Our Perspective: Asian American Play Readings

2018 Reading One

February 12, 2018

The Alice at Goodman Theatre

170 N Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL

7 – 9 PM

Admission is free for invited audiences.

Reading One: Five Short Plays

  • “Election” by Susan H. Pak, directed by Mia Park
    A brilliant, apolitical surgeon is determined to shake her Bernie-loving boyfriend out of his post-election funk. Unfortunately, he is mired knee-deep in Post Traumatic Trump Disorder. How far will she go to prove that there is life after the election?
  • “Mahjong” by Melissa Kong, directed by Wai Yim
    Max’s grandmother has dementia and she’s gone missing. While reporting it to the police, issues of race, culture and Tex-Mex are raised.
  • “Fresh Out the Closet” by Gavin D. Pak, directed by Carol Ann Tan
    Are mother and son oceans away, or just right across the dinner table? Instead of relishing the would-be comfort of Umma’s home cooked meal, Gabe maneuvers around broaching the uncomfortable secret he’s been keeping from his family for far too long. Exploring themes of identity and generational difference, “Fresh Out the Closet” is an intimate and perhaps familiar look at the family and people we choose to be at the Korean American dinner table.
  • “Skin” by Tanuja Jagernauth, directed by Jonald Jude Reyes
    Butter’s mother is a professional knife thrower. Going home can be a dangerous affair, to say the least, so this time Butter comes to dinner prepared — in full body armor. Will Butter’s attempt at self-protection be effective? What will they have to do in order to no longer be their mother’s target kid?
  • “Of Milk and Mirrors” by Jessica Huang, directed by Brian Balcom
    A play about love that puts the playwright’s real-life marriage on stage – and toys with truth by transforming the character of her husband into seven others (including writer Jorge Luis Borges and philosopher Alexius Meinong). OF MILK AND MIRRORS was originally commissioned by Atlantic Theater Company; Neil Pepe, Artistic Director; Jeffory Lawson, Managing Director


Jessica Huang

Jessica Huang is a multiracial Twin Cities-based playwright whose work includes The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin (History Theatre commission/premiere; Kilroy List 2017; Minneapolis Star Tribune Best of the Week), Purple Cloud (Mu Performing Arts premiere), Zero-Infinity Flight Path, and Transmissions in Advance of the Second Great Dying (Mixed Blood Theatre commission). Jessica co-founded and co-directs Other Tiger Productions, which has a mission to pursue multidisciplinary collaborations, intentional inclusivity and a re-examination of traditional theater practices. She is a 2018 MacDowell Fellow, a two-time Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow (2016-18), and received a 2017 Jerome Travel/Study grant to research family history and build international connections in China.

Tanuja Jagernauth

Tanuja Devi Jagernauth believes in the necessity of creation during times of destruction. Born in Guyana, South America, raised in Arizona, and currently living in Chicago, Tanuja’s artistic work employs humor, expressionism and magical realism to explore identity, assimilation, sexual violence, family, spirituality, and generational trauma. As an Indo-Caribbean immigrant and two-time alum of the Voices of Our Nations Arts multi-genre writing workshop for people of color, Tanuja is dedicated to using her artistic and political work to help further the interests of healing justice, prison abolition, and Black liberation.

Melissa Kong

Melissa Kong is a Chicago actor and writer. She earned her BA in Theater from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is currently getting her MFA in Writing for the Screen & Stage at Northwestern University. She’s studied abroad in London at LAMDA and is a graduate of iO and Second City. Her sketches have been produced at Second City’s de Maat Theater and Mary Scruggs Works by Women Festival. As an actor, she’s had the pleasure of working with many Chicago companies including Silk Road Rising and the sketch group Stir Friday Night. Her writing has placed in several competitions, most notably her screenplay, Tina Fey is My Friend, was a semi-finalist at the Austin Film Festival.

Gavin D. Pak

Gavin D. Pak is an up and coming Chicago playwright and actor. Graduated from the University of Chicago with both a Theater and Performance Studies and English Literature major. Recent credits include Godspell (Westchester Civic Theatre), Laika’s Coffin: A Suitcase Opera (Cabinet of Curiosity Events), Fiddler on the Roof (Suburban West Actors Guild), West Side Story (University Theater). Also works with Echo Theater Collective in order to promote social justice and awareness through theater and performance. It is an honor and a privilege to be able to present my story in this series.

