Sojourner ZY is an original play written by Eugenie Chan. Performed by ShadowLight Productions in their signature style of large-scale cinematic shadow theater. Featuring original music by Paul Dresher. Directed by Larry Reed.
ABOUT SOJOURNER ZY
In a not-so-distant future, the Earth Federation has sent out spaceships to scour the universe for the resources necessary to sustain an environmentally depleted and damaged Earth. We follow the mission of Sojourner ZY, who pilots the last surviving spacecraft, as he communicates with Earth Federation’s Mission Control and with his wife scientist and devoted children, who struggle to survive on Earth’s ever-more precarious environment. As he desperately tries to sack strange new worlds of their resources, he confronts uncomfortable choices and unforeseen consequences.
Audiences will be immersed in a primal, yet futuristic landscape of sound from composer Paul Dresher’s invented instruments, cinematic-scale shadow puppet imagery, and a fantastical story that follows the interplanetary journey of the space traveler Sojourner ZY. On his journey, he encounters a dizzying array of uniquely adapted and strange civilizations. The story is told via projected and live shadow sequences with dialogue and songs, and seeks to address vital issues of all time—race, gender, identity, and the environmental crisis.
In ZY’s galactic travel, he encounters an array of contrasting societies, from the uber-authoritarian to the uber-altruistic: in a liquid world where beings shape-shift among sexes, ethnic, and sexual identities within miniature bubble-spheres in total anarchic paradise (until it’s not); a moonscape of mammal-headed creatures who find abundance by adopting the animal mind to live harmoniously with nature and who follow an authoritarian leader, (until they do not); and a light-filled asteroid of intangible beings—all female—who thrive by turning themselves into pure light and sound. While each alternative offers a solution to mankind’s survival, each also yields a flaw that threatens ZY’s vision of humanity and mankind itself.
ZY seeks common cause with these mysterious entities. But in this pursuit, he is challenged to confront age-old beliefs about mankind’s place in the natural world and the cosmos itself. By dint of his own conception of being human, is he destined to keep replicating the actions that led to the Earth’s destruction in the first place? To confront this dilemma, he must journey deep into his own Being. His travel ends with the greatest challenge, in a journey to the ultimate planet—that of the sphere of the Self.
Created by Radical Evolution Performance Ensemble, with contributing text by Eugenie, folk songs, stories, and movement weave together in this theatrical concert to celebrate the untold stories of a multicultural workforce from a pivotal moment in history—the building of the US rail system—and how their labor has had a lasting impact on the world we live in today.
I'm delighted to join writers Beto O'Byrne (lead), Reginald Edmund, Rebecca Martinez, and Jay B Muskett on this joyous celebration of American railroad workers. I wrote about Lei Ten, a laborer from the Toisan/Taishan region of Guangdong, China, who journeys to California in the 1860s to heroically dig and blast tunnels through the Sierra Nevada mountains to build the Transcontinental Railroad.
For more on these stories of indigenous, African American, immigrant Irish. Chinese, and Latinx workers , click on The Working Theater.
How Do Patrons, Community Partners, and Peer Theaters Want to Experience Theater in a Changing Public Health Environment?
ECTP's Covid Impact Response Survey
At the very end of 2020, ECTP had just finished a devising process via Zoom to develop a digital version of The Truer History of the Chan Family, something we envisioned our audiences could safely view online. Since we could no longer present a live performance during the Covid-19 pandemic, we pivoted to a virtual one. We were about to go into production when the January 2021 Covid-19 surge hit. Ugh. We decided to postpone until the public health landscape became safe to create again.
But when would that be? What kind of health and safety protocols could we expect? Would audiences return? If they did return, what kind of theater experience would they want?
To answer these questions we went to our best source: our community. In August 2021 we emailed surveys tailored to three core groups: our Patrons, Peer Producers, and Community Partners. You will see our overarching takeaways and our detailed analyses in the reports that follow.
We're delighted to be able to share our findings with you. Feel free to download the ECTP Patron Survey, ECTP Community Partner Survey, or the ECTP Peer Producer Survey below.
Thank you to all who responded with such generosity and candor to our questions. Special thanks to the Ronald H. Epstein Foundation and the Phyllis C. Wattis Covid Relief Fund for their support. And a special shout out of appreciation to survey specialist, Shauna Satnick, whose superb analyses power our findings.
INSURRECTION presented four perspectives on the Jan 6, 2021 attack on the US Congress and was written by four playwrights myself, Giovanni Rodriguez, Tanya Shaffer, and Michael Gene Sullivan. The live streamed experience was directed by Giovanni Rodriguez and produced by Remote Theater, a digital theatre company that creates compelling work on issues that affect American society today. The show ran free-to-the-public from January 6 (the anniversary!) - 23, 2022.
My contribution, "Bright Orchid," is based on an interview with my mother Helen Chan about the event. I think it's really important that we hear a viewpoint from an elder (a centenarian!) and a Chinese American -- a voice we rarely hear.
"Bright Orchid" opens the play. Like my mom, it's compact but with a lot of impact because she is a woman of impact.
For info on Insurrection contact Remote Theater at firstname.lastname@example.org
News from Eugenie, your playwright. Thanks for reading!