April 25, 2019

Citizen Wong, a New Play by Richard Chang

Pan Asian Repertory Theatre's 42nd Milestone Season invites you to their 150th Golden Spike Anniversary Celebrations Free Staged Reading Presentations of Citizen Wong, a new play by Richard Chang, directed by Ernest Abuba and Chongren Fan, May 7-9.

May 7 | 6:30 pm Ogden Union Station May 8 | 7 pm Noorda Center for the Performing Arts, Orem May 9 | 7 pm Salt Lake City Public Library Free Admission. *All performances will be followed by a Q&A with playwright, actors & co-director. Pan Asian Repertory Theatre ( https://www.panasianrep.org/ ) of New York, the largest and oldest Asian American theatre company on the East Coast, is delighted to work with three leading northern Utah institutions to present staged reading presentations of Citizen Wong ( www.citizenwong.com ) as part of the state’s celebration of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869.

The powerful new play is inspired by the life and times of Wong Chin Foo (王清福, 1847–1898), a celebrity speaker-writer-social rights activist in the American Gilded Age, who mysteriously disappeared from history and is being rediscovered as the First Chinese American and “Asian-American Martin Luther King, Jr.” The play dramatically captures the essence of an era when Wong campaigned against calls for an “anti-Chinese wall,” the Chinese Exclusion Act, and federal government efforts to deny birthright citizenship. The fictional drama is based on 15 years of research by veteran Reuters journalist and actor Richard Chang.

Wong ( www.firstchineseamerican.com ), who was naturalized in 1874, had visited Ogden and probably elsewhere in Utah on his nationwide lecture tours about the Chinese. Californian-born Wong Kim Ark, who won in the landmark 1898 U.S. Supreme Court case on birthright citizenship, is also a character in the play. The free public presentations celebrate the joining of east-west as symbolized by the transcontinental railroad and interracial romance at the heart of “Citizen Wong,” and described in the U.S. Constitution as our quest for “a more perfect union.”