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Acclaimed theater director Ping Chong coming to CenterStage in Reston

Ping Chong will create a special performance on Reston (courtesy Reston Community Center)

A popular theater artist is slated to bring to life the stories of five Restonians to Reston Community Center’s CenterStage this month.

Ping Chong, a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Obie Award and National Medal of Arts, will create a residency format that his New York-based company — Ping Chong and Company — has adapted in communities around the country.

Starting next Monday (March 13), his artists will create performances featuring the stories of five Restonians as they navigate the world: Robin Feldman, Carmah Owen, Rosa Simon, Semret Worku and Natsu Zavala.

Chong, who plans to retire in the near future, has created more than 100 works for the stage. His company focuses on the connections between cultures and the multifaceted nature of identity.

He said in a statement that he’s “delighted” to spend part of his final working days in Reston:

Fifty years have passed since I began my life as a theatre practitioner. I am now in the process of retiring. I will be 77 years old this year and it is time for reflecting on a fortunate, rich life. Time passes. I am delighted to share this moment of transition here in Reston. If theatre can do one thing, it is to bring community together. Thank you for this opportunity to remind us all that we are all connected by our humanity, that we are all human beings regardless of where we come from. All islands connect under water.

RCC Board Chair Bev Cosham said the center’s partnership with Chong’s company offers an opportunity for a “once-in-a-lifetime encounter with a theatrical trailblazer.”

“The work his company and our local team have created will reach deep into our emotional wells and surface the compelling stories of how we navigated these last traumatic years. It promises to be both a revealing and a healing experience,” Cosham said.

RCC’s staff will support the project and the work will by recorded by Storycatcher Productions, Inc.

A breakdown of the planned events is below:

Story Circle with Ping Chong and Company (free)
Monday, March 13 7:00 p.m.
RCC Hunter Woods – the CenterStage

Join artists from Ping Chong and Company and connect with other Reston community members to share, listen, and learn about our individual and collective relationships to where we live. Story Circles invite us to share our unique individual stories with others from our community in a guided, facilitated way. As we listen and share, we’ll discover connections, differences and intersections in our stories that inspire us to learn about our individual and collective relationship to Reston.

An Evening with Ping Chong
Wednesday, March 15, 8:00 p.m.
RCC Hunters Woods – the CenterStage
$15 Reston/$20 Non-Reston

Theatre artist and National Medal of Arts recipient Ping Chong will join Reston Community Center for a conversation about theatre and social transformation. Chong will share his visually compelling body of work – ranging from puppet theatre to large-scale, multidisciplinary projects to community-based programs – that have been presented at some of the most illustrious venues around the globe. Chong will lead a discussion of the evolution of his theatre work in relationship to the changes in contemporary arts and culture over the last 50 years. It is recommended that children under 16 be accompanied by an adult.

Generations Rise: Reston
Friday, March 24, 8:00 p.m.  & Saturday, March 25, 8:00 p.m.
RCC Hunters Woods – the CenterStage
$10 Reston/ $15 Non-Reston

Acclaimed New York theatre group Ping Chong and Company will partner with Reston Community Center and local theatre artist Tuyet Pham to create Generation Rise: Reston, to uplift and share real-life stories made by people from Reston, VA, reflecting on the challenges and joys of living in Reston during a time of pandemic and global upheaval.