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The World of Extreme Happiness

In co-production with Seattle Public Theater

Written by Francis Ya-Chu Cowhig
Directed by Desdemona Chiang

When Sunny is born in rural China, her parents leave her in a slop bucket to die because she’s a girl. She survives, and at 14 leaves for the city, where she works a low-paying factory job and attends self-help classes to improve her chances at securing a coveted office position. When Sunny’s attempts to pull herself out of poverty lead to dire consequences for a fellow worker, she is forced to question the system she’s spent her life trying to master – and stand up against the powers that be. Savage, tragic and desperately funny, The World of Extreme Happiness is a stirring examination of a country in the midst of rapid change, and individuals struggling to shape their own destinies.

October 13 – November 5, 2017
Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30pm; Sundays at 2pm

See Seattle Public Theater

95 minutes with no intermission
Every performance is followed by a brief post-play discussion

Mika Swanson, Kevin Lin, Allen Go, Nina Williams-Teramachi, Van Lang Pham, Kathy Hsieh, and Maile Wong

Desdemona Chiang – Director
Eliza Wu – Assistant Director/Dramaturg
Jay Weinland – Sound Designer
Christine Tschirgi – Costume Designer
Emily Leong – Lighting Designer
Robin Macartney – Props Designer
Annie Yee – Choreographer
Emily Cioc – Stage Manager

The Stranger – “Masterful use of language”
The Seattle Times – Desdemona Chiang on Directing
International Examiner – It’s a Co-Pro!
CityArts – The Price of Success
Northwest Asian Weekly – Worthy Worldwide

That’s WOW (Women of WA)
Interview with Desdemona Chiang

“Bravo . . . What a provoking, funny, and heart-wrenching piece.”
“Seeing this story shared by a cast of all Asian American actