Mu Performing Arts has announced the lineup for its 21st season of theater and taiko from the heart of the Asian American experience. This season marks founding Artistic Director Rick Shiomi’s final year at the helm of the company. Events celebrating Shiomi’s work in taiko and theater will coincide with the opening weekend of each production throughout the 2012-2013 season. These events will include special guests and retrospectives focusing on Shiomi’s development as an artist and administrator starting in the early days of the Asian American theater movement.
Rick Shiomi was already an accomplished playwright, taiko drummer, and community organizer when he co-founded Theater Mu in 1992, which premiered its first New Eyes Festival of staged readings at Intermedia Arts in downtown Minneapolis. Since that time, Mu Performing Arts has grown to become one of the largest Asian American performing companies in the nation, garnering critical acclaim and a burgeoning audience base along the way. Mu’s company model is unique in North America in that it encompasses both a taiko drumming ensemble (Mu Daiko) and a professional theater company (Theater Mu).
The first production in the 3-show subscription series is Mu Daiko at the Cowles Center (November 9-11, 2012). Following last season’s record-setting concert and statewide tour, Mu Daiko Artistic Director Iris Shiraishi leads the Japanese drumming ensemble in their Cowles Center debut. The concert will feature a medley of works composed by Mu Daiko founder Rick Shiomi and all of the heart pounding high energy rhythms and movement that audiences have come to expect from Mu Daiko.
In January 2013, Mu Performing arts welcomes award-winning playwright Lauren Yee back to the Twin Cities with the world premiere of her newest play, The Tiger Among Us (January 25-February 10, 2013). Presented at Mixed Blood Theatre, the play looks at the cultural disconnect felt by an isolated Hmong American family living in rural Minnesota as two siblings seek to blend traditional Hmong family values with modern life. Yee has been a Dramatists Guild fellow, a MacDowell Colony fellow, and a member of the Public Theater Emerging Writers Group. She has also been a finalist for the Heideman Award, the Jerome Fellowship, the PEN USA Literary Award for Drama, and the Wasserstein Prize. This production is funded and commissioned by the MAP Fund. Mu produced Yee’s comedy, Ching Chong Chinaman, to great audience and critical acclaim in spring 2009. Katie Ka Vang (Playwright/Performer: WTF, Hmong Bollywood) will serve as Assistant Director and Cultural Consultant.
Mu closes its mainstage season with R.A. Shiomi’s Yellow Fever (March 9-24, 2013). Rick Shiomi will direct the noir comedy in the Dowling Studio at the Guthrie Theater. Yellow Feverlaunched Shiomi’s theatrical career when it was produced Off-Broadway in 1982. Later produced at Theater Mu in 1994, the plot follows Sam Shikaze, a Japanese Canadian detective in Vancouver as he attempts to solve the disappearance of the Cherry Blossom Queen. Along the way Shikaze wrestles with bitter memories of the internment of Japanese-Canadians, racist organizations and an unexpected romance. New York Times theater critic Mel Gussow said the show “scores both as parody and a comedy mystery” and selected it as a Critic’s Choice. The cast includes Mu regulars Kurt Kwan (Sam Shikaze), Sara Ochs, and Eric Sharp, as well as Wade Vaughn and others. Yellow Fever will mark the fourth Mu production to be presented in the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio.
The three show subscription series includes:
Mu Daiko at the Cowles Center
Iris Shiraishi, Mu Daiko Artistic Director
November 9-11, 2012
The Cowles Center for Dance
World Premiere Commission
The Tiger Among Us
by Lauren Yee
directed by TBA
January 25-February 10, 2013
Mixed Blood Theatre
The Guthrie Theater presents a Mu Performing Arts production of
by R.A. Shiomi
directed by Rick Shiomi
March 9-24, 2013
Dowling Studio at the Guthrie Theater
Tickets on sale now for Mu Daiko at the Cowles Center and Yellow Fever. Tickets go on sale Oct. 1 for The Tiger Among Us.
For more information or to purchase tickets call 651.789.1012 or online at www.muperformingarts.org
In 2011, Mu Performing Arts published a new anthology of plays through Temple University Press, Asian American Plays for a New Generation. Six of the seven plays included were commissioned and/or produced by Mu. Each season, Mu produces three mainstage plays and one mainstage taiko concert, along with numerous artist development programs and other special events. Celebrating its 21th Anniversary mainstage season, Mu Performing Arts continued its string of ‘Best of’ top end of year picks by The Minneapolis Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press, with last year’s musical offering Little Shop of Horrors. In the last three seasons, seven out of nine productions have been listed on end of year lists. www.muperformingarts.org.
Click here for more articles on Rick Shiomi.