Showing posts with label Stuck Elevator. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stuck Elevator. Show all posts

Dartmouth Department of Theater, Hopkins Center for the Arts and NYTW present...

August 22, 2015, 8pm

Bentley Theater, Dartmouth College

Creative Team
Byron Au Yong, composer
Aaron Jafferis, librettist
Ed Iskandar, director
Jody Schum, music director
David Sawicki, co-music director
Jeremy S. Bloom, sound/foley designer
Lindsey Turteltaub, stage manager

Julius Ahn · Kim Blanck · Philippe Bowgen · Ryan-James Hatanaka · James Seol

Shenghua Hu, violin · Sha Wu, cello · Lee Caron, percussion

“This year’s selections include two musicals in development, American Pop, composed and written by Obie winner Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Fortress of Solitude) and Stuck Elevator by composer Byron Au Yong and librettist Aaron Jafferis, a hip hop poet and playwright.” —New York Theatre Workshop

Stuck Elevator

Chamber Opera / Music Theater
for voices, violin, cello, piano, percussion, bicycle wheel, soundtrack

“... one of the more ambitious, listenable modern scores in contemporary musical theater.”
Andrew Beck, Hartford Arts Examiner

Stuck Elevator is a comic-rap-scrap-metal-opera prompted by the real-life experience of a Chinese food deliveryman trapped in an elevator for 81 hours.

Video Trailer

for more media, visit

Creative Team
Byron Au Yong, composer
Aaron Jafferis, librettist

Duration: 81 minutes
Cast: 5 actors, 4 musicians

 · Guang 洸 (tenor)
 · Míng 茗/Ensemble (soprano)
 · Marco/Ensemble (tenor)
 · Wáng Yuè 王岳/Nephew/Ensemble (baritone)
 · Zhong Yì 忠佚/Boss’Wife/Ensemble (bass-baritone)

 · violin, cello, piano, percussion, soundtrack

American Conservatory Theatre
San Francisco, April 2013

International Festival of Arts & Ideas
Long Wharf Theatre
New Haven, June 2013

(for a list of the creative team & previous performers, visit Stuck Elevator Events)

Producer Contact
Thomas O. Kriegsmann
+1 (917) 386-5468
tommy (at)
Audio Demo

2013 Outstanding Original Musical, Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle
2013 Outstanding Principal Actor in a Musical, Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle
2013 Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award
2013 NEA Art Works Award

Press Quotes
“Audacious, compelling and hugely imaginative.”
Leo Stutzin, Huffington Post
“... claustrophobic and expansive, intimate and existential, personal and political all at once.”
Frank Rizzo, Variety

“A vibrant opera-musical theater hybrid with a story both personally compelling and eye-opening.”
Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle
Words on Plays
A.C.T.'s in-depth performance guide includes interviews with the creative team + specific details about immigration related to Stuck Elevator (PDF)

Define American
a media + culture campaign that holds conversations about immigration and citizenship in America

(for more links about the production + research, visit Stuck Elevator Resources)

Stuck Elevator was developed, in part, by the Sundance Institute Theatre Program with additional support from the Sundance Institute’s Time Warner Fellowship Program

Stuck Elevator is a project of Creative Capital, and was developed, in part, with the assistance of the Asian/Pacific/American Institute artist-in-residence program at NYU, New York Theatre Workshop Residency at Dartmouth's Hopkins Center for the Arts, and Yale Institute for Music Theatre

Touring was made possible with funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Pilot, with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Support for earlier versions from 4Culture, Artist Trust, API/2, City of Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, Hand2Mouth’s Risk/Reward New Performance Festival, Museum of Chinese in America, On the Boards’ NW New Works Festival, Theatre Off Jackson & Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

Broadway World reviews Stuck Elevator

The American Dream, Immigration Woes, Super Heroes Converge in a STUCK ELEVATOR
By Lauren Yarger

How many people can you fit comfortably in one elevator? If you have great musical and storytelling ability, like composer Byron Au Yong and librettist Aaron Jafferis, creators of STUCK ELEVATOR, playing at Long Wharf Theatre as part of the New Haven Festival of Arts and Ideas, the answer is quite a few.

They tell the story (based on a true one) of Guang (Julius Ahn), an illegal immigrant who gets stuck in a Bronx elevator for 81 hours while making deliveries for the Happy Dragon Chinese Restaurant.