Susan H. Pak

Susan H. Pak is a Chicago Dramatists Resident Playwright and Assistant Professor in Residence at Northwestern University in Qatar. She received an MFA in writing for the screen and stage at Northwestern University; she received both a BA in English and a JD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her plays have been produced in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and include: Marabar at Chicago Dramatists, Ghost Girl at the Workshop Theater, T.A.B. at New York’s Downtown Urban Theater Festival, and the Manhattan Repertory Theater Festival; Haters at New York’s Midtown International Theater Festival; Baby Shower at New York’s Network One Act Festival; Incredible Invisible at Chicago’s Bailiwick Director’s Fest; Ladies’ Man at Chicago Dramatists; and The Writers at Theater Unleashed in Los Angeles. Her full-length play Boys enjoyed a 12-week run at the Tinfish Theater in Chicago.


Deveon Bromby

Deveon Bromby
Stage direction for “Election” and “Of Milk and Mirrors”, Officer Clark in “Mahjong”

Deveon Bromby is thrilled to be a part of “our perspective”. Recently, she was seen as the understudy for Prix in “Breath, Boom” at Eclipse Theatre. Other recent projects include: Silk Road Rising’s “EPIC” program, reading of “The Hot Wing Special” with Three Cat Productions, Black Ensemble Theatre’s Black Playwrights summer series, at Stage 773 with the Women’s Theatre Alliance Showcase, for Peacebook with Collaboraction, and touring the country performing with Bright Star Touring Theatre. Her recent film credits include a commercial for General Tire and industrial for Comcast/Xfinity. She would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work in bringing this important work to life.

Graham Carlson
Ben in “Election”, Officer Richards in “Mahjong”​

Graham Carlson is a teacher and graduate of the Black Box Acting ACADEMY and STUDIO programs. Graham has had the privilege of working with Shattered Globe, Open Door, Stage Left, Cor Theatre, The Inconvenience and Chimera Ensemble, among others. Favorite past roles include Karl-Steve in Clybourn Park and Polixenes in A Winter’s Tale. He holds a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago. You can see him next as Miles in She Kills Monsters with Cuckoo’s Theater Project at Prop Thtr. Graham is represented by BMG Models & Talent.

Meneka Deolekar
Stage direction for “Fresh Out The Closet”​

Menaka is an actress, comedian, and improviser. She graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Human Resources and Acting. Menaka has studied Theatre in London and is a recent graduate of The Second City Conservatory Program. She moved to Chicago from Maryland, enjoys playing piano and basketball, watching documentaries and listening to pop punk music. Past theater credits include ‘Night Mother (Jessie Cates), Uncle Vanya (Yelena Andreyevna), Dog Sees God (Marcy). She is a founding member of Silly Point – Chicago’s First South Asian Improv Team, and an ensemble member on Stir Friday Night. You can also see Menaka perform stand up and sketch comedy around Chicago. Menaka would like to thank Our Perspective and Goodman Theatre for this opportunity as well as God and her family for their endless love and support.

Sheri Flanders
Officer Hammond in “Mahjong”, Stage direction for “Skin”

Sheri Flanders is an actor, writer and vocalist who hails from Indianapolis, IN. She has appeared in productions such as Rhinoceros at The Public House Theater, and The Tempest at Shakespeare Miami. She is also the head writer for Choice The Musical, and half of the interracial married comedy duo Flanders. Sheri is an instructor in the Second City’s Music Program, and has performed with the Infinite Sundaes, Second City’s Musical House Ensemble who wrote the full-length satirical musical A Better Brother’s Grimm. Sheri is the monthly comedy columnist for the Chicago Defender and a theater reviewer for Chicagoland Musical Theater and PerformInk. In the past she has performed with the ComedySportz house teams Flamingo and Cabal, Sheri also teaches corporate improv with Flanders Consulting and is represented by NV Talent.

