We’re excited to have our first interview feature on Some Kind of Asian. After taking a long time to find a free HD video converter (sorry… we’re broke students/artists!), our interview with Artist at Play’s Julia Cho is finally ready for viewing. And not a minute too soon! Their debut play CHING CHONG CHINAMAN opens next weekend. (Accompanying post to follow.)
SOME KIND OF ASIAN: Can you talk a little bit about yourself and how you got started?
JULIA: So, I always had a love for the arts, whether it was visual or performing. It wasn’t until high school that the performer in me, I guess, really kind of came out. I had moved to a new city, I had no friends, so in a sense, I really, I guess, I had nothing to lose? So I tried out for the school play, and then it kind of kept going from there, and it was always like a really fun hobby, and I guess it was college when I decided that this is something I’m really passionate about and it’s what I want to pursue, and so after college, I guess, is when I tried to embark on my professional career. And a lot of that was theater. And I think only in recent years have I kind of started to branch out into TV and film, which is great, so racking up those credits on my resume.
SOME KIND OF ASIAN: What made you want to start Artists at Play?
JULIA: Well, it actually started with our first show, which is Ching Chong Chinaman, by Lauren Yee, and I saw a production of it in the bay area, and it was just one of the first shows that I ever saw that I really wanted to be a part of and bring down to LA, and so that’s how it all started. So I contacted my friend Peter Kuo, a director that I had worked with, and he was very excited about it, so we decided to kind of go ahead and find time in our schedules so we could work on it together, and we brought on board Stefanie Wong Lau, who we had both worked with in various contexts, and to round out our group we had Marie-Reine Velez, and so we all came together primarily for the show, and as we’ve been working on it and realizing how well we work together, we’ve kind of come up with other productions we might want to pursue in the future. So the group came about really from the show, and we’re very excited about the way things are moving along, and yeah, we’ll see what’s in the future for us.
SOME KIND OF ASIAN: Can you talk about Ching Chong Chinaman, your upcoming production?
JULIA: Ching Chong Chinaman is a play by Lauren Yee. It’s an incredibly funny, off the wall, satirical comedy. It looks at an Asian American family who are more “American” really, rather than Chinese, which is what their ethnicity is technically. But what’s interesting is, they’re as American as apple pie. So they’re almost not aware, I guess, of how they appear to other people. So they have the same judgments on Asians and other cultures that are maybe more relevant, maybe, to ignorant “Americans”. So you have the all-American family, you know, the dad loves to golf, the mom wants to have another baby, the daughter is all about getting into Princeton, and the son is obsessed with video gaming. And then to, kind of, help ease his workload, the son, Upton, decides to hire an indentured servant from China. And then so that’s when the household kind of turns upside down and hilarity ensues, and I think the play really sheds an interesting light on stereotypes. Really great sense of humor about it, which I think is very relevant to kind of, this newer generation of Asian Americans, where we’re not so hung up on like the old stereotypes, because they’re almost so dated and tired at this point, we can kind of poke fun at them ourselves, and so yeah, that’s something really great about our play, and I think it’ll resonate a lot, but not only with Asian Americans, but I think just people in general.
SOME KIND OF ASIAN: What are your plans for the future?
JULIA: I guess we’re just kind of taking it step by step. We do have some other plays that we wanted to do in the future, and, you know, we all happen to be Asian American, so I think we can’t help but have that be an underlying theme within our group and the works that we pursue, but I know personally, I am all about theater that is accessible to anyone and everyone, especially I think younger people. I love theater and that’s where my heart is, but kind of on the larger scale, it’s very expensive, and it’s somewhat–it’s harder to catch live theater as often as you’d like, being a younger person with maybe not such a steady income, and so yeah, that’s kind of always on the forefront of how I think about theater.
SOME KIND OF ASIAN: Is there anything else you want to say?
JULIA: I’m really excited to be working with this group. I’m just so in awe of the people I’m working with. I mean, they bring with them such an incredible amount of information and experience and I’m learning so much from them throughout the process, and I’m really excited about the show. I hope people will come and see it and enjoy it as much as I did the first time I saw it.
Artist at Play’s production of Ching Chong Chinaman, by Lauren Yee will run Nov 4-20, 2011 at the Actor’s Company in LA. Check their website for more details. For more information on Julia Cho as an actor, visit her website.