Ping Chong's Final Production as Artistic Director
In 2022, we mark 50 years of impactful work by our Founder and Artistic Director Ping Chong with Lazarus 1972–2022, his new reimagining of the production that set his boundary-shattering career in motion, from September 30 - October 16 at La MaMa, an artistic home for Ping.
Lazarus was Ping Chong’s first independently created theater production. It is an imagistic meditation on the resurrected man transplanted from its Biblical setting to the surreal, urban purgatory of New York City in the 1970’s—a deeply personal work about cultural alienation disguised as a Biblical story. With the exception of a voice over, sound effects, and some music, Lazarus is silent, poetic, and nonlinear. Originally performed in Meredith Monk’s loft in the heady early days of the New York avant-garde, it established Chong’s seminal integration of slide and film projection, puppetry, and recorded sound in theatrical performance; so much of what the artist and his company would go on to achieve in theater and storytelling can be mapped from the artistic gestures in this bold starting point.
Ping Chong says, “Lazarus was a metaphor for my own experience, because I had just left my insular world of Chinatown, moving out of that limbo into figuring out how to exist in larger society. The original show was 1972; New York City was nearly bankrupt at that time and the urban purgatory aspect of it was very surreal and real. Originally the work reflected that—but the work has changed: I’m a lifetime New Yorker, and Lazarus is now different than the show was at the time in the sense that New York is also different, and centrally, part of the character of the show. Lazarus 1972–2022 is my love for New York but it’s also my sadness for what it’s become. Lazarus may have left purgatory and come back into the world—but what kind of a world did he come back into in 2022?”
Written and directed by Ping Chong, Lazarus 1972 – 2022 features Christopher Caines as Lazarus and Jeannie Hutchins as Woman. The creative team includes Watoko Ueno (Set Design), Hao Bai (Lighting Design), Stefani Mar (Costume Design), Ernesto Valenzuela (Sound Design), and Katherine Freer (Projection Design).
Performances of Lazarus 1972–2022 take place Thursday – Saturday at 8pm, and Saturday & Sunday at 4pm at La MaMa Downstairs Theater (66 East Fourth Street, NY, NY 10003). Tickets are $30 ($25 for students and seniors), inclusive of all fees, and can be purchased at lamama.org or 646-430-5374. The first ten tickets to every performance are $10. The September 29 preview performance will be pay-what-you-can. Running time is approximately one hour.
Time Passes: Ping Chong and Fiji Theater Company Then and Now
Sunday, October 9, following 4 pm performance of Lazaus
Following the performance of Lazarus 1972-2022 on Sunday, October 9, at 4pm, Chong will reunite with late 1970s and 1980s members of his company, then called the Fiji Theater Company, for a discussion of the evolution of his work and the changing climate in the downtown performing arts scene. They will share personal memories of their time creating work and touring work together. Moderated by Sara Farrington, editor of The Lost Conversation: Interviews with an Enduring Avant-Garde, the event will feature Ping Chong, John Fleming, Brian Hallas, Louise Smith, and Jeannie Hutchins. Smith and Hutchins both won Bessie Awards for their work with Chong.