Something goes wrong after Guang pushes the button in the elevator (designed by Daniel Ostling in open-frame fashion) on Friday at 6:55 pm. A series of noises and flashing lights leave the elevator disabled and Guang, too afraid to use the emergency call button which will summon police who might question his documentation, waits patiently for a repairman to come and let him go (sound and design by Mikhail Fiksel; Ted Boyce-Smith is credited as associate lighting designer). No one realizes he's in the elevator, however, and he remains trapped until early Tuesday morning.

As minutes turn to hours, Guang finds ways to occupy the time and divert his thoughts from the fact that he only has a few packets of soy, duck and sweet-and-sour sauce and a fortune cookie to eat and that there is nowhere to relieve himself. The fortune's cookie's message comes true: "You will soon be aware of your growing awareness."

He thinks about his wife, Ming (Marie-France Arcilla), and son (Raymond Lee) back home in China. It has been two years since he left them in search of a better life in America with his nephew (also Lee), hidden in a container aboard a ship. He still owes $80,000 to the criminal who smuggled them in, and every hour away from his takeout deliveries means money lost in tips. It also means lost revenue for the restaurant, and the Boss's wife (played by male Francis Jue) can be less than sympathetic. She once required him to pay back $200 taken when he was mugged at knifepoint.

As hours turn to days, Guang keeps telling himself things could be worse. He remembers his loved ones and incidents from his life. He is "visited" by these folks, along with co-worker and fellow illegal immigrant Marco (Joel Perez), to whom Guang now regrets selling the cell phone which might have allowed him to call for help. His thoughts sustain him, but also reveal how he is consumed by the need for money to pay off his debts and an overwhelming sense that he is letting everyone down and losing face.

The story is compelling and richly directed by Chay Yew. Yong's hybrid score is entertaining and melodic, sung by exceptional voices. Korean-American tenor Ahn reprises this role from Stuck Elevator's world premiere at American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco (a workshop version was performed at Festival 2010 as part of the Yale Institute for Music Theatre). Music described as "comic-rap-scrap metal" might cause doubt, but opera and rap seem as natural here as soy sauce with fried rice.

New Haven native Jafferis' book is seasoned with humor. At one point, as Guang begins to hallucinate, he imagines a contest between super-hero "Takeout Man" and "Otis, the Elevator," a robotic, elevator monster (creatively costumed by designer Myung Hew Cho). There are some moments of confusion, however - why did Guang get into the elevator to make a takeout delivery without any food, for example, and at one point, from the action, I thought he already had been freed from the elevator only to discover that he was still in there.

The show also could use some trimming (it seemed a little long even at just 80 minutes with no intermission), but when we realize that for every minute on stage, the real takeout delivery man spent an hour trapped in that elevator, this is a minor complaint. This unique and absorbing presentation stays with you after you leave the theater. It will remind you to be grateful for the freedoms we have in this country the next time you call for Chinese takeout.

Published in Broadway World.

Arts & Ideas

International Festival of Arts & Ideas presents

in association with Long Wharf Theatre

June 20-22, 25-29 at 8pm
June 22-23, 26, 29 at 2pm

Music by Byron Au Yong
Libretto by Aaron Jafferis
Directed by Chay Yew
Music Directed by Frederick Alden Terry

Julius Ahn, Marie-France Arcilla, Francis Jue, Raymond Lee, Joel Perez

Shenghua Hu (violin), Frederick Alden Terry (cello), Byron Au Yong (piano), Lee Caron (percussion)

Daniel Ostling Scenic Designer
Mikhail Fiksel Sound Designer
Myung Hee Cho Costume Designer
Ted Boyce-Smith Associate Lighting Designer
Alexandra Friedman Associate Scenic Designer
Naya Chang Assistant Director

Stuck Elevator at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas presented with support from: NEA Arts Works, NEFA, Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven, Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven

Stuck Elevator was developed and premiered by the American Conservatory Theatre (Carey Perloff, Artistic Director), San Francisco, CA, from April 4-28, 2013

Stuck Elevator was developed, in part, by the Sundance Institute Theatre Program with additional support from the Sundance Institute’s Time Warner Fellowship Program

Stuck Elevator is a project of Creative Capital, and was developed, in part, with the assistance of the Asian/Pacific/American Institute artist-in-residence program at NYU and Yale Institute for Music Theatre. Touring is made possible with funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Pilot, with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Support for earlier versions from 4Culture, Artist Trust, API/2, City of Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, Hand2Mouth’s Risk/Reward New Performance Festival, Museum of Chinese in America, On the Boards’ NW New Works Festival, Theatre Off Jackson and Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

