South Coast Repertory Premieres Cambodian Rock Band, Lauren Yee's Look at Forgotten History
COSTA MESA, Calif. (Feb. 9, 2018)—Part comedy, part mystery and part rock concert, playwright Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band explores an overlooked chapter of history—1970s Cambodia with its vibrant surf-rock music scene and then under the Khmer Rouge regime. The play features songs by the Long Beach-based band Dengue Fever. The world premiere of this South Coast Repertory commission is directed by Chay Yew on the Julianne Argyros Stage, March 4-25. Tickets are available at www.scr.org.
“Since I first heard Dengue Fever’s music, I’ve been obsessed with the history of Cambodia’s surf-rock scene and the country’s dark Khmer Rouge years, when so many people, including those in the arts, perished,” Yee said. “I never knew quite how to write about it in a way that celebrated the individuals behind the music. Until now.”
Cambodian Rock Band is set in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and moves back and forth in time. It’s the story of a young Cambodian American who has found evidence that could finally put away one of the Khmer Rouge’s chief henchman, a man who oversaw the country’s most notorious prison. But her work is far from done. Her Dad shows up unannounced—his first time back in Cambodia since fleeing 30 years ago— and it’s clear that this isn’t just a pleasure trip for him.
Yee is a finalist for the 2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for her play The Great Leap (world premiere through March 11, Denver Center for the Performing Arts). Her other plays include King of the Yees (Goodman Theatre, Center Theatre Group), Ching Chong Chinaman, The Hatmaker’s Wife, Hookman, In a Word, Samsara and The Tiger Among Us. She was a Dramatists Guild Fellow, a MacDowell Fellow, a MAP Fund grantee, a member of The Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group, a Time Warner Fellow at the Women’s Project Playwrights Lab, the Shank Playwright-in-Residence at Second Stage Theatre, a Playwrights’ Center Core Writer and held the Page One Residency at Playwrights Realm. In a Word won the Francesca Primus Prize and was a finalist for the American Theatre Critics Association/Harold and Mimi Steinberg Award. The Hatmaker’s Wife was an Outer Critics Circle nominee for the John Gassner Award for best play by a new American playwright. She earned a BA from Yale University and an MFA from the University of California, San Diego.
Yee wrote Cambodian Rock Band on commission through SCR’s CrossRoads program, which develops plays that explore the cultural diversity of Orange County through artist residencies. For Cambodian Rock Band, Yee’s residency cast a wider net, including Long Beach. CrossRoads is supported by a grant from the Time Warner Foundation.
The cast includes Brooke Ishibashi, Abraham Kim, Raymond Lee, Jane Lui, Joe Ngo and Daisuke Tsuji.
The design and creative team includes Takeshi Kata and Se Oh, scenic design; Sara Ryung Clement, costume design; David Weiner, lighting design; Mikhail Fiksel, sound design; Matthew MacNelly, music director; and Joanne DeNaut, CSA, casting. The production manager is Joshua Marchesi and the stage manager is Bryan Sommer. Andy Knight is the dramaturg.
Cambodian Rock Band has generous support from Honorary Producers Carolyn and Bill Klein and Samuel and Tammy Tang. The media partners are KCRW, Orange Coast Magazine and the Orange County Business Journal. This play is a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award.
Tickets start at $23. Discounts are available for full-time students, patrons 25 years of age and under, fulltime educators, seniors and groups of 10 or more. For complete information, visit: www.scr.org.
Related Information for Cambodian Rock Band
Tickets: May be purchased online at www.scr.org, by phone at (714) 708-5555 or by visiting the Box Office at 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa. Performances run March 4-25. Ticket prices start at $23. Low-priced previews run March 4-8. SCR’s performances run Tuesdays-Sundays; there are no performances on Mondays.
Performance Dates, Times:
- Sunday, March 4, at 2 p.m.
- Tuesday-Thursday, March 6-8, at 7:45 p.m.
Note: Friday, March 9, is an invitation-only performance
- Regular performances
Special note: There are no Monday performances.
- Tuesdays-Sundays, March 10-11; March 13-18; and March 20-24, at 7:45 p.m.
- There is no evening performance on Sunday, March 25
- Saturdays-Sundays, March 10-11; March 17-18; and March 24-25 at 2 p.m.
- ASL-interpreted: Saturday, March 24, at 2 p.m.
- Post-Show Discussions: Tuesday, March 13, and Wednesday, March 14. Discuss the play with Cambodian Rock Band cast members during free post-show discussions led by South Coast Repertory’s literary team. Julianne Argyros Stage.
- Inside the Season: Saturday, March 24, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Led by members of SCR’s literary staff, this lively two-hour session features in-depth interviews with cast members and artists from SCR's production staff, offering insights into Cambodian Rock Band. The morning includes a guided tour of the set. Julianne Argyros Stage. Tickets are $12 and may be purchased in advance or at the door.
Location: South Coast Repertory is located at 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa, at the Bristol Street/Avenue of the Arts exit off the San Diego (405) Freeway in the David Emmes/Martin Benson Theatre Center, part of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Parking is available on Park Center Drive, off Anton Boulevard.
Current and Upcoming Productions: SHREW! by Amy Freed, March 24-Apro; 21; Little Black Shadows by Kemp Powers, April 8-29; The Sisters Rosensweig by Wendy Wasserstein, May 5-June 2; and Amos & Boris by William Steig, May 18-June 3 (Theatre for Young Audiences). More information is available at www.scr.org.
ABOUT SOUTH COAST REPERTORY: Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964 by David Emmes and Martin Benson, is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. While its productions represent a balance of classic and modern theatre, SCR is renowned for its extensive new-play development program, which includes the nation’s largest commissioning program for emerging and established writers. One-quarter of SCR’s 525 productions have been world premieres. SCR-developed works have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes and eight Pulitzer nominations, several Obie Awards and scores of major new-play awards. Located in Costa Mesa, Calif., SCR is home to the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the 94-seat Nicholas Studio. www.scr.org