Harrison Hapin
Son in “Fresh Out the Closet”, Officer Leung in “Mahjong”​

Harrison Hapin is a Bay Area native and a graduate of the IO, Annoyance, and Columbia College’s Theatre Program. Harrison’s Chicago theatre credits include Wild Boar (Silk Road Rising), Romeo and Juliet (Teatro Vista), Twelfth Night (Foundlings Theatre Company), and The Dictionary Project (Chicago Dramatists). Harrison is a proud ensemble member of Chicago’s premier Asian American sketch group, Stir Friday Night.

Marissa Lichwick*
Mom in “Fresh Out The Closet”, Isha in “Skin”, Grandmother and Stage direction in “Mahjong”​

Marissa is a proud member of Actors Equity and SAG-AFTRA. Credits: Guthrie, Goodman, Steppenwolf, Silk Road Rising, Court, Urban Stages, La mama etc…New York International Fringe Festival and more. TV: Chicago Fire, Chicago Justice. Written plays: Yellow Dress: a solo show and (un)DOCUMENTED: a play.

Sarah Lo
Butter in “Skin”, Max in “Mahjong”

Sarah is thrilled to be performing in the “Our Perspective” readings, a series she finds both deeply inspiring and necessary. Recent Chicago credits include Don’t Look Back/Must Look Back (Deviser, PivotArts), 1984 (Julia, AstonRep), Eleemosynary (Echo, AstonRep), and M. Butterfly (Kurogo Dancer, Court Theatre). She has also appeared in the 41st e.t.c. revue Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno (Second City), and in various short films. In addition to acting Sarah enjoys choreographing, singing, and reading late into the night. She’s a proud graduate of the studio series at Black Box Acting and the University of Chicago. Thank you always to those who I call family, by blood and by luck, and to the team at Gray Talent. Enjoy the show!

Kevin Melendez*
Ricardo, Samantha, Matthew, Ben, Marisa, Alexius Meinong, Jogre Luis Borges in “Of Milk and Mirrors”

Chi: Destiny of Desire (Goodman Theater). NYC Ivan & the Dogs (Origin Theater Co); Midnight Madness (NYMF); Jekyll & Hyde (Westchester B’Way). Regional: LMNOP (Goodspeed Musicals); Around the World in 80 Days (Hangar Theater); Harvest of Voices: Cuentos de Los Campos (CORE Ensemble). Shoutouts to the Goodman Mia, Jessica, Brian, Stephanie, and Elise. Www.KevinMelendez.com. Tw/Insta: @Kevin_it_Be

Puja Mohindra

Puja Mohindra*
Mindy in “Election”
Her latest web series, “Geeta’s Guide To Moving On” was an official selection of the 2016 New York TV Film Festival and the 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. The first 3 episodes can be found on Open TV and the full Season One of 11 episodes will premiere on Open TV on April 25. Prior to this, Puja co-created the comedic web series, “Friendly Confines,” which earned awards for Best Comedy Writing and Best Ensemble Acting at the 2013 LA Web Series Festival. Silk Road Rising produced a workshop production of her one-woman-play, “A Great Dive,” in August 2015. She’s most often recognized for her digital media work, including “Sh*t White Girls Say To Indian Girls” and “To Ashton Kutcher, Love Kimmy Patel.” TV credits include: “Empire,” “Chicago Med,” “Crisis,” “Chicago Fire,” “Undercovers,” “CSI: Miami ,” “Three Rivers,” “Miami Medical,” “Ghost Whisperer,” “All My Children,” “Valentine,” and the HBO pilot, “1%.” She is a graduate of the A.CT MFA Acting program. Find her at @pujamohindra on Twitter and Instagram.

