Thousand Years Waiting and Other Plays
Thousand Years Waiting and Other Plays
The seven plays that comprise Chiori Miyagawa’s Thousand Years Waiting and Other Plays explore themes of memory and identity. Her plays combine poetic language with harsh reality, and time and space are fluid in the worlds she creates – they converge and separate while the characters inhabit many dimensions at once with ease. In one way or another, the heroes and heroines of these plays outsiders – emotionally (as in Awakening), physically (as in Comet Hunter) or socielly (as in Broken Morning), and the line that separates life and death is thin.
In the title play, a woman in New York City begins to live in the world of a thousand-year-old Japanese memoir that she is reading. The characters in Leaving Eden enter, exit, and re-enter Anton Chekhov’s Russia from 1887 to 1904, only to end up at a wedding reception in 2005 in New York where Chekhov appears and takes a seat at a table. Inspired by Kate Chopin novella of the same name, Awakening follows Edna in her journey toward death, through fragmented childhood memories and visions of freedom. Red Again begins after Sophocles’s Antigone dies. She lands in Buddhist bardo, contemplating the history of human violence.
Chiori Miyagawa is a Japanese-born American playwright, poet, dramaturg, and fiction writer based in New York City. She was born in Nagano, Japan, before moving to the United States at an age of 16. Her intention was to only stay for a year in order to learn English but ended up staying permanently. She became an American citizen in 1993.
Miyagawa earned her Master of Fine Arts degree at Brooklyn College. Throughout her career, she has worked with numerous theatres. Miyagawa was playwright for the Berkeley Repertory Theatre and a literary manager at the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C. She also was an Assistant literary manager at Actors Theatre of Louisville, in Kentucky. Other notable places she has worked with include NYU Tisch School of the Arts graduate program, American Conservatory Theater, and the Young Playwrights Festival. At the New York Theatre Workshop, she was an artistic associate where she was the dramaturg for Joanna Akalaitis, 5-time Obie Award-winning theatre director. At The Public Theater, Miyagawa established and taught the Asian American Playwrights Lab. From 1998 to 2009, she was the founding co-artistic director of the Crossing Jamaica Avenue theatre company. She is a 2013 alumnus playwright of the New Dramatists.
Currently, Miyagawa is a faculty member of Theatre and Performance at Bard College.
Miyagawa’s works are known for exploring themes of memory and identity. Her plays are often written in a fluid time and space, rather than in a traditional linear timeline. Many of her works draw from Japanese literature and art forms for inspiration and use ghosts as characters. Her works have explored a variety of issues, such as the interactions between Eastern and Western cultures, feminism, drug addiction, and the death penalty.
Some of her plays are “America Dreaming” (1995), produced by Music-Theatre Group and Vineyard Theatre, a nominee recipient for a 1994 Drama Desk Award; “Nothing Forever & Yesterday’s Window” (1996) produced at New York Theatre Workshop; “Firedance” (1997), produced by Voice & Vision Theater; “Jamaica Avenue” (1998) produced by New York International Fringe Festival and published in Tokens? The NYC Asian American Experience on Stage; “Awakening” (2000) produced by Performance Space 122 and based on the 1899 novel by Kate Chopin “The Awakening”; “Woman Killer” (2001), inspired by the 1721 Japanese Bunraku puppet play from Monzemon Chikamatsu called “The Woman Killer and The Hell of Oil”; “Broken Morning” (2003) based on Chiori Miyagawa’s interviews at Huntsville State Prison in Texas with, not only death row inmates, but also the guards, family members, and victims; “Leaving Eden” (2004) inspired by the life of Anton Chekhov and produced by Meadows School of Arts; “The Antigone Project” (2004), a Miyagawa and Sabrina Peck creation that premiered on the Women’s Project Theatre; “Thousand Years Waiting” (2006) co-produced by Crossing Jamaica Avenue and Performance Space 122; “I Have Been to Hiroshima Mon Amour” (2009) produced at Voice & Vision Theater as a part of the Hiroshima Project of the Ohio Theatre and written as a response to the famous 1969 film “Hiroshima mon amour”; “I Came to Look for You on Tuesday” (2013) that premiered at the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, and “This Lingering Life” (2015), that premiered at the Theatre of Yugen and was inspired by 14th century Japanese Noh plays.
Several of Miyagawa’s plays have been published in two books: “Thousand Years Waiting and Other Plays”, published by Seagull Books, and “American Dreaming and Other Plays”, published by NoPassport Press.
Other than theatre, Miyagawa has also written poetry that has been published by Asian American Policy Review, as well as non-fictional prose published by Black Warrior Review and Ecotone.
Miyagawa is a receiver of the awards New York Foundation for the Arts Playwriting Fellowship, McKnight Playwriting Fellowship from the Playwrights’ Center, Van Lier Playwriting Fellowship, Asian Cultural Council Fellowship, Rockefeller Bellagio Residency Fellowship, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship from Harvard University, a two-time receiver of the Rockefeller Multi-Arts Production Fund and of the Beinecke Playwright-in-Residence from Yale School of Drama.
- Thousand Years Waiting
- Comet Hunter
- Broken Morning
- Leaving Eden
- Red Again