WHO WE ARE
Co-Artistic Directors: K. K. Wong and Wayne Chang
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Yangtze Repertory Theatre of America was founded in 1992 to produce works for and by Asian artists. Since then, it has presented 76 events, and has become New York’s most significant entry point for dramatic works from Chinese-speaking countries and a place of collaboration for artists from various parts of Asia.
Yangtze and its artistic director have been responsible for the New York debuts of many notable artists, including Dr. Wang XiaoYing, Deputy Director of China's National Theater in Beijing, and Gao Xingjian, the 2000 Nobel Laureate in Literature, who was brought to NY by Yangtze to direct his own play, "Between Life and Death," and to present a showing of his ink paintings. To date, these events remain the only full-scale presentations of Gao’s works in the United States. Most recently in Nov./Dec. 2005, together with Columbia Promotions, Yangtze presented Beijing People’s Art Theater, China’s most historic and prestigious theater company, in its signature masterpiece, “Teahouse”, in its New York debut during the company’s first U.S. tour.
Much of Yangtze's work has been to dramatize the forces of Chinese history. "The Life and Times of Ng Chung-Yin" (NY premiere 1998) was a controversial portrait of a journalist/activist. Joanna Chan's bilingual drama, "The Story of Yu-Huan" (world premiere 1998), dealt with the celebrated beauty (708-746 AD) whose hanging death exposed the injustices of a society not governed by law. "The Eternal Game" (NY premiere 1996) by Wang Wei-zhong (of TienJin) was a political allegory on brilliant men of integrity serving under lesser ones. Joanna Chan's "The Soongs: By Dreams Betrayed," which caused an uproar in the Chinese communities in 1992, examined the collective responsibility of the populace in the rise of tyranny, the myth-making machinery of modern media, and the delusions of the missionary movement and U.S. foreign policy.
Yangtze has also co-presented 21 art exhibitions; 9 productions of new dance works featuring choreographers from China, Hong Kong, Philippines and Taiwan as well as associates of Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey companies; and 8 musical concerts, featuring the famed novelist/composer/vocalist, Sola Liu; the pianist Margaret Leng Tan, a noted collaborator of John Cage; and, presented with Columbia Promotions, Li GuYi, one of China’s best known folk vocalists; and China’s renowned pianist, Liu ShiKun, at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall.
An honoree at “An All-Star Salute to Chinese American Cultural Pioneers” at City Hall, NYC, in July 1993, (with July 9, 1993, named Joanna Chan Day in the City of New York), and a recipient of a 1994 Distinguished Alumni Award from Teachers College, Columbia University, where she earned her M.A., M. Ed., and Ed. D. degrees, majoring in Theatre/Communications, Joanna Chan has been a prolific playwright and stage director in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada and the U.S. for over 40 years.
Co-founder and Artistic Director (1970-77; 83-92) of the Four Seas Players in NYC, and Artistic Director of the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre (1986-90), Dr. Chan co-founded Yangtze Repertory Theatre of America in 1992 to produce works for and by Asian artists.
The near-70 productions written, adapted and directed by her include Shakespeare’s Othello; Wilder’s The Match Maker as an opening event of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in 1989; the musicals The King and I, and Cabaret for the 1988 Hong Kong Arts Festival; the Chinese literary masterpiece, Dream of the Red Chamber, for the 1987 Hong Kong Arts Festival; Raymond To’s Where Love Abides which she directed and took to China in 1987; as well as her own plays reflecting the relationship between Hong Kong and China in view of 1997: Before the Dawn-wind Rises, commissioned by the Hong Kong Urban Council for the 10th Asian Arts Festival; and Crown Ourselves with Roses, commissioned by Sing Tao Newspapers, which, cited by the Asian Wall Street Journal as ‘a tour de force of our times,” toured North America in 1989. The play was included in An Anthology of Modern Chinese Theater as one of 23 most significant works in Chinese theater in the past 100 years, published by Columbia University Press (2010). An English version of Before the Dawn-Wind Rises has been included in An Oxford Anthology of Chinese Contemporary Drama (1997).
Her OneFamilyOneChildOneDoor, a black comedy on the human cost of China’s one-child policy, premiered in 2001, and revived in 2002 and 2003, was named one of two finalists in the Jane Chambers Playwriting Contest. She was commissioned by Hong Kong Repertory Theatre to write and direct The Empress of China which received its world premiere at City Hall Theatre in Hong Kong in Jan, 2011. Early this year, she was again invited by the Hong Kong company to direct her 1992 work, The Soongs: By Dreams Betrayed, that opened on Jan. 4, 2014, at the Grand Theatre at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.
Dr. Chan began working in the Rehabilitation Through The Arts Program at Sing Sing Maximum Security Correctional Facility in 2002, directing the inmates in August Wilson’s Jitney in 2003; and in November 2006, in the critically acclaimed production of Sophocle’s The Oedipus Rex, that was hailed as a work that gave the play ‘one of its finest hours 2,500 years later’ (Michael Millius). Most recently, she was instrumental in the release of an innocent man jailed in Sing Sing prison for over17 years.
Dr. Chan grew up in Guangzhou, China, and is a graduate of Chung Chi
College of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, majoring in mathematics.
A member of the Dramatists Guild in the U.S., she was a columnist for
The New Evening Post in Hong Kong from 1986 to 1997. An accomplished painter
and designer, her art works (oils, water colors and computer designs)
had been presented in solo and group exhibitions in upstate and downtown
Board of Directors
Executive Board members: