Posts Tagged DJ Kool Akiem

FACE TO FACE takes the stage

Hmong Community Members take center stage in new theatrical Production created with Ping Chong + Company

Media Contact – Connie Shaver 612.308.5785
shaver@parksquaretheatre.org

Image of 5 women in a group. They are in a mix of styles of clothing and are all smiling.

Saint Paul, Minn., Feb 24, 2020 – Park Square Theatre resumes its 2019-2020 season with the world premiere production of FACE TO FACE: HMONG WOMEN’S EXPERIENCES (Mar 5-15), an interview-based theater production co-written and co-directed by Sara Zatz (Associate Director, Ping Chong + Company) and Twin Cities theater artist Katie Ka Vang, featuring five local Hmong community members, all women, sharing their true stories on stage. Told with humor, heart, and courage, it addresses complex issues such as the history and arrival of the Hmong community in St. Paul, coming of age as a first-generation Hmong American, and finding your own voice and identity while balancing culture and family.

The project began in April 2019; then community info sessions were held, and the open call for participants started and continued through October. The script is created from extensive interviews conducted by Zatz and Vang with the five cast members, then woven together to tell performers’ individual experiences in a chronological narrative that connects the personal to the political, with final script approval maintained by the cast. Through their stories, the cast addresses topics including mental health and depression, bullying, domestic and sexual violence, gender identity, beauty standards and more.

The script is performed by the community interviewees themselves, not actors. The result is a highly theatrical and emotional story-telling experience; what Ping Chong + Company Artistic Director Ping Chong calls a “seated opera for the spoken word.”

FACE TO FACE is a partnership with the internationally renowned Ping Chong + Company, a New York leader in community-specific, interview-based theatre events. Written and directed by Sara Zatz and Katie Ka Vang, in collaboration with the performers, the project is part of Ping Chong + Company’s ongoing interview-based community–specific oral history theatre work, Undesirable Elements.

The performers include Laurine Chang, Houa Moua, Pang Chai Xiong, Pang Foua Xiong and Cydi Ywj Siab Yang.

The Production team includes Sara Zatz (Co-writer/Co-director), Katie Ka Vang (Co-writer/Co-director) Maxwell Collyard (Video Designer) Shannon Elliott (Light Designer), Ashley Raper (Stage Manager) and Akiem Scott (Sound Designer).

The project received special funding from the Saint Paul Cultural STAR program, the Marbrook Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

ABOUT THE LEAD ARTISTS

Sara Zatz (Co-writer/Co-director) is the Associate Director of Ping Chong + Company where she oversees the company’s community engagement and training programs, and is the lead-artistic collaborator with Ping Chong on the interview-based Undesirable Elements series, exploring issues of culture and identity in the lives of individuals in specific communities. She is the writer and director of Secret Survivors, a work in a series which explores the experiences of survivors of child sexual abuse. Recent productions include (Un)Conditional, with individuals living with chronic illness (Profile Theatre), Generation NYZ  with NYC teens (New Victory Theater, La MaMa ETC), Undesirable Elements: Dearborn (Arab American National Museum), and Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity (national touring). She has spoken and presented workshops on community-engaged theater at many conferences and universities. She lives in Jackson Heights, Queens with her family.

Katie Ka Vang (Co-writer/Co-director) is a Hmong American Theater Artist and Playwright. Her work explores the complexities of identity. Her plays include WTF, Hmong Bollywood, 5:1 Meaning of Freedom; 6:2 Use of Sharpening, Myth of Xee, Fast FWD Motions, In Quarantine, FINAL ROUND and Spirit Trust. Her work has been developed and produced at Theater Mu, Pillsbury House Theatre, CHAT, Bushwick Starr, Bedlam Theatre, Theatre Unbound, Walker Art Center, Out North Art House, Intermedia Arts, Northern Sparks, The Royal Court (London) and Brown University. She’s received support from The Jerome Foundation, Knight Foundation, National Performance Network, Metropolitan Region Arts Council, and Minnesota State Arts Board. She holds an MFA in Playwriting from Brown University.

