April 6, 2023


Alice Tuan
Alice Tuan

MINNEAPOLIS (Feb. 9, 2016) — The Playwrights’ Center presents two readings of Core Writer Alice Tuan’s new play “California Love” as part of the 2015-16 Ruth Easton New Play Series. The readings are Monday, March 7 and Tuesday, March 8 at 7 p.m. at the Playwrights’ Center, 2301 E. Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis.

“California Love” is a meditation on surfing existence and living from one’s center. Cali, a mature surfer lady who is super-attached to her beige Toyota Corolla, encounters a cool but mysterious surfer fellow. They commune in waters, tread tides, and dodge pollution. They are joined by Nio, a land creature who faces his fears as he follows Cali into the water. The play explores the ocean—its rhythm, its sound and light—as a refuge away from land and its chatter.

Director Lisa Peterson, a California native like Tuan, will direct the workshop. Peterson may be familiar to Twin Cities audiences; she has directed several shows at the Guthrie Theater.

Playwright Alice Tuan says, “I wrote ‘California Love’ after hearing about Surf Crit, an art class led by Keith Rocka Knittel, where students would critically discuss art and practice, in situ, in the ocean, while waiting for waves. Usually artists talk about art in each other’s studios, a static space. I thought about the dynamic ocean, how conversations of conceptual ideas mixed with the buoying, the paddling, the elements. Then, as waves gathered and crested, actually having to move out of your head, surf, crash, and then re-paddle back up and continue the conversation, either jiggled up by the ocean, or starting another idea anew.”

“This is the first workshop of Alice’s three-year term as Core Writer at the Playwrights’ Center,” says Playwrights’ Center Producing Artistic Director Jeremy B. Cohen. “She’s been collaborating with Lisa Peterson, who is one of the most important and vital directors in the United States over the past 25 years, and I’m thrilled we can bring Lisa to the Center to work in collaboration with Alice on this gorgeous and meditative new piece.”

Alice Tuan’s “Hit” premiered May 2014 at Los Angeles Theatre Center. “Private Rivals,” an updated extension of Coward, is a commission of Yale Rep/Binger Center for New Theatre. Tuan is best known for “Ajax (por nobody),” written about in “The Shelf Life of Shock” (Drama Review, F’13). Other plays include “Batch” (Humana Festival), “Last of the Suns” (Berkeley Rep, Ma-Yi Theater), “Roaring Girle” (Foundry), “Ikebana” (East West/Taper, Too, Dramalogue Award), and “Coastline” (Serious Play!, Edinburgh Fringe). Her blog “Alice in Shanghailand” is featured in “Love of Sun,” an online installation where four Chinese artists look at California and four California artists look at China (www.loveofsun.org).

From an interview with Tuan: “Writing a play about surfing helped me to face ultimate loss. I certainly didn’t know this when I started the play,” Tuan said. “The loss of a parent is so primal. A parent who is so different from yourself. A parent who is an immigrant. His cultural fabric and understanding and the way he sees life was just so totally opposite of mine. Being a Chinese man who had sailed to America, he made a great life here. He studied hard, he was industrious, he followed the rules and he got rewarded. He got to live the American dream. I grew up in the Valley—my priority was fun and freedom. Individuality. Rebellion. We’re such different creatures, but somehow, through this play, I just… I think that there’s something about going into the water—there’s going to be a time when the person doesn’t come back up. All of those things started to fall into place as I was typing it.”

The Ruth Easton New Play Series provides Playwrights’ Center Core Writers with 20 hours of workshop time to develop a new play in collaboration with top-notch actors and other theater artists, as well as two public readings, giving audience members a unique and immediate way to experience new work and a chance to be part of the creative process. Plays recently seen in the Ruth Easton New Play Series that have productions this theater season include Gabriel Jason Dean’s “Terminus” (The Vortex), Mona Mansour’s “The Way West” (Labyrinth Theater Company), Samuel D. Hunter’s “The Few” (Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, CoHo Productions, Steep Theatre), and Idris Goodwin’s “The REALNESS: A Break Beat Play” (Merrimack Repertory Theatre).

The final play in the 2015-16 Ruth Easton New Play Series will be “A Guide for the Homesick” by Ken Urban (April 4–5). Details atpwcenter.org/ruth-easton-series.

All events in the Ruth Easton New Play Series are free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended; reserve your spots at pwcenter.org or by contacting the Playwrights’ Center at (612) 332-7481 or [email protected].


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