April 4-28: Chay Yew Directs A.C.T.’s World Premiere of Stuck Elevator

Posted by Lia Chang on Friday, 15 February 2013.

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) is presenting the world premiere ofStuck Elevator at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater (415 Geary Street, San Francisco), April 4–28, 2013. Press night is Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Tickets (starting at $20) are on sale now and may be purchased online at act-sf.org or by calling 415.749.2228.

Stuck Elevator is a visionary musical work based on the true story of Guāng (光), a Chinese 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 undocumented immigrant. Suspended between the upward mobility of the American dream and the downward plunge into an empty abyss, Guāng delves into memories of his past and into nightmares of present predicament, all within the confines of a 4′ by 6′ by 8′ metal box.

Chay Yew. Photo by Lia Chang

Chay Yew. Photo by Lia Chang

Inventively staged by internationally acclaimed artist Chay Yew—and introducing the prodigious work of composer Byron Au Yong and librettist Aaron Jafferis—Stuck Elevator unleashes an evocative collision of stories, sounds, instruments, and ideas.

Featuring a hybrid of musical theater, opera, and solo performance, Stuck Elevator will feature Julius Ahn (Madame Butterfly at Nashville Opera; Turandot at Seattle Opera) in the tour-de-force role of Guāng. He is joined by an extraordinary ensemble of performers—all of whom play multiple roles—including Raymond J. Lee (Anything Goes and Mamma Mia! on Broadway) as Wáng Yuè (王越), Guāng’s 8-year-old son; Marie-France Arcilla (Working at Off-Broadways’ 59E59 Theaters; Sondheim on Sondheim at the Cleveland Playhouse) as Míng (明), Guāng’s wife; Joel Perez (In the Heights , 1st national tour; Fun Home at the Public Theater) as Marco, the wisecracking Mexican deliveryman; and Joseph Anthony Foronda (Pacific Overtures and Miss Saigon on Broadway) as Zhōng Yi (忠佚), Guāng’s brother-in-law.

Says A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff: “I discovered this remarkable piece at the Sundance Playwrights Lab, where it leapt to the fore because of its astonishing originality. 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? This richly imagined piece of musical theater is a wonderful tribute to San Francisco’s vibrant Chinese culture and a thrilling example of a commitment to new work that defies the boundaries and uses all the tools of theater to create something entirely new.”

A.C.T. will offer numerous InterACT events—many of which are presented free of charge—in association with Stuck Elevator that will give patrons opportunities to get closer to the action while making a whole night out of their evening at the theater:

Audience Prologue: Tue., April 9, at 5:30 p.m. 
Before the curtain goes up, get behind the artistic process at this fascinating preshow discussion with the director and artistic staff.

Theater on the Couch: Fri., April 12, following the 8 p.m. performance 
Led by Mason Turner, chief of psychiatry at San Francisco’s Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, this exciting postshow discussion series explores the minds, motives, and behaviors of the characters and addresses audience questions.

Audience Exchanges: Tue., Apr. 16, at 7 p.m. | Sun., Apr. 21, at 2 p.m. | Wed., Apr. 24, at 2 p.m.
After the show, stick around for a lively Q&A session with the actors and artists who create the work onstage.

OUT with A.C.T.: Wed., April 17, following the 8 p.m. performance
The best LGBT night in town! Mingle with the cast and enjoy free drinks and treats at this popular afterparty. Visit www.act-sf.org/out for information about how to subscribe to OUT nights (and other InterACT events) throughout the season.

Wine Series: Tue., April 23, at 7 p.m.
Before the show, raise a glass at this wine tasting event featuring leading sommeliers from the Bay Area’s hottest local wineries.

PlayTime: Saturday, April 27, at 12:30 p.m.
Before this matinee performance, get hands-on with theater with the artists who make it happen at this interactive workshop.

