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home : arts : arts Wednesday, November 22, 2017

5/8/2017 3:30:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
May Lee-Yang Grows As A Playwright At Theater Mu

By Amy Doeun

May Lee Yang
May Lee-Yang has been a fan of the theater for a long time. About 10 years ago she started as a playwright with her first play, Stir Fry Pop Culture. She said of the play, "It was inspired by George C. Wolfe's 'The Colored Museum', I wrote vignettes that explore Hmong American life and identity. Some vignettes included a game show exploring how much Hmong Americans know about American culture but how little we know about our family culture. Another skit was The Last Hmong Folktale wherein the Orphan Boy and the Hmong Cinderella get a little raunchy."

Throughout her work Lee-Yang hasn't been afraid to tackle touchy or taboo subjects, but always with a sense of humor and irony. Her work as a playwright at Theater Mu, a local theater company, "Has been a large part of my growth as a playwright. Around 2008, they launched their Jerome Emerging Writers Program, which commissioned artists who are not playwrights to create new works. Through that process, I had a chance to work with a director, dramaturg, and actors to develop a play, Sia(b), which later went on to be produced. I appreciate the fact that they create opportunities to develop new works."

Through the theater's annual New Eyes Festival, Lee-Yang explained, "It allows the public to see staged readings of works-in-progress by Asian American writers. This year, in addition to my play, Mu will be featuring The Princess' Nightingale by Damon Chua and Two Mile Hollow by Leah Nanako Winkler." The festival was held on March 25 at the Steppingstone Theater in St. Paul. The plays were run back to back with food in between for those that wanted to stay and see all three plays.

Lee-Yang describes her latest play, "The working title for my play is The Moon Embraces the Song. It is a play off my characters' names as well as a well-known Korean drama, The Moon Embraces the Sun. The description is: When a k-drama addict with a secret meets a Korean heir who has been banished to the Midwest, fantasy collides with reality in this romantic comedy about fate, cultural clashes, and the art of losing one's virginity. Several years ago, I started watching Korean dramas, which are like soap operas, as a way to cope with stress. I ended up watching so many dramas that I felt I should do something with all this new found knowledge. I was excited that Theater Mu gave me an opportunity to turn this obsession into a play that I hope is fun and reflective of today's current life and pop culture."

The selected play will move on to the next round and final round - full production. She is very excited about the possibility of producing this play for an even larger audience.

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