Stark Insider visits Stuck Elevator

San Francisco’s Stark Insider visited the American Conservatory Theatre studios during rehearsals of Stuck Elevator. Check out the fun video they made with clips of rehearsal footage + interviews with director Chay Yew and actor Joel Perez:

Here are excerpts from Trapped in an Elevator for 81 Hours by Clinton Stark:
When we headed this week to the A.C.T. rehearsal space in San Francisco, I expected a straightforward account — okay, here’s a guy stock in an elevator, who hallucinates in fantastical, hyper, stereo-vision, before being remarkably rescued days later. Case closed. Substitute the elevator with an isolated slot canon, Guang with James Franco, and you might even have the Bronx version of 127 hours. Isolation, hallucination, hunger. We’ve seen that before. But there’s a few things that takes this production in otherwise unexpected directions.

For one, we soon see the elevator as a metaphor for the American Dream; symbolizing what we can and cannot achieve. Specifically, immigration becomes a major theme.

“Instead of an awful Andy Warhol experience of trapping you in a little elevator for eighty-one hours for you to be with this one person,” says Yew. “The elevator is beautiful in that wonderful metaphorical way. Most people are stuck. We forget that a lot of illegal immigrants basically service this country in so many ways.”

“If you see a Mexican gardener, he’s one of the few lucky ones that has crossed the desert to be here. You don’t realize he’s working for $30 per day. And he’s seen, smelled and maybe even experienced a bit of death along the way.”

In the words of artistic director Carey Perloff, “Who would have thought you could turn the true story of a frightened Chinese deliveryman stuck in an elevator into a hilarious and heartbreaking musical about hunger, immigration, family, dreams, and duck sauce?”

The other facet of Stuck Elevator that caught my attention as I watched the six member ensemble during the spirited rehearsal session was the hybrid nature of its presentation. Yes, it’s a play. But it’s one that employs a stylish mix of opera, musical theater, and solo performance to tell a story rich in quasi-reality.
Stuck Elevator plays at the American Conservatory Theatre, April 4-28, 2013.

"Shame" from Stuck Elevator

Julius Ahn sings “Shame” from Stuck Elevator accompanied by music director Dolores Duran-Cefalu. Also in this video are librettist Aaron Jafferis and I talking about the show and this number.

Stuck Elevator premieres at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, April 4-28, 2013.

Stuck Elevator premieres at A.C.T. in 2013

Media Contact
Randy Taradash
Associate Director of Marketing and Press
(415) 439-2351 or

American Conservatory Theatre Announces 2012-13 Season
Below are excerpts from A.C.T.'s press release...
World Premiere Musical Event
Music by Byron Au Yong
Libretto by Aaron Jafferis
Directed by Chay Yew 
April 4–28, 2013
Press Night: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 
"[Yew has] visionary direction" —Entertainment Today 
"Moving and funny" —Seattlest 
In the spirit of the beloved hit The Black Rider, A.C.T. continues the tradition of introducing eclectic, unforgettable musical projects to the stage. Stuck Elevator is based on the true story of a Chinese restaurant deliveryman who was trapped in a Bronx elevator for 81 hours. Sounding the alarm will open the doors to freedom, but calling for help also means calling for attention—with dire consequences for this illegal undocumented immigrant. Inventively staged by internationally acclaimed artist Chay Yew, Stuck Elevator unleashes an evocative collision of stories, sounds, instruments, and ideas.

SAN FRANCISCO (April 18, 2012)—American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) Artistic Director Carey Perloff announced the lineup for the company's 46th subscription season, which includes an eclectic and unforgettable world premiere musical event, a masterwork from acclaimed playwright Tom Stoppard, a world premiere comedy from one of Canada's most prolific playwrights, a sultry Tennessee Williams drama, a revitalized classic starring Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis, and the return of Lorenzo Pisoni's sold-out stage memoir. An exciting theatrical event—to be announced at a later date—will fill the ninth show slot.

The 2012–13 season marks the 20th anniversary of Carey Perloff as A.C.T.'s artistic director. Says Perloff: "Twenty years marks a time to celebrate the past and, even more importantly, to make a bold commitment to the future: to new artists, new work, and new ways of imagining the theater. There are so many threads that I wanted to include in this anniversary season, and I chose the kind of work that has truly distinguished A.C.T. over the past 20 years: gorgeous writing, international work, new explorations of Greek tragedy, the work of Tom Stoppard, unusual music-theater and dance-theater collaborations, Bay Area–themed work, and a Canadian surprise. I'm delighted to share this adventurous and groundbreaking season with the San Francisco Bay Area."