The creative team for Stuck Elevator includes scenic designer Daniel Ostling (Endgame and Play and Once in a Lifetime at A.C.T.; Clybourne Park on Broadway), costume designer Myung Hee Cho (Lackawanna Blues at A.C.T.; Emotional Creature at Berkeley Rep); lighting designer Alexander V. Nichols(Endgame and Play at A.C.T.; Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway andWishful Drinking on Broadway); video designer Maya Ciarrochi (Sweet Bird of Youth at The Goodman Theatre; Arthur Miller’s All My Sons at the Huntington Theater Company); and sound designer Mikhail Fiksel (Black n Blue Boys at Berkeley Rep; In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play) at St. Louis Repertory).

A.C.T.’s production of Stuck Elevator is sponsored by BNY Mellon Wealth Management. Stuck Elevator is made possible by executive producers Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation; producers Richard Davis and Bill Lowell; Don and Judy McCubbin; David and Carla Riemer and Nola Yee; and associate producer Martha Hertelendy. A.C.T. would like to acknowledge its 2012–13 company sponsors The Bernard Osher Foundation; Ms. Joan Danforth; Ray and Dagmar Dolby; Frannie Fleishhacker; Priscilla and Keith Geeslin;Marcia and John Goldman; James C. Hormel and Michael P. Nguyen; Koret Foundation; Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation; Burt and Deedee McMurtry; Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock;Patti and Rusty Rueff; Ms. Kathleen Scutchfield; Mary and Steven Swig; Doug Tilden and Teresa Keller; and Jeff and Laurie Ubben.

BYRON AU YONG (Composer) combines folk and avant-garde music to create theatrical works that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer calls “a beguiling hybrid of cultures.” His works have been performed in theaters, museums, and site-specific locations that include the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg, the Tokyo Art Museum, and the Seattle Aquarium. Projects includeFarewell: A Fantastical Contemplation on America’s Relationship with China (Spectrum Dance Theatre/Seattle Theatre Group), Yiju 移居: Songs of Dislocation (an audio night-garden developed at the Jack Straw New Media Gallery), and Tzu Lho: Simmering Songs (The Esoterics, Stanford Chorale). International events include Salt Lips Touching (premiered outside a Confucian Temple at the Jeonju Sanjo Festival), and Forbidden Circles(Fukuoka Gendai Hogaku Festival, International House of Japan). Learn more at his website: www.hearbyron.com.

AARON JAFFERIS (Librettist) is a hip-hop poet and playwright whose works include Kingdom (Old Globe, ReVision Theatre; Richard Rodgers Award; Best Musical and Best Book of 2008–09 (Newark Star-Ledger); Most Promising New Musical (2006 New York Musical Theatre Festival);Shakespeare: The Remix (TheatreWorks/Palo Alto, St. Louis Black Rep, Capital Rep, Zachary Scott Theatre, International Festival of Arts & Ideas); and No Lie (Nuyorican Poets Café, H.E.R.E., Passage Theatre). He has performed his poetry at Madison Square Garden, the Kennedy Center and the National Poetry Slam Championships, where he is a former Open Rap Slam champion. His poetry has been performed by the Urban Bush Women and published in The Nation. For the last decade he has taught playwriting, poetry, and hip-hop theater in urban high schools, middle schools, and detention centers in his hometown of New Haven, CT. Learn more at his website: www.aaronjafferis.com.

CHAY YEW (Director) has directed world premieres by José Rivera, Naomi Iizuka, Kia Corthron, Julia Cho, David Adjmi, Rha Goddess, Universes, Alec Mapa, and Brian Freeman. He is a recipient of the OBIE Award and DramaLogue Award for Direction. Directing credits include Brainpeople(A.C.T.); Durango (Public Theater and Long Wharf); The Architecture of Loss(New York Theatre Workshop); Cool Dip in the Barren Sahara Crick (Playwrights Horizons); Low (Public Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cincinnati Playhouse, Pillsbury Theatre); Citizen 13559: The Diary of Ben Uchida (Kennedy Center); Universes’ Ameriville (Actors Theatre of Louisville, Public Theater, Round House Theatre, Southern Repertory Theatre and Curious Theatre); Our Town (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Boleros for the Disenchanted (Huntington Theatre); and Antebellum (Woolly Mammoth Theatre).

Lia Chang

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist.