june is the first fall
by Yilong Liu
Directed by Lurana Donnels O’Malley
Set Design by Sarah Danvers
Lighting Design by Cora Yamagata • Costume Design by Maile Speetjens
Sound Design by Ron Heller • Prop Design by Teia O’Malley
Please, no photography or recording of any kind during the performance, except by prior arrangement with Kumu Kahua Theatre.
Also in consideration of those around you please turn off all cell phones, digital watches, pagers, and personal electronic devices.
KUMU KAHUA PRODUCTIONS are supported by the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, celebrating more than thirty years of culture and the arts in Hawai‘i (with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts), the Atherton Foundation, McInerny Foundation (Bank of Hawai‘i, Trustee), Hawaiian Electric Company, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, The Hawai‘i Community Foundation and other foundations, businesses and patrons.
Sponsored in Part By:
cast of characters (in order of appearance)
Afong Moy / Yu Qin………………………….Qiaoer Zheng
Jane…………………………….…….…….….Leah M. Koeppel
New York City, 2008 & 2015
Honolulu, Hawai‘i, 2012
THERE WILL BE ONE FIFTEEN MINUTE INTERMISSION
American Sign Language interpretation Sunday, December 9 matinee.
YILONG LIU is a New York-based playwright, born and raised in Chongqing, China. His work has been produced or developed at East West Players, Queens Theatre, FringeNYC, Urban Stages, New Ohio Theatre, Kumu Kahua Theatre, CAATA, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Union Theatre (London), and others. Awards include Kennedy Center’s Paul Stephen Lim Playwriting Award (The Book of Mountains and Seas), Paula Vogel Playwriting Award (June is the First Fall), Po‘okela Award for Original Play (Joker), and an EST/Sloan Project New Play Commission. Currently, he is a Resident Playwright at The Flea Theatre and a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Obie Award-winning playwrights’ group Youngblood.
PLAYWRIGHT’S NOTES: I was taking an Asian-American Theatre seminar at the UH Department of Theatre and Dance in 2015. Our professor, Sammie Choy, introduced us to Afong Moy and showed us a picture of her. As someone who grew up queer in China, I kept seeing myself in her, and I kept asking myself – what makes us cross mountains and seas to another country, another continent, and another culture? Are we escaping or are we chasing? Why do we have to run away from home in order to feel at home? I started writing June is The First Fall as a way to look for my answers.
When we talk about coming out, we usually overlook its cultural aspects. More often than not, it’s a far more challenging and complicated process for queer Asians because of the familial and cultural expectations. Sometimes, we even struggle to find the language to fully communicate the complex concepts surrounding sexual identities. Moreover, when the child comes out in a tight-knit family, the parents are forced into the closet instead. For them, understanding their child’s sexuality is almost like grieving. It is important we acknowledge these nuances in our communities.
Hawai‘i was my first home in the U.S. – it taught me about diversity, inclusion, and pride. I am beyond grateful to share this story with you at Kumu Kahua Theatre. I would like to thank everyone who has helped me with the development of this piece. I would also like to thank my parents, Liu Kaiming and Li Xiaohua, for their love, support, and inspiration to create this play.
LURANA DONNELS O’MALLEY is Associate Chair of the UHM Department of Theatre and Dance. She returns to KKT 19 years after directing Island Skin Songs. At UHM, she directed The Spitfire Grill, Oklahoma!, A Streetcar Named Desire, Translations, and Vinegar Tom. She authored The Dramatic Works of Catherine the Great: Theatre and Politics in Eighteenth-Century Russia, and is a recipient of the Presidential Citation for Meritorious Teaching from UHM.
“I am a Man” —Striking Memphis sanitation workers (1968)
This summer I was fortunate to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C. where I saw some of the original “I am a Man” protest signs carried during the Civil Rights era. The museum also houses Emmett Till’s casket, among many other tangible reminders of pain and progress as the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. A photograph taken during the 1995 Million Man March shows an African American man carrying a sign: “I am a Black, Gay Man. I am a Black Man. I am a Man.”
It’s been a slow process, but over the past few years I have been coming out to friends and family as bisexual. As a married, straight-presenting cisgender woman, I’ve never experienced an ounce of discrimination for who I am. I can only imagine the coming-out process for those whose families reject who they are, for those who fear for their lives as they encounter violence and hatred, for those who keenly feel the tension between culture and sexuality. I have been honored to hear the stories of those in our cast and production team who have faced these challenges. I have grown each day, from the moment I first read the script to the moment you are reading this program.
I have daughters who are part of the LGBT+ community. I know this is not true for everyone, but they and many of their queer friends have true pride, with no trace of the shame felt by earlier generations. Their confidence and joy in who they are gives me hope for the future of our world.
