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Young Americans

A co-production with Pittsburgh Public Theater[?]
February 11 – March 26, 2023
In the Ellyn Bye Studio

A world premiere from one of the hottest playwrights in America!

This hilarious, heartfelt new play takes audiences on two road trips, 20 years apart. In one, immigrants Jenny and Joe depart for their new home in Portland, learning to connect as a newly engaged couple. 20 years later, Joe and their adopted daughter, Lucy, set out for a similar cross-country adventure. As Jenny and Joe traverse the strange territory of their new country, and Lucy pieces together their bittersweet family history, this beautiful comedy explores what home and belonging truly mean — and the lengths we will go to for the people we love.

Don't miss this PCS-commissioned play from the acclaimed playwright of The Great Leap and Cambodian Rock Band. 

Young Americans

  • By Lauren Yee
  • Directed by Desdemona Chiang
Preview image for A Conversation with Playwright Lauren Yee & Director Desdemona Chiang

A Conversation with Playwright Lauren Yee & Director Desdemona Chiang

PCS Literary Manager Kamilah Bush sat down with long-time collaborators playwright Lauren Yee and director Desdemona Chiang for a conversation about their relationship, developing new work, and bringing the world premiere of Young Americans to life.

Preview image for *Young Americans* Reading List

Young Americans Reading List

Calling all readers! Multnomah County Library put together a reading list inspired by our production of Young Americans.

Members of the cast and creative team of "Young Americans" at Portland Center Stage; photo by Tamera Lyn.
Members of the cast and creative team of "Young Americans" at Portland Center Stage; photo by Tamera Lyn.

Danny Bernardo*

Joe

Sammy Rat Rios*

Lucy

Marielle Young*

Jenny

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Lauren Yee

Playwright

Desdemona Chiang

Director

Junghyun Georgia Lee

Scenic Designer

Susan Tsu

Costume Designer

Solomon Weisbard

Lighting Designer

Andre Pluess

Sound Designer

Kamilah Bush

Dramaturg

Janine Vanderhoff*

Stage Manager

Dana Petersen*

Assistant Stage Manager

Chip Miller, RaChelle Schmidt & Brian Pope

Casting

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

The Director is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Inc., an independent national labor union.

 The Scenic, Costume, Lighting, and Sound Designers in LORT theaters are represented by United Scenic Artists, Local USA-829 of the IATSE.

Ant Ma, Assistant Scenic Designer

Melory Mirashrafi, SDCF Directing Fellow

Mike Wax, Carpenter

Lauren Williams, Automation Operator

Vanessa Elsner, Dresser

Kyle Colgan, Sound

Samantha Kemp, Assistant Lighting Designer 

Roy Josh Antonio, Sophina Flores, Jesse Harkin, Steph Landtiser, Dug Martell, Paul Rhoads, Myke Rodriguez Electricians

Special Thanks
In appreciation for the generosity of the PSU Theater Program

(He/Him)

Danny is an LA-based actor, writer, and director that is thrilled to make his PCS debut! As a filmmaker, his work has screened at Cannes (Court Metrage), Reeling, and Outfest Fusion. Theatrically, he was a founding member of the Chicago Inclusion Project and a company member of Porchlight Music Theatre and Stir-Friday Night. He’s worked with Steppenwolf, Goodman, About Face, Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, Silk Road Rising, and East West Players, among others. Favorite roles: Harry Bright (Mamma Mia), Kayama (Pacific Overtures), Jed (Fifth of July), Bill (Kiss Me Kate), Bobby (Company), Don Pedro (Much Ado About Nothing), and papa to Padfoot, Tejada, and Stascio. Love and thanks to all involved, the Happen Agency, and the Castro family. This one’s for Dad and Joe Foronda. @thatdannyb

(She/Her)

