Posts Tagged ‘China’

Downtown Artists Unite for China’s Earthquake Victims and UNICEF

Benefit Poster

New York – The Players Theatre will host Hands together: New York Artists Gather for China Earthquake Relief to Benefit UNICEF presented by Matrix Music Collaborators on June 14, 2008, 3pm, 115 MacDougal Street (between W3rd and Minetta Lane) in Greenwich Village, New York. Admission is $45 / Package of Four for $125. All proceeds will go to U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Tickets can be obtained through TheaterMania ( at (212) 352-3101. For individual donations, please visit for U.S Fund for UNICEF.

On May 12, 2008 the largest natural disaster in a generation struck Sichuan province in China.

According to date recently collected by UNICEF, more than 10,000 school buildings in Sichuan were badly damaged by the earthquake. Almost 7,000 schools were completely destroyed and many others suffered partial damage. UNICEF estimates that the number of school children affected is in the millions. Most of these children are now trying to continue their schooling in temporary shelters and tents. Precise figures are still very difficult to obtain. As the death toll from the earthquake exceeds 68,000, according to official estimates, the needs of survivors are growing daily. At least 300,000 people were injured and 5 million displaced. Now in the aftermath we can see that the scale of the humanitarian crises before us is truly staggering. Supplies are being rushed to the five million are literally without shelter. Like so many Americans we stand together with the people so deeply affected by this massive earthquake to find ways to help.

This special performance will feature an international line up of artists to include Min Xiao-Fen; Wu Na; Huang Ruo; members of the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre; Asian American Writers’ Workshop; the cast of puppeteers from Peter and the Wolf and Matrix Music Collaborators. It is geared for all ages.


Drunken Man by Jiu Kuang, based on a famous poet of the western Jin dynasty (265 -420)

Blue Pipa (inspired by Miles Davis) by Min Xiao-Fen

The North of Sunset
by Thelonius Monk, arr. by Min Xiao-Fen

Mo (dedicated to the victims of the Sichuan earthquake) by Min Xiao Fen and Wu Na

Performed by Min Xiao-Fen, pipa / Wu Na, qin

Four Fragments for solo violin
by Huang Ruo

Performed by Yoon Kwon, violin

Oblivion by Astor Piazzolla

Performed by Matrix Music Collaborators

Excerpts from The Joy Luck Club

a play by Susan Kim, adapted from the novel by Amy Tan with direction & musical staging by Tisa Chang

Performed by Pan Asian Repertory Theatre

“Super Cop World” video installation featuring mighty Mario and Jackie Chan

Designed by Eric Siu

Peter and the Wolf, Op. 57 by Sergei Prokofiev

Performed by puppeteers: Deborah Hertzberg; Serra Hirsch; Daniel Irizarry; Mary Robinette Kowal; Chris McLaughlin; Jessica Scott; Meghan Williams, and Jodi Eichelberger, directed by Jane Catherine Shaw and Terry O’Reilly with Matrix Music Collaborators under the direction of Sheryl Lee

Readings by published authors from Asian American Writers’ Workshop

Continue reading ›

Peter and the Wolf, returns

Details will follow, but I want to give as much warning as possible. Saturday, June 14th we’re doing Peter and the Wolf as part of a festival called: Hands Together: New York Artists Gather for China Earthquake Relief. We are working with UNICEF and have some great guests coming in such as Pan Asian Rep.

Peter and the Wolf rehearsal

by Simon Wong director of the Ming Ri institute in Hong KongI have missed performing. And it’s not just the getting up in the audience that I’ve missed, it’s the rehearsals. The process of working out a show is strange and fascinating, especially if you have collaborators that you can trust.

We’ve been rehearsing Peter and the Wolf for a couple of days now (minus a trip to ballpark for me) but yesterday marked the first day that I’ve been actively onstage. Since my puppet doesn’t arrive from China until Tuesday (we hope) the focus has been on scenes that I’m not in. We’ve run out of those, so started staging Peter’s scenes with me standing in for the puppet. It’s fun and odd.

I have to think about the kinds of movements the puppet is likely to be able to do and work through that. For instance, if you look at the illustration of the puppet (by Simon Wong director of the Ming Ri institute in Hong Kong) you can see that I’ll be standing behind it, which means that if I turn the puppet’s back to the audience all they’ll see is me. So I’m going through the rehearsals playing me as a puppet playing Peter.

It’s fun. I hope my guesses are remotely close to the puppet’s range of movement.

