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Lovelle Liquigan

Lovelle Liquigan as Annelle in “Steel Magnolias”

Tell us about the character you play, and how can you relate to her. Is there any part of STEEL MAGNOLIAS that resonates with you as an actor, or personally?

I play Annelle.  She is the new-kid-in-town that brings with her some baggage with secrets that she ultimately reveals at the end of the first scene.  I really dig the arch she goes through.  From being this timid, unsure but very talented girl, to emulating her boss’ style and gaining in confidence, then from becoming this born again Christian to developing a balance between her spirituality and her life.  It’s a pretty rad journey.  It’s amazing what a difference a community can make in one person’s life.  These five women show Annelle so much love that there is nothing for her to do but thrive and pulsate.  The family-life she has lacked has been created.  She has guts, even at the beginning, even though she is nervous.  It takes a lot of gumption to do what she has done.  To uproot herself at such a young age with no one to fall back on until Truvy opens up her shop/home and heart to her.

What distinguishes this production or role you have compared to other characters you’ve played in the past?

No one would EVER cast me in this role.  Honestly.  I believe only four people weren’t surprised that I got cast as Annelle: my Maid of Honor, my best friend, another close friend, and my fiancé!

During the week-end performance, there was a man that came in to help our wardrobe mistress out with hair (she is also assisting with some of the actresses hair because we are short-handed on Saturdays).  He turned to me while I was applying make-up, looked in my mirror and said, “So, you must be Julia Roberts.”  I told him, “No.  I’m Daryl Hannah.”  And he said, “Oh!!”

I typically wouldn’t be seen in this role.  I never thought when I was just beginning that I would play in comedies.  I was always so easy to tears that I naturally just wanted to do drama and never considered comedy.  Pretty lame to close the door on that.  I did have a Shakespeare teacher in college that told me I was a comedienne after I did a workshop scene of AS YOU LIKE IT.  I didn’t believe her, though.  I didn’t take her seriously because I don’t seek out to be funny.  I actually think I’m quite introverted and serious.

 Why do you think theater is important?

It brings people together.  When an ensemble truly has a beating heart, that beat will vibrate out to the audience creating a golden thread that will weave and connect each person together.  And if a show truly touches, that vibration will continue on even after the bows.  It’s a magical place.  A playground for kings.  A loving, accepting, bright, inspired family can be created through the theatre.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue acting?

Sometimes, you have to say, No.  As an artist, you must realize what you are worth and that you are in constant need of challenges and improvement, and wanting to dig deeper beyond the surface.  At the beginning of the year, I had to turn down a role because I didn’t think it would challenge me in the way I wanted and needed to be challenged.  It was heartbreak for me.  It wasn’t a matter of being offered a small role, it was about me wanting to be pushed so that I could better myself in my work.  I cried for about the first six months of the year.  Moral of the story, had I not said, No, I would have never been able to play in STEEL MAGNOLIAS.

It’s ok to be discouraged.  I feel that you can use that as fuel for your work.  I often don’t take my own advice but I find this one to be of value.  Just as long as you don’t stay discouraged and continue to accept every struggle as being part of your journey.  Every struggle will get you closer to something (who knows what that something is).  I’ll be honest, it’s hard for me to follow this piece of advice but I still offer it.

The following applies to anything from auditions, to the last day of rehearsal, to the closing performance, and so on: Always be prepared, because when you are, anything can be thrown at you and you will be able to take it in and go with it.  Come in with choices.  Be open and listen.  Always be full-hearted than half-assed.  Lead with your heart, and have an awareness and be thoughtful of mind.  Be curious.  Take big risks and play.  Steal from anyone and anything that inspires you.  Don’t lose your love and joy for what you say is your passion.  Never be afraid to fail or look like a fool.

Lastly, don’t ever EVER take yourself out of the game.  I was still pretty down from what had happened earlier in the year (pretty pitiful, I know), and strongly considered letting my acting dream die because I needed to move forward with my life the older I’m getting.  I debated with submitting and almost didn’t audition for STEEL MAGNOLIAS.  But, I was being offered a gift (that would not be denied) and had to go for it, no matter what.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I am looking for representation!  Both theatrical and commercial.

How can fans stay updated about your projects?

My fiancé made a website for me: lovelleliquigan.com

Also, we started our own YouTube Channel – http://youtube.com/LovelyerCreations

Ruth Coughlin as Shelby

Ruth Coughlin as Shelby in “Steel Magnolias”

Tell us about the character you play, and how can you relate to her. Is there any part of STEEL MAGNOLIAS that resonates with you as an actor, or personally?

