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”J-town, Chinatown: Our Town” (working title), a multidisciplinary and multimedia work, written by Brenda Wong Aoki, scored by award-winning jazz musician Mark Izu with Chinese & Japanese American home movies by Stephen Gong of the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)


San Francisco, CA (June 17, 2019) – Award-winning storyteller, playwright, and Bay Area local Brenda Wong Aoki has been selected as a recipient of a MAP FUND 2019 New Works commissioning. The MAP Fund invests in artistic production as the critical foundation of imagining — and ultimately co-creating — a more equitable and vibrant society. MAP supports original live performance projects that embody a spirit of deep inquiry, particularly works created by artists who question, disrupt, complicate, and challenge inherited notions of social and cultural hierarchy across the United States.

The program pursues its mission by annually welcoming applications for new live performance projects. Each year, MAP hires a different cohort of peer reviewers who recommend the projects they believe most align with MAP’s goals through a rigorous, facilitated review process. MAP awards $1 million to up to 40 projects in the range of $10,000 – $45,000 per grant. (MAP


Synopsis of proposed new work:

In the rain, a mixed race young man born and raised in San Francisco waits for his Uber. Surrounded by destitute people scurrying for shelter and rich people sauntering home he thinks about moving away to a kinder gentler place. The spirits of his grandmothers snatch him, whisking him backwards and forwards through time. Reminding him that his ancestors built this City, it’s Soul will always be with him and his great-grandchildren need him to remember. J-town, Chinatown: OurTown (working title) written by Brenda Wong Aoki, composition by Mark Izu, inspired by their son & his family’s 122 year history in the nation’s first Japantown & Chinatown. This amalgamation of story, jazz with Chinese & Japanese instrumentation, Nohgaku, contemporary dance & multimedia by Olivia Ting, costumes by Lydia Tanji, Japanese and Chinese American home movies by Stephen Gong from the Center for Asian American media will premiere at CAAMFest 2021. Says Wong Aoki, “This work is about identity and homeland in an increasingly multiracial America, especially in cities where historic cultural districts like Chinatown and J-town are being dismantled, or no one from the culture lives there anymore. The play is about belonging…in a complex, interconnected, chaotic world. Ultimately this is an American story.” 

Brenda Wong Aoki