With only 24 hours, a Zoom call and some prompts, 40 thespians will create seven new plays centered on Asian American and Pacific Islander resilience. Then immediately afterward, they will perform their plays live for a virtual audience.
The Seattle-based Asian American theater company Pork Filled Productions is holding a 24-hour festival, titled Resilience!, on Friday, Nov. 12, with performances on Saturday, Nov. 13.
Kendall Uyeji, senior producer at Pork Filled Productions, said his idea for the festival came in 2020 when anti-Asian hate crimes were prevalent in the news and the Stop AAPI Hate movement was formed.
“As someone who’s Asian, who does theater and is part of an Asian company, I felt like there’s got to be something that we can do besides just making a graphic or making a statement,” Uyeji said.
At 7 p.m. Friday, the 40 writers, performers, directors, producers and technicians — mostly from Seattle, with a few from other cities across the United States — will meet via Zoom. They will split into seven groups with one director, one writer and a few actors each.
From 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., the writers will work off of their prompts to produce a 10-minute play. At 9 a.m., the writers will meet with their directors and actors to discuss the play before the writer has a chance to go to bed. Each group will have the day to plan and rehearse their play before performing it via livestream for ticket holders, starting at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Roger Tang, executive director of Pork Filled Productions, said each group will receive a prompt focused on AAPI resilience, representation and pride.
Tang said one prompt is a recent Seattle Times article about young Asian Americans wearing traditional dress to show pride in their culture. Another is about Asian American superheroes because “how can you hate people if you’re looking up to heroes who are Asian?”
Tickets are priced with a name-your-price structure to make the event affordable for all audiences. Buyers can choose to pay either $10, $20, $30 or $50 per ticket.
Tang said this pricing structure also lowers the risk of buying a ticket for those who are not familiar with Pork Filled Productions.
“Theater has this false connotation of being for the elite or upper class and is inherently unaffordable. We want to do theater that’s within reach of folks who might be hard-pressed,” he said. “And if you really like what we do, the name-your-price policy allows you to express that.”
No aspect of the performances will be prerecorded, though each team will get to meet with the technical director to plan a couple simple special effects. After the festival, an edited version of the livestream will be uploaded on Pork Filled Production’s YouTube channel.
Though this specific event is unique to Pork Filled Productions, theatrical festivals of this kind are not. Several members of Pork Filled Productions are also veterans of Seattle’s 14/48 Festival, which produces 14 plays in 48 hours.
Tang hopes Resilience! gets “the point across that Asian Americans are here, we’re resilient and we’re visible.”
Uyeji hopes the event draws support so Pork Filled productions can do similar work in the future, but he said it isn’t just about making a really good show.
“The reason I wanted to do this is because there’s nothing like this out there that supports Asian American community,” Uyeji said. “The main goal is to bring our community of AAPI people together, show that we can do awesome stuff and celebrate each other — celebrate our resilience and our creativity.”