Lifetime Achievement Obie Award winner and National Medal of Arts recipient Ping Chong is in residency at the CenterStage. The Obie Awards honor the highest caliber of off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway theatre to recognize brave work, champion new material, and advance careers in theatre. Ping Chong has been creating for and engaging audiences for 50 years with critically acclaimed results. His approach to artist residency work in communities has elevated the exploration of what makes us human to inspiring and moving levels of powerful expression across many media.

In Reston, Chong and Company’s Associate Director Sara Zatz will partner with local theatre artist Tuyet Thi Pham to create Generations Rise: Reston, which features the heartwarming and heartbreaking real-life stories of five Restonians as they navigated the pre- and post-pandemic world. The Restonians who have been selected to tell their stories are Robin Feldman, Carmah Owen, Rosa Simon, Semret Worku, and Natsu Zavala. Zatz and Pham have worked with closely with the cast, who are not professional actors, to craft intensely moving portrayals of struggle and triumph. This work is part of the Company’s Undesirable Elements series of community engagement residencies.

“To connect with an artist of Ping Chong’s stature is thrilling for us,” said RCC Board Chair Bev Cosham. “His visit will offer a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with a theatrical trailblazer. The work his company and our local team have created will reach deep into our emotional wells and surface the compelling stories of how we navigated these last traumatic years. It promises to be both a revealing and a healing experience.”

Chong, who recently retired from his role as artistic director of Ping Chong and Company, is recognized as one of the country’s most significant multidisciplinary artists. He has created more than 100 major works for the stage. Ping Chong and Company transcends boundaries, exploring the interconnectedness of cultures and how multifaceted identities are addressed in society. The company has announced a collaborative four-person Artistic Leadership Team to develop and realize a vision for PCC’s future.

“Fifty years have passed since I began my life as a theatre practitioner. I am now in the process of retiring,” said Chong. “I will be 77 years old this year and it is time for reflecting on a fortunate, rich life. Time passes. I am delighted to share this moment of transition here in Reston. If theatre can do one thing, it is to bring community together. Thank you for this opportunity to remind us all that we are all connected by our humanity, that we are all human beings regardless of where we come from. All islands connect under water.”

The work will be supported by RCC’s staff and documented on video by Storycatcher Productions, Inc. “It’s not often that we have such creative tools with which to examine shared experiences or to illuminate the perspectives of people unused to the spotlight coming to their lives,” said RCC executive director Leila Gordon. “Being part of this kind of experience can be life changing. We also want to remind people of our Fee Waiver program which can support participation in this and all our programs regardless of financial resources.”

The remaining event taking place during the Ping Chong Residency include:

Generations Rise: Reston

March 24, 8 p.m.  & March 25, 8 p.m.

RCC Hunters Woods – the CenterStage

$10 Reston/ $15 Non-Reston

  Zatz, associate director and member of the Artistic Leadership Team of Ping Chong and Company, will partner with Reston Community Center and local theatre artist Pham to create Generations Rise: Reston, to uplift and share real-life stories made by people from Reston, reflecting on the challenges and joys of living in Reston during a time of pandemic and global upheaval.

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