In the stifling jungles of South East Asia, two lives are forever entwined, destined to play out life rituals while constrained by culture and colonialism. We first see a pair in the 1920's, a place of rubber plantations and rebel insurgencies, and another 80 years later in the same city, now independent and metropolitan. Are these lovers destined to repeat their histories, or will they break the cycle this time around? Love seems to be the only constant.
Inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca’s 1933 “Blood Wedding,” A Distant Shore addresses fate, colonization, globalization, and the ways in which two cultures feed on each other with envy, destruction, and passion in a ceaseless struggle for control, bewildered by obsession from first to last. Taking on particular resonance and urgency in an era of nation-building and terrorism, this erotic and poetic play traces how the missteps of the one beget the monstrosities of the other in a Southeast Asian Muslim country.
A Distant Shore was given its first production on April 24, 2005 at the Center Theater Group / Kirk Douglas Theatre, Los Angeles. It was directed by Robert Egan.
Salmah: Tamlyn Tomita
Alan: Daniel Blinkoff
Zul: Eric D. Steinberg
Wardina: Emily Kuroda
Sulaiman: Nelson Mashita
Patricia: Maria Cina
Afrah/Mina: Esther K. Chae
"A prominent voice in contemporary Asian American theater, Yew’s previous plays have chronicled alienation from the outsider’s perch of an immigrant and a gay man. Expanding his scope with this intricately plotted drama, Yew reverses the mirror to explore how an indigenous population becomes alienated within its own borders under the corrosive influence of Western colonialism. This challenging and thoughtful drama confronts the complexities - and ultimate futility - of trying to keep politics separate from personal relationships." - Los Angeles Times
"Chay Yew’s new drama, having its world premiere at the Kirk Douglas, is absorbing, thought-provoking entertainment. The first act, inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca’s 1933 “Blood Wedding,” is a superbly streamlined, romantic story of lovers in torment... [the] theme of western exploitation, tangentially touched upon in act one, becomes the overriding concern in the second act. The blend of passion and politics adds up to compelling theater." - Variety
"Again astounding audiences with a saga tracing the roots of Asian/Caucasian intercourse and influences from the 1920s to the present, [Chay Yew] addresses the ways in which the two cultures feed on each other with envy, destruction and passion in a ceaseless struggle for control, bewildered by obsession from first to last. He's after bigger things and he succeeds on most of the canvas he's painted with the colors and fascination the Orient holds for the West, the mutual greed the two cultures have for each other and the process of amalgamation that's lumpy, uncertain but inevitable, weaving a tapestry like no other." - CurtainUp
"Does History Repeat? The Question That Propels A Distant Shore" (UCLA Center For Chinese Studies)
"Playwright Chay Yew Revisits His Own Distant Shore" - Performances
A Distant Shore program