Jessica Huang
 
 

 

Plays

 

I am a (play)writer who creates for the stage from the complex legacy of diaspora and the modern chaos of multiracial identity. I make work that catalyzes conversation, models new ways of being, propagates paradigm shifts, and opens pathways to think new thoughts.

Purple Cloud
The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin
Elysium Blues
Of Milk and Mirrors
Mermaids
A Unicorn on the Corner of 7th and Nicollet
Zero-Infinity Flight Path
Transmissions in Advance of the Second Great Dying

 

 
 
 

Purple Cloud

Synopsis

When you’re hapa, you know deep down you’re greater than the sum of your many parts. In Purple Cloud, three generations of Huangs deal with the multifacets of their multiracial identities as—accompanied by four Jade Pieces—they embark on a mythical journey from China to Minnesota and back again. Through three intertwining stories, the Huang family acculturates: Grandpa Lee emigrates from Shanghai to America during the Sino-Japanese War; his son Orville deals with his confusion as a first generation Asian American; and his granddaughter fights for her Chinese-ness through the search for her true name.

Quotes/Reviews

  • “a thoughtful and ultimately universal exploration of what it means to belong.” Lisa Brock, Star Tribune
  • “a thoroughly entertaining and moving work.” Ed Huyck, City Pages
  • “a beautiful play, with the rare kind of script that strikes you instantly with the excellence of its writing.” Compendium
  • “one of the most powerful and moving scenes I’ve witnessed in theater. It pulled together the various threads of the play in the ways that only true art can. By the play’s end, I realized I had just witnessed something unprecedented, something—contrary to Hewitt’s generalizing and unfocused eye—entirely new: The birth of a hapa tradition.” David Mura, Op Ed, Pioneer Press

Production HIstory

PREMIERE: Mu Performing Arts, Minneapolis MN 2015

Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists, Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2016 (remount of Mu production)

Asian American Theatre Project, Stanford CA

 

Awards

  • Susan Smith Blackburn Nominee
  • Kilroy List Honorable Mention
  • Source Festival finalist 
 

The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin

Synopsis

During the Chinese Exclusion Act, Harry Chin, a Chinese national, entered the U.S. by buying forged documentation. Like other “Paper Sons,” Harry underwent a brutal detention and interrogation, and lived the rest of his life keeping secrets – even from his daughter. Told through the eyes of a middle-aged Chin, THE PAPER DREAMS OF HARRY CHIN reveals the complicated loves and regrets of this Chinese immigrant who wound up in Minnesota. Through dreamlike leaps of time and space and with the powerful assistance of ghosts, the story of the Chin family reveals the personal and political repercussions of making group of people “illegal.”

Quotes/Reviews

  • “rewarding new play "The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin" offers a complex telling of a complex life” Ed Hyuck, Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • “a surreal journey through past and present that is touching, funny, harrowing, confusing—and ultimately worth seeing.” Kip Dooley, Minnesota Playlist
  • “Huang’s superb storytelling keeps us engaged with this complex, and all too timely, tale.” Jay Gabler, City Pages
  • “The play never fails to hold interest, but some scenes soar in their power. One is the interrogation scene as Harry arrives at the Seattle point of entry, feverishly hoping for his "paper son" deception to work. As Harry does not yet know English, we hear the interrogator as Harry does—an outpouring of gibberish, presented as fierce animalistic roars, grunts and whistles, amplified like the powerful Wizard of Oz.” Arthur Dorman, Talkin Broadway
  • It’s easy to remark on the timeliness of this production—with current immigration policy trying to prohibit another specific group from being allowed into the US, its place in the season is almost uncanny. While timely and relevant sound like operable words, it’s more than just that. Stories like this keep repeating themselves and American history is full of them. It’s timely because prejudice and xenophobia never stopped being a problem and because it’s a story we still fail to remember. However, Harry Chin’s will haunt you, just like the ghosts who fill up his kitchen. You won’t be able to forget him once you leave the theater. And, like me, you might walk out feeling hungry—for knowledge, for diversity, for answers, for change.” The Room Where it Happens

Production history

WORLD PREMIERE: History Theatre, Saint Paul MN 2017

TimePieces Play Reading, TimeLine Theatre, Chicago IL 2017

Awards

  • Kilroy List 2017
  • Susan Smith Blackburn nominee
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune Best of the Week

Elysium Blues

Synopsis

Elysium Blues is a blues musical that begins after the end of Eurydice’s life. Disoriented and wary, she debarks an Underground train in the land of the dead to begin her ever after. Hades is strange, to say the least, and run by child-like Persephone, whose slick spoken-word rhymes and in-your-face attitude hide a distressing past. Eurydice’s life on earth had been no picnic either –she’d spent her days running, hiding, fleeing and drinking away the charismatic but devastating Orpheus. Life underground seems a bit more relaxed, but just as soon as she’s swallowed the waters of forgetfulness, a rogue train hurtles into the station. Yes, that persistent Orpheus has found a way to follow her down to Hades, and he’s hell bent on reclaiming her. Now Eurydice must decide whether to continue running, turn and fight, or find another way to stay dead.

Quotes/Reviews

  • “This made my soul sing. Stunning vocalists with effortless emotion, careful treatment of the abyss of domestic violence, and the representations of the dangerous beauty and unsung heroism of the stories we tell our children.” –Lisa Hu, Minnesota Playlist
  • “An unusual take on an old story, and one well worth seeing.” – Matthew Everett, Twin Cities Daily Planet.
  • “It blew my mind.” – Kenna Cottman, Minnesota Playlist

 

 
 
 

Of Milk and Mirrors (one act)

Synopsis

OF MILK AND MIRRORS… a play about love that puts my real-life marriage on stage—and toys with truth by transforming the character of my husband into seven others (including writer Jorge Luis Borges and philosopher Alexius Meinong).

OF MILK AND MIRRORS... was originally commissioned by Atlantic Theater Company; Neil Pepe Artistic Director Jeffory Lawson, Managing Director

 

 

 

 

 

Mermaids (10 minute play)

SYNOPSIS

Cecilia and Don struggle to find hope and faith between the waves as the tide rolls into a rainy New England beach.

 

 
 
 

A Unicorn on the Corner of 7th and Nicollet (10 minute play)

SYNOPSIS

Paying homage to Mary Tyler Moore is like honoring a unicorn, according to a professor at Macalester College. Well fine. A Unicorn on 7th and Nicollet shows just what it takes to turn the world on with a smile. And it’s not particularly happy about it.

 

 

Zero-Infinity Flight Path (in process)

Synopsis

Zero-Infinity Flight Path begins at the end of a journey to the top of a mysterious mountain. A girl, her mother, and a guide must climb to enact a sacrifice for the salvation of those at the base. But the closer the girl gets to completing her journey, the more she begins to question its validity, causing the entire party to contend with crises of doubt and questions of free will. ZERO-INFINITY FLIGHT PATH digs into the paradoxes of Systems and Institutions, and the moments when it is critical to listen to the small individual inner voice of truth. It seeks to highlight the dangerous compromises we make daily - do we listen to a dogmatic group or listen to ourselves? Do we follow orders or our instincts?

Awards

  • Bay Area Playwrights Festival semi-finalist
  • Eugene O'Neill New Playwrights Conference semi-finalist
 
 
 

Transmissions in Advance of the Second Great Dying (in process)

SYNOPSIS

Commissioned by Mixed Blood Theatre and slated for its 2019-20 season, Transmissions in Advance of the Second Great Dying explores global warming through the lens of grief. Supported by four years of research, Transmissions merges mixed-race identity politics, science and economics to tell a story that spans 300 million years.