Mao famously said of the Soong sisters: “One loved money, one loved power and one loved her country.”
“Swan Soong” is a family drama play based upon the lives of the famous Chinese Soong sisters and their biographer, American writer and Wilmette, IL native Emily (Mickey) Hahn. Notorious for her cigar smoking brand of feminism and for her love affair with Chinese poet Sinmay Zau, she’s a questionable fit for the task. The sisters struggle to run the largest country in the world during an occupation and war with good intentions that fall prey to power, wealth and deception.
The play is based on real-life people, is rich in history and contains strong 1940’s-style movie characters that are fast-talking, smart, resourceful and tough women. In the world of the play, the Soong sisters fight to keep their family together to unite and build a new China. Groundbreaking! Women running the largest country in the world. The primarily Asian cast and the historical importance of the play means it is not only an interesting story, it is a story that must be told.
Doors Open: 2pm
Performance of Staged Reading: 2:30pm
Q&A following performance addressing the play and diversity in theater with the primarily Asian cast
Please Note: This is a staged reading so actors will be reading from the script with limited scene blocking and costumes.
The location of the reading at the Chinese American Museum is an apt setting for the reading of the play due to their mission to “advance the appreciation of Chinese American culture through exhibitions, education, and research and to preserve the past, present, and future of Chinese Americans primarily in the Midwest.”
For Asian-American actors, the dearth of opportunities compounds itself. “An Asian person who is competing against white people, for an audience of white people, has to train for that opportunity like it’s the Olympics. An incredibly talented Asian actor might be considered for a leading role maybe once or twice in a lifetime. That’s a highly pressured situation.” Constance Wu of Crazy Rich Asians ~ New York Times
Directed by Marc Rita and starring Lina Jean Fritz as Ai-ling Soong, Shana Siap as Ching-ling Soong, Mary Ann De La Cruz as May-ling Soong, Flavia Pallozzi as Mickey Hahn, Leo Zhu as Sinmay Zau & Generalissimo and Van Ferro as T.V. Soong and Big Eared Tu.
Jyl Bonaguro, the playwright and sculptor, creates plays that focus on history and women with the desire to create strong female characters that explore the nuances of male and female relationships.
The staged reading of Swan Soong is made possible thru the generous support of Mabel Menard, Ben Lau and the Chinese American Museum of Chicago. It is dedicated to the memory of Chesley Adler, friend and gifted designer, 1967-2018.