* * *

In the spirit of the beloved hit The Black Rider, A.C.T. is thrilled to continue the tradition of introducing eclectic, unforgettable musical projects to the stage with the world premiere of Stuck Elevator (April 4–28). A powerful and poignant hip-hop opera music-theatre work, Stuck Elevator is based on the true story of a Chinese restaurant deliveryman who was trapped in a Bronx elevator for 81 hours. Sounding the alarm will open the doors to freedom, but calling for help also means calling for attention—with dire consequences for this illegal undocumented immigrant. Stuck in limbo, he launches into poignant and hilarious hallucinations about his past, present, and future. Inventively staged by OBIE Award winner and internationally acclaimed artist Chay Yew, Stuck Elevator unleashes an evocative collision of stories, sounds, instruments, and ideas, from immigration and labor to familial obligation and fortune cookies.

* * *

415 Geary Street
San Francisco CA 94108
(415) 749-2228

Banff Arts Centre

This is the second full day I have been at the Banff Arts Centre as part of the 2011 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab. Already, I have seen three deer: one from our rehearsal room window and the other two walking along the snowy paths. I have definitely been inspired to think differently about Stuck Elevator.

Here's the view from my work area. A long ways from a stuck elevator in the Bronx, I find creativity and generosity with amazing collaborators, fellow theater artists and the support staff. The environment encourages me to expand the story and music in playful and unexpected ways.

Bicycle as Spinning Violin

Conscientious about not reviewing works-in-development, Christopher Arnott (New Haven Advocate) wrote an article about the partnership between the International Fesival of Arts & Ideas and the Yale Institute for Music Theater. He undestood the mission of the Institute to pinpoint and develop distinctive and original music theater works.
... there are genuine efforts to find new ways of telling stories, creating characters through song, and arranging those notes for a wider range of instruments.
In addition, Arnott mentioned one of my favorite instruments, an amplified bicycle wheel built by Paul Kikuchi.
OK, so I will reveal one thing about the performance of Stuck Elevator: It’s about a Chinese food delivery person, so among the arsenal of instruments beat by percussionist Candy Chiu was a bicycle wheel which she bowed like a spinning violin.
I'm glad that the bicycle caught Arnott's imagination as librettist Aaron Jafferis and I work on an ending with multiple bicycles.

Wherefore Art New Opera?

I used to be concerned by Stuck Elevator. After all, this work hovered awkwardly outside opera, musical theatre and performance art. Hip hop writer Aaron Jafferis and I nonetheless continue to develop this project encouraged by our experience last month.

Stuck Elevator was developed in June as part of the Yale Institute for Music Theatre and the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven. Director Chay Yew started the workshop process with the question: Is this an opera or a musical?

Aaron and I decided not to answer this question but rather focus on character and narrative. Performer Francis Jue played the Chinese take-out guy stuck in an elevator with nuance, intelligence and humor. Music director Perry So helped with the clarity of what I was composing. The comic-rap-scrap-metal string/percussion music came alive through Perry's conducting.

These past few weeks, Aaron and I heightened the drama through surprising yet conventional ways. For example, the bladder rap now has a workable groove and we have a sketch of a rapping General Tso battling our singing delivery man. The most exciting discoveries for me included figuring out ways to integrate rap with classical music and learning how to earn a musical moment. Now, I consider adding a beat-boxer and bass to the instrumentation of violin, cello, percussion, and bicycle wheel.

Anne Midgette wrote recently in The Washington Post (Is anybody listening?) about how contemporary American opera faces a crossroads because of audience expectations, unwieldy budgets, the question of genres and the paradox of presenters. How can new opera survive within outmoded infrastructures?

For me, being part of the Yale Institute for Music Theatre felt like camping out at the crossroads. Aaron and I chose to inhabit the unknown and write what the characters and story needed rather than what budgets or presenters wanted. The audience at the two sold-out showings provided a helpful gauge. Between the two performances, we switched songs around and inserted new material. The work made more sense after these changes. One audience member wrote:
I was not looking forward to watching a man go berserk in a confined space.... but what a miracle worker you are -- you managed to make his confinement very real but bearable. His flights of  fancy, his dreams, his sense of humor, his conversations with his wife and child, pulled me into his life while sympathizing with his predicament.
Yale offered a support team that included vocal coach/rehearsal pianist Andrew Byrne, sound designer Hillary Charnas, percussionist Candy Chiu, violinist Sun Min Hwang, cellist Alvin Wong, mentor Scott Frankel, co-producer Belina Mizrahi, stage manager Maria Cantin, and production assistant Greg Nobile. Aaron and I had access to two grand pianos, rehearsal rooms and printers for our revisions which helped us learn more about how to make Stuck Elevator compelling.

