Fund for New American Plays

Arthur and Leila

Brava! for Women in the Arts, San Francisco, CA

Arthur and Leila explores the tension between contemporary and traditional Chinese culture and values through the conflict-ridden relationship of an aging Chinese-American brother and sister. Leila Chin-Abernathy is a pillar in the Chinese-American community with a successful husband, wealth, prestige, and just one problem: her older brother is a loner, loser, and gambler, yet, as the first-born son of a Chinese shopkeeper, it is he who has inherited both their cultural legacy (he was sent back to China in his youth to study traditional Chinese medicine) and the family's supposedly valuable heirlooms. In a complex and poignant psychological dance, Arthur sells each sham artifact (a toothbrush, a comb) to his sister to support himself. With each item, they barter money, loyalty, and memories. Cherylene Lee presents a humorous and delicate rendering of this odd yet symbiotic relationship between an aging brother and sister in search of their family legacy.

Cherylene Lee wrote Arthur and Leila during her participation in the Mark Taper Forum Playwright's Program in 1991. It was selected for the O'Neill Playwrights Conference in Waterford, Connecticut, in 1992. Lee, whose short stories and plays are widely published, has written several theater works, including Wong Bow Rides Again, Overtones, and The Ballad of Doc Hay. She is a professional dancer and actor who has performed since the age of 3. Her credits include the International Touring Company of the New York Shakespeare Festival's A Chorus Line and The King and I for the Los Angeles and Civic Light Operas. Film credits include Flower Drum Song and Donovan's Reef.

Director: Amy Mueller
Set Designer: Shevra Tait
Lighting Designer: Novella Smith
Costume Designer: Callie Floor
Composer: Jon Jang
Choreographer: Lily Cai
Featured Performers: Nancy Kwan, Dana Lee
Opened: October 30, 1993

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