99: The Long Life and Lasting Sacrifices of Turning American

by Leslie Ishii

Ishii (center) in rehearsal with actors David Huynh and Julia Cho

As the director of Artists at Play’s production of 99 Histories by Julia Cho, I went to work and researched down many-a rabbit holes that opened my imagination to create the richly detailed world of this play.  An American diagnosis of Schizophrenia as Korean Shamanism, a Korean Shaman dance, musical child prodigies, long-term caregiving, a household coping with being left father-less, husband-less, racial tensions and violence against Korean Americans, the Korean war, missionaries in Korea and Korean American Christianity, unplanned pregnancy, family secrets, memory, and immigrant mother-daughter estrangement, are the very real story elements woven into this complex play about what it has meant to become American.

Helen Zee writes in her book, “Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People”: 
           
Missing from the tons of newsprint and miles of videotape were…the tales of valiant women and men of Asian ancestry who struggled and sacrificed to make contributions to their country, the United States of America, and who wished to be seen as full Americans.  I’ve been struck time and again by how little is really known about us and the America we are part of; how the rich textures of who we are, why we are here, and what we bring to America remains so absent from the picture.

But a community as large, diverse, and dynamic as the Asian American and Pacific Islander peoples cannot stay on the edge of obscurity, frustrated by images that have rendered us invisible and voiceless….

And our play, as Helen Zee puts it, “…reflects conversations and stories that Asian Americans tell one another, about the challenges we’ve met, the people we’ve encountered, and the lessons we’ve drawn.  It’s about…evolving into an American people. 

Does mainstream America really know the details of becoming an American if you are of Asian descent or a person of color?  Does mainstream America really know what has made us Asian Americans who we are? 

I have had the distinct honor and pleasure of witnessing our cast and crew open to become vulnerable and empowered during the rehearsals and running of this play.  In our Hope Chest, for you, our audience, we have left you the telling of this story infused with all our hearts and souls that you might experience chung, love, healing, and the possibility of reclaiming yourself to come out the other side more whole and at peace with who you are in America.

I am so moved and grateful that Artist at Play stands by their mission to find and bring forth Asian American plays that have been given initial interest, then gone disappeared or fallen into obscurity.  99 Histories was produced 10 years ago at Mu Performing Arts in Minnesota, but has never been produced in Los Angeles where this play is set.  It is a true homecoming for this play.  It is our last week and I am so proud of these artists, our collaboration, and our histories!  Enjoy the show!!
                                                                                   

99 HISTORIES Extended!


Due to popular demand, Artists at Play will be extending the run of 99 Histories to Sunday, October 5... adding three performances. That means three more chances for you to see this Los Angeles premiere!

REMAINING PERFORMANCES: 
• ThursdaySeptember 25 at 8pm 
• FridaySeptember 26 at 8pm 
• Saturday, September 27 at 8pm - SOLD OUT
• 
Sunday, September 28 at 2pm  - SOLD OUT 
• Sunday, September 28 at 7pm

ADDED FINAL WEEKEND:
• Friday, October 3 at 8pm 
  (u/s Junot Lee in for David Huynh as "Paul")  
• Saturday, October 4 at 8pm 
  (u/s Desiree Mee Jung in for Julia Cho as "Eunice")  
• Sunday, October 5 at 2pm 
  (u/s Kimiko Ann in for Janice Pak as "Girl")

99 HISTORIES: Lighting Design Photos


Visit 99 Histories' Lighting Designer Lonnie Rafael Alcaraz's website to check out more photos from the show.

Get your tickets to 99 Histories! Now extended to October 5. 

99 HISTORIES: Opening Night

99 Histories has officially premiered in Los Angeles and audiences are loving the show! Watch this opening night video for audience reactions, interviews with the cast and producers, and clips from our production.


BUY TICKETS FOR 99 HISTORIES

99 HISTORIES: Production Photos

Check out these photos from the Los Angeles premiere of 99 Histories. Performances run until September 28. GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!

The cast features Brendan Bradley, Julia Cho, David Huynh, Jolene Kim, Sharon Omi, Janice Pak, and understudies Kimiko Ann, Desiree Mee Jung, Junot Lee, Jane Lui, Matthew Mancuso, Diana Tanaka

Photos taken by Michael C. Palma, M Palma Photography.

99 HISTORIES (Los Angeles Premiere)

Artists at Play presents the L.A. premiere of 99 Histories by Julia Cho, directed by Leslie Ishii. Featuring Brendan Bradley, Julia Cho, David Huynh, Jolene Kim, Sharon Omi, Janice Pak, and understudies Kimiko Ann, Desiree Mee Jung, Junot Lee, Jane Lui, Matthew Mancuso, Diana Tanaka.



September 13 - 28, 2014
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays @ 8 pm
Sundays @ 2 pm & 7 pm

The Lounge Theatre 2
6201 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

99 Histories is a powerful story about the bonds between mothers and daughters. Korean American Eunice, a former cello prodigy, comes home pregnant and unmarried, and tries to mend her relationship with her mother Sah-Jin. Haunted by violent memories, Eunice must confront her ghosts before she can move forward. In this riveting and poignant drama of memory, legacy and home, what is remembered might be made up, and the only homelands that seem to exist are imaginary.

$15 Previews (September 11 & 12)
$35 Opening Night (September 13, includes post-show reception)
$25 General -- $18 Student -- $15 Groups (10+)

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE.

99 HISTORIES: Venue & Parking

To those of you coming to see a performance of 99 Histories, we look forward to seeing you at the show!


For your convenience, here is additional information about how to find the theatre, including a map of the area. Free and metered street parking is available. Please make sure to give yourself enough time to find parking and check the street signs for any restrictions. The box office opens one hour before performance time.

The Lounge Theatre 2
6201 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(Look for the Artists at Play banner!)