Shelby is all heart and joy for life. She loves with every part of her being and is generous with that love. Shelby is definitely the life of the party. She is constantly trying to help the people in her life be as happy as they can be. Shelby is also stubborn and wants things in her life the way she wants them. It seems like nothing can stop her – until life does. I admire her joie de vivre, her unabashed lust for life. I relate most to her care and love for her family and friends. I am very close with my two brothers and parents. I would do anything for them. My mother is Japanese, so I get having a mother who is as stubborn as I am. Love you, Mom! I also want a family of my own. If I found out that I wasn’t able to have that in my life, it would be devastating to me.

What challenges, if any, have you faced with playing your character?

It takes a lot of emotional energy to perform this play over and over. It’s hilarious, but heart wrenching. The challenge in this is to stay open and be present in those moments of chaos. Our bodies are designed to run away from those moments. If I do my job well, then the audience will be able to experience it with us, and it’s worth any emotional sacrifice to have even one audience member experience a moment of recognition or catharsis. It’s my job and I look forward to the challenge of inhabiting Shelby for 2+ hours each night.

What distinguishes this production or role you have compared to other characters you’ve played in the past?

Shelby is definitely the most fun character I’ve ever played. It’s also been inspiring to work with so many talented and empowered women. I’ve never been in a cast of all women, directed by a woman. Each one of them has brought themselves 110% to this process and it has been a dream to play with them all.

Our earth-mother of a director, Laurie Woolery, told us on the first day of rehearsals that producing and performing in this play, as women of color, is an act of revolution. I love that. Viva la revolution!

Why do you think theater is important?

Theatre is where an audience can experience a story come alive. The sound vibrations of the words come from the actors and enter into the audience member’s body. We are made of nearly 90% water. When your molecules are moved enough, that’s where laughter and tears come – the water overflows. Theatre is an experience unlike any other art form because we – the audience, the actors, the crew – are all creating this story in the moment.

I’ve thought about this question a lot because I need to understand what I am contributing to this world by doing this work. True, the theatre doesn’t feed the hungry, but it does feed the soul. My life, my humanity has been changed by going to and performing in the theater. Experiencing the lives of so many with empathy and recognition (either of my conscious self or my lizard brain!) – I have found myself and learned about the world within the darkness of a theater seat and under the glare of lights.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue acting?

If you want to be an actor and there is nothing else that will bring you joy in life – GO FOR IT! Do not wait. That will only make you depressed and bitter. READ PLAYS – know the classics. There is a a depth of life to learn from in those pages. Go see as much theatre, dance, opera, movies, TV, improv as possible – I have learned so much from watching some of the best and worst shows ever. Be an observer of life. Get training – talent is one thing, but technique and the ability to be a professional is something to learn from your elders. Be courageous and generous in your work. Keep finding and fueling that joy that inspired you to pursue this in the first place. It’s an absolutely insane dream to be an actor. Warning. We are all crazy.

Anything else you’d like to share?

We are performing a play I never dreamed I would be in and on a stage I’ve wanted to perform on for so long. The play and the movie are fantastic and iconic. But I didn’t think an all Asian cast could or would exist. Thanks to the bravery of Tim Dang’s programming – I can play this joyful and strong character. I’ve wanted to perform at East West Players since I was a kid in High School, far away on the East Coast. I can’t express with words how grateful I am for the chance to be in this show with this amazing director, cast and crew. I look forward to sharing this story with the community and can’t wait for our first audiences!

How can fans stay updated about your projects?

Follow me on Twitter  @Ruth_Coughlin and Website – RuthCoughlin@gmail.com

 

Now playing at East West Players, “Steel Magnolias” opens East West Players’ 48th Season “Making Light.” Written by Robert Harling, this is a classic comedy-drama play that later became a popular film about the bond among a group of Southern women. The action centers on Truvy’s beauty parlor and the women who regularly gather there. The cast features Hiwa Bourne, Ruth Coughlin, Karen Huie, Dian Kobayashi, Lovelle Liquigan, and Patti Yasutake.

 

Karen Huie as Ouiser

Karen Huie as Ouiser in “Steel Magnolias”

Tell us about the character you play, and how can you relate to her. Is there any part of STEEL MAGNOLIAS that resonates with you as an actor, or personally?

