by Lia Chang
AsAmNews Arts and Entertainment Reporter
Dipika Guha, Adam Gwon, Octavio Solis and Lauren Yee are among the second group of playwrights chosen to participate in CrossRoads, South Coast Repertory’s new play commissioning initiative, thanks to funding from the Time Warner Foundation. This is the second time the foundation has provided funding for the initiative.
The community-based CrossRoads project works with writers to develop plays after they undertake residencies through which they explore the diversity of Orange County. The quartet join the first group of CrossRoads playwrights: Luis Alfaro, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Carla Ching, Aditi Brennan Kapil, Qui Nguyen, Mona Monsour and Tanya Saracho.
During the summer of 2015, the four new CrossRoads playwrights are each spending 10 days in Orange County, getting fully immersed in the county’s rich cultural, social and political life. Through their explorations, they discover diverse stories and personal connections, and then will write plays either directly or indirectly informed by their residency experiences. These experiences are made possible by the generosity of community groups and leaders in the area.
About the 2015 CrossRoads Playwrights:
Dipika Guha was born in Calcutta and raised in India, Russia and the United Kingdom. Her work has been developed at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Playwrights Horizons, Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival, Naked Angels, Fault Line Theatre, Judson Church, One Coast Collaboration and the Tobacco Factory (UK), amongst others. www.dipikaguha.com
Adam Gwon is a composer/lyricist whose musicalsOrdinary Days and Cloudlands (co-written with Octavio Solis) were produced at South Coast Repertory. His honors include the Kleban Award, the Ebb Award, the Rodgers Award and the Loewe Award. His songs have been performed by such luminaries as Audra McDonald, Kelli O’Hara and Brian d’Arcy James. www.adamgwon.com
Octavio Solis is a playwright and director living in Oregon. Author of over 20 plays, he is considered by many to be one of the most prominent Latino playwrights in America. His works have been mounted at theatres across the country, and many have been published, including his anthology, The River Plays. For South Coast Repertory, he wrote the long running La Posada Magica and Cloudlands, a musical co-written with Adam Gwon.
Lauren Yee is a playwright born and raised in San Francisco. Her work has been produced and developed around the country, including Victory Gardens Theater (Samsara), San Francisco Playhouse (in a word), Pan Asian Repertory Theatre (Ching Chong Chinaman) and Playwrights Realm (The Hatmaker’s Wife). Yee is a former Dramatists Guild fellow, MacDowell Colony fellow and Public Theater Emerging Writers Group member and is currently a member of the Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab and a Playwrights’ Center Core Writer. She is the 2015 resident playwright at Anaheim’s Chance Theatre, which recently produced the west coast premiere of Samsara. www.laurenyee.com
“Through this initiative, we’ve deepened or made new relationships with other organizations within the Orange County community. It’s also having an impact on how we think about our commissioning program and playwright residencies,” said Masterson. “We’re developing an exciting model for the future. This second round of commissions will allow us to perfect that model.”
“We’ve already begun to yield great dividends from our first round of CrossRoads writers,” said Artistic Director Marc Masterson. “It has produced great plays, like Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone, opening the Julianne Argyros Stage season, and Aditi Kapil’s Orange, read at the Pacific Playwrights Festival earlier this year.”
Following its world premiere at SCR, Nguyen’s Vietgone also will be produced at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2016. In July, Ching’s Nomad Hotel continued development as part of the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neil Theater Center. Monsour’s unseen was on The Kilroys’ “The List” 2015—a list of the top un- and under-produced plays by female playwrights. It also gained further development at New York Stage and Film and a Studio Retreat at the Lark Play Development Center.
Learn more about CrossRoads: http://www.scr.org/get-connected/crossroads
ABOUT SOUTH COAST REPERTORY: Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964 by David Emmes and Martin Benson, is led by Artistic Director Marc Masterson and Managing Director Paula Tomei. It is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. While its productions represent a balance of classic and modern theatre, SCR is renowned for its extensive new-play development program, which includes the nation’s largest commissioning program for emerging and established writers. Of SCR’s 491 productions, one-quarter have been world premieres. SCR-developed works have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes and eight Pulitzer nominations, several Obie Awards and scores of major new-play awards. Located in Costa Mesa, Calif., SCR is home to the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the 94-seat Nicholas Studio. www.scr.org
Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.