Presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater and East West Theater at Princeton University on
April 9 and 10, 2021, at 8 PM
Approximately 80 minutes with no intermission.
America, circa 1800s.
Afong Moy — Jacy Duan ’21*
Atung — Jonathan Som ’22*
*denotes a certificate student in the Program in Theater
Director — Richard Peng
Set Designer — Minjae Kim ’21*
Costume Designer — Megan Pan ’22*
Lighting Designer — Angelica Qin ’23*
Sound Designer — Minjae Kim ’21*
Dramaturg — Jacy Duan ’21*
Director of Photography – Adam Olkin
Video Editor – Milan Eldridge
Stage Manager — Megan Pan ’22*
Run Crew — Cindy Han ’22*
*denotes a certificate student in the Program in Theater
Mark Nelson — Acting and Directing
Lawrence Moten — Scenic Design
Sarita Fellows — Costume Design
Tess James — Design & Tech Coordinator
LEWIS CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Chair: Tracy K. Smith
Executive Director: Marion Friedman Young
PRODUCTION AND ADMINISTRATION
Director, Producing Artistic Director, Theater And Music Theater Season: Jane Cox
View all staff profiles »
Producer: Darryl Waskow
Production Manager: Chloë Z. Brown
Production Stage Manager: Carmelita Becnel
Resident Musical Director/Composer: Vince di Mura
Assistant Stage Manager: Rob Del Colle
Costume Shop Manager: E. Keating Helfrich
Assistant Costume Shop Manager: Julia Kosanovich
Draper: Caitlin Brown
Technical Director: Timothy Godin
Assistant Technical Director: Jesse Froncek
Theater Technician: Torrey Drum
Lighting & Stage Supervisor: Matt Pilsner
Props Master: Allie Geiger Khanna
Scenic Artist: Melissa Riccobono
Master Carpenter: Michael A. Smola
Sound Supervisor: Kay Richardson
Director of Communications: Steve Runk
Multimedia Specialist: Zohar Lavi-Hasson
Visual Communications Specialist: Tracy Patterson
Web & Multimedia Strategist: Jonathan Sweeney
Communications Associate: Jaclyn Sweet
Communications Assistant: Hope VanCleaf
On April 8, 2021, at 2 p.m. (EDT), join a live talkback on Zoom with playwright Lloyd Suh and Princeton Professors Anne Cheng and Beth Lew-Williams.
On April 9 at 9:45 p.m. (EDT), join a live talkback on Zoom with the cast and creative team.
Recordings of both talkbacks will be available on-demand through April 11, 2021.
The filmed performance will be closed captioned in Chinese and English, and the talkbacks will be live captioned in English. If you are in need of other access accommodations in order to participate in this event, please contact the Lewis Center at 609-258-5262 or email LewisCenter@princeton.edu at least 2 weeks in advance of the event date.
A NOTE FROM THE THESIS PROPOSER
In 1834, Afong Moy became the first Chinese woman to arrive in America. She was presented as an exhibit in museums across the country as a curiosity and an object. For over a decade, she lived her life on display—eating, walking, drinking tea—under the gaze of white audiences, a gaze that rendered her backwards and inferior, something to conquer and possess, not to humanize and respect.
In his play, The Chinese Lady, Lloyd Suh injects a new life and voice to Afong Moy. Moy tells her story to the audience, from beginning to end. I chose to propose this show this year as my thesis performance because when I first read the play, Afong Moy felt like a friend. She felt like someone I knew: all at once as a distant Chinese ancestor, my Chinese grandmother, my immigrant Chinese mother, and myself. She started her life in America, like all the immigrants who came before and after her, excited and hopeful, eager to see America, to learn English, to use forks, and to share her culture with Americans in the hopes that it could lead to empathy and compassion across an ocean of difference.
But how could she know that when Americans saw her, all they saw was an object, a decoration, an ornament? All they saw was a monstrosity, something less than human, from her small, slanted eyes, to her tiny, bound feet. All they saw was something inherently foreign and despicable, something to spit at, to push, to shove, to kill, and eventually, to ban from their country altogether. In 1850, Afong Moy disappeared completely from our historical record; no one knows what happened to her. Yet, she still survives today.
Afong Moy continues to live in the strong Asian women in my life and in myself. She lives in the wrinkles of my mother’s eyes as she squints into the California sun after landing in America for the first time. She lives in the palms of our hands, where we hold fat little dumplings and delicately pinch together the edges. She lives in the tears in my eyes when I am laughed at and told for the first time at age 12 that I am not American, that I do not belong in the place that I call home. She lives in the candle I hold in my hand as I mourn the deaths of six Asian women and two other victims at the hands of a white supremacist and terrorist.
She lives because over 200 years later, the fight is still not over. Asian Americans are still struggling to be seen, not simply for the complexity of our language, the color of our skin, or the shape of our eyes, but for our humanity, for the shared humanity that lives in each of us. Six Asian women were killed in Atlanta on March 16, 2021, not because the murderer was addicted to sex, but because he was addicted to the power he could wield over Asian women—over objects inferior to him, objects that existed purely for his enjoyment, devoid of their own voice, power, or control.
Objects like Afong Moy.
Giving life to Afong Moy these past few months has brought me so much healing, as well as a deeper understanding of the legacy and strength of the Asian women who have come before me. It has given me the strength to not feel defeated by the tragedy borne by the Asian American community but determined to fight back. Even though Afong Moy endures so much pain, loss, and loneliness, she does not despair. She looks ahead to those who come after her—to people like myself, to people like you.
Thank you for coming to hear Afong Moy’s story tonight. I hope that you will hear her voice, carry on her spirit, and continue the fight.
— Jacy Duan ’21
Thank you for coming to watch East West Theater and the Lewis Center for the Arts’ production of Lloyd’s Suh’s The Chinese Lady. 谢谢大家来看我们辛辛苦苦排练的戏剧. Much like our main character, Afong Moy, I am very glad you’re here.
This play is history and it is now. 这出戏关于当时，也关于现代. It is interpretive and it is literal. 有想象力，但很真实. This play, this exhibition, is a performance, but our actors’ lived experiences are not. I hope as you watch this show, you will see how the characters and the actors’ lives unite with one another. This play is the story of Afong Moy and her translator Atung. But it is also the story of Jacy Duan. Of Jonathan Som. Of Megan Pan and Minjae Kim and Angelica Qin. Of Richard Peng. You do not have to like the story. You do not have to fall in love with it the way we did. My beloved company and I simply ask that you look and listen, as we would to you.
There is very little I have to say that Jacy has not said already. I would only like to acknowledge how grateful I am to have been asked to be a part of this project. This team is full of talented, old friends. How blessed I am to be in their company during this time, to lend a hand in telling their story.
— Richard Peng
The Chinese Lady is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York.
Co-world premiere presented at Barrington Stage (Julianne Boyd, Artistic Director; Branden Huldeen, Artistic Producer), in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, July 2018
Commissioned by and co-world premiere presented by Ma-Yi Theater Company (Ralph B. Peña, Artistic Director) in New York City.
Developed with support of the Roe Green Award at Cleveland Play House.
©2021. This video recording was produced by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service and Lloyd Suh. All rights reserved. This performance is authorized for non-commercial use only. By accepting this license, you agree not to authorize or permit the Video to be recorded, copied, distributed, broadcast, telecast or otherwise exploited, in whole or in part, in any media now known or hereafter developed.
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