Steve & Idi, Teddy, Peter and Katherine

I spent today getting props together for Steve and Idi a new play that I’m working on for Rattlestick theater. In the afternoon, Rob and I went down to pick up a rug for the Bully Pulpit, a play about Teddy Roosevelt.

In the evening, Katherine and I headed down to the Peter and the Wolf rehearsal. She alternated between reading and watching rehearsal while I painted puppets. Did I mention that I’d done the design for the animal characters? No… anyway, my puppet isn’t here from China yet, so I’ll be mostly observing till it gets here on Wednesday.

After rehearsal, Katherine and I went for Japanese food. At the moment, I’m creating some hand props for Steve and Idi before heading to bed.

Cast in Peter and the Wolf

This is a banner weekend.

I’ve just been cast as Peter in Peter and the Wolf. It’s a workshop production put on in joint collaboration with Terry OReilly, a long time member of Mabou Mines, and a Chinese puppet company– Guangxi Puppet Art Troupe with live music performed by Matrix Music.

Performances are April 18, 19 and 20 at the Abrams Art Center. I’ll post details and of course rehearsal updates as we go.

Tempest build, Day Four

(This was from before Christmas)

No photos today, sorry.

Emily came back from China and we dived into work. Good heavens, it is so much easier to figure things out when the designer is right there to answer questions.

First thing on the list were the tentacles. We decided that if we shortened them a little and tightened the coil that it would work under the skirt. I spent the morning doing that and behold! they fit. A large sigh of relief.

Christmas party

Last night, Rob and I threw our annual dinner party. I normally have a guest list of 40, but given the size of the apartment, whittled the list down to twenty, fifteen of whom attended. One of the most curious things was how many of our guests had been to the party in Portland or the one time I threw it in Iceland. It was a nice mix of writers, puppeteers, actors, musicians and activists.

On the whole, I think the layout worked well for the dining portion, but the mingling portion beforehand still has some kinks to be worked out. We had the cats locked up in the bedroom, but next time, I think we’ll have to have that room open just for more milling about space.

I really, really love throwing dinner parties. Especially this one because it’s my formal dress party. I’ve got a bit of a thing for evening dress and I throw this party as “black tie optional.” Now, technically, that means that it’s a white tie party and the gentlemen can dress down to black tie, but in this day and age, it just means you can dress up if you feel like it. And everyone looked stunning, I must say.

Sorry. Like an idiot, I forgot to take pictures with the tables set. You’ll have to trust me that there was much china and crystal, with placecards and party favors.

Ah me… I need to throw more parties.

The Menu
Baguette and Challah rolls
Cheese plate with Mobay, Goat Gouda and Goat Brie
Green salad
Garbanzo Pomegranate Salad
Key Lime Green Beans with Thyme
Baby red potatoes with garlic and gorgonzola
Spinach, artichoke heart casserole
Butternut squash, eggplant, mushroom and chestnut lasagna
Shrimp Curry and rice
Apple tart

Finding spots and things

People keep asking me how I like living in NYC. It’s only just feeling like maybe we do live here. I mean, we spent a week driving. A week after we got here, I went off to Readercon for three days feeling very much like I’d driven straight from Portland to Burlington with a brief stopover in NYC.

But, there are some things in the apartment that have come together in ways that really please me. For instance, we had all of these wooden wine crates that we brought the china out in. What to do with them? Or how about the baskets that only really get used when I have company? Behold! They are in the kitchen.

Shelving in process

Yesterday, Rob and I headed out to the Union Square Farmers’ market to pick up produce and bread. Trader Joe’s has opened up a branch just a couple of blocks from the farmers’ market so we picked up some staples. Interestingly, they don’t have the same stock as the one in Portland, so we had to skip some favorites.

In the evening, I went to the closest organic store here and discovered that yes, they do have spices in bulk. Hurrah! I’d also taken my granola jar so I could stock up. I explained what I wanted to do.

“You have to weigh it first,” he said.

Pointing to the weight written on the jar, I said, “I already have the tare, but can double-check.” Why not, I figured, after all I could be trying to pull one over on him. So I put it on the scale, which read 2.00, just like I had written on the jar. So I get a couple of scoops of the granola I want to try, look at the other items and then come back to check out.

He plunked the jar on the scale and it read 2.67. “That’ll be $10.63.”

“Um…” I looked at the half-empty jar. “Really? I think you’ve got the weight of the jar in there too.”

“Huh. How much did the jar weigh?” He scowled at me. “Did you weigh this?”

I was one of two customers in the store. The other was a tall, cadaverous man with a beard who arrived after I weighed it. I smiled and nodded anyway. “Yes. It was two point oh.” Again, I point to the weight written helpfully on the jar.