The Design and Production Team
POLLY MIAO (Assistant Director) graduated with a MFA degree in Theatre from the UHM in 2007. She has been performing Chinese Cantonese Opera and traditional music around the US, Hong Kong, and China for over 25 years. She worked as Assistant Director for Hawai‘i Theatre Center’s productions of Prophecy and Honor and The Boys in Autumn. Polly has served as Assistant Director at MVT for productions such as Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, Avenue Q, Honk, Godspell 2012, God of Carnage, Next to Normal, Quartet, It Shoulda Been You, and The Full Monty, and also occasionally performs on stage at MVT.
SARAH DANVERS (Set Design) holds a BA in theatre from UH Mānoa. She previously did Technical Direction and Scenic Construction for HSF. She was also stage manager for Shocka: The Story of Energy & Hawai‘i (HTY). She recently managed the ‘Ohana Arts production of Mary Poppins Jr. This is her first design for KKT.
CORA YAMAGATA (Lighting Design) designed lighting recently at KKT for Dead of Night, Demigods Anonymous, Wild Birds, Black Faggot & Puzzy, the underneath, and My Name is Gary Cooper. She holds a BFA in Theatre and Dance from UHM, and has danced with Tau Dance Theatre and as a five-year cast member of ‘Ulalena (ARRA-Montréal).
MAILE SPEETJENS (Costume Design) serves as UHM’s Assistant Professor of Costume Design and Technology. She attended Emerson College (BFA Musical Theatre) and the University of Georgia, Athens (MFA Costume Design and Technology). Maile has worked as Costume Designer, Draper and Wardrobe Supervisor in Boston, Atlanta, Colorado, and Hawai‘i, although this is her Honolulu premiere. Some of Maile’s design work includes Reefer Madness, (Colorado State University), Hidden Man (7 Stages, Atlanta), Avenue Q (HCT After Dark), August: Osage County (OpenStage Theatre), Elephant’s Graveyard (Bas Bleu), and Much Ado About Nothing (Actors Shakespeare Project, Boston).
RON HELLER (Sound Design) is working on his MFA at UHM. He has won several Po‘okelas including for Overall Play and Director of a Play for Disgraced (TAG). He recently directed The New Client (PBH) and Memorial Day (KKT Dark Night). He recently acted in The Seagull (HSF), Much Ado About Nothing (HPU), and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (TAG).
TEIA O’MALLEY (Props Design) is a junior at Kaiser High School with an interest in theatre and film design. She was the director for The Evils of Tobacco (Kaiser High School). She recently performed in The Comedy of Errors (HSF), The Bear, and The Inspector General (Kaiser High School).
About the cast (IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE)
QIAOER ZHENG (Afong Moy / Yu Qin) is making her KKT debut. She is a PhD candidate in Asian Theatre at UHM. She received her AA in Theatre from Shanghai Theatre Academy and BA and MFA in Asian Theatre from UHM. She is a professional Kunqu actress, which is a style that combines singing, dance, poetry recital, acting, acrobatics, martial arts, and symbolic gestures. She is also a member of the Shanghai Kunqu Company. She has won Po‘okelas for Lā‘ieikawai, Subali-Sugriwa: Battle of the Monkey Kings, and Power & Folly: Japanese Satire for the 21st Century (UHM).
ADAM BRADING (Don) is making his KKT debut while studying at the UHM. He was most recently seen in Freakshow (LT), and is the recipient of two Po›okela Awards: for performance as an Ensemble Cast for Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat (LT) and Leading Male for Richard III (LT). He has also appeared in Twelfth Night (HSF).
BERKLEY SPIVEY (Mateo) was recently seen in The Crusade of Connor Stephens (TAG) and in Dead of Night here at KKT. Recent theatre credits include Demigods Anonymous (KKT), Small Town Lawyer (PBH), Fiddler on the Roof, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and You Can’t Take It With You at the Footlight Players Theatre in Charleston, SC. Film Credits include Hawaii Five-0, The Last Taxi Dance, Jack and Jill, and Hawaiian Telcom and Aqua Aston Hospitality commercials.
LEAH M. KOEPPEL (Jane) was recently seen in All’s Well That Ends Well (HSF) and The Comedy of Errors (HSF). This is her KKT debut.
NICHOLAS MYERS (Scott) previously performed in Sweeney Todd (CUTD), Rock of Ages (MVT), and In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play) (MVT). He is a veteran from the HSF stage, including performances in Avenger, Edward III, The Witch of Edmonton, and the Much Ado About Nothing tour. This is his KKT debut.
STU HIRAYAMA (David) has appeared on numerous stages in town. His recent acting credits include Will the Real Charlie Chan Please Stand Up? and All That Remains (KKT), Picasso at the Lapin Agile and The Zoo Story (TAG), Wait Until Dark, Becky’s New Car, and God of Carnage (MVT), and Tartuffe (HPU). His sound design credits include Shoyu on Rice, What Ever Happened to John Boy Kihano?, and The Songmaker’s Chair (KKT).
Assistant Director.............................................................Polly Miao
Stage Manager & Technical Director.........................Sarah Danvers
Light & Sound Operator..................................................Theoren Nansen
Poster Design and Program Layout.............................Brian Onaga