|Ma-Yi Theater Company offers a diverting cabaret about the changing nature of
the Asian-American lovescape with "This End Up (A User's Manual for Lovers
of Asians)," written and directed by Ralph B. Peña. The evening combines
a play on culturally-unexpected love affairs with a pastiche of old-fashioned
songs (with new twists), yielding a funny, direct, yet romantic look at the dating
game between Asians and non-Asians.
The play celebrates liberation
from Asian love stereotypes, sexual fantasies toward occidentals, self-acceptance
of homosexuality among Asian men and the outrageousness of a fag hag lusting
for an Asian gay man. Ming is a twenty-something gay Asian man (delicate as
a Ming vase). He beguiles Dickie, an Iowa boy who is also in love with Jenny,
an Ivy League student and cheongsam princess who is sleeping her way through
the English faculty. She just happens to be Ming's sister. To this complex dating
situation are added Elena, a 40-ish Asian ex-nun who gets hot for men who resemble
biblical characters, and Bunny, a Soho intellectual who prefers gay men--especially
Ming. It's a love pentagon in which the five lives are linked by devotion, lust
The performers, all terrific
singers, are Angel Desai, Megan Johnson Briones, Rodney To, John Wernke and
Virgina Wing. Musical director is Dominick Amendum. Lighting design is by Vince
Author/director Ralph B.
Peña is a founding member and Artistic Director of Ma-Yi. He is an actor,
director, and playwright. He has performed at The Grove Shakespeare Festival,
The Public Theatre, La MaMa E.T.C. and The Round House Theatre, among others.
His plays have been produced by Ma-Yi Theatre Company, The New WORLD Theatre
in Amherst, MA, The Northwest Asian American Theatre in Seattle, Kumu Kahua
Theatre in Honolulu, San Diego Asian American Repertory, The Cultural Center
of the Philippines and the Public Theatre. He is the recipient of a commission
from South Coast Repertory and a Rockefeller Foundation grant to the Bellagio
Study Center in Italy. Mr. Peña has served on the artist panel of the
New York State Council on the Arts since 1997. He was most recently seen in
"Dogeaters" at the Public Theater.
Ma-Yi Theater Company, now
in its thirteenth season, is devoted to plays of the Filipino-American experience
and Pan-Asian texts. The company encourages crosscultural and intercultural
collaborations between Asian and non-Asian artists. Its stories, while culturally
specific, are meant to be broad re-statements of the American experience.
It has achieved prominence recently with its productions of "Middle Finger"
and "Watcher"; both were plays by Han Ong, who, at 33, became the
youngest artist to ever earn the MacArthur Foundation's "genius" grant.
Its other notable productions include "The Square," an anthology of
short works by various authors (eight Asian and eight non-Asian) at the Public
Theater (2001), "PeregriNasyon" by Chris Millado (1998), and other
works including "Flipzoids," Portrait of an Artist as Filipino"
and an adaptation of Brecht's "Mother Courage and Her Children" by
Rodolfo Carlos Vera.
The troupe is named for
the ancient term Chinese traders used to refer to a group of islands that is
known today as the Philippines. The company chose this name in recognition
of the vibrant culture that existed in Ma-Yi prior to the coming of the colonizers
from the West.