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Chinese American playwright who fuses comedy and social commentary

OCTOBER 17, 2007



Elizabeth Wong, Chinese American playwright who fuses comedy with social commentary, will discuss her work on Wednesday, October 17, 2007 at 4:15 p.m. in the Standish Room, Science Library on the UAlbany uptown campus. The event is sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and UAlbany Theatre Department in association with UAlbany’s “China Semester,” and is free and open to the public.

Elizabeth Wong, award-winning Chinese-American playwright, fuses comedy and social commentary in plays that explore Asian American themes. Her breakthrough work was “Letters to a Student Revolutionary” (1991), a drama based on her personal correspondence with a Chinese woman during the years before the Tianenman Square Massacre. The play depicts a cautious friendship, fraught with comical misunderstandings, between two young women from radically different cultural backgrounds. The “Seattle Times”called it, “engrossing... an animated exchange of soul-searching dispatches.” The play was the only U. S. invitee to the 1992 Singapore Arts Festival.

NOTE: “Letters to a Student Revolutionary” is being performed by the UAlbany Theatre Department on October 19 – 27 in conjunction with UAlbany’s “China Semester.” For ticket information call 518-442-3997.

Wong’s new musical for young audiences,“The Magical Bird” (2007), is inspired by a Filipino folktale. The play had its world premiere this summer at the Honolulu Theatre for Youth, which commissioned the play in association with a centennial celebration of Filipino immigration to Hawaii.
Other notable plays include “The Amazing Adventures of the Marvelous Monkey King” (2007), winner of the Mississippi Theatre Festival; “The Lovelife of a Eunuch” (2004), a lusty tale of Imperial China; “China Doll” (1995), about silent film star Anna May Wong, winner of the David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award; and “Kimchee & Chitlins” (1990), about the African American boycott of Korean-owned grocery stores in Brooklyn. In 2003, Wong received a commission from the Kennedy Center to write an opera libretto for her children’s theater adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “The Happy Prince.”

A former news reporter for the “San Diego Tribune” and “Hartford Courant,” Wong worked as a comedy writer for the ABC sitcom, “All-American Girl,” starring Margaret Cho, the first network series to feature an Asian-American woman as its central character.

This year, she received the Tanne Foundation Award for “artists and organizations who persevere in creating and presenting art of any type, in any media, and to encourage those endeavors through unrestricted financial support.”

The event is being held in association with UAlbany’s University-wide “China Semester.”

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at