ALISON YUEMING QUCHUANG Stage is the first Mandarin Chinese-based bilingual, bicultural theater collective in the United States, homed at Boston, MA, dedicated to building community locally and internationally, and breaking boundaries to expand our awareness of the world we live in.
AATAB is a social collective, founded in September 2018, that seeks to empower, connect, and create opportunities for Asian American, Pacific Islander American, SWANA American, and Kanaka Maoli Theatre Artists in Boston through Community Gatherings and Social Events, Panels, discussions, and staged readings by/for/about our community.
Pao Arts Center is Boston's first AAPI culture and arts center situated in the heart of Chinatown, presenting programs from exhibitions to performances that incorporate community connections and narratives Through its innovative approach, Pao Arts Center empowers creativity, connection, learning, and support.
Artist Statement:We are the creative leaders of Chuang Stage, Asian American Theatre Artists of Boston, and Pao Arts Center; as 1.5 gen immigrants and multicultural queer femme API artists, we are here to center the experience of being multilingual, or interacting with multiple languages, and the concept of transcreation vs. translation.
At times, it can feel like we can swim between worlds because we have a wider knowledge of ways to express ourselves. Alternatively, knowing so many languages can feel like we don’t know each of them and their respective cultures enough. When we lose the language of our heritage, are we also losing the culture? Is that bad? And for non-native English-speakers, why are we perceived as being less smart when we have to speak in English, especially in the U.S.?
Our inspiration for the project started with Zhu Yi’s play, A DEAL, knowing that there were two versions. While we initially thought to combine them to create a new bilingual version, we realized that doing so would not reflect Yi’s intentions of working in different languages to begin with. Rather than doing a literal translation, Yi was intentional with her word choice when writing in English, her non-native language, to bring out the absurdity of her characters and the world she creates. It was more than just making it understandable. And so, we decided that we want to present both versions, the Mandarin version being a U.S. premiere, to explore how language itself is a tool that can be manipulated into storytelling.
Thinking locally, and feeling the rage and the desire to see stories for us-by us, we remembered the last time Boston had a locally-produced Asian American story was January 2020 (Wolf Play), and then May 2019 (Pacific Overtures, Endlings). It's time to make Boston theater come back to a fresh perspective and new set of programmings that highlights our AAPI experience and talent.
Chuang Stage, Asian American Theatre Artists of Boston (AATAB), and Pao Arts Center (the Center) unite for “Found in Translation”, a staged-reading and community workshop series in AAPI neighborhoods that amplifies the power and complexities of being multilingual, immigrants, or identifying as AAPI in Greater Boston.
The four shows in this season includes CHOSEN FAMILY, a new Vietnamese-English bilingual immersive play by Jessica Lưu Pelletier; A DEAL by Zhu Yi and 杂音 by Zhu Yi, *one story in Mandarin and English* produced side by side in two language contexts; and an outdoor live foley radio play, THE GHOST OF KEELUNG by Jamie Lin, at the Rose Kennedy Greenway in front of the Chinatown Gate.
These stories take us through the Vietnamese Buddhist afterlife, the American entertainment industry, and a haunted tavern in Taiwan--but ultimately, connect us further in the heart of Boston and Chinatown. We hope to connect the AAPI community through conversations about race, language, identity, and our experiences when it comes to relating to our birth country or immigration timeline.
Surrounding these plays, there will be community writing workshops, story circles, play-reading clubs, and collaborations with college international student groups.
- For CHOSEN FAMILY, we will produce a community event in Fields Corner, Dorchester where Vietnamese immigrant families primarily reside, and provide a shuttle bus to downtown Boston and a free meal in Chinatown.
- For A DEAL and 杂音, we hope to attract many first-time audiences by engaging them with in-house programming, paving an introductory path to theater and bridging the generational gap with play-reading events with local Chinatown organizations which may include Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center, Kwong Kow Chinese School, Chinese Youth Essential Services.
With these connectivity and community outreach efforts, direct dialogues and surveys will help us identify needs and barriers to theater going for Chinese-speaking seniors, new immigrants, international students, American Born Asians. We will ask, "What are the experiences they would like to see reflected? How are the community feeling about their identities, and what would we like to learn and grow from here together?"
Boston theater companies will also be invited in the hopes to catalyze new programming possibilities and introduce who’s next in AAPI talent, to envision an art scene that showcases the unique, nuanced and contemporary story of Boston.
As organizations that focus on Asian and Asian American culture, we center conversations and boost visibility for artists of the Asian Diaspora through this series (Vietnamese American, Chinese American, and Taiwanese American), while including other artists who work with other non-English languages.
We highlight intergenerational conversations, and explore how generational and socioeconomic differences affect our relationship to language. We connect young queer and trans folx of color and immigrants to the senior residents to Chinatown, at Chinatown with all-age, accessible programmings; we create accessibility by centering our events around food, family, and joy. CHOSEN FAMILY was programmed to cater this goal by providing free shuttle to see the play, a free meal, a family-oriented story circle event, and a fully trans and queer AAPI creative team.
We present new possibilities of storytelling and entertainment through multilingual theatre, and activate new audiences to the theatre--78% of CHUANG Stage’s audiences never saw theatre in Boston before engaging with CHUANG, due to the language barriers. We are here to disrupt that norm. A DEAL 杂音 was programmed to cater this goal by providing a brand new vision into Chinese immigrant hardship, global white supremacy dilemma, and cultural dialogues in both and interweaving languages.
And as anti-Asian racism grows—whether it’s through vandalism, verbal and physical attacks on Asian people walking down the street, or the writing-off of MINARI and THE FAREWELL as “foreign” films when created by American studios and artists—we fight against stigmas that speaking with broken or bad English means we are less intelligent, or less American. In fact, accents connect us and give us personalities and proud lineages. THE GHOST OF KEELUNG is here to cater this goal--to show that having a multifaceted relationship to language are actually signs of our determination, persistence, and bravery, for they exemplify a great odyssey of leaving home.