Rap + Vietnam + Arkansas = Qui Nguyen’s Poor Yella Rednecks at South Coast Repertory
Sequel to Hit Vietgone
COSTA MESA, Calif. (March 15, 2019)—The next chapter of playwright Qui Nguyen’s story about his family history—Poor Yella Rednecks—is a raucously funny, deeply moving take on the immigrant story, told with his signature hip-hop and rap style. The play premieres at South Coast Repertory, directed by May Adrales, March 30-April 27. It is a co-commission with Manhattan Theatre Club and has been developed at SCR as part of the Pacific Playwrights Festival. Tickets are available online at www.scr.org.
Nguyen started the story in the award-winning Vietgone (2015), his breakout hit, that recounted his parents’ hot and hilarious 1975 courtship in a Vietnamese refugee camp. Poor Yella Rednecks picks up the story six years later as his mom and dad (Tong and Quang) try to build a new life in a foreign land called Arkansas. They find that marriage is hard, especially when she’s having doubts and his first one isn’t over yet.
He based both plays, in part, on interviews with his parents, but populated the world of both family plays with hip, modern Asians who use modern language.
“Qui turns the tables on what an audience might expect by having the Vietnamese characters in his plays use Hollywood blockbuster vernacular,” said Kimberly Colburn, literary director and dramaturg for the show. “By contrast, Americans speak in poor, comical and halting English. The point he illustrates is that much more unites us than divides us.”
Nguyen is co-founder of the Obie Award-winning Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company (New York City), the “pioneers of geek theatre.” His plays include Vietgone (2016 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, co-commissioned and premiered by SCR and Manhattan Theatre Club); She Kills Monsters (2014 American Alliance for Theatre and Education Distinguished Play Award); Soul Samurai (2009 GLAAD Media Award nomination) and the critically acclaimed Vampire Cowboys shows The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G, Alice in Slasherland, Fight Girl Battle World, Men of Steel, Living Dead in Denmark, and the upcoming Revenge Song (Geffen Playhouse, 2020). His recent awards include a 2016 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Preschool Animated Program (“Peg+Cat”) and a 2015 New York Community Trust Helen Merrill Playwriting Award. For TV and film, he’s written for Marvel Studios, AMC, SyFy and PBS. He writes for “The Society” (Netflix) and Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Returning from the original SCR Vietgone cast are Maureen Sebastian, Paco Tolson and Samantha Quan, with Tim Chiou and Eugene Young.
The creative team includes Shane Rettig, original music and sound design; Arnulfo Maldonado, scenic design; Valérie Thérèse Bart, costume design; Lap Chi Chu, lighting design; Kenny Seymour, arrangements; Jared Mezzocchi, projection design; Sean Cawelti, puppet design and direction; and Joanne DeNaut, CSA, casting. The production manager is Joshua Marchesi and the stage manager is Kathryn Davies. The dramaturg is Kimberly Colburn.
Poor Yella Rednecks has generous support from Honorary Producers Talya Nevo-Hacohen and Bill Schenker, and Marci Maietta Weinberg and William Weinberg. The play is the recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award. KCRW is the show’s media partner. South Coast Plaza is the season sponsor for the Segerstrom Stage.
Related Information for Poor Yella Rednecks
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 30-April 27. Ticket prices start at $23. Low-priced previews run March 30-April 4.
Performance Dates, Times
- Previews run March 30-April 4
- Saturday, March 30, at 8 p.m.
- Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday, March 31, April 2, 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m.
- Regular performances run April 6-27.
Note: There are no Monday performances. The performance on Friday, April 5, is invitation-only.
- Evening Performances:
- Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, April 7, 9, 10 and 11; April 14, 16, 17 and 18; and April 21, 23, 24 and 25, at 7:30 p.m.
- Fridays-Saturdays, April 6, April. 12-13; April 19-20; and April 26-27, at 8 p.m.
- Saturdays-Sundays, April 6-7; April 13-14; April 20-21; April 27, at 2:30 p.m.
- ASL-interpreted: Saturday, April 13, at 2:30 p.m.
- Post-Show Discussions: Wednesday, April 10, and Tuesday, April 16. Discuss the play with cast members of Poor Yella Rednecks during free post-show discussions led by South Coast Repertory’s literary team. Segerstrom Stage.
- Inside the Season: Saturday, April 13, from, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Led by members of SCR’s literary staff, this lively two-hour session includes in-depth interviews with cast members and artists from the production staff, revealing secrets and offering insights into SCR’s production of Poor Yella Rednecks. Segerstrom 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: Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler, March 3-24; Poor Yella Rednecks by Qui Nguyen, March 30-April 27; Sheepdog by Kevin Artigue, April 14-May 5; Pacific Playwrights Festival, April 26-28; M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang, May 11-June 8; and The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, May 24-June 9 (Theatre for Young Audiences). Complete 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