ABOUT PING CHONG + COMPANY COMMUNITY PROJECTS

“Generating empathy, defying small-mindedness, this is an inherently political show that arrives at a time of fervently uncivil discourse [and] believes in the power of storytelling to create a stronger, kinder culture.” The New York Times

“…consistently powerful and eye-opening.” The Washington Post

Ping Chong + Company produces works addressing the important cultural and civic issues of our times, creating theater that crosses boundaries of identity, community, and form.  Founded in 1975 by National Medal of Arts recipient Ping Chong, the company’s projects initiate dialogue about identity and the power of sharing individuals’ stories. This production is part of an ongoing series of community-specific oral history theater works known as the Undesirable Elements series. Created in 1992 by Ping Chong, each production is made in a specific community, with local participants testifying to their real lives and experiences. The script is based on interviews with the participants who then share their own true stories in the final production. Since 1992, over 60 productions have been made across the United States and abroad. Recent productions have explored themes as far ranging as the disability experience, Native American identity, the experiences of refugees in the U.S., and the experiences of survivors of sexual abuse. Ping Chong + Company has created documentaries, toolkits, and training workshops and arts education programs for communities who wish to use the arts to address social justice issues in their own work.

Ticket prices: $16-$30. Discounts are available for seniors, military personnel, those under age 30, and groups. Tickets are on sale at the Park Square Ticket Office, 20 W. Seventh Place, or by phone: 651.291.7005, (12 noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday), or online at parksquaretheatre.org.   #pstFACETOFACE

CALENDAR INFORMATION

Regular Run: Mar 5-15, 2020
Opening Night Reception: Mar 6
Post-show discussions: Mar 8 and 15

Tickets: $16-30
PARK SQUARE THEATRE, 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul
Ticket office: 651.291.7005 or parksquaretheatre.org

PHOTOS by Tomas Leal at parksquaretheatre.org/media/photos/

The Ticket Office is open from noon to 5:00 pm Wednesday through Friday. Call 651.291.7005.

SEASON TICKETS are on sale now.  Subscription package prices begin at $66.

PARK SQUARE THEATRE. 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul. Ticket Office: 651.291.7005. parksquaretheatre.org

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Announcing the 2019 Artist Fellowship Recipients

Program aims to increase the pipeline for under-represented artists

Saint Paul, Minn., March 13, 2019 – Flordelino Lagundino, Park Square Theatre’s John W. Harris Artistic Director, has announced the eight recipients for the pilot year of a new Artist Fellowship program at Park Square: Ricardo Beaird, Ernest Briggs, Mary Capers, Maxwell Collyard, Ashawnti Sakina Ford, Sophie Peyton, Lindsey C. Samples, DJ Kool Akiem Scott.

“Fellowships gave me an inside track at some of the best theatres in the country, advancing my artistry and building my network,” says Lagundino. “We were delighted to receive 58 applications this year. It’s important to me that in our work at Park Square we find ways to open doors and build a pipeline for all early career theatre artists, especially for marginalized communities such as indigenous, people of color, and LGBTQA artists, in order to create a greater sense of belonging for everyone in our community.”

The first year of the new theatre fellowship program is made possible by major grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and Saint Paul’s Cultural STAR program. Fellows will deepen and develop new skills over the upcoming year in residence by participating in projects which will connect them to Park Square and the Saint Paul/larger Twin Cities’ community.

For the 2019 fellowships, there were five assistant directing tracks and three assistant designer tracks assigned (design may be in any theatrical design medium: set, costume, lights, props, sound, or projections). Each fellow will assist on two shows from early stages through final production, and will have a voice in production meetings, planning, rehearsals, and direct collaboration with lead production staff and the Artistic Director.

Collectively, the fellows will form a self-directed cohort of emerging leaders and may participate in the various department functions at Park Square in areas such as casting, season planning, carpentry, electrics, wardrobe or run crew, and in budgeting, human resources or marketing. Additionally, there will be opportunities to meet with artistic leaders at Park Square’s partner theatres as well as other area theatrical institutions. To involve the fellow cohort with the wider community, staff support, and dedicated resources will be provided to help each fellow create an engagement experience as a part of Park Square’s mission to center artmaking within the ongoing dialogue we have with our community.

At the end of the fellowship year, the cohort will participate in an Evening Cabaret Performance in which Twin Cities Artistic Leaders will be invited. This culminating event will be co-hosted with the MN Theatre Alliance. Feedback will be considered for the planning of future iterations and development of the program.

Park Square’s community partners in this program include Springboard for the Arts, the MN Theatre Alliance, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, Theatre Mu, the History Theatre, PRIME Productions, and the East Side Freedom Library.

Headshots of recipients HERE  BIOS follow below.

Ricardo Beaird [Director Track] is a theatre maker and teaching artist from Nashville who recently performed at Park Square in Dot and Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery. Currently, Ricardo is an actor/presenter at the Science Museum of Minnesota. This year, he was selected to be a Red Eye Theater Works-In-Progress artist with his collaborator, Megan Burns.

