FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 2, 2014
99 Histories Explores Impact and Complications of
Mental Illness in the Asian American Community
LOS ANGELES — Artists at Play presents the Los Angeles premiere of 99 Histories, a poignant drama that explores how a family history of mental illness — and the fear and silence that surrounded the disease — affects the relationship between a Korean immigrant mother and her American-born daughter.
Written by playwright Julia Cho and directed by Leslie Ishii, 99 Histories is the story of Eunice, a former cello prodigy who comes home pregnant and unmarried, trying to mend the relationship with her estranged mother. Haunted by violent memories and previous battles with mental illness, Eunice must confront her ghosts before she can move forward in life. In this riveting story of memory, legacy and home, what is remembered might be made up and the only homelands that seem to exist are imaginary.
“It is my hope that plays such as 99 Histories can help to reduce stigma and discrimination that prevents people from seeking assistance for mental illness. Eunice found a way to manage her symptoms of paranoia, homicidal thoughts, bout(s) of self-harm, etc. If the audience can see that our protagonist was able to seek help and manage her symptoms, then perhaps we could offer others hope and find the appropriate assistance that could benefit them or those around them,” said Dr. Michi Fu, a licensed psychologist who specializes in the Asian American community.
According to Dr. Fu, cultural barriers such as stigma and “loss of face” prevent many in the Asian American community from obtaining the mental health services that they need. For some, a lack of matching services — such as failing to find a mental health professional who knows their native language or understands specific cultural needs — may also serve as a barrier.
“I appreciate how 99 Histories was able to weave many different aspects of the Asian American immigrant bicultural experience (love vs. the Korean chung, methods of coping with loss and bereavement, and cross-cultural communication) and how this impacted one family's experience of mental illness. Many aspects of this family's story run parallel to those living with mental illness. I enjoy finding ways of making psychological concepts a household discussion and believe the arts are a non-threatening, mainstream way to open up potentially challenging discussions,” she added.
A special panel discussion will take place after the performance on Sunday, September 28 at 2 pm. Participants include Dr. Fu, Robert deMayo (California Psychological Association President and Pepperdine University Associate Dean), Leslie Ishii (99 Histories director) and Julia Cho (not the playwright, but Artists at Play founder and actor portraying “Eunice”).
99 Histories runs September 13-28 and will be presented at The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; and Sunday at 2 pm with additional 7 pm performances on September 21 and 28. Tickets are $15-$25 and can be purchased at http://bit.ly/AAP99H. For more information, please visit ArtistsatPlayLA.blogspot.com or e-mail ArtistsAtPlayLA@gmail.com.
About Artists at Play
Founded in 2011 by Julia Cho (the actor), Peter J. Kuo, Stefanie Wong Lau and Marie-Reine Velez, Artists at Play is a collective of Asian American creative professionals who have come together to curate quality theatre in Los Angeles. In 2013, Nicholas Pilapil joined the Artists at Play team as an Associate Producer. They present theatrical productions missing from Los Angeles' local landscape to tell the stories of communities underrepresented in theatre. Their inaugural production was the Los Angeles premiere of Lauren Yee’s Ching Chong Chinaman, which was a box-office hit and a Backstage Critic's Choice. Their 2012 production, A. Rey Pamatmat's Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them, received critical acclaim including an Ovation Recommendation and GLAAD Media Award nomination. Last year, they scored another commercial success with Michael Golamco's Cowboy Versus Samurai.