“Grab a bag and put the granola in that. So I can weigh it.”


“A bag. Get a bag. From there. Put the granola in it so I can get the right weight. I don’t know how much the jar weighs.”

“But I don’t want a bag. If I’d wanted a plastic bag, I wouldn’t have lugged a two-pound jar with me to the store. We know the jar weighs two pounds, so that means I have .67 pounds of granola.”

The cadaverous man chimed in. “You can put the tare in the scale to get the right price. I used to do this all the time at a food co-op out west.”

I smiled gratefully at him. “Thanks. That’s what we did back in Portland. I’ve just moved.”

He nodded as if he knew exactly what I was going through. The guy behind the counter punched some buttons and finally said, “$2.67 cents.”

We all agreed that sounded right, so I gave the counter guy the money and said, “So what do I need to do next time I come in? Because I’m going to bring my own containers again.”

As if he was my new best friend he said, “I’ll figure it out. Don’t you worry. Next time, I’ll know how to use the scale.”

Oh good.

Honestly though, if I’d found another place with spices in bulk or if this weren’t the closest organic store…

More unpacking tales

Rob continues to work on cleaning the stove and, to our surprise, the stove is white. I honestly thought it was cream. We’ve discovered that the wire brush on my dremel tool is good for getting the carbonized grease off–it’s like dentistry on the stove. I’ve got the shelves clean and am starting to unpack the kitchen. It’s a lot more open than our kitchen in Portland since we just have shelves and no cabinets, so I’ll have to figure out how to deal with dust on the things I don’t use as often. I’m not so excited about having to dust stemware everytime we have people over. A visit to Chinatown is in our future, I think.

We have enough stuff out of boxes and put away now that we’re starting to get a sense of how things will feel. I think it will be a pretty open floor plan. I meant to take photos before I came down to the coffee shop, but I forgot. Next time, I promise.

Oh. The other really, really big surprise–our bedroom is quieter here than in Portland. I know! In Portland, we were on a bus line. Here, our windows face into the airshaft or an alley so we don’t get any direct traffic noise. It’s rather astonishing. The biggest problem with the bedroom at the moment is that it gets the morning sun. It’s the only time we get direct sunlight, so we’ll have to figure out some serious shades in order to be able to sleep in.

Yesterday we dropped off some puppet supplies with Emily. I say “dropped off” but it was really a three hour adventure involving having to back the truck up to get it into a gas station, getting trapped at an intersection by a street fair, and trying to get around bridges that had a 12′ clearance while we were driving a 12’6″ truck.

Packing the china

Today we spent more time clearing the basement. I baked some more bread–the raisin bread lasted all of fifteen minutes–for sandwiches. I realized that I’m into baking right now because it’s easily controllable and, since I’m following a recipe, I don’t have to make any choices to create something.

Rob pulled some wooden wine crates out of the basement and lo! they are perfect for packing china. So, I sat down on the kitchen floor and wrapped newspaper around china until my hands were black with ink. As I finished each crate, Rob would nail the lids shut. Honestly, you’d think we were getting ready to hop into a covered wagon rather than a moving van.

Somehow, packing the china made it sink in that yes, we are actually going. We are moving. I will not be hosting any more dinner parties in Portland. It is strange and finally real.

Anyone want some cookies? I feel like baking something.

The Apartment

I went to see the apartment that Rob and I will be moving into and to meet the folks we’re doing the houseswap with. Both the family and the apartment were delightful. The kitchen is much bigger than it looked in the photos and it has an old double oven gas stove, which looks to predate ours. I’m in heaven already.

Everything else was much as it was in the photos that the B– family sent to us. Yay. T– and his wife R– are really lovely people. They cooked dinner for me, and we discovered that T– has the same love of china and serving meals in courses that I do. It was so much fun. I’ve promised to get together with them again before I leave, but I’m not sure when I’ll have time to do that.

Dinner and Audio

My brain is a little mushy because I just came home from recording an audio gig. It is a very, very cool one and I loved doing it. I’ll be able to point you to a link to it soon, but for the moment, just know that I think you’ll like it.

I had a splattering of writers over for lunch today, (including Jay, David, Kate, Dave, Merilee, Evan, Damian, Rick, Spencer, Chrissy, Christina) which was great fun. I don’t know what it is about a table set with china and crystal that makes me happy, but it does, so there you go.

The Menu

A selection of cheeses, provided by Jay Lake.