Marielle is an NYC-based Filipina-American actor. TV: Blue Bloods (CBS), Major Crimes (TNT), The Blacklist (NBC), and Bonding (Netflix). Theater includes A Doll's House, Part 2 at Pittsburgh Public Theater; Twelfth Night, The Book of Will, and Kate Hamill's Pride & Prejudice at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival; Love's Labour's Lost with The Acting Company; Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them at Kitchen Theatre; Mary's Wedding and The Night Alive at Chester Theatre; and Miss Bennet... at Capital Rep, and more. She has participated in workshops at Clubbed Thumb, EST, Ars Nova, and more. SUNY Purchase and Fiorello H. LaGuardia Performing Arts High School. Love to the fam always. marielleyoung.org @101marielle

(She/They)

Sammy is an interdisciplinary performing artist currently residing in Portland, Oregon. Rios received a B.F.A. in theater studies with a focus in playwriting and directing from Southern Methodist University and received additional training from British American Drama Academy's undergraduate conservatory Acting Program in London, UK. Rios acts, writes, directs, and designs for theater and film, and is zealously excited to be making their debut at PCS. They are also a songwriter and producer for their electronic solo project “Rat Rios” and compose original music for podcasts and film. When they aren't creating art, you will find them either outside in the PNW's lush landscape, or holed up in their treehouse with their partner, animals, and plants, destroying everybody at Tetris and indulging in vegan cuisine. To see more of Rios' work, go to ratrios.com.

Lauren Yee, Playwright
(She/Her)

Lauren’s Cambodian Rock Band, with music by Dengue Fever, premiered at South Coast Rep, subsequent productions at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, Victory Gardens, City Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Signature Theatre, and Jungle Theatre/Theater Mu, with an upcoming national tour. Her play The Great Leap has been produced at Denver Center, Steppenwolf, Seattle Repertory, Atlantic Theatre, the Guthrie Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Arts Club, Pasadena Playhouse/East West Players, InterAct Theatre, and Asolo Rep. Honors include the Doris Duke Artists Award, Whiting Award, Steinberg/ATCA Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award, Horton Foote Prize, Kesselring Prize, Primus Prize, a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton, and the #1 and #2 plays on the 2017 Kilroys List. She's a Residency 5 playwright at Signature Theatre, a New Dramatists member, a Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab member, and a Playwrights Realm playwright. TV credits: Pachinko (Apple), Soundtrack (Netflix). Upcoming TV credits: Interior Chinatown (Hulu), Billions (Showtime), The Sterling Affairs (FX). She is developing pilots for Apple and Netflix. Current commissions include Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Second Stage, South Coast Rep. B.A: Yale. M.F.A: UCSD. laurenyee.com

Desdemona is a Taiwan-born American director and writer based in Seattle, WA, and Ashland, OR. She works in a variety of genres, including new plays, Shakespeare, and musicals. Chiang is known for her visceral, no-nonsense approach to theater, with her distinct point of view as an immigrant and Asian American woman, and an interest in using storytelling to spark social discourse. Her recent directing credits include The 5th Avenue Theatre, Guthrie Theater, Alley Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, South Coast Repertory, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Studio Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and ACT Theatre. Her stage adaptation of Amy Tan’s novel The Bonesetter’s Daughter received its world premiere in the summer of 2022. Awards/Affiliations: Sundance Asian American Fellowship, Princess Grace Award, Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise, SDC Sir John Gielgud Directing Fellowship, Drama League TV/Film Fellowship. M.F.A. Directing: University of Washington.

Junghyun Gerogia Lee, Scenic Designer

Junghyun is a Korean-born NYC-based designer. She has designed for Audible Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, Ma-Yi, Public, Soho Rep, The Play Co., Alley Theatre, Hartford Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, Guthrie Theater, Huntington Theatre Company, Indiana Repertory Theater, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Alliance, and Syracuse Stage. She was nominated for Outstanding Set Design for Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord. M.F.A., Yale School of Drama. junghyungeorgialeedesign.com @jgldesigncompany

Susan Tsu, Costume Designer
(She/Her)

Susan has worked from coast to coast at more than 44 theaters, returning frequently to such companies as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Quantum Theatre, and City Theatre. Memorable international productions include the award-winning hit musical Godspell, The Joy Luck Club, a benchmark collaboration between Chinese and American companies, and The Balcony for the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, as well as curation of international costume exhibitions worldwide. Awards include the NY Drama Desk, NY Drama Critics, LA Distinguished Designer, Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award, and Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Award — Established Artist. Susan heads the costume design program at Carnegie Mellon University, is the Bessie F. Anathan Professor in Fine Arts, is a university professor, and celebrates her students past and present.

