New play Q&A looks for answers in the questions of Asian America

What: Q&A by Juliana Hu Pegues, directed by David Mura.
Who: Presented by Mu Performing Arts, featuring Katie Leo, Thien-Bao Phi, and Laurine Price.
When: May 22 – June 8 (previews May 20 and 21, no performance June 5), Thurs – Sat at 8 pm, Sun at 2 pm. Pay-what-you-can Mon, June 8 at 8 pm.
Where: Mixed Blood Theatre (1501 S Fourth St, Minneapolis)
Tickets: $18 adult, $16 student/senior, $14 groups 10+, $10 previews. 612-338-6131 or

(Minneapolis – April 22, 2008) Mu Performing Arts brings its final mainstage production of the 2007-2008 season to the Mixed Blood Theatre May 22–June 8. Q&A by Juliana Hu Pegues, directed by David Mura, is a new play that observes Asian American identity through two incarnations of the question-and-answer motif: speed dating and prison interrogations. Three characters, who remain nameless throughout but for identifying numbers, are confronted with questions of racial and sexual identity ranging from the absurd to the severe. Ultimately, when indicted by an unspecified governing regime, they must confront difficult truths about themselves and their allegiances.

Q&A is the culminating production of the two-year New Performance Program, funded by the Jerome Foundation, which aimed to cultivate interdisciplinary, experimental work by Asian American artists from theater and related fields such as spoken word and performance art. Works from seven participating artists were developed through workshops and readings, with Pegues chosen to produce her play as part of Mu’s mainstage season. “[We] selected Q&A because of its intriguing look at personal identity in two polar opposite situations,” says Mu Artistic Director Rick Shiomi. “It’s both funny and scary, and she takes her ideas to fascinating extremes.”

Pegues, a mixed-race Chinese American playwright, poet, and performer, was inspired by the widespread questioning in America’s current political climate to examine the ways in which Asian Americans are shaped by inquiry. “In many ways, we are constantly interrogated because of our position as ‘outsiders,’ the perpetual other or foreigner,” she explains. The characters in Q&A—a wanna-be rapper, a pothead, and an intellectual—jump from the frequently comic atmosphere of speed dating to an intimidating prison grilling, providing the backdrop through which Pegues surveys the connections between social and the political inquisition. “’Where are you from?’ An innocuous question or an accusation?” she asks. It is a scenario that hits home in 2008, when many Americans face prejudice as notions of cultural identity and political leanings are often popularly linked by race.

In the end, Pegues aspires to shed light on the potential implications of such social cross-examination. Rather than provide a single answer to the many questions posed in Q&A, however, she poses yet another: “It is my hope that audiences will also see themselves in these flawed yet compelling characters [so] that we might together ask, what are the larger consequences of interrogating Asian America?”

Q&A features Katie Leo, Thien-Bao Phi, and Laurine Price. Tickets are $18 adults, $16 students/seniors, $14 groups 10 or more, and are available from the Mixed Blood box office at 612-338-6131 or

Playwright’s Notes

Q & A is centered on the idea of interrogation. The current political moment in the United States, and the subsequent public discussion on issues of war, torture, etc… is definitely a compelling factor for this focus. But I am also interested in the more subtle forms of inquisition, especially for Asian Americans. In many ways, we are constantly interrogated because of our position as “outsiders,” the perpetual other or foreigner. This happens on the most basic level with startling regularity: “where are you from?” For this play, I wanted to explore the links between social and political interrogation, looking at the complexities throughout, and also examining the ways in which having one’s belonging constantly questioned pits Asian American against Asian American.

Moving from speed dating to a government round-up, the three characters remain labeled yet unnamed: 9066 for the WWII executive order which interned her ancestors, 187 for the gangsta rap allusion of California’s penal code for murder, and as 1⁄2 says, “it’s kinda obvious, isn’t it?” 1⁄2 also deals with a slightly different social interrogation as a racially ambiguous person. These three characters come from many aspects of my own life as a bisexual, bi-racial woman who grew up in Alaska listening to hip hop and recently started graduate school after many years doing community organizing. The issues they grapple with are those with which I continually contend, and it is my hope that audiences will also see themselves in these flawed yet compelling characters; that we might together ask, what are the larger consequences of interrogating Asian America?

About the Playwright

Born in Taiwan and raised in Alaska, Juliana Hu Pegues is a mixed-race Chinese playwright, poet, and performer. Her work has been published in various journals and anthologies, and she has had four one-woman shows produced: un/natural, Fifteen, First the Forest, and Made In Taiwan. She was also a collaborating playwright for Bride/price, With Love from Ramallah, and The Creation Myth Project. Juliana is the former Associate Artistic Director for the women of color theater Mama Mosaic, a member of the national Asian /Pacific Islander women’s performance collective Mango Tribe, and a two-time Playwrights Center Many Voices resident.

She performs spoken word at high schools, colleges, cafes and community centers locally and across the country. Juliana has also spent over fifteen years as a community organizer, for such groups as Asian Immigrant Women Advocates, Women Against Military Madness, Asian American Renaissance, Guerrilla Wordfare, the Women’s Prison Book Project, and Asian Pacific Lesbian and Bisexual Women-Twin Cities. She is currently a Ph.D. student in American Studies at the University of Minnesota, with a research focus in comparative ethnic studies.

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