Eugenie Chan is collaborating with the Paul Dresher Ensemble and ShadowLight Productions to create a new musical shadow theater work, Heterotopia. The work responds to a short story by Chinese science fiction writer Cixin Liu — a speculative fable that explores issues of human migration and transformation after the catastrophic destruction of Earth as we know it. Eugenie Chan will write the script, which will be realized on stage by Larry Reed of ShadowLight Productions, using innovative cinematic-scale visuals that integrate shadow puppets and live actors. It will feature an original score by Paul Dresher, who will use both his existing and new instruments created for the production.
Eugenie Chan’s work often features intense visuals, mythic elements, ritual, and highly charged wordplay. She’s a fifth generation Chinese American and San Franciscan, and many of her plays capture her family’s multi-generational, multilingual story. She, Paul Dresher, and Larry Reed bring long experience with multidisciplinary collaborations to the project.
Since 1984, the Paul Dresher Ensemble (the public name of the nonprofit Musical Traditions) has been a creative force and active member of Bay Area and national arts communities. Its goal is to produce innovative and engaging works that reach for the highest artistic standards and challenge boundaries between disciplines and cultural assumptions. Dresher met Larry Reed in 1974 when both were studying at the Center for World Music and their paths have crossed repeatedly. The idea of collaborating on this project arose when they discovered a shared passion for science fiction in general and Cixen Liu’s work specifically.
All three collaborating partners believe that science fiction genre is an excellent medium in which to examine the vital issues of our time – race, gender, identity, and the environmental degradation of the planet. They plan to begin their collaboration in early 2021, working toward a premiere at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason in the spring of 2022.
Pictured: A scene from Madam Ho by Eugenie Chan. Photo by Frank Jang