Spaghetti Squash, with Spinach, Pinenuts and Citrus Cream Sauce
Green Beans in a Coral Sauce
Fennel and Blood Orange Salad
Garlic Roasted Baby Potatos
Sage and Cornmeal Scones
Chocolate Mousse and Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies (made by Christina)

I’m particularly proud of myself because of the allergy and food avoidance list for this group. I strove to avoid the following items: Eggplant, raisins, gluten, eggs, dairy, mushrooms, melon, fresh tomatoes, fresh fruit, cilantro, barley, bell peppers.

The only one I cheated on was the fresh fruit, because I made a blood orange vinaigrette and then served the blood oranges on the side as an optional garnish. Besides that, everything was allergy safe.

The conversation was a lot of fun; my face still hurts from smiling and laughing the whole time. I’m glad I had a chance to connect with these folks before I go haring off to New York. The nice thing is that I know I’ll see everyone online or at cons.

New Year’s food

For years, I’ve had a standing date with Sue and Albert on New Year’s Day for black-eyed peas and greens. Oh, and cornbread. See, Albert is from east Tennessee, and totally gets the whole traditional food thing. Sue, on the other hand, has a long-standing tradition of champagne and caviar. It is surprising how well these two traditions work together.

In the past, the routine has been that I cook and show up at their house with food. It’s been nice because that way the cleanup doesn’t fall solely to either of us. This year, it was just easier for them to come to us, plus, I wanted to pull out the china and silver. Yeah, I know. It’s crazy that my idea of a good time involves pulling out the good dishes. I also know how silly it is to pull out the good dishes for comfort food, but it looks so pretty.

The only thing that was marring my anticipation of tonight is that I discovered yesterday that I had run out of Grandma’s pear relish. I don’t know anyone else (outside the family) who makes it, but I consider it absolutely essential for black-eyed peas. I had her pear honey, pear preserves and pear butter, but no pear relish and no way to get any in time. So, amidst much sadness, I attempted to find a substitute at the grocery store.

I opened it today and it was completely wrong. Bleah. So. For the first time, I made pear relish. It wasn’t exactly right, but it was less wrong than not having it. The biggest problem, I think, were the pears. Grandma’s pear tree is over sixty years old and was a gift from my grandfather. No one has any idea what variety of pears they are, or if they are even a commercially available type. I’ll have to experiment to see if I can do better next time.

Meanwhile, Mom is sending me a jar of the real thing. Thank heavens.

Party Lite

Normally, I have a formal dinner party for Christmas every year and this year it was scheduled for Sunday the sixteenth. You know. The day after Rob got back from Iceland. Why would I do something like that? Because, our friend Jodi was in town and leaving on the 17th, which meant that the only night possible was the night after Rob got back.

This was fine. We’d talked about it and made our plans and everything was fine. Then I got the call to go to Iceland. At this point the party started to get dicey, but I’d already mailed the invitations and I’ve done it so many times that I felt like I could pull it off. The only thing that made me really nervous was that I had to work on Sunday and would only get home an hour before the party started. I’d done that before too, so I knew I could handle it by prepping all the food the day before and leaving Rob instructions about what to put in the oven and when.

And then Rob’s travel karma kicked in. He got the the airport two hours early and it took three hours to clear security. He called me from Detroit. I knew his itinerary and Detroit was not in the picture. He was supposed to arrive home at 1:10 and was now scheduled for 7:00. I got off the phone with him and started calling people to cancel the party.

My friend, Sue, suggested that I tell people to come anyway and to bring a finger food. Brilliant. So that’s what we did. While it was did not satisfy my craving to host a dinner party, it was wonderful to see everyone. The food was outstanding too; my friends can cook. So, all told, it was a successful party, but I’m still going to have to have a sit-down affair later. I think it’s the tables set with china and silver that makes me all happy.

The tricky thing is figuring out when.

Just finished Iron Council and Agent to the Stars

Iron Council by China Mieville — mini-review

You know. I really wanted to like this and just didn’t. While it is undeniably well-written, I felt like I was slogging through it. It’s unremittingly bleak and yet, I didn’t care about any of the characters. They get killed off right and left and I never cared. The only character that effected me was Ori and yet, when he died I was neither surprised nor moved.

Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi — mini review

I really enjoyed this and read it in pretty much one sitting. It’s rollicking good fun and just plain silly, but also manages to touch on “issues.” I cried twice, which is pretty good for a comedy.

My only issue with it was a plot issue which will only bother a few people. There’s a plot point revolving around making a latex life-mask, but no one in the industry does this. Everyone uses alginate. Even though I had to manually engage that bit of willing suspension of disbelief, I still enjoyed this very much.

Dad, I think you’d like this one.