GENseng founded by Dr. Randy Kaplan, including Carl Marcelo (Class of ’01), Jacqueline Lee (Class of ’02), Michelle Hui (CUNY-Queens, Class of ’03)
FLIPZOIDS by Ralph Peña
- A play about assimilation and acculturation as experienced by Filipino Americans, chosen for Carl Marcelo, one of the few Filipino Americans to attend Geneseo.
- Staged reading “given” to GENseng by Mr. Peña, Artistic Director of Ma Yi Theatre Company, NYC, in honor of GENseng’s premiere performance.
- Mr. Peña stays in daily contact with the students via e-mail to guide the production, establishing a practice that remains a vital part of GENseng’s theatrical process.
- Jeff Zampino, Class of ’92, comes on board as designer of GENseng logo and posters and becomes the first of many Geneseo alumni to stay connected to the college through GEnseng, continuing in that role today.
- To everyone’s amazement the sole performance run is entirely “sold out”.
Based on the success of Flipzoids, it’s decided that adding a curtain raiser provides more performance opportunities. R.A.W., ‘CAUSE I’M A WOMAN by Diana Son, a play which considers the sexual objectification of Asian women, is chosen. Playwright Son grants GENseng permission to rewrite parts of the text, originally created for four women of East Asian descent, to allow for this cast to include an Indo-American woman.
EATING CHICKEN FEET by Kitty Chen
- The evening’s main offering is a staged reading of a seriocomedy which considers the challenges faced by a Chinese American teenager when her parents divorce.
- The play, while very funny, bursts stereotypes about Chinese American families while speaking to the many Geneseo students of all ethnicities who have faced similar marital break ups in their homes.
- Again, the reading is a one-performance-only “sell out”.
Michelle Hui, founding member of GENseng, is accepted for an acting internship at Pan Asian Repertory Theatre Company, NYC, one of the oldest professional (union) Asian American performance ensembles. It becomes time for GENseng to move to full length (rather than one-act) readings and to add a second performance to accommodate the growing audiences which are becoming dangerously large for the Black Box Theatre in Brodie Hall.
KIMCHEE AND CHITLINS by Elizabeth Wong
- Features a cast of Asian American, African American, and Caucasian students in a “dramedy” that considers racial tensions between Koreans and Caribbeans in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
- Floor seating is provided in the four corners of the Black Box Theatre, and the audience is invited to bring pillows, blankets, and futons to sit on.
- Though some of the play’s content is shocking and even incendiary, across the boards, students of all races respond with
- Again, the reading is “sold out” for both performances.
Samantha Chan (RIT Class of ’02) is cast as Lady Macbeth in the SOPA main stage production of MACBETH, and Judy Joon Hee No (Class of ’03) is cast as Macduff’s Son. GENseng members are starting to venture out of the organization to become integrated into the larger School of Performing Arts Program, as intended.
TRYING TO FIND CHINATOWN by David Henry Hwang
- This short satire about being able to choose one’s ethnic identity (as opposed to being born to it) was the curtain raiser and featured Jesse Gavin and Judy Joon Hee Noh.
BALLAD OF YACHIYO by Philip Kan Gotanda
- Philip Kan Gotanda, one of the U.S.'s most successful practicing Asian American playwrights, agrees to “give” GENseng this play about the suicide of his pregnant aunt.
- A love tragedy which takes place in Hawaii.
- Local music teacher Tom Toyama (Caledonia Mumford School District), a Hawaiian of Japanese descent, works with Geneseo students as pidgin dialect coach.
- The play also features two performers, Gary Tso and Ting Ting Ng, in the roles of life-size Japanese bunraku puppets, making the play GENseng’s first to incorporate traditional Asian performance techniques.
- The same semester GENseng is invited to present its first "off campus tours":
- Rochester Chinese Association hosts staged readings by GENseng at its Spring 2001 banquets:
- TRYING TO FIND CHINATOWN by David Henry Hwang (February)
- PAPER ANGELS excerpt by Genny Lim (April)
CHINA DOLL by Elizabeth Wong
- As the evening is devoted to dramatizing the hardships faced by Asian American actors, this one-woman curtain raiser which traced the struggles of Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American film star, was chosen; Samantha Chan stars.