Karissa Murrell Myers
Jessica in “Of Milk and Mirrors”

Karissa Murrell Myers’ Chicago credits include Gloria and King of the Yees (Goodman Theatre, understudy); The Holidays Unwrapped (Erasing the Distance); Farewell My Friend and For One: Eugenia ((re)discover theatre); Tea (Prologue Theatre Company); Othello (Invictus Theatre). Television credits include Chicago MED, Chicago PD, The Exorcist, and Electric Dreams. Staged readings at Goodman Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Raven Theatre, and Strangeloop Theatre. Proud member of SAG-AFTRA with a MFA in Performance from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a BA in Acting/Directing from Boise State University. Representation: Big Mouth Talent. www.kmurrellmyers.com

* Member of Actors Equity Association

Brian Balcom

Brian Balcom is a disabled, Asian-American director working in Chicago and Minneapolis who specializes in contemporary, muscular, relationship-driven plays. He enjoys working with playwrights and thinks that entertainment is underrated.

Mia Park

Mia Park is a multidisciplinary artist acting, writing, playing music, producing events, teaching yoga, and volunteering in Chicago, IL. She shares her passion for discovery and self-inquiry with hope and optimism. Chicago acting credits include Goodman Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Court Theatre, Collaboraction, Children’s Theatre, A-Squared Theatre Workshop. Film credits include The Lake House and several independent features. Television credits include Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Boss, Empire, Shameless, APB, a recurring role on Chicago Med, and Chic-a-Go-Go, the TV dance show she co-hosts with a puppet. Ms. Park is the curator and producer for “Our Perspective: Asian American Play Readings”. As an advocate for Asian American representation, she is dedicated to empowering and providing opportunities for Asian American theatre artists. More info at MiaPark.com.

Jonald Jude Reyes

Jonald Jude Reyes is a Writer, Performer, and Director based in Chicago, IL. He graduated from Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ) with an English degree, concentrating on Cinema Studies. Continuing an interest in the performing arts, he has completed programs at the Second City, iO Theater, the Annoyance, and the Chicago Dramatists Theater. His Directing resume includes “The Shrimpshack Redemption” (The Second City, 2017), “Not Quite: Asian American by Law, Asian Woman by Desire” (Capital Fringe Festival 2017, Washington DC), “Splatter Theater” (Annoyance Theater, 2017 & 2016), “Love in the Time of Cholesterol” (Out of Bounds Festival 2015, Austin, TX), and “Six Characters In Search of an Author” (Stage 773, 2014). Reyes has been honored to be voted as Chicago Reader’s Best of Stage Director (2012, 2013, 2014 & 2016). He is a member of the 2017 Lincoln Center Theater (NYC) Directors Lab and DirectorsLabChicago 2016. Jonald is also the Artistic Director of the 22-year old Asian American comedy troupe, Stir Friday Night! More info at jonaldjude.com.

Carol Ann Tan

Carol Ann Tan is a Singapore-born, Chicago-based director, writer, and dramaturg. Her work focuses on issues surrounding race and immigration, particularly those involving the Asian diaspora. She is part of the 2017/18 Directors Inclusion Initiative at Victory Gardens, and an artistic associate with The Comrades. Directing/writing credits include Domestic Departure for the Director’s Haven 2016 (Haven Theatre); Apartment Complex, Domestic Departure (University of Chicago). Domestic Departure was awarded second place for the 2015 Olga and Paul Menn Foundation Prize in playwriting. Dramaturgy credits include Wild Boar (Silk Road Rising); peerless, Two Mile Hollow (First Floor Theater); In the Wake (The Comrades); and assisting on The Audience (TimeLine Theatre). More info at www.carolanntan.com.

Wai Yim

Wai Yim (Director), recently directed and choreographed Spring Awakening, the musical at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Other directing/ choreographing credit includes: genesis 2.0 (aetherplough), Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum (Chanticleer Theatre). As a proud member of Actors’ Equity, his Chicago acting credit includes: Postnation, King of the Yees, The King of Hell’s Palace (Goodman Theatre), Chimerica (TimeLine Theatre). Regional credit includes: The White Snake directed by Mary Zimmerman (Goodman Theatre, Old Globe Theatre, McCarter Theatre, WuZhen Theatre Festival in China), The Oldest Boy (Unicorn Theatre), Taming of the Shrew, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Antony and Cleopatra (Nebraska Shakespeare Festival), A Christmas Carol (Nebraska Theatre Caravan). His TV credit includes: Patriot (Amazon) and The Chi (Showtime). He is the artistic director of aetherplough, a performance art company in Omaha, NE.

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