Ernest Briggs [Director] is a professional actor and Twin Cities native who has worked in Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles and Florida. Ernest received his Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Florida. He has worked locally as an actor with Mixed Blood Theatre, Park Square Theatre, Girl Friday Productions, Minnesota History Theatre, Artistry Theatre, Children’s Theatre Company, Teatro Del Pueblo, Pillsbury House Theatre, Turtle Theatre Collective, South Coast Repertory (CA), Tilted Windmills Theatricals (FL) and various feature films. He has also directed productions for the Minnesota Fringe Festival, Nimbus Theatre and various short films.

Mary Capers [Design] is a wig designer from South Jamaica Queens, New York. She has a Bachelor of Arts from SUNY Fredonia and a pending Master of Fine Arts in Theatrical Design and Production from Brooklyn College. She has worked at various theatres around the country and is happy to finally call the Twin Cities home.

Maxwell Collyard [Design] is an interdisciplinary theatre/film artist based in the Twin Cities working mainly with digital content and live performance. Maxwell designed projections for Turtle Theater Collective, Theatre Novi Most, Frank Theatre, and the Playwrights’ Center. He also works as a cinematographer/editor for various fundraisers, Mixed Blood Theatre/Project 154, and with Fox and Coyote, Annie and the Bang Bang, Daniel Bonespur, and Porno Wolves to create music videos. He enjoys making movies in his spare time and is currently preparing a feature-length film for festivals. Maxwell also works as an actor and assistant director for theatres in the Twin Cities.

Ashawnti Sakina Ford [Director] is an actress, teaching artist, improviser, playwright, poet and director born and raised in the Twin Cities. Her work is typically centered in social change and arts accessibility. She recently co-founded The Black Ensemble Players theatre company to give rising black artists the opportunity to work on classical and new theatre. She is also a member of Blackout Improv which was recently recognized as a Minnesota Change-maker by MPR. Ashawnti has been seen on stages including the History Theatre and the Guthrie Dowling studio and has worked with companies including Full Circle Theatre, Sandbox Theatre and Combustible.

Sophie Peyton [Director] is a freelance director, dramaturg, and community engagement coordinator. Originally from Boston, she moved to Minneapolis to further her career in new play development and artistic administration. She holds a B.A. from Temple University and has worked on the administrative and producing staff at McCarter Theatre Center, Wilma Theater, and PlayPenn: New Play Development Conference. Regional credits include Minnesota Opera, Trademark Theater, History Theatre, Park Square Theatre, McCarter Theatre Center, and Wilma Theater. She’s had the pleasure of assisting directors Emily Mann, Adam Immerwahr, Jamil Jude, Peter Rothstein, and Doug Scholz-Carlson.

Lindsey C. Samples [Director] is a multidisciplinary theater artist. She believes art is a critical ingredient in fostering a healthy society and creating necessary social change. As a director, performer, teaching artist, and arts administrator, she has used theater as a bridge to be in conversation across communities, geography, cultures, languages, abilities, and identities. Lindsey holds a B.A. in Theater from Loyola University Chicago and an M.Ed. in Youth Development Leadership from the University of Minnesota.

DJ Kool Akiem Scott [Design] is an educator, teaching artist, renowned DJ, composer, sound designer, and producer. Widely recognized as a pioneer of the Twin Cities Hip-Hop community, he’s produced for the legendary Micranots, was DJ for MF Doom’s domestic and European tours, and has performed with artists such as Public Enemy, De La Soul, The Roots, Grandmaster Flash, and Jazzy Jeff. Kool Akiem has produced seven albums, many of which are critically acclaimed that released on Rhymesayers Entertainment, Subverse Records, and Mental Madness Wreckords. He has held DJ residencies in New York and Atlanta, and hosted radio shows including The Panther Power Hour on WRFG (Atlanta) and WEQY (Saint Paul). His expertise and philosophies on Sampling and Hip Hop pedagogy have been featured in several books including Five Percenter Rap by Felicia Miyakawa and Making Beats by Joseph Schlosh. He composed original scores for the award-winning stage play Kung Fu Zombies vs Cannibals (Theater Mu), was DJ for Illyria (Theater Latte Da), a sound designer for The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up (Theater Mu) and was recently commissioned to compose the theme song for Kung Fu Zombies vs Shaman Warrior (Smithsonian). He taught Hip Hop Music History at McNally Smith College of Music and conducts DJ and recording residencies and workshops for all ages as a teaching artist through COMPAS, East Metro Integration District and Intermedia Arts.

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PARK SQUARE THEATRE. 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul. Ticket Office: 651.291.7005. parksquaretheatre.org

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