SAN DIEGO–Cygnet Theatre will present the sharp-witted new drama, “The Great Leap” by Lauren Yee.
Directed by Rob Lutfy, the show runs January 22 through February 16, 2020.
When an American basketball team travels to Beijing for an exhibition game in 1989, the drama goes deeper than the strain between countries. For two men with a past and one teen with a future, the game is a chance to claim personal victories on and off the court. Tensions rise right up to the final buzzer as a pivotal moment in history collides with the action in the arena. Weighty yet laugh-out-loud funny, this perceptive new play explores the cultural and political risks of raising your voice and standing your ground.
The title of the play not only refers not only to the Community Party of China’s Great Leap Forward campaign of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, but also to the athleticism required in the game of basketball. It is used as a metaphor for politics and diplomacy.
“Basketball was always the sport of my family. It’s what I played with my father from the moment I could walk. I often use basketball terms in a rehearsal process,” director Rob Lutfy said. “This play takes place on a basketball court. Yi-Chien has designed a minimalist pop-art inspired space with a literal hardwood basketball floor.”
He continues “Lauren tells us at the start of the play that she wrote the play as a basketball game. She says ‘The game is reflected in the subject matter, rhythm, structure, language and movement.’ Sports and theatre are very similar in many ways; they both are live events and a communal activity. Basketball players are athletes of their bodies and theatre players are athletes of their hearts.”
Playwright Lauren Yee (Cambodian Rock Band) is the second most-produced playwright in America, and “The Great Leap” is one of the ten most-produced plays of the season. In July, the UCSD Graduate was named a Doris Duke Artist for outstanding contribution to theatre. Additional awards include the Whiting Emerging Writers Award and the Steinberg Playwright Award.
The coaches going head to head are Cygnet Resident Artist and local favorite Manny Fernandes as Saul and San Francisco native Edward Chen as Wen Chang. Keiko Green plays Connie, a role which she originated in the world premiere productions at Denver Center of performing arts and the Seattle Repertory Theatre. Headstrong and scrappy, Manford is played by Scott Keiji Takeda.
Tickets are on sale and may be purchased in person at the box office located at 4040 Twiggs Street in San Diego Old Town Historic State Park, by phone at (619) 337-1525 or visit www.cygnettheatre.com. Children 15 and under receive half price tickets with each paid adult.