Producer Beth Morrison and artistic director Mark Brokaw have created a viable solution to incubate new opera even if we choose not to define the work as an opera or musical. Additional kudos to Mary Lou Aleskie and Cathy Edwards at Arts/Ideas for believing in Stuck Elevator. Far from concerned, I am now energized by this work knowing that growing pains are necessary when stretching existing systems of music, genre and presenting.

How to get tickets for sold out Stuck Elevator

I write this on the 10th floor of the Mad Towers in New Haven. Today is technically my day off, but Aaron Jafferis and I have a number of songs to revise and a few to write. We prepare for showings June 25th and 26th as part of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas presented with the Yale Institute for Music Theatre, a collaboration between the Yale School of Drama and Yale School of Music.

Stuck Elevator is the operatic solo performance about the Chinese delivery man trapped in an elevator for 81 hours. The workshop showing is sold out, but don't worry. I can get you tickets.

This past week, YIMT has been an amazing host. Producer Beth Morrison, artistic director Mark Brokaw, associate producer Belina Mizrahi, and production stage manager James Mountcastle have created a music-theatre writing haven. I have access to two grand pianos, three large work spaces, and a kick-ass support staff. Stage manager Maria Cantin and production assistant Greg Nobile have been keeping rehearsals on track.

Additionally, Aaron and I work with:
Superstar Francis Jue
Director Chay Yew
Music Director Perry So
Rehearsal Pianist Andrew Byrne

Musicians include violinist Sun Min Hwang, cellist Y. Alvin Wong, percussionist Candy Chiu, plus sound designer Hillary Charnas.

The Wall Street Journal and News-Times both mention the Stuck Elevator Workshop Reading at Arts/Ideas.
Friday, June 25, 7PM
Saturday, June 26, 1PM
Off Broadway Theater
(through The Yale Bookstore archway)
41 Broadway, New Haven CT

Both showings are sold-out, but I can get you a comp ticket. Let me know if you want a seat.

Perry So to music direct Stuck Elevator

Conductor Perry So will be music director for Stuck Elevator as part of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas/Yale Institute for Music Theatre workshop showings this June.

So is Assistant Conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic and holds honors that include First Prize at the 2008 International Prokofiev Conducting Competition in St. Petersburg and a Dudamel Conducting Fellowship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Stuck Elevator is a far cry from his usual work with symphony orchestras. In fact, So's engagement with Stuck Elevator this summer is sandwiched between performances with the State Symphony Orchestra of Russia and the Noord Nederlands Orkest. Wow (!)

It will be amazing to have his expertise on this solo-comic-scrap-metal-opera where one singer + a handful of instruments tell the story of an undocumented Chinese immigrant trapped in an elevator. Thanks to producer Beth Morrison and artistic director Mark Brokaw for finding Conductor So.

Stuck Elevator at Arts & Ideas

Stuck Elevator receives workshop readings on June 25th and 26th at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven. The festival lists Stuck Elevator with the thematic nodes: society, philosophy and civil liberties. Check out their cool website especially the Daisy.

Stuck Elevator at Yale

Stuck Elevator was selected as one of two original music theatre shows to receive workshops at the Yale Institute for Music Theatre in New Haven from June 13-27, 2010. The institute, produced by Beth Morrison with artistic director Mark Brokaw, is in the process of selecting the cast and musicians.

Here is how the YIMT describes the work:
Stuck Elevator is a surprising, engrossing, and hallucinogenic roller-coaster ride through the swirling and claustrophobic mind of an illegal immigrant Chinese food delivery man.

Stuck Elevator reading

Stuck Elevator
workshop starring Steven Eng

Thursday, 4:30-6PM
19 November 2009

Pearl Studios NYC
500 8th Avenue
New York NY 10018

Free and open to the public
Limited seating – please RSVP
Email or call (212) 992-9653

About the Show
Prompted by the real-life story of Ming Kuang Chen, Stuck Elevator is an operatic solo performance about a Chinese restaurant deliveryman trapped in an elevator for three days.