Ouiser Boudreaux got no thanks for opening her heart and womb, so they snapped shut. But she forges on, doing what she thinks is right. I ran away from home when I was 15. Yes, a very bold thing for an Asian American girl to do. Strangers took me in, fed me, gave me money, solace and friendship during that time. From then on, it never occurred to me to be anything but open and generous to others. I’ve shared my home, heart, friendship and helped many people get work. For that, some never thanked me and worse yet, stabbed me in the back. Many times. I would have been justified in slamming my door shut. But I didn’t want the bad behavior of others to cause me to slam my door shut.

This is where I identify with Ouiser. She did everything right, only to have it turn out wrong. But she hangs onto her values, even if it’s a struggle to live through each day. Then the universe rewards her, by giving her love in the form of Owen Jenkins, “a blast from the past”.

What challenges, if any, have you faced with playing your character?

I trained at HB Studio in NY many years ago. I continue to take all kinds of classes because I love learning. During the summer, I was in a seven-week full-time musical theatre intensive at Circle in the Square Theatre School in New York. I have been an actor most of my life and am now a different person than I was at 20. I wanted to really dig deep to discover and explore those changes. Alan Langdon, one of the acting teachers in the program (who was Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s acting teacher), talked of doing scenes and shows as “a journey to yourself.” And if our work is fruitful and we are brave enough, we can share that revelation with audiences. As our wonderful director Laurie Woolery says, “It’s about bringing our humanity to these roles and relationships.”

What distinguishes this production or role you have compare to other characters you’ve played in the past?

I enjoy doing comedy and always thought it was something I did well. Surprisingly, I’ve done very few sitcoms or comedies on stage. I even wrote a comedy that became a sitcom pilot but for some reason, rarely got the chance to do much comedy.

I finally made a webisode called, “Miss Mah Poo,” a take off on Miss Marple, so I could do some comedy.The three other shows I’ve done at East West Players were “The Chairman’s Wife,” by Wakako Yamauchi, where I played Madame Mao Tse Tung; “The Joy Luck Club,” by Amy Tan; and “A Little Night Music,” by Hugh Wheeler and Stephen Sondheim. I think doing all-female productions have a different energy. It’s cozy and relaxed. “The Joy Luck Club” was mostly women and “The House of Bernarda Alba,” which I did at the Mark Taper Forum, was 16 women, with the fabulous Chita Rivera at the helm.

Why do you think theater is important?

Theater is an intimate experience. It’s like getting to witness a shared humanity in person. The people aren’t bigger than life, there’s nobody there to cut to an establishing shot. You’re right in their living room, in their neighborhood or in the beauty shop they go to every Saturday. It’s like spending an evening feeling your feelings with the characters who are living them on stage. The characters in plays are regular people in regular circumstances that become extraordinary. They are you and I. I go to theater a lot. If it’s 7:00 and I don’t have anything I have to do, I look for a show to see. With the time limits of when I’m in NY, I might see five shows in one weekend. I just love the feeling of the lights going down and come up on the Petri dish we are going to examine that night. It’s fascinating and I never tire of it.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue acting?

If acting is something that calls to you, follow it. Follow whatever calls to you. Don’t let logic or external advice stand in your way. It’s a tough road, but it will call upon you to examine your own humanity. It will call upon you to train and continue training to not only hone your skills—acting, singing, dance, study of literature, art, music—but to learn anything you can, so you’ll have things to express. Imagine training as a violinist with no music you’re inspired to play! Stick your ego in your back pocket and throw yourself into learning, rather than looking for praise.

Anything else you’d like to share?

In a recent conversation with our wonderful voice and dialect teacher Leslie Ishii for “Steel Magnolias,” I said other theatres have created “labs” for minorities to develop plays. However, most of those never make it to the main stage. This reinforces the idea that people will foster your ideas and creativity but underscore the fact that it’s not good enough to be put on the main stage. This is where the existence of theatres that cast and do Asian or Asian Pacific Islander material is vital. It allows us to stand up and be seen and valued.

How can fans stay updated about your projects?

Fans can see my demo reel and short films I’ve made by searching for Karen Huie on Youtube or Funnyordie.com

Previews are Thursday, September 5th through Saturday September 7th at 8pm and Sunday September 8th at 2pm. All preview seats are $21.

“Steel Magnolias” is a classic comedy-drama play that later became a popular film about the bond among a group of Southern women. The action centers on Truvy’s beauty parlour and the women who regularly gather there.

