"GENseng opened my eyes and showed me complacency and conformity had no place among us…GENseng gave me a chance, lent me the collective wisdom of a community. I was part of something, and that something will always be a part of me."
- Gary Tso, [Transfer] Class of ‘03 - Independent businessman, Brooklyn
"I would not be here today if it hadn't been for the GENseng family. My desires to see the world, experience different cultures and at the same time help people, largely grew from my time with GENseng."
- Hanna Kim, Class of ’06 - Peace Corps Volunteer, Mongolia
"I could not be more grateful for the experiences I gained performing in A Korean Comedy of Errors and The Conversion of Ka'ahumanu. I got to learn about Korean and Hawaiian history and culture, and I would never have met so many people outside the theater and learned so many things outside my major had it not been for GENseng."
- Maggie Davies, Class of ’07 - Entering Peace Corps
GENseng is Geneseo’s Asian American Performance Ensemble; it is the only one of its kind in the entire 64-campus SUNY system. GENseng was founded in 1999 by Dr. Randy Kaplan (School of the Arts) and three students, Carl Marcelo, Jacqueline Lee, and Michelle Hui. Since then GENseng has produced a contemporary Asian American play each semester. Our mission is to educate the Geneseo community about the histories, literatures, and cultures of Asian America, and to provide training for all students who participate in GENseng to learn acting, directing, and technical theatre.
Is GENseng solely extracurricular, or is it a credit-bearing activity?All students who participate in a GENseng production, whether onstage or backstage, are eligible to enroll in Theatre 260 / Theatre Practicum, for one academic credit.
Do I have to be a theatre major to participate in GENseng?
Absolutely not! GENseng is open to ALL Geneseo students, regardless of major or minor.
I’m not Asian American. Can I audition anyway?
It depends on the show, but yes, you can audition. Each semester’s production requires a different ethnic composition for its cast. Most shows need a mix of Caucasian, Asian American, African American, and Latino students, and the cast “breakdown” is always announced in advance of each show’s auditions. However, GENseng does not practice “yellowface” or “blackface” casting, so all roles are cast to the playwright’s ethnic specifications.
I don’t have any prior theatre experience, not even in high school! Can I try out?
You are more than welcome. GENseng has been “the first onstage experience” for many of its members over the years, and it is a fun and secure place for students to spread their theatrical wings for the first time.
I would really just like to work backstage. Is that OK?
You bet! We need props crew, costume crew, light board operators, ushers, and all kinds of backstage assistance. If you are interested in working backstage, just come to auditions and fill out the appropriate forms. A stage manager will contact you to start attending rehearsals about a week before the show opens, and you will be trained “on the job.”
What is a typical GENseng rehearsal schedule like?
The GENseng rehearsal schedule was devised by students: we meet on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Fridays we meet from 4:00-6:30 p.m. If the scenes you are in are not being rehearsed on a given night, you get the night off. There are no weekend rehearsals except for the Sunday evening before a show opens. A typical rehearsal schedule runs about six weeks. GENseng does not rehearse over Fall, Thanksgiving, Winter, or Spring Breaks.
Do I have to pay dues?
Does GENseng do other things besides campus productions?
GENseng has been invited to tour its productions off campus to such venues as Genesee Community College, Kodak, Rochester Chinese Association, and Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester. We have also raised money for charitable causes through our box office receipts: most recently we produced Kwatz!, a show about Tibet, and donated money to help buy a mobile maternity unit to be used in Eastern Kham, Tibet. We have also hosted guest artists, including Dai-Sil Kim-Gibson, a Korean American author, activist, and film director; Jeany Park, a Korean American performer and playwright; Elizabeth Wong, a Chinese American playwright and director; and Christine Simpson, a Korean American Geneseo graduate who is now a working playwright in New York City. Next fall we are planning to invite Rick Shiomi, a Japanese Canadian director and playwright who runs Theatre Mu in Minneapolis. Finally, GENseng has taken field trips to performances in Western New York and in 2006 organized a successful reunion for all GENseng alumni in New York City.
Where can I get information if I have more questions?
Please check out our contact page for more information on how to get in touch with Genseng.