widely considered the outstanding production of the that year's International Festival of Puppet Theater and was voted the number one production of the 1998-99 season by critics of the New York Theatre Wire. He created "SlutforArt, a.k.a. Ambiguous Ambassador" for choreographer/dancer Muna Tseng as a sequel to their 1997 La MaMa collaboration, "After Sorrow."

Ping Chong has created 16 works of his undesirable elements series, that last being "Secret History" (Ohio Theater, December 2000). The series has also appeared in Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Seattle, Long Beach, Newark, Upstate New York, Southern California, Washington DC, Rotterdam (Holland) and Tokyo (Japan). The Twin Cities Reader wrote, " The cumulative power of these stories is nothing short of astonishing," and The Seattle Post cheered, "This show is a blessing." A Japanese version, titled "Gaijin" (the Japanese term for foreigners), was named one of the best plays of 1995 by the Yomiuri News Service. Reviewing "Secret History," the Village Voice (Alisa Solomon) praised the work's sincerity, commending how it confronts "the question of how one engages one's life as a subject of history." The New York Times (Sarah Boxer) called it "a seance for six lost pasts." Whereas "Secret History" was an invocation for six Asian New Yorkers, "UE92/02" is a first bringing together of memorable women from "Undesirable Elements" productions nationwide, with Chong himself joining the cast for the very first time.

"SlutforArt, a.k.a. Ambiguous Ambassador" is a multimedia dance theater work by Ping Chong and Muna Tseng reflecting on the life and times of her brother, the late photographer and performance artist Tseng Kwong Chi (1950-1990). Posing in a Mao suit, which gave him the aplomb of a Chinese diplomat, Tseng Kwong Chi gained oeuvre to many guarded events and inserted himself into public and private places with startling and unexpected effects. His self-portraits before the Eiffel Tower, Niagra Falls and Disneyland, and his poses with such unsuspecting figures as Henry Kissinger, offered a unique and unsettling perspective of the alienated Asian as a "cultural tourist." He was an integral part of the East Village art scene of the 1980s along with Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and Ann Magnuson and was Haring's official documentarian, creating over 50,000 slides of subway drawings and public art commissions. He died of AIDS. The piece was awarded a 1999 "Bessie" Award for Best Production and has since toured extensively nationwide.

Ping Chong was born in Toronto and raised in New York City's Chinatown and is now considered one of the foremost directors of American performance art. La MaMa has premiered Ping Chong's "Nuit Blanche" (1981, 1985), "Anna into Nightlight" (1982), "A Race" (1984), "Nosferatu" (1985, 1991), "Kind Ness" (1986), "Skin A State of Being" (1989), "Brightness" (1989; two Bessie Awards, 1990), "Elephant Memories" (1991), "Deshima" (1993), "Interfacing Joan" (1996), "After Sorrow" (1997) and "Kwaidan" (1998) and "Pojagi" (2000). Ping Chong's awards also include an Obie Award, five National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Playwrights' USA Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two McKnight Playwriting Fellowships, a TCG Pew Charitable Trust Fellowship and a 1992 Bessie Award for Sustained Achievement. Altogether, he has created over 27 works for the stage, seven visual arts installations and three videos. His work has been presented at major museums, festivals and theaters throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Muna Tseng was born and raised in post-revolutionary Hong Kong, was educated in Vancouver and moved to New York in 1978 to become a leading dancer in Jean Erdman's Theater of the Open Eye. She was closely associated with Erdman and her husband Joseph Campbell, the famed mythologist, for about seven years, during which time she danced many of Erdman's own roles in dance classics from the 40's and 50's. One of the leading Asian-American choreographers, she has created over 30 original works in an original cross-cultural style, rich in ritual, that juxtaposes contemporary American vision with the timeless imagery of her Chinese heritage. She founded Muna Tseng Dance Projects Inc. in 1986. Its productions include "The Silver River", "SlutForArt, aka Ambiguous Ambassador," "98.6" (Bessie, 1999); "Liquid", "The Idea of East", "The Pink", "Water Mysteries", "Post-Revolutionary Girl" and "Earth Mysteries". Her collaborators have included composers Bright Sheng, Tan Dun and Phill Niblock, directors Ong Keng Sen and Ping Chong, and visual artists Tseng Kwong Chi, Winston Roeth, Kenny Scharf and Keith Haring. Her La MaMa debut was in the First Asian Contemporary Dance Festival (1993), performing "SHATTERED, Hymns for Mortal Creatures," a danced elegy about AIDS. Her "The Pink" (La MaMa, 1994), a collaboration with composer Tan Dun, was based on the banned classical erotic novel Jin Ping Mei (The Golden Lotus), offering a contemporary view of passion and repression and using dance movement together with the mystique of paper sounds and imagery. In 1996 at La MaMa, she choreographed two comic musicals by Elizabeth Swados, "Flashbacks" (based on Garry Trudeau's "Doonsbury") and "The Emperor's New Clothes" (based loosely on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale).


Participating in the 30th Anniversary celebration of Ping Chong and Company will be a photo exhibition,
"Tseng Kwong Chi: Ambiguous Ambassador,"
October 1 to November 2
at Chambers Fine Art,
210 Eleventh Ave., 2 fl.
(at 25th Street)
The exhibition contains key works of the late photographer's career,
including: "Disneyland, California" (1979), "Grand Canyon, Arizona" (1987) and "The Gang's All Here - Puck Ball" (1983).

2002 page