The production features Hiwa Bourne (The Pity of Things, Crimes of the Heart, Shake) as Truvy, Ruth Coughlin (A Christmas Carol, A Midsummer Night’s Dream) as Shelby, Karen Huie (A Little Night Music, Joy Luck Club) as Ouiser, Dian Kobayashi (Joy Luck Club, Equus) as Clairee, Lovelle Liquigan (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Language Archive) as Annelle, and Patti Yasutake (Star Trek: The Next Generation) as M’Lynn.

For special performance dates and additional information, visit STEEL MAGNOLIAS.

Volunteer Opportunity Volunteer as an usher.

post-ono-flat

Saturday, August 17th was the perfect summer day in Los Angeles – a hot sun and cool breezes. That afternoon, the Aratani Courtyard was full of hustle-and-bustle and good cheer – flanked by tables dressed in white and mint, while friends, long-time and new, came together and enjoyed fine wines and the exclusive “Tim Dang Banger” cocktail, inspired by the celebrant of the evening. Parvesh Cheena was our host for the evening, providing lots of laughs and encouraging everyone to join the opportunity drawings and Tim Dang Bingo.

As the sun gave way into dusk, guests enjoyed a delicious dinner al fresco specially created by Chef Glen Ishii of Jist Cafe and shortly made their way into the David Henry Hwang Theater for the show, featuring the best musical performers to grace the EWP stage. Hosted by Reggie Lee, directed by Marilyn Tokuda and musical direction by Nathan Wang, each brought the house down in their own way. Artists who supported the Artistic Family Mosaic project also shared the stage with the performers. Our guest of honor, Tim, shared his heartfelt gratitude for everyone who has supported his journey here at EWP.

After the show, the sun was down and the stars were out, and we enjoyed a variety of desserts by Majestic Caterers while everyone waited excitedly to find out who won prizes!

The event chaired by Lynn Arthurs for the Board of Directors and produced by Alison De La Cruz was a memorable evening indeed.

Thank you for celebrating Tim’s 20th at East West Players!

View photos from “One Night Only: Tim’s 20th!” Photos by Mike Palma.

raffle_items_flatEast West Players will be holding an opportunity drawing at One Night Only and you can participate! All East West Players supporters have a chance to win one of these coveted prizes in our opportunity drawing, and you don’t even have to be present at the event to win!

Awesome prizes include:

  • Disney’s Brave Gift Basket ($250 value). Includes Blu-Ray DVD, soundtrack, and more.
  • Sanrio Hello Kitty Gift Basket ($260 value). Includes a hard case carry-on luggage, purse, and spa themed items.
  • Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Kaldi Espresso Gift Basket ($330 value). Includes frother and espresso pods.
  • Apple iPad Mini ($300 value)
  • LG 32″ 1080p Smart 60Hz LED TV with HDMI Cable ($450 value)
  • Origins Skincare and Cosmetics Gift Basket ($300 value)

How to play:

  1. Buy one or more opportunity tickets for only $20 each, OR buy a package of 6 tickets for $100 to increase your chances of winning! There is no limit to the amount of opportunity tickets purchased per prize.
  2. Once purchased, tell us how you would like to allocate your raffle tickets.

For more information, contact Development Manager Rosalyn Kawahira at (213) 625-7000 x17.

ONO Mosaic Collage

EWP Artistic Family Mosaic Arch partipants include Henry Chan, Takayo Fischer, Hiwa Bourne, Kerry Carnahan, Cheryl Tsai, Jon Lawrence Rivera, Caesar Chipriano, Janet Song, and YOU!

Make your presence known at “One Night Only: Tim’s 20th!”

East West Players is calling upon ALL artists, actors, designers, crew, staff, playwrights, along with EWP Writers Gallery and Actors Conservatory participants, and EWP supporters — as part of our growing and diverse community, we want you to share the spotlight with Tim in an extra special way!

EWP will feature your headshot in our EWP ARTISTIC FAMILY MOSAIC that will arch over and frame the One Night Only stage in the David Henry Hwang Theatre, alongside other members of our artistic community who have worked with Tim Dang in the past 20 years to make this historic moment possible. To participate, submit your donation of $20 or multiples of $20 with your 8 x 10 vertical headshot.

How To:

1. Click on Paypal Link.
2. Donate $20 or multiples of $20.
3. Complete Payment.
4. Click on Yellow EWP Button to upload one digital 8 x 10 (vertical) headshot for each $20.

