Kung Fu Journal (February 6, 2014)

KUNG_FU_JOURNALTony Award-winning playwright/Offender David Henry Hwang (M. BUTTERFLY) is currently in previews for his new play KUNG FU, which has its World Premiere at the Signature Theatre in New York on February 24 and has been extended to March 30. This is his weekly blog series giving our readers a glimpse into the rehearsal process for KUNG FU. Read previous entries here.

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This past Tuesday, we had our first preview: the first performance of our show before a paying audience. The actors were amazing, and earned a standing ovation at curtain call. But this is no time to rest. On the contrary, this is when the real work begins.

A couple of major Bruce Lee fans showed up for our first preview. Photo by Joanna C. Lee.

A couple of major Bruce Lee fans showed up for our first preview. Photo by Joanna C. Lee.

We’re in the most intense part of the process, when the creative team learns from audiences what is and isn’t working. While the opinions of individual patrons may or may not be correct, the audience as a whole is rarely wrong. If we think something is funny, and the audience doesn’t laugh, it’s not their fault, it’s ours. Maybe the line doesn’t work. Maybe the actor isn’t delivering it effectively. Maybe the staging is sabotaging us. Or the lights. Or any number of other variables. So we listen to the audience every night, and continue making changes, in all areas.

Including lots of rewrites from me. Each morning, I come in with new pages, which the actors learn in rehearsals that afternoon, then they perform the revised version that evening. The next day, that process begins all over again. This will continue, through eight performances a week, for the next three weeks.

Here’re some actual new page reports from our fantastic stage managers, David H. Lurie and Jillian Oliver, who run rehearsals and performances, keeping all aspects of our production running smoothly.

Tuesday, February 4
-New pages 7-11A, 19-20, 36-37A, 54-54A, 58-61, 116-118. Changes to the script were made to 9-11A and 37.

Wednesday, February 5
-New pages 28, 66, 67, 83, 86, 87, 106, 107 were distributed today. A change to the script was made on page 30. New page 88 was distributed after the performance.

Since I’m preoccupied with rewrites, this week’s post will feature pictures by the actress and award-winning photographer, Lia Chang. Lia visited rehearsals and our Lunar New Year celebration. Tonight, we’re incorporating a new final scene for our Preview #3.

The following photos are all by Lia Chang:

Alan, Leigh, and Production Stage Manager David Lurie at their Tech Table.

Alan, Leigh, and Production Stage Manager David Lurie at their Tech Table.

The cool Show Panel outside our theatre, created by Signature Theatre dramaturg Sarah Rose Leonard.

The cool Show Panel outside our theatre, created by Signature Theatre dramaturg Sarah Rose Leonard.

At our Lunar New Year dinner (left to right): Fight Director Manny Brown, actors Jon Rua, Peter Kim, Francis Jue, Phoebe Strole, Assistant Director Alan, and actor Chris Vo.

At our Lunar New Year dinner (left to right): Fight Director Manny Brown, actors Jon Rua, Peter Kim, Francis Jue, Phoebe Strole, Assistant Director Alan, and actor Chris Vo.

Cole, at the New Year’s dinner.

Cole, at the New Year’s dinner.

Me, with our cultural advisors Ken Smith & Joanna Lee, who hand-made New Year’s dumplings for all!

Me, with our cultural advisors Ken Smith & Joanna Lee, who hand-made New Year’s dumplings for all!

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