Christopher Chen
Christopher Chen

NEW YORK CITY | Kathleen Chalfant and Kate Mulgrew will host the Vineyard Theatre‘s annual Emerging Artists Luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 3 from noon to 2 p.m. at the National Arts Club (15 Gramercy Park South) in Manhattan. The event will feature the presentation of the 2013 Paula Vogel Playwriting Award to Christopher Chen, a San Francisco-based playwright whose works include The Hundred Flowers Project and other plays.

Chalfant and Mulgrew will share the role of emcee, having starred together last season in The Vineyard’s world-premiere of Jenny Schwartz’s play Somewhere Fun. Vogel will be in attendance and present the award.

In an interview with Sam Hurwitt, Chen describes The Hundred Flowers Project. “It’s a Bauhaus-inspired fantasia on the Mao era,” Chen said. “Ultimately, it’s a play that aims to explore the psychological state of mind of the Mao era, with an emphasis on the Cultural Revolution. It involves looking at it through my own personal lens, in the context of our own personal era, in order to really get into the actual, foundational psychological patterns underneath it. At its core, though, it’s a fantasia; it’s an exploration of the state of mind of Mao’s era, through the lens of our own time.”

Sounds ambitious…

Chen is the sixth recipient of the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, named in honor of playwright and teacher Paula Vogel, whose plays How I Learned to Drive (Pulitzer Prize for Drama) and The Long Christmas Ride Home premiered at The Vineyard. The residency-based award, made possible through the generosity of the Tournesol Project, comes with a cash prize and artistic support over the 2013-14 season.

Previous recipients of The Paula Vogel Playwriting Award are Erika Sheffer (2012), Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (2011), Kara Lee Corthron (2010), Rajiv Joseph (2009), and Tarell Alvin McCraney in 2008.

Chen’s The Hundred Flowers Project, described as “a kaleidoscopic play-within-a-play about Mao Tse-Tung and social media,” was presented last year by San Francisco’s Crowded Fire, receiving the Will Glickman Award and Rella Lossy Playwrights Award, and was short-listed for the James Tait Black Award. Mr. Chen’s other plays include Into The Numbers, The Window Age and Aulis: An Act of Nihilism in One Long Act. Chen is a Resident Playwright at the Playwrights Foundation, a member of the Magic Theatre Artist’s Lab and Just Theater New Play Lab, and is co-director of the Asian American Theater Company New Works Incubator Program. He is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, and holds an M.F.A. in Playwriting from S.F. State.

This season, The Vineyard will produce the world premieres of the musical The Landing by John Kander and Greg Pierce, directed by Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Josh Rhodes, with a cast featuring David Hyde Pierce, Julia Murney, Paul Anthony Stewart and Frankie Seratch (previews begin October 3, opens October 23), and Nicky Silver’s play Too Much Sin, directed by Mark Brokaw, along with the New York premiere of the musical Arlington by Polly Pen and Victor Lodato.

Wiley Naman Strasser with Cindy Im in “The Hundred Flowers Project by Christopher Chen. Photo: Pak Han
Wiley Naman Strasser with Cindy Im in “The Hundred Flowers Project by Christopher Chen. Photo: Pak Han


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