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Center Theatre Group Partners with East West Players on 'Soft Power'

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Lea Salonga (center) with the cast of "Flower Drum Song" at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz

In 2018, Ahmanson audiences will experience Soft Power, a World premiere from theatrical titans David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly) and Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home).

Not only does this World premiere bring together two of the most well-respected artists in the American theatre for the first time, it also reunites Center Theatre Group and East West Players (EWP). Center Theatre Group last partnered with EWP in 2007 on our production of Hwang’s Yellow Face at the Taper. This time around, EWP will add Soft Power to their 2017/18 Season and will also collaborate with us on four Community Conversations leading up to the play’s premiere.

Both Hwang and Tesori are recent Center Theatre Group collaborators. Taper audiences may remember Hwang’s 2002 Tony®-nominated revival of Flower Drum Song, while Ahmanson audiences are sure to recall our 2017 production of Tesori’s Tony-winning Fun Home. With Soft Power, the pair turn their eyes to East-meets-West musicals, China’s 21st-century rise, and American politics.

When we started talking with our colleagues at East West Players about ways to collaborate, said Michael Ritchie, Center Theatre Group’s Artistic Director, we quickly realized that Soft Power was the perfect opportunity for us to continue a tradition of artistic partnership by bringing our audiences together once again for a unique new work from David Henry Hwang.

Telling a story that begins as a contemporary play before jumping 100 years into the future and exploding into a Chinese musical about present-day America, Soft Power is inspired by the West’s often ridiculously inauthentic portrayals of Asia in popular culture. It’s a subject perfect for our free Community Conversations program, which brings together local thought leaders to facilitate discussion about the themes and ideas in the plays on our stages. With this production, our relationship with Center Theatre Group will continue to deepen as we initiate a series of joint Community Conversations on Asian American representation and storytelling, said Snehal Desai, EWP’s Producing Artistic Director.

Soft Power plays the Ahmanson May 3 – June 10, 2018. The four joint Community Conversations take place on October 26, 2017, January 18, 2018, March 15, 2018, and June 5, 2018.

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