Kudos to Rick Shiomi, an award-winning Japanese Canadian playwright, director and the Artistic Director of Mu Performing Arts, for receiving the 2012 Ivey Award for Lifetime Achievement, at the 8th annual Ivey Awards, which were held at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, MN on Monday, September 24, 2012.
“This award is truly a recognition of the talented performers, writers and directors that have gathered at Mu. It’s only through many wonderful Mu productions such as Into The Woods, Little Shop of Horrors, Yellow Face,Asiamnesia and Flower Drum Song that a company such as Mu Performing Arts can have the impact warranting such recognition,” said Shiomi.
There are no set categories for the Iveys, the Twin Cities’ annual celebration which honors and showcases the work of professional theater companies and artists over the past year. The Lifetime Achievement Award for Shiomi and the Emerging Artist Award, which was presented to Isabel Nelson, a performer, director, and theatre creator, are the only predetermined awards.
The four productions and six individuals who were also recognized with 2012 Iveys were chosen based on evaluations completed by the more than 150 volunteer theater evaluators who saw more than 1,000 performances in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area from September 2011 through August 2012.
The Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Walking Shadow Theatre Company: Overall Excellence
Spring Awakening, Theatre Latte Da: Overall Excellence
Ballad of the Pale Fisherman, Illusion Theater: Emotional Impact
Julius Caesar, Theatre Unbound: Inventive Reinterpretation
Tracie Bennett, Acting, End of the Rainbow (Guthrie Theater)
Hugh Kennedy, Acting, Buzzer (Pillsbury House Theatre)
Jody Briskey, Acting, Beyond the Rainbow: Garland at Carnegie Hall (History Theatre)
Barry Browning, Lighting Design, Dial M for Murder (Jungle Theater)
Miriam Monasch, Directing, Our Class (Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company)
Joe Vass, Musical Direction, The Soul of Gershwin: The Musical Journey of an American Klezmer (Park Square Theatre)
RICK SHIOMI (LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD)
Since the early 1980s, Rick Shiomi has been one of the leading figures of the Asian American theater movement as a playwright and director.
Up Close and Personal with Rick Shiomi, Award-winning Playwright & Artistic Director of Mu Performing Arts
A native of Toronto, Shiomi moved to Minnesota in the 1990s and co-founded Theater Mu in 1992. He is presently the Artistic Director of St. Paul-based Mu Performing Arts, one of the largest Asian-American theater companies in the U.S. and is a leader in the local and national development of Asian American theater and taiko. Mu Performing Arts is composed of Theater Mu, which offers stage performances, and Mu Daiko, a taiko drumming ensemble. Through Shiomi’s leadership, Mu has helped to develop and support the work of local and national playwrights, actors, directors, and musicians by premiering many new works, fostering a new generation of Asian American artists, and bringing Asian American voices to Twin Cities audiences.
In a video tribute which played at the Iveys, Tony award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang, a friend and colleague since 1979, shared his perspective of Shiomi’s impact and legacy on the Asian American Theater movement.
“Rick deserves to win this award because he does something that I can’t think of any other artist I know, who is able to both be really a wonderful artist, do great work of his own which has a huge impact on the field, but is also selfless enough and understands people enough, and is encouraging enough to create a whole movement. You think of Rick going to Minneapolis at a time when most of the rest of us would have thought the notion of starting an Asian American theater company in the Twin Cities, well good luck, nice if you want to do it, but it’s not actually going to make any sense. Rick had the foresight to realize that the was a fertile place to do it because the community was growing, and I think more importantly, he’s the type of person who has always been able to organize people, encourage people, to find talent and nurture that. The rest of us, who also do good work, we tend to be a little more selfish, and we’re not as good at doing that. So Rick is really unique in that way and therefore, totally deserves this award,” said Hwang.
Shiomi’s plays include the award winning Yellow Fever, Rosie’s Cafe,Uncle Tadao, Play Ball, Mask Dance,The Tale of the Dancing Crane, andSong of the Pipa. He also co-authored the book for Walleye Kid: The Musical.Yellow Fever has been produced off-Broadway, in Japanese in Tokyo and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Mu Performing Arts will close out its 21st season with Yellow Fever in the Dowling Studio at the Guthrie Theater, from March 9-24, 2013. Helmed by Shiomi, the cast will feature Mu regulars Kurt Kwan as Sam Shikaze, Sara Ochs, and Eric Sharp, as well as Wade Vaughn and others.
Mu’s landmark 21st Season features a brand new Taiko Concert, Lauren Yee’s The Tiger Among Us, and Rick Shiomi’s Award-Winning comedy Yellow Fever
Shiomi has had his plays produced by: Asian American Theater Company in San Francisco, Pan Asian Repertory in New York, and East West Players in Los Angeles. Yellow Fever has also been published in the U.S. and Canada, and Mask Dance appears in Bold Words: A Century of Asian American Writing, published by Rutgers University in 2001. He has written screenplays for film and television including the Canadian award winning dramatic series ENG. Shiomi’s directing credits include Theater Mu’s first full-length production, Mask Dance, Into The Woods, The Walleye Kid, Yellow Face, Song of the Pipa, Maui and The Soul of the Sun, andFlower Drum Song. He has also directed at the Asian American Theater Company in San Francisco and at Interact Theater in Philadelphia. Shiomi has been recognized with a 2002 Asian-Pacific Leadership Award for Excellence & Innovation in the Arts from the State of Minnesota Council of Asian Pacific Minnesotans and is the recipient of the 2007 Sally Award for Vision. In 2011, the Library of Congress created a collection in Shiomi’s name in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection, which will also serve as a repository for the archives of Mu Performing Arts. He is the co-editor of the anthology Asian American Plays for a New Generationpublished by Temple University Press in 2011, and a founding member of the national network CAATA, the Consortium for Asian American Theaters and Artists.
Photos: Rick Shiomi Checks out Performing Arts Playwrights Series in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection of Library of Congress; Attends “Asian American Plays for a New Generation” Book Signing in NY on 7/29
Shiomi leaves his position as the Artistic Director of Mu Performing Arts on August 31st, 2013 and plans to go back to the freelance life. So if you hear from him, he may be looking for a gig.
ISABEL NELSON (Emerging Artist Award) recently co-created and appeared in the 2012 Minnesota Fringe Festival hit show Ash Land, produced by Transatlantic Love Affair, of which she is co-artistic director. With Transatlantic she also conceived and directed two previous Fringe hits, Red Resurrected and The Ballad of the Pale Fisherman, which was subsequently expanded and presented in Illusion Theater’s Lights Up series. As a performer, she has worked with Live Action Set, Jon Ferguson Theatre, and Four Humors, among others. Nelson’s directing credits include work with Black Dirt Theater and Macalester College. She graduated from Minneapolis South High, received her B.A. from Macalester College in Theatre and Religious Studies, and a certificate in Creating Theatre at the Lecoq-based London International School for Performing Arts.