Solomon Weisbard, Lighting Designer
(He/Him)

Originally from Portland, Solomon has created original works in drama, opera, dance, installation, and music across the U.S., Canada, Dominican Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Russia, and Slovenia. Previously at PCS: 9 Parts of Desire and The Breath of Life. Other highlights include Otello (Festspielhaus Baden Baden, Germany); Il Trovatore (Teatro Comunale di Bologna and Teatro Regio di Parma, Italy); and Oedipus (Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, Greece; Ancient Theatre of Pompeii, Teatro Olimpico di Vicenza, and Teatro Mercadante di Napoli, Italy) all with Robert Wilson; Macbeth (directed by John Doyle at Classic Stage Company, NYC); The Shape of Things (created by Carrie Mae Weems at the Park Avenue Armory, NYC); Duat (Soho Rep, NYC); and Men on Boats (world premiere: Playwrights Horizons/Clubbed Thumb, NYC). Solomon is the assistant professor of scenic/lighting design at Portland State University and earned his M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama. solweisbard.com

Andre Pluess, Sound Designer
(He/Him)

Portland Center Stage debut. Previous collaborations with Desdemona Chiang include The Winter’s Tale (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Pride and Prejudice (Pittsburgh Public Theatre), and M. Butterfly (South Coast Rep). Broadway: Goodnight Oscar (upcoming, Belasco Theatre), The Minutes (Cort/Studio 54), 33 Variations (Eugene O’Neill Theatre), I Am My Own Wife (Lyceum Theatre), Metamorphoses (Circle in the Square). Off-Broadway: The Clean House (Lincoln Center), Milk Like Sugar, and BFE (Playwrights Horizons). Regional credits include multiple productions with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Center Theatre Group, Yale Repertory, Arena Stage, Goodman, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Court Theatre, Berkeley Repertory, Williamstown Theatre Festival and La Jolla Playhouse. Based in Chicago, Andre is an ensemble member of Lookingglass Theatre Company.

Kamilah Bush, Dramaturg
(She/Her)

Kamilah is a playwright, dramaturg, and educator originally from North Carolina. She holds a B.F.A. in theater education from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and was an NC teaching fellow. Kamilah has spent several seasons at celebrated regional theaters across the country, including Triad Stage in Greensboro, NC, Asolo Repertory Theater in Sarasota, FL, and Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ. Her play Nick & The Prizefighter was a semifinalist for the 2022 L. Arnold Weissberger Award, the 2021 Bay Area Playwright’s Festival, and it won the 2021 Urbanite Theater Modern Works Festival.

Janine Vanderhoff, Stage Manager
(She/Her)

Janine is thrilled to return for her seventh season at Portland Center Stage. She has been a stage manager and production manager for more than 20 years on Broadway, Off-Broadway, regionally, and on tour. Some of her favorites include tick, tick ... BOOM!, Rent, Frida ... A Self Portrait, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Macbeth, A Christmas Memory/Winter Song, Wild & Reckless (Portland Center Stage); Sweeney Todd (Portland Opera); The Lion King (Broadway); The Graduate (starring Morgan Fairchild), Cats, The Vagina Monologues, Jekyll & Hyde, Show Boat (National Tours); The Daily Show with Jon Stewart “Democalypse 2012 Republican National Convention.” Proud NYU graduate and AEA member.