YANKEE DAWG, YOU DIE! by Philip Kan Gotanda
- GENseng’s first student-directed reading is “given” to the company by Mr. Gotanda
- Judy Joon Hee No becomes GENseng’s first student director, coaching two Asian American students, James Kim and Bryan Pedersen, through this satire about casting discrimination against Asian American performers in the entertainment industry.
- TRYING TO FIND CHINATOWN by David Henry Hwang is invited to be revived for Cultural Harmony Week 2001. GENseng is starting to evolve into an organization that serves other campus organizations.
- GENseng’s next off campus “tour”:
- CHINA DOLL (one-act version) by Elizabeth Wong is presented for the Rochester Chinese Association’s Fall Banquet in Webster, NY, in December.
MISTRESS OF SPICES by Chitra Divakaruni
- A performance of Odissi dance in which Geneseo art major Arunima Nandi (Class of ’02) pays tribute to Divakaruni's novel about love, age, magic, and acculturation.
PAPER ANGELS by Genny Lim
- With this production, GENseng takes an important step forward: to become a “performance ensemble” producing “full out” productions as opposed to a “play reading series” in which all “performances” were actually “staged readings.” This means a major commitment of student time, energy, and effort.
- The play tells the story of the hardships faced by those Chinese immigrants who entered the United States through Angel Island just off the coast of San Francisco Bay.
- First GENseng production to feature a student dramaturg, Amanda Chestnut (Class of '04).
- The performances garner the attention of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle; GENseng receives its first newspaper feature article which follows the company in rehearsal. Judy Joon Hee Noh (Class of ’03) and Fiona Lee (Class of ’04) are featured on the front page of the “Our Towns” section.
- Numerous members of the Rochester Chinese Association travel to Geneseo to see the production, thus further strengthening the bond between GENseng and the greater Rochester Asian American community.
- The same semester Geneseo alumna and playwright Christine Simpson visits GENseng to share her experiences as an Asian American woman in the New York theatre business.
YELLOW FEVER by Rick Shiomi
- With no budget for lighting and few lighting instruments available to light the show, GENseng decides to go with a film noir take on life in Japanese Canadian Vancouver after World War II. The flashlights carried by kurogo, or invisible Japanese stagehands, provide just the right touch for Shiomi's homage to Sam Spade and The Maltese Falcon.
- Former Dean Tom Greenfield is featured as Geneseo's first faculty GENsenger in the role of a befuddled Caucasian professor.
LETTERS TO A STUDENT REVOLUTIONARY by Elizabeth Wong
- This production featured GENseng’s second student dramaturg, Jared Morgenstern (Class of '03), and the first international student to serve as an Assistant Director, Noriyo Omura (Class of '03).
- As time goes on, more and more Performing Arts students are becoming involved in GENseng as designers and technicians, as well as actors when needed, and more Asian American students are becoming involved in what is then SOPA as technicians, actors, and students.
- With Artistic Director Randy Kaplan committed to directing a large musical for SOPA this semester, it’s decided that an evening of short pieces directed by a variety of people will be a better choice for GENseng.
- INTERSECTIONS WITH ASIA is created to explore various aspects of how Asian American life hearkens back to, reinforces, or reflects upon root culture traditions:
- PINCHING MUMS is an original musical piece composed by Geneseo music professor Anneliese Weibel. It is played on a “gamelan” constructed of flower pots which accompany fragments of spoken Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Toi San, and German, and it was inspired by Professor Weibel’s work among immigrant women in the Long Island greenhouse industry.
- WHATEVER THAT IS by Suleiman Huzir is the first GENseng production of a script by an Asian (Malaysian) author and features student director Fiona Lee (Class of '04), herself an international student from Malaysia.
- JUGLE BUNDHI is an Indo-American piece choreographed and accompanied by two South Asian American students, Renee Madathil (Class of '06) and Sheehan Haq Perera (Class of '06).
- PHOTOGRAPHS FROM S-21 by Catherine Filloux explores the humanity of two victims of Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia and stars Hara Kang (Class of '05) and Lirn Chi Chang (Class of '04).
TRYING TO FIND CHINATOWN by David Henry Hwang
- This short satire about being able to choose one’s ethnic identity had been read by GENseng for the Rochester Chinese Association and is now revived for Dr. Edna Chun’s first GENESEO 360º in March. A new cast features Kyle Camping (Class of '05) and Hara Kang (Class of '05).
