East West Players presents the Tony Award-winning play EQUUS for an extended 6-week run

    East West Players, the nation’s premier Asian American theatre organization, continues its historic 40th Anniversary Season with the much sought-after EQUUS by Peter Shaffer, directed by East West Players Artistic Director Tim Dang. EQUUS is presented with generous support from the S. Mark Taper Foundation Endowment for East West Players.

            EQUUS is an electrifying journey into the mind of a 17-year old boy who senselessly and systematically blinds six horses with a steel spike. As a psychiatrist explores the young boy’s tortured psyche, the play becomes a shattering confrontation between the passionate spirit of the life force itself and the distortions forced on the spirit by “civilized” society. East West Players has eagerly awaited the opportunity to produce this Tony Award-winning play which will star veteran actor George Takei in the lead role of psychiatrist Martin Dysart.

            “The first time I saw EQUUS was a defining moment in my life that drew me into the world of theatre. The play shocked me at first. Why would a young boy who loves horses choose to blind them with a hoof pick? But then the beauty of the words came through and the metaphors about life and family began to transform the audience. I thought about the play for days after … and now, almost three decades later, I have the opportunity to direct EQUUS. This play has never been performed with an all-Asian American cast. It is my hope to share with you its amazing story with visionary staging and a perspective that only East West Players can give you,” said East West Players Producing Artistic Director Tim Dang.

            Playwright Peter Shaffer is a native of Liverpool, England. He came to London at the age of nine and later attended St. Paul’s School where he won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge. Before university he first spent three years working in the coal mines as a conscript during World War II. In 1951, at the age of 25, he went to the United States where he worked in the acquisitions department of the New York Public Library and wrote his first play, THE SALT LAND. In 1954 he returned to England and from 1956-57 he was Literary Critic for the weekly review, Truth and Music Critic for Time and Tide. His plays include FIVE FINGER EXERCISE, THE PRIVATE EAR, THE PUBLIC EYE, THE ROYAL HUNT OF THE SUN, BLACK COMEDY, WHITE LIES, THE BATTLE OF SHRIVINGS, EQUUS, AMADEUS, YONADAB, LETTICE AND LOVAGE, THE GIFT OF THE GORGON, and WHOM DO I HAVE THE HONOUR OF ADDRESSING?.

            Tim Dang has been artistic director of East West Players since 1993 and affiliated with the organization since 1980 in various capacities from actor to director to producer. East West Players directing credits include PASSION, PACIFIC OVERTURES (Ovation Award, Garland Award), SWEENEY TODD (Ovation Award, Drama-logue Award), WHITELANDS (Drama-logue Award) and INTO THE WOODS (Drama-logue Award). Tim has also directed at Singapore Repertory Theatre, Asian American Theater Company (San Francisco), Mark Taper Forum New Works Festival, Celebration Theatre, West Coast Ensemble and Perseverance Theatre (Juneau, Alaska).

            The creative team includes set designer Maiko Nezu, costume designer Annalisa Adams, lighting designer Rand Ryan, music composition Bryan Yamami, equine movement choreographer Marc Oka and stage manager Anna Woo.

            The cast includes Claudia Choi, Cesar Cipriano, Harry Du Young, Arthur Hsu, Alberto Isaac, Wesley John, Mark Jue, Dian Kobayashi, Paul Leach, Catherine Lee, Nelson Mashita, Charles Romaine, Jeanne Sakata, George Takei, Elbert Traister, Trieu Tran and Cheryl Tsai.

            Music performed by TAIKOPROJECT members Yuta Kato, Charles Kellogg, Lance Koizumi, Kuni Kondo and Byron Yamada.

            This production contains mature subject matter and language, nudity, cigarette smoke and loud sound effects.

            All performances are in the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts, located in Little Tokyo at 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Opening night is October 26, 2005 (includes gala reception with the director, cast and crew) and closing on December 4, 2005. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm (no Saturday matinee on October 29). Previews are October 20-22 at 8 pm and October 23 at 2 pm. An American Sign Language-interpreted performance is scheduled for November 12 at 2 pm.

            General ticket prices are $40 in the orchestra and $35 in the balcony. Preview tickets are $20 for all seats. Opening night tickets are $65 for all seats. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.eastwestplayers.org or calling (213) 625-7000. Senior, student and group discounts are available.

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Copyright 2005, Roger W. Tang

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