* * *

Music by Byron Au Yong
Words by Aaron Jafferis

Director David Herskovits
Music Director Alden Terry

Violinist Cynthia Marcus
Cellist/Pianist Alden Terry
Percussionist James Mack
Sound Designer Kate Marvin

Stage/Production Manager Laura Wilson
Assistant Director John Kurzynowski

Stuck Elevator 2009 Demo

Aaron and I are busy revising Stuck Elevator for two readings in New York in mid-November. To that end, we created a demo from the September reading. This was recorded in the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at the Tisch School of the Arts by audio engineer Mark Aiken.

Already one of the songs, A River Running, is cut from the November version of Stuck Elevator. I am fond of the music, so I included it as part of this online demo.

MoCA Reading

The new Museum of Chinese in America holds its grand opening tonight. I think fondly of their new home designed by Maya Lin. Last Friday, the Stuck Elevator Workshop Reading was held in MoCA’s contemporary gallery space which features the Here and Now: Chinese Artists in New York exhibition.
Paul’s percussion includes bicycle wheel & scrap metal
Stuck Elevator musicians rehearsed in front of Xu Bing’s work while construction workers hammered together shelves in the adjacent room and the alarm-system flashed lights and bells. During the rehearsal I kept repeating “It Could Be Worse,” one of the songs from the show, to myself.

The Workshop Reading hosted by MoCA and the A/P/A Institute later that night was followed by a lively feedback session moderated by Jack Tchen. Musician/Scholar Cynthia Wang wrote insightful impressions of the reading on her blog.

The week-long whirlwind of composing, rehearsing, and performing was fantastic thanks to a dedicated team. Aaron and I worked with director Tamilla Woodard, music director/cellist Alden Terry, performer Steven Eng, violinist Cynthia Marcus, and percussionist Paul Kikuchi.

Steven, Cynthia, and Alden rehearse
Steven, Cynthia & Alden
Helping with logistics were stage/production manager Edna Lee Figueroa, and numerous A/P/A Institute staff that included Laura Chen-Schultz, Alexandra Chang, and Ruby Gomez. A special thanks goes out to the MoCA staff who allowed us to have the Stuck Elevator reading a few days before the momentous opening tonight. MoCA’s Beatrice Chen and Cynthia Lee rock.

Now, I’m back in Seattle picking pears, taking care of the chickens, weeding my vegetable patch, teaching at Cornish, composing for Whim W’him’s event this October, and thinking of the revisions for the November Stuck Elevator readings.

Snakehead book


Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream is released next week. It already has 21 reviews on I look forward to reading author Patrick Radden Keefe's perspective on undocumented Chinese immigrants as Aaron and I continue work on Stuck Elevator.

Risk/Reward Tech Ordeal

Last Saturday, percussionist/instrument builder Paul Kikuchi and I performed Kuang in a Stuck Elevator excerpt as part of Hand2Mouth's Risk/Reward New Performance Festival at the Imago Theatre in Portland. The sound cues were totally messed up, leaving Paul and I holding the show together while gritting our teeth. When Kuang opens the fortune cookie at the end of the excerpt, I breathed a sigh of release glad to be finished with the ordeal.

This is what the fortune read: "Your mind will make your body rich."

My mind stayed focused while my body tensed during this difficult performance. Even though I was forced to sing over the wrong recordings, silently wondering how to tell the tech director and sound board operator to turn off the audio, the Portland audience was highly responsive.

The Risk/Reward Festival has a convivial feel and the larger stage helped the sense of isolation for this excerpt. Thanks to Hand2Mouth for hosting this version of Stuck Elevator and to Paul for being my onstage comrade as we were trapped performing in technical difficulties.

Moving and Funny Stuck Elevator

Excerpt from Seattlest review of NW New Works by Jeremy Barker
Byron Au Yong's short opera about a Chinese delivery guy stuck in a New York elevator manages to be both moving and funny. Performed by Yong and musical collaborator Paul Kikuchi on a non-traditional set of percussion instruments, the action unfolds on a tiny platform representing an elevator, where Kuang has become trapped after delivering Chinese food to an apartment. Lacking good English and a proper work visa, as the hours unfold, Kuang is tortured by self-doubt and emasculation--he's afraid of being mocked, afraid of being deported, and frightened of having to return to his wife a failure. But the painfully emotional parts are interspersed between comic bits, such as the hip hop song his bladder sings him in his sleep as he struggles not to piss himself.
Dedicated to intercultural collaboration, Byron Au Yong composes songs of dislocation, music for a changing world. He teaches in Performing Arts & Social Justice at the University of San Francisco.

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