By Andrew Hamlin
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
“Talk It Up! Inspiring Asian Americans,” a live talk show, running September 23-24 at the Theatre Off Jackson, features, amongst other attractions, dramatic performers, musicians, comedy, dance troupes, and an Elvis impersonator. But the festive surface does conceal some more serious issues.
Kathy Hsieh, who organized the event through SIS productions, said the show came about largely because “so much of the news media coverage throughout the pandemic created a surge of anti-Asian hate and prejudice.
Sometimes the most powerful way to combat hate and prejudice is for people to see who they perceive as ‘the other’ as human beings. Stories and art are the expression of who we are as human beings, so what better way to share our humanity as Asian Americans, than to share about who we are through the arts.”
Hsieh, a Seattle-based actor, writer, and director, had the original idea for the show, and reached out to the artists. The talk-show format means that some of the acts will chat with the audience, some will perform, and some will play games with audience members for prizes.
“The prizes we have are like what people might find in the talk-show format,” elaborated Hsieh. “We have gift certificates or merchandise from different Asian American businesses, plus other gifts like food or chocolate.
“So we do encourage people to think of this event like a talk show, but Asian American style, as opposed to a game show which feels like a more competitive format. One game will be Breaking the Asian Model Minority Myth, where we’ll invite several people from the audience to share a story of how they do not fit the model minority myth and just for participating they’ll get a prize. We’ll be doing some Asian American trivia.”
The “Talk It Up!” talents were selected based on having a mix of people who have truly inspirational stories or work to share. They include TV and film star Amy Hill. Also Raymond Sismaet, who had a near-death experience with COVID back in March 2020, before many people in this country even knew much about the virus will demonstrate his virtuoso ukulele talent.
Justin Huertas writes and performs music—he’s fresh off his first musical, “Lizard Boy.” The Model Minority Moms have great tips for mothers trying to juggle career, family and the weight of the Model Minority Myth. Dr. Anu Taranath offers life tips for anyone traveling to other countries.
Writer/performer/activist Susan Lieu, is best known for her theatrical solo show “140 Lbs: How Beauty Killed My Mother.”
Tony Colinares will strut and swivel through his Elvis tribute. Maritess Zurbano combines stage magic with hypnotism. Dare To Dance, a local organization, celebrates a wide diversity of people who want to dance. They also helped reach out to other dance ensembles, bringing in Eurasia Ensemble and the MMDC Dance Company. Comedian Cindy Su starred recently in “Kiki Funny Mama’s Night Out,” backed by SIS Productions.
As for the venue, Hsieh explained, “The Theatre Off Jackson is a lovely theater space right in the heart of Seattle’s Chinatown/International District.
SIS Productions has often done projects to attract people to the CID, so that when they attend our event they might support some of the local businesses, and just be reminded that the neighborhood is here.”
Asked about future installments of the show, Hsieh mused that if the pandemic taught us anything, it should be to “live in the moment because anything can change.” But she won’t rule out future installments of the “Talk It Up” in-the-moment blend.
“Talk It Up! Inspiring Asian Americans,” runs September 23-24 at the Theater Off Jackson. For showtimes, ticket prices, and other information, visit celebr8women.wordpress.com/events-2/talk-it-up-inspiring-asian-americans.
Andrew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.