Ping Chong + Company produces theatrical works addressing the important cultural and civic issues of our times, striving to reach the widest audiences with the greatest level of artistic innovation and social integrity. The company was founded in 1975 by leading theatrical innovator Ping Chong with a mission to create works of theater and art that explore the intersections of race, culture, history, art, media and technology in the modern world. Today, Ping Chong + Company produces original works by a close-knit ensemble of affiliated artists, under the artistic leadership of Ping Chong. For ALAXSXA | ALASKA, those artists include Gary Upay'aq Beaver, Ryan Conarro, and Justin Perkins. The company's productions range from intimate oral history projects to grand scale cinematic multidisciplinary productions featuring puppets, performers, and full music and projection scores. The art reveals beauty, precision, and a commitment to social justice.
Ping Chong is an internationally acclaimed theater artist and pioneer in the use of media in the theater. Since 1972, he has created over 90 works for the stage, which have been presented at major festivals and theaters worldwide. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a USA Artist Fellowship, two BESSIE awards, two OBIE awards, and the 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. In 1992, he created the first work in the Undesirable Elements series of community-based oral history projects of which there have now been over 50 productions. His puppet theater work Cathay: Three Tales of China was commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for its Festival of China in 2005 and was presented at the Seattle Repertory Theatre, New Victory Theatre, the Vienna Festival and the World Puppetry Festival in Chengdu, PRC. His adaptation of Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood was presented at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival in 2010. Theatre Communications Group has published two volumes of his plays: The East West Quartetand Undesirable Elements: Real People, Real Lives, Real Theater.
Ping chong + company staff
Artistic Director: Ping Chong | Executive Director: Bruce Allardice
Associate Director: Sara Zatz | Education Director: Christina Weakland
Artistic Collaborator in Residence and Education & Community Projects Associate: Ryan Conarro
Company Manager: Kristina Varshavskaya | Communications and Project Associate: Amy Zhang
Production Manager and ALAXSXA | ALASKA Stage Manager: Courtney Golden
Community Engagement Fellow: Thomas Murray
ping chong + Company collaborators on alaxsxa | alaska and encounters : alaska
RYAN CONARRO is a performance maker, teaching artist, and facilitator of community engagement. He is Artistic Collaborator in Residence and Education & Community Projects Associate at Ping Chong + Company. Ryan lived and made work in Alaska since 2001, where he’s a Perseverance Theatre company member, co-founder of Generator Theater, occasional documentary radio producer, and a past member of the Alaska State Arts Council Arts Education Advisory Committee. Ryan is a Resident Artist with the international ensemble Theater Mitu. His work has been presented at the Kennedy Center, the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian, the Oregon Contemporary Theatre, the Stonington Opera House, Gainesville Theatre Alliance, and numerous venues in Alaska. As a puppeteer, he's trained at the O’Neill National Puppetry Conference and Boulder’s Juniper Tree School of Puppetry Arts. In 2010-11, Ryan was director and lead teaching artist for Lower Kuskokwim School District's interdisciplinary arts project Qanemciput Piliaput-llu: Our Stories & the Things We Made, weaving puppetry, performance, digital storytelling, and yuraq (Yup'ik drum and dance), with Gary Upay'aq Beaver as a collaborator. Ryan received the TCG Leadership U Fellowship; a Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award; the Ann Shaw Fellowship for arts education; and three Alaska Broadcasters' Association Goldie Awards. MFA Interdisciplinary Arts, Goddard College; BFA, NYU.
GARY UPAY'AQ BEAVER (Yup’ik) was born in Bethel, Alaska and raised in his family’s village of Kasigluk. He began learning yuraq (Yup’ik drum and dance) as a child at Kasigluk's Akiuk Memorial School. He credits four elders as his primary teachers: Kalila Slim, Wassilie Berlin, Wassilie Nicholas, and Alexie Nicholas. Gary is leader of the Kasigluk dance group and has taught yuraq at schools throughout southwest Alaska, including Akula Elitnaurviat, Akiuk Memorial School, Yupiit School District, and for the village of Akiak. He was lead drummer, singer, and dancer for the multidisciplinary event This Is Who We Are in 2011 at Bethel Cultural Center, a performance of traditional Yup’ik stories as songs, dances, theatrical pieces, and digital stories, a year-long project directed by Ryan Conarro. He has performed traditional and contemporary work in Bethel at the annual Cama’i Festival and Mink Festival; in Anchorage at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention; on Quyana Alaska television; and in villages throughout the Yukon-Kuskokwim region.
JUSTIN PERKINS is a puppet artist and performer who has appeared in works by David Neumann, Tom Lee (Shank's Mare, LaMama, Ringling International Arts Festival), Lake Simons, Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, Patti Bradshaw, Puppet Cinema, Unitards, imnotlost, as well as multiple works at Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater, Cosmic Bicycle, PuppetBloc at Dixon Place, Sinking Ship Productions' Puppet Playlist and more. As a puppet designer and maker, he has built for BAM (The Hard Nut promotional videos), Basil Twist (Sisters' Follies, ongoing studio work), regular performances for Friends' Seminary's theater program, TheaterWorksUSA, New York Musical Theater Festival, New York Children's Theater Festival, Swedish Cottage, Unitards. He created and directed a puppet and live video adaptation of Gulliver's Travels during St. Ann's Warehouse's Puppet Lab 2014. Justin studied theater at Vassar and Sarah Lawrence Colleges, and is a teacher of puppetry, theater and filmmaking in schools and community centers around New York.