Chinese Actors to Stage O’Neill Play at L.A. Open Festival : Culture: Chinese version of ‘Hughie’ will be presented back-to-back with English-language production.


Although the Los Angeles Festival has maintained that because of violence in Tian An Men Square no artists from China would be brought in for the Pacific-themed festival, the Open Festival, which will run simultaneously, is planning to bring in actors from Shanghai to perform a Chinese version of Eugene O’Neill’s one-act play “Hughie.”

Judith Johnston-Weston of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Festival plans to present the two-person play at Los Angeles Theatre Center during the first three weeks of September. She says that the Chinese government is eager to have the actors included in the festival.

“The Chinese . . . are very excited and very willing in terms of letting these people out for cultural activities. They’re trying to inch their way back into the world,” she said.

“I wish it could have been part of the main (curated) festival, but just to get them here to be part of the whole thing is the important part. We want to show that art does go beyond political boundaries,” said Johnston-Weston, who noted that the Chinese-language version of the play would be presented back-to-back with her own group’s English-language version.


She cautioned, however, that although Open Festival organizers are counting her as one of their confirmed participants, she has raised only half of the $50,000 needed to fund the program.

The planned Chinese participation was among the first 40 confirmed events for September’s Open Festival--a free-for-all of arts exhibitions and performances in which artists will produce their own events in conjunction with the Sept. 1-17 Los Angeles Festival.

Included in the confirmed participants for the Open Festival are several large institutions, including the L.A. Philharmonic, Music Center Opera, Pacific Asia Museum, Southwest Museum and Pasadena Playhouse. But smaller and medium-sized groups, such as the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, Los Angeles Photography Center, the Happy Time Pipers, L.A. Theatre Artists and Viklarbo Chamber Ensemble, as well as individual artists, are also included.

Some of the festival’s confirmed events are being produced specifically for the Open Festival--an outgrowth of 1987’s Fringe Festival: The Pasadena-based Music Circle, which annually presents about 10 concerts at Occidental College, plans to bring in Ranga Niketan, a 22-member dance company from Manipur that combines martial arts with classical forms, as well as other name musical performers from India.

Other productions on the festival’s roster are those that were already planned: the Long Beach Blues Festival, the 4th Annual Fringe of the Fringe Arts Festival in Claremont, the Music Center Opera’s “Fidelio,” Pacific Asia Museum’s “Images of Faith: Ivory Sculptures from the Philippines,” Pasadena Playhouse’s “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit” and Installations One gallery’s “Ten Years of the Editorial Artwork of Richard Milholland.”

Festival coordinator Aaron Paley noted, however, that the preliminary list of events is heavily skewed toward institutions that plan its events far in advance, and that many more special Open Festival productions would be confirmed at a later date.

Paley said this first list of confirmed festival events is minor in comparison to the 450 or so events he expects to take place. He noted that 1,150 artists have already expressed interest in participating, even though the deadline for them to commit to the Open Festival isn’t until June 30. A complete schedule will be available sometime in August, he said.

Other confirmed Open Festival participants and events, by discipline, include:

Theater: Los Angeles City College’s “Smokeshop,” Orpheum Theatre Corporation’s six-hour “Merlin,” Odyssey Theatre Ensemble’s “Struggling Truths” and L.A. Theatre Artists’ “Delicacy.” Also committed to mounting productions are Actors Forum Theatre, Tamarind Theatre, Inevitable Productions, Theater 6470, the August Strindberg Society and Physical Theatre Project.

Visual Art: “Golden Pool: Asian Pacific American Photography” at the Los Angeles Photography Center; “Open Windows,” a series of exhibits in local storefronts; “Indigenous Nomads” at the Junior Arts Center; “Chalk-ins,” a series of open public mural making in the streets, and an exhibit of photographs by children from Los Angeles and Indonesia mounted by the Thousand Oaks-based Through Children’s Eyes. Also committed to mounting exhibitions are the Hollywood Arts Council, Michelle Isenberg & Associates, the Society of Flat Art, Women in Design in Los Angeles, the Museum of Jurassic Technology and Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies; as well as individual artists Guillermo Bert, Edwina Gaines and Barbara King.

Music: Free noon concerts by the Los Angeles Jazz Society and a series of concerts highlighting minority composers by the Viklarbo Music Ensemble.

Multimedia: The tentatively titled “Green Festival,” a mini-festival of environmentally themed events; “The Voyage of the Shaman,” a collaborative healing performance by Korean dancer and shaman Hi-ah Park and painter Jean Edelstein; and installation/performance pieces using recycled trash by Trash Lizards Presents. Events will also be mounted by the cabaret/dinner theater Cafe Largo, the senior citizens’ group Happy Time Pipers and the San Francisco-based CyberArts International.