The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs presents the first annual Saving Face Festival, a showcase of staged readings and performances by seven Asian-American theater companies, Saturday, Dec. 4 from 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 5 from 1 – 9 p.m. at the Studio Theater in the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph St.  Admission is free.

Participating companies include: dueEast Theatre, Mango Tribe, Pintig Cultural Group, Rasaka Theatre Company, Silk Road Theatre Project, Stir-Friday Night! and Tea Company. 

The Saving Face Theatre Council of Chicago is a collaborative network comprised of not-for-profit theatre companies presenting diverse Asian-American experiences through the mediums of theatre and performance. Saving Face Theatre Council of Chicago defines “Asian-American” in the broadest, most inclusive sense, encompassing peoples and backgrounds spanning the entire breadth of the Asian continent, from East and Southeast Asia to Central and Southwest Asia (the Middle East), and from South Asia (the Indian sub-continent) all the way to North Asia (Asiatic Russia), including peoples of mixed cultural and ethnic backgrounds.There will be an opportunity for press to meet the companies and conduct in-person interviews from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4 at the Studio Theater.

The schedule for the Saving Face festival is as follows:

Saturday, Dec. 4
12:30 – 1 p.m.   Music by Ramon Bonzon. Former front man of the band Elephant's Best Friend, solo artist Ramon Bonzon creates catchy pop melodies influenced by the 1980s new wave.
1 – 2:30 p.m.     Asian identity workshop for teens. In this fun and educational workshop, participants will engage in theatrical role-playing games and self-realization exercises designed to give teens a deeper understanding of their Asian roots and culture. Certified workshop facilitator Padma Siap – an ethnic Indian raised in the Philippines – leads this session geared for teens aged 13 to 17.
2:30 – 3 p.m.     Spoken word by Kitchen Poems and Young Asians with
Power (YAWP).
Kitchen Poems is a weekly gathering of local writers of all genres and disciplines and serves as an open forum for Asian Americans to draw upon issues of place and identity. The primary goal of Kitchen Poems is to create a safe space for Asian American artists and writers to develop, share, perform and experiment with their work. YAWP was formed in the summer of 2002 to address the need for a conscious, multi-disciplinary, for-youth-by-youth arts program for Asian/Pacific Islander American teens in the Chicagoland area. YAWP exists as a safe, hate-free, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic space for young Asians to create and transform through art as critical and conscious expression.
3 – 3:45 p.m.     Pintig Cultural Group performs a scene from
Flor Contemplacion.
The piece is based on the true story of a Filipina domestic worker who was executed in Singapore for a crime that many believe she did not commit. In her death, she came to symbolize the millions of Filipinos driven by poverty to leave their families and take their chances abroad because they have yet to benefit from Asia's growing wealth.
3:45 – 4:30 p.m. Mango Tribe performs poetry/spoken word pieces about violence againstAsian/Pacific Islander American (APIA) women and empowerment.  Mango Tribe is an APIA women's interdisciplinary performance group founded on the belief that collective creation can be the most powerful form of art. The mission of Mango Tribe is to use experimental community-based theater to create a stronger presence of APIA females in the performing arts on a national and local level.
4:30 – 5 p.m.     Music by Narciso Lobo. Actor, playwright, and singer/songwriter
Narciso Lobo currently plays guitar for Public Housing, a live hip-hop band fronted by emcee and playwright Idris Goodwin. Lobo is the Artistic Director of Pintig Cultural Group. His one-man show, "Please Don't Eat the Dogs," recently completedits world premiere run at the Minneapolis Fringe Festival.  He was last seen in the critically acclaimed production of The Romance of Magno Rubio at Victory Gardens.
5 – 6 p.m.          Stir-Friday Night!, Chicago's premier Asian American
sketch comedy troupe
, will perform some of their favorite fun and fresh sketches from the past nine years.
6 – 6:30 p.m.     Music by Cynthia Lin.
Singer/songwriter and jazz vocalist CynthiaLin has won audiences throughout the East Coast with her vibrant performances, supple voice, and crisp lyrics. Her original music forges new territory with a unique blend of jazz and folk influences, described by critics as Ella Fitzgerald meets Joni Mitchell.
6:30 – 9 p.m. Silk Road Theatre Project performs a staged reading of Guest Of
a Few Days by Mohsen Yalfani. Translated by Ahmad Houshmand and directed by Stuart Carden. Political idealism, personal desire, and economic pragmatism all wrestle in this piece. Two friends, separated by divergent paths, and the woman who binds them, re-unite in post-revolutionary Iran. A love triangle ensues amidst painful truths and political fall-out as dreams are rekindled and ridiculed.
1 – 3 p.m. Tea Company performs a staged reading of Tab by Susan H. Pak.
Based on a true story, Tab is an exploration of how the desire/ambition to be
"American" can drive model minorities/Asian Americans to staggering acts of
self-destruction.  The central character is Victoria Shin, a Korean-American woman with first generation parents, about whom Victoria feels deeply conflicted.  Though she is grateful for their sacrifices, she is also bitterly ashamed of their being non-Americanized.  Victoria's shame drives her to be a super-American, and despite attempts by her family and friends to help her, Victoria's conflicted spirit commits self-immolation -- a deliberate and willing sacrifice of oneself often by fire. 

3 – 3:30 p.m.     Music by Rabab.
Formerly a lead singer of Inagruv, Rabab has beenrapping for 15 years, performing live for 9 years in venues from mosques to hip hop joints as well as at several Asian American Events. 

3:30 – 6:30 p.m. Rasaka Theatre Company performs staged reading excerpts from three pieces.
by member Anjalee Deshpande is a South Asian adaptation of Anton Chekov's masterpiece, The Three Sisters.  In this scene, Oma, the oldest sister, tries to convince Ishti, the youngest, that there is a window for a woman to meet and marry the man of her dreams. 
Mausi by Sarba and Sarthak Das focuses on a working class family where guns, drugs, food and a nagging relative make it a difficult household. But Mausi just might surprise her family by putting together the most unlikely romantic partners. 
Gandhi Marg by member Anita Chandwaney is inspired by “A Streetcar Named Desire” and takes place in Chicago’s north side neighborhood surrounding Devon Avenue. Indian immigrants and first generation Indian-Americans navigate their way through the expectations of their culture of origin, new homeland, and toughest of all – the ones they ask of themselves. 

6:30 – 7 p.m.     Stir-Friday Night! performs an improv set. 
7 – 9 p.m.          dueEast performs a staged reading of Bee by Prince Gomolvilas.
Bee tells the fascinating story of an Asian American man, who is invisible, and an African American woman, who is the only person who can see him. In their search for a cure, they explore contemporary views of race, class, gender, and friendship. Part comedy, part drama, part parable — Bee is an exciting play that dares to see the world in more than black and yellow. For more information, call the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs at 312-744-6630 or visit

Home | News | Calendar | Directory | Library | Plays

Copyright 2004, Roger W. Tang
Questions? Email email