Help us spread the word and invite other artists EWP may have lost touch with! We want this to be the most reflective EWP Artistic Family Arch possible!
Please note that all files must be uploaded by 3PM on Friday, August 9, 2013. Not too tech saavy, but want to participate? Call Kat Carrido, EWP PR Marketing Manager at 213-625-7000 x 12 for additional support and an FAQ sheet with uploading tips and support.

tim-dang-1993

EWP Producing Artistic Director Tim Dang in front of the David Henry Hwang Theater in 1996. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

On Saturday, August 17th, East West Players will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Tim Dang as Producing Artistic Director. This signature “one night only” event takes place at East West Players, featuring some of the best talent to grace the EWP stage, along with dinner al fresco in the Aratani Courtyard, just outside the theater. Proceeds of One Night Only benefit the artistic/educational programs of East West Players and the organization’s endowment.

In EWP’s 48 years, Dang is the third Artistic Director of the organization, succeeding Nobu McCarthy and taking the helm in 1993. Among the key milestones in his leadership, the most pivotal was growing EWP from a 99-seat theater on Santa Monica Blvd. in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, to a 240-seat state-of-the-art mid-size theater in its current location at the Union Center for the Arts in Little Tokyo.

Are you an artist who has been involved with East West Players? Have you participated in EWP’s mainstage productions, professional enrichment and youth arts education programs during Tim’s tenure? As part of the EWP artistic family, we want you to share the stage with Tim in an extra special way with the EWP Artistic Family Mosaic.

For more information regarding tickets and sponsorship packages, visit One Night Only.

 

EWP Producing Artistic Director Tim Dang chats with Executive Producer/Showrunner Glen Mazzara at the David Henry Hwang Theater on July 9, 2013.

EWP Producing Artistic Director Tim Dang chats with Executive Producer/Showrunner Glen Mazzara at the David Henry Hwang Theater on July 9, 2013.

Whether you are familiar with Glen Mazzara’s work, or just know him as “that guy who has something to do with The Walking Dead,” you can’t deny his presence on stage as a speaker or how forthright he was with his advice. As an East West Players intern, I had the awesome opportunity to attend this event. Somewhat embarrassingly, I admit that I consider myself part of the group who is not familiar with Glen Mazzara, and have only generically heard of his work with The Walking Dead and Hawthorne, among others. I couldn’t have been the only one though! Or, considering the popularity of this AMC horror drama series, maybe I was the only one in a sea of admirers.

News of Glen Mazzara visiting East West Players spread quickly and attracted a pretty large crowd of both ACTS members and non-ACTS members. Even one of the writers, Sang Kim, joined us last night (big shout out for helping to arrange this!). With our Artistic Director Tim Dang facilitating the conversation, Glen openly talked about his job as executive producer and showrunner of The Walking Dead, as well as his beginnings with Nash Bridges and Crash. Tim and the audience posed specific questions about everything from diversity and sexism, to the issue of actors of color in casting and advice to actors and writers about moving forward.

It was refreshing to see how honest and uncensored Glen was in his responses. Some of my favorite highlights include:

On people of color:

-“Unfortunately, Hollywood is racist against everyone.”

-“I try to be authentic. When casting Crash, there was a Korean storyline and I wanted a Korean actor. Not Chinese, not Japanese. And people actually came up to me asking what’s the difference?”

On sexism:

-“When I hear that an actress is difficult, she’s not actually difficult. What that tells me is that she just happened to ask a question that male actors are allowed to ask, but females are not. Writers and directors listen to the suggestions and questions coming from a male. If a female asked the same things, they’d blow it off and question what’s wrong with her.”

-“Check out Miss Representation, it does a good job of showing the sexism that exists in the industry.”

On his style of writing:

-“I’m a gritty cop writer. That’s what I do. Someone told me I should try writing for Gilmore Girls and I was like no! It would be full of rape and mayhem and oh it would be so offensive. Yeah, no.”

On advice for writing scenes:

-“You know, characters are always written the same. The man is always kind of rugged, in his 30s, handsome, but looks younger than in his 30s. The woman is supposed to be smart, beautiful, has looks that can stop traffic, but she doesn’t know how hot she is. She’s supposed to be really strong. Women end up written as feminine men, really. We’re trying to say they’re strong women, but they end up being female men; it’s a strange trap. Just don’t even write that in the description of the character. If you want a smart, beautiful woman, write a scene where she is being smart and funny and beautiful. Write it in and show us!”

View more photos.

Contributed by EWP/LA County Arts Intern Joann Kweon

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