The immigrant experience in the United States is a mixed bag indeed. For every multi-generational success experience, there is a shameful story of Japanese internment during World War II. SIS Productions' "Paper Angels," an exciting and thought-provoking work by Genny Lim about immigration is slated to be staged at Dukesbay Theater in Tacoma. An eight show run is scheduled Aug 7-16. Friday and Saturday evening performances begin at 8 p.m. Saturday matinees start at 4 p.m. Sunday matinees have a 3 p.m. curtain.
Directed by David Hsieh, "Paper Angels" takes the audience back to 1915 at the Angel Island entrance center on San Francisco Bay. Hundreds of thousands apply for entrance to the USA in spite of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Their stories, represented by two separate casts of talented Asian-American actors tell a story by turns heart-warming and heart-breaking.
Brandon Estrella handles scenic design, and Mike Premo does double duty as costume designer and prop man. Robert Falk takes care of lights while Hing Lam coaches the challenging Cantonese dialect. Though it hardly needs it, the show receives immediate credibility from the participation in a producing capacity of Roger Tang, known in theatrical circles as "The Godfather of Asian-American Theater."
The role of Mei Lai is embodied by two young actors possessing extraordinary talent. Phoenix Ever, 13 years old, was born in Taiwan. Ms. Ever began working with the Qingdao Expat Group in China from a very young age. A resident of Washington State just since 2103, she is making her mark on the Seattle-area stage scene. Grace Kha Ai Nguyen brings her experience as the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants to her interpretation of the journey of Mei Lai. She is currently a student at the University of Washington and plays the role of Ku Ling when Phoenix Ever plays Mei Lai.
Eloisa Cardona comes to the part of Chin Moo in this production with a wealth of Seattle stage experience. Ms. Cardona appeared on stage with Seattle Repertory as well as Seattle Children's Theater. Kathy Hsieh also brings a great deal of stage presence to her performances in the role of Chin Moo. She recently appeared at ArtsWest and has also worked with the Seattle Rep, Book-It, ACT, Intiman, Taproot, Living Voices, and ReAct. Tacoma audiences are in for a treat when Ms. Hsieh takes the stage.
"Paper Angels" is truly an ensemble piece, employing 26 actors in its 13 roles. It is a show not to be missed for those who share a realization of cultural tension both then and now. It is also a show not to be missed by those who simply love good theater.
Tickets for "Paper Angels" are just $9.27-$13.41 depending on the patron's status as senior, student, or theater artist. They are available through Brown Paper Tickets. The Dukesbay stage is located inside the Merlino Arts Center, 508 Fawcett Ave, Tacoma.