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Asian-Americans talkin' 'bout their generation

By Caroline Berg (China Daily)

15:11, July 05, 2013

2g's artistic director Victor Maog speaks to the audience at Joe's Pub about the importance of supporting the Asian-American theater community. (China Daily)

As theatergoers ate dinner and sipped drinks at Joe's Pub on June 24, one thing had to be made clear for them.

"Just fair warning everybody," said Victor Maog, artistic director for the New York-based 2g (pronounced "Second Generation") theater company.

"There's going to be a lot of Asians on the stage."

To celebrate 16 years of supporting the Asian-American theater community, 38 artists came together for a variety of original works 2g named Sixteen Going On Seventeen.

"Each of these writers tonight is answering a personal dare," Maog told the audience. "Each of them said, 'Yes,' to their commission on the spot, and then they ran out and bought a very small yacht with their money."

The evening showcased sneak peeks of five of the company's upcoming plays and musicals-in-progress, including A Smooth Transition, by Mrinalini Kamath; Not Far From China, by Anna Moench; Galois the Musical, by Sung Rno and Aaron Jones; and Daddy Taught Me How to Woo, by Lolan Buhain Sevilla.

As the company's newly appointed artistic director, Maog says that he has asked 2g's artists to begin to question their place in society and the very definition of being an Asian in the United States.

"This night is about Asian representation," Maog wrote in the events program. "More, it's about how we can be leaders in artistic innovation and diversity and inclusion."

2g is a nonprofit artistic home for emerging talent to develop new plays from a new generation of Asian-American dramatists, provide early-career opportunities for young actors and reach out to newer and more diverse audiences.

The company provides support both onstage - through developmental programs and performances - and offstage by cultivating an artist community.

"(Maog) was really challenging me to do something bold and take some risks, and do something kind of dangerous," playwright Anna Moench says about her commissioned work. "So, I wrote about my family because that's like the most dangerous I could get."

The playwright clarified that many of the story's details were fictionalized to prevent the audience from drawing certain conclusions about her personal life.

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The Dramatists Guild Fund and Johnson & Johnson supported Sixteen Going On Seventeen, and theatergoers were provided with donation envelopes.

Over 16 years, 2g has developed more than 400 artists and brought their original works to nearly 200,000 theatergoers in New York.

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