FALLING FLOWERS by Jeany Park
- This play becomes a watershed event for GENseng in a number of ways:
- GENseng receives its first VICE PRESIDENTIAL GRANT FOR CREATING COMMUNITY THROUGH DIVERSITY to support the production and the residency of playwright Jeany Park on our campus.
- Park visits Geneseo in January 2004 to attend rehearsals, work with the actors, and teach classes in history, women’s studies, history, and sociology. She also visits Korean American Student Association and the Greater Rochester Korean American Association.
- FALLING FLOWERS initiates the first three-performance run for GENseng and becomes the first production for which money is charged for tickets. Henceforth, GENseng will be dependent upon box office receipts for its continued success.
- Hanna Lydia Kim (Class of '05), a Korean American student, composes the original score, and stages traditional court dance choreography for the production.
- Faculty costume designer Michaeleen Melita voluntarily takes on costume design for show as an extra assignment, making her the first Geneseo faculty member to design a GENseng production.
- The production is invited to tour to Genessee Community College in April 2004.
- FALLING FLOWERS is attended by KASA organizations from SUNY-Buffalo, SUNY-Binghamton, and University of Rochester, as well as Greater Rochester Korean American Association.
2004-2005 is GENseng’s FIFTH ANNIVERSARY YEAR. It’s decided that a year of comedy is an appropriate way to celebrate.
- Fiona Lee (Class of ’04) accepted for internship at Pan Asian Repertory Theatre Company, NYC (the third oldest professional Asian American theatre company in the United States).
S.A.M. I AM by Garrett Omata
- A comedy about the “trials and tribulations” of interracial dating, this script is “given” to GENseng in honor of its birthday by the Garrett Omata Estate.
- The production features the triumphant return of GENseng’s only faculty actor, Dean Tom Greenfield, in the role of a befuddled Caucasian restaurant owner. Is anyone thinking, "type casting"?
- Opening night is followed by an audience reception which is also attended and filmed by the Rochester Asian Pacific American History Project.
GATE OF HEAVEN by Lane Nishikawa and Victor Talmadge
- Nishikawa and Talmadge “give” their script to GENseng, the first time it has ever been performed by anyone other than themselves.
- This performance, a staged reading about a Jewish man liberated from Dachau by a nisei soldier and their lifelong friendship, is given for Dr. Edna Chun’s GENESEO 360 group.
- Rochester Asian Pacific American History Project attends and photographs stills from the performance.
IRIS CHANG’S MEMORIAL SERVICE
- A memorial service in honor of the late Chinese American historian, Iris Chang, is sponsored by the Asian Pacific American History Project at the University of Rochester, and Min Baek (Class of '06) and Lydia Wu (Class of '05) of GENseng are invited to participate by performing readings from her book The Chinese in America.
A [KOREAN] COMEDY OF ERRORS by William Shakespeare
- Becomes the first time GENseng has utilized an entirely traditional Asian performance technique (Korean t’alchum or masked dance) to “drive” a script by a Western playwright.
- Features a multi-ethnic cast of 18 and a multi-ethnic Korean drumming ensemble directed by an Asian American student, Hanna Lydia Kim.
- The production is invited to tour to MEMORIAL ART GALLERY in Rochester for Asian Pacific American Family Day, May 1.
- The actors construct and paint their own masks based on traditional designs worn in Korea; students of Korean descent research their home villages and provinces to create masks that have personal meaning for them and their families.
- Excerpts are filmed by the Rochester Asian Pacific American History Project for its documentary Identity Through Art.
- Audiences bring blankets, food, drinks, and sit on the floor surrounding the action of the play, just as they would in a Korean village during the 19th century.
IDENTITY THROUGH ART: SIX ASIAN AMERICAN ARTISTS
- Although this documentary is not a GENseng production, GENseng actor Hara Kang and A KOREAN COMEDY OF ERRORS are featured in this documentary produced by Rochester’s Asian Pacific American History Project. Hara Kang represents local Korean American artists in the film. SUNY-Geneseo and GENseng are also featured prominently. The documentary premiered at Eisenhart Auditorium, RMSC and has gone on to be shown at the Little Theatre, Memorial Art Gallery, Strong Museum, SUNY-Geneseo, University of Rochester, Genesee Center for the Arts, and RIT.
