Gateway Theatre is offering five free audio plays by talented artists of Asian ancestry as part of its 2023-24 season. The Five Blessings Collective includes Derek Chan, Jasmine Chen, Howard Dai, Nancy Tam, and Amanda Sum. According to a Gateway Theatre news release, these plays “will allow young audiences and their families to enjoy and explore the wonders and meanings behind traditional Chinese festivals in a fun and entertaining way”.
The first three are already available on the Gateway Theatre website. The collective co-produced these works with Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre.
Gateway’s season begins on September 24 with a live reading of the fourth episode, followed by craft activities. It’s part of the Family Fun Mid-Autumn Festival celebration, which has an entry fee of $10 per person. Kids two years of age and younger will get in free.
Chan is also managing artistic director of Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre. He wrote and performed in the one-man show Happy Valley, which was at the Firehall Theatre in late May and early June.
In May, Sum wrote and performed her own solo show, New Age Attitudes: Live in Concert, at the Cultch Historic Theatre. Tam is an award-winning composer and sound artist. Dai is a Taiwanese actor, writer, director, and theatre artist based in Vancouver. He was the 2022 digital artist in residence with the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.
Jade Circle coming to Gateway
The other member of the collective, Chen, is a performer and director. She develops multilingual, interdisciplinary works in order to bring diversity to the stage. Gateway Theatre will premiere one of those shows, the multidisciplinary Jade Circle, from March 6 to 17.
Performed in Mandarin and English, Jade Circle focuses on a daughter re-learning her mother tongue. It’s a rice & beans production in association with Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre.
Gateway Theatre bills itself as “A Stage for Richmond”, providing artistic offerings as well as education and community rentals. In its 2023-24 season, it will also present a musical adaptation of Cinderella, which was originally broadcast on CBS in 1957. Gateway’s version of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella will be directed by Johnna Wright and choreographed by Nicol Spinola, with music direction by Sean Bayntun. It will run from December 14 to 31.
Then on February 10, Gateway Theatre will present The Flame: Lunar New Year Edition, with Mom’s the Word co-creator Deborah Williams. And it will close out its season with Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, which will run from April 11 to 20. The company will offer the whodunit in English, with Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese surtitles.