By Andrew Hamlin
Northwest Asian Weekly
If you’re wondering what a walking tour of the Chinatown/International District, theater arts, street performance, conceptual arts and snacks, can have in common … well, you probably aren’t alone. Seattle’s Asian American theater troupe, SIS Productions, answers this question in their new production, “Revealed: In Search Of Bruce Lee,” running through Halloween at Hing Hay Park.
“It’s not like what most people think of when they think of theater,” said playwright Kathy Hsieh. “It’s a walking tour, where people will encounter theatrical vignettes, each written by different Asian American playwrights inspired by actual events in Bruce Lee’s life or on his philosophy about life or his films or writings.”
The playwrights include Kathy Hsieh, Maggie Lee, May Nguyen, Roger Tang and Zheng Wang, with some material by Bruce Lee, who came to Seattle as a young man and attended the University of Washington before becoming world famous.
“They can expect to see something that integrates the unusual ‘theater space’,” said playwright May Nguyen.
“Without the artificiality of a theater with great lighting and a set, they’ll see something familiar become transformed into an experience they wouldn’t have had in that space or even noticed was a possibility.”
The troupe built the show through individual vignettes by the playwrights inspired by Lee, Nguyen said.
“From [Lee’s legacy of] kung fu fighting, they’ll see an art form born from the all-too-human battle we wage with each other. That something so precise and disciplined can be put together from something so violent, visceral, and emotionally raw,” she said.
“There was a stronger concern of making sure we included as much as possible. From biographical stories to touching upon his philosophies to highlighting his martial arts style, we wanted to cover the gamut if we could,” she said.
Starting a piece dedicated to Bruce Lee’s legacy in an open public space, may seem odd, but Nguyen pointed out, “Art can happen anywhere.”
Hsieh said SIS productions was founded in 2000 to “create, develop and produce quality works that involve Asian American women, their themes, and Asian American issues.”
An early project of SIS was “Sex In Seattle,” an ongoing theatrical soap opera on love and other relationships amongst Asians here in town.
The four founding members of SIS, in 2000, were Hsieh, Moi (she uses only that name), Serin Ngai, and Amy Washke. But members have come and gone over the years.
Roger Tang, who produces (“with a little writing on the side”), went to Stanford with the Tony-Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang, and helped put on one of Hwang’s early plays in the dorm they shared.
“Everyone will go away hopefully knowing more about the International District and Bruce Lee and have had fun along the way,” Hsieh said. (end)
Upcoming SIS productions will participate in Represent! A Multicultural Playwrights Festival at ACT on Nov. 12 with a Local Writers Showcase, and then on Nov. 13 presenting a reading of a new play called “The Tiger Among Us,” by award-winning playwright Lauren Yee. The troupe will also present Insatiable! Seattle’s 8th Annual Asian American Playwrights Festival.
“Revealed: In Search Of Bruce Lee,” plays 10/12 & 10/19 starting at Hing Hay Park, 423 Maynard Ave South in Seattle’s Chinatown/International District. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://www.artscrush.org/search/results/keyword/1/events/none/up/Revealed, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 206.323.9443.
Andrew Hamlin can be reached at email@example.com.