Falling for Iggy Woo

A Conversation Between  
Director Rena Heinrich & Dramaturg Marie-Reine Velez

MARIE: Rena, thank you so much for being a part of this process for Alice Tuan’s Iggy Woo as the director for this reading. Before we started rehearsals for the Iggy Woo reading, what were you most looking forward to exploring in this process?

RENA: I was really looking forward to working with Alice. I knew of Alice's work but had never formally met her nor worked with her before. Then I read the play and loved it. Iggy Woo has a specific rhythm and tone, and I was looking forward to exploring this in a rehearsal process, to seeing and hearing it filtered through live bodies and seeing what that looked like. 

MARIE: Have there been any discoveries during rehearsal that have surprised you so far?

RENA: Alice leaves no stone unturned. Everything in the narrative is literally or metaphorically connected to something else. It's beautiful, gorgeous writing. She's written three movements (or acts)  inspired by No Doubt songs. At one point, I realized that there are No Doubt references sprinkled in the dialogue, and I had to smile. The play is like Alice. Playful and wickedly intelligent.

MARIE: I fully agree. There’s a specificity in the characters’ speech patterns and word choice that affects how the story moves forward--it constantly amazes me when those moments are revealed in rehearsal. What makes Iggy Woo stand out to you?

RENA: Iggy Woo is a bit Beckett meets Ionesco meets No Doubt. It has an absurdist, otherworldly quality that's grounded in a very real, modern day Los Angeles. It's about cravings and creativity amidst consumerism. But, at the end of the day, it's also a sweet love story about simply looking for that one person who gets you. Marie, I'm curious as to what drew you to the play? 

MARIE: As you mentioned, the play has a specific rhythm and tone--and I immediately fell in love with the language of the play, the exploration of the smoke break, the endless possibilities of the smoke break conversation and the bonds that form because of the five or ten minutes that smoke breakers give themselves throughout the day. Those five-to-ten minutes can be casual, intimate, cathartic, what have you; Alice really goes there. And that was my reaction to just the first movement! Her writing has a way of taking you on a journey of so many feels, laughs, surprises and revelations.

RENA: How did Artists at Play decide to pick Iggy for this event?

MARIE: We’re all very interested in Alice’s work, her voice is so strong and the play has a great sense of humor--witty, sarcastic and a little offbeat. We find ourselves more drawn to Asian American theatrical narratives that go beyond the identity crises on just an ethnic/cultural level, but who we are as humans living in today’s world. Factors like consumerism, pop culture, sexuality and social awkwardness are just as apparent as cultural identity is in our lives. What I find so funny is that some of the first notes Alice got when this play was shopped around was that it wasn’t “Asian American” enough, and I have three reactions to that: 
  1. yeah, sort of
  2. no, not really
  3. that’s BS 
I mean, what does that matter? Who's to say what's "Asian American"? Like other theatres and organizations, all of us with Artists at Play want to support new plays, and Iggy is a great fit with our sensibilities while also pushing the envelope on what theatre can explore. I can keep going, but we can continue this conversation at the readings on Sunday, either at the Q&A session after Iggy Woo, or at dinner before the reading of Three Steps Back by Peter J. Kuo!

Iggy Woo by Alice Tuan will be presented as part of Artists at Play’s reading series on Sunday, March 24th. Get your meal tickets now for dinner and hosted bar!

Photos: (1) Alice Tuan and Rena Heinrich in rehearsal; (2) Carla Vega, Justin Huen and Brittany Lau in rehearsal. Photos by Marie-Reine Velez.

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