SEX, LIES, ALMOND EYES
- A reading compiled from writings on the sexual objectification of Asian Americans, including SUNY-Geneseo student Dana LaPage (Class of ’08) is performed for Cultural Harmony Week (October 28); the performance plays to a packed Sturges Auditorium.
- GENseng NEW YORK CITY REUNION, November 12, 2005; twenty-two GENseng alumni from the classes of 2001 through 2006 convene in NYC for lunch with playwright Ernest Abuba and a trip to see his production of CAMBODIA AGONISTES at Pan Asian Repertory Theatre Company.
- KWATZ! THE TIBETAN PROJECT by Ernest Abuba, about the history of Tibet, December 1-3, 2005; GENseng works directly with the Rochester Amitabha Foundation and is able to raise over $100 to donate toward the purchase of a “mobile maternity unit” to be used in Eastern Kham, Tibet, where maternal mortality rates are soaring.
- PHOTOGRAPHS FROM S-21 by Catherine Filloux, a staged reading about the victims of Pol Pot’s genocide is revived for Geneseo 360º, March 29, 2006. The new cast includes Jason Park and Dana LePage.
- Madame Sam-Ouen Tes and Ms. Bonavy Chhim American Heritage, INC. perform alongside GENseng students Jason Park and Dana LePage; the Rochester Khmer, Thai, and Laotian communities are invited to attend.
- EYES OF THE HEART by Catherine Filloux, about the psychosomatic blindness experienced by women survivors of Pol Pot’s regime, April 28-30, 2006. For this production, GENseng workw with Mme. Tes and Ms. Chhim, and two Geneseo staff members, who are themselves survivors of the Pol Pot regime. Chea Peng, a Cambodian American ceramic artist has works were featured at the Lockhart Gallery at the same time as the production.
- EAST SIDE STORY by Betty Quan, features Frank Lin (Class of '06) in a solo performance and tours to ASIAN AMERICAN FAMILY DAY, MEMORIAL ART GALLERY, ROCHESTER, NY, MAY 7, 2006.
- THE CONVERSION OF KA'AHUMANU by Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl becomes GENseng’s first production to address the story of native born Hawaiians and the impact of Christianity on their culture. Guest speaker Charles Hiroshi Garrett of the Ethnomusicology program at the University of Michigan visits campus to discuss the objectification of Hawaiians through American popular music. Kumu Victoria Kaiulani Visiko and Wayne Kimo Knox, founders and artistic directors of Rochester’s Gallery Kauai School of Hawaiian Performance, perform in the production and visit the campus to give master classes in Hula technique.
- TRYING TO FIND CHINATOWN is invited to APEX, Kodak’s Asian Pacific Exchange; this cast features Eugene Chun (Class of '08) and Jamal Abdunnasir (Class of '08).
- GENsenger Angelis Duarte (KIMCHEE AND CHITLINS ’06, THE CONVERSION OF KA’AHUMANU) is chosen for an internship at the New World Theatre in Amherst, Massachusetts.
- Kaplan and Professor Anneliese Weibel (Music Department) begin work on a collaborative project with Asian Pacific American History Project of Rochester on an original performance piece to be presented for GENseng’s tenth anniversary in the 2009-2010 academic year.
- Playwright Elizabeth Wong visits Geneseo to give master playwriting classes.
- Cherylene Lee's Carry the Tiger to the Mountain, about the murder of Vincent Chin in Detroit in 1982 plays to an entirely sold out run.
- Cast members study tai chi chuan in acting classes and as part of the rehearsal process.
- GENseng receives permission from Mahesh Dattani, an Indian playwright who writes in English, to produce his comedy Where There's a Will. Members of Geneseo's South Asian American organization, Shakti, pledge to support the production which will make GENseng a "pan-Asian American" performance ensemble in time for its tenth anniversary in 2009-2010. The production is scheduled for November 2009.
KIMCHEE AND CHITLINS by Elizabeth Wong
The revival of this show brings together Geneseo Step Team and Geneseo Bhangra Team for the first time as a curtain raiser to the performance, which broke GENseng records: nearly 180 students, staff, and faculty per night crammed the Black Box Theatre to its legal limit.