Dana Petersen, Assistant Stage Manager
(She/Her)

Dana is so excited to be back at PCS for her third season. Previous work at PCS includes: It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, tick, tick … BOOM!, Hedwig and the Angry Inch (assistant stage manager), Rent, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Redwood, In the Heights (production assistant), and The Bells That Still Can Ring (stage manager). Other credits include Much Ado About Nothing (stage management intern) at The Old Globe. Dana graduated from The Ohio State University in 2019, where she was on the stage management team for six main stage productions. Dana sends all of her love to her friends and family.

Audience Raves

"We saw this author’s King of the Yees and loved it. Came into this show with good expectations and really enjoyed it. The watching experience was full of what brings you to live theatre. The man who plays the husband/father inhabited the writing with a life and understanding that was exciting to watch. Highly recommended."

"I appreciated seeing an original, commissioned piece that spoke to contemporary issues."

"Lauren Yee writes fantastic plays." 

"It was a light fun pallette cleanser! Very needed in our current world."

"We found it well thought out, engaging, and moving. We enjoyed getting to laugh at the 'human comedy.'"

"Innovative, moving, great set design, fabulous acting" 

"Loved the story the acting and staging, especially in the intimacy of the small venue."

"Cast, script, stage setting; all A-One."

"As a first gen Filipino-American, I found this show to be incredibly heartwarming. I loved being able to resonate with pieces of the storyline and the characters' journey. I saw a lot of my own relationship to my dad, and it took everything in me to not mimic the accent alongside, too good!" 

"I loved this show. It was outstanding. I thought the transitions from time periods were great. Dad was amazing. Truly a beautiful character."

"It was a good relatable story. I enjoyed the humour."

"The connections felt genuine. Acting was outstanding. Loved the set. My wife was the first person to give this show a standing ovation!"

"A beautifully written and acted production. The staging ... innovative and kept the audience immersed in the story."

Local Reviews

"Those of us without a direct link to immigrant experience inevitably underestimate the extent of our ignorance and the impact of our unexamined assumptions on what we see and what we expect to see. Lauren Yee’s new play, Young Americans, a co-production with Pittsburgh Public Theater that is enjoying its world premiere at Portland Center Stage, gently troubles our assumptions and, if we allow it, will awaken appropriate curiosity about what we don’t know." –Oregon ArtsWatch

"[Young Americans] asks you to reflect on a question that has no definitive answer in a way that takes a wide variety of perspectives into account. Especially in our current polarized environment, that's an endeavor worth pursuing." –BroadwayWorld

"Your nights out are precious, and this show is worth it. The skill of the actors, the wit of the playwright, the beauty of the staging, and bittersweetness of the story will leave you feeling that your entertainment dollars were well spent. This is a show you can see nowhere else, written by a playwright everyone is talking about, performed expertly in the intimate Ellyn Bye Studio. If you’re looking for the perfect date night to impress your partner or friend, this is it." –PDXParent

"Danny Bernardo is an Every-Dad, the boundless, goofy enthusiasm for the perfect trip" –The Crippled Critic

In the News

“Lauren is such a gifted writer ... She’s made the experiences shared between the two characters so universal that it transcends many cultures and really connects with both the artists and the audience.” –Danny Bernardo in an interview with Inquirer.Net. View the Feature

"American identity — however much the many decades of cultural, commercial and political orthodoxy have tried to fix it in baseball/hotdogs/apple pie imagery — always has been fluid in nature. Our brittle, perhaps fractured times make it an especially ripe subject for reflection." –Marty Hughley in a preview for Oregon ArtsWatchView the Feature

Portland Center Stage Literary Manager Kamilah Bush joined Everyday Northwest to share more about transcendent theatrical experiences and community programs that break down the barriers separating people. View the Feature

PCS Artistic Director Marissa Wolf visited KGW's Hello, Rose City! to talk about this beautiful play and the amazing set and lighting you'll enjoy — along with highlights of our upcoming shows. View the Feature

"Go on a road trip with Portland Center Stage’s production of Lauren Yee’s Young Americans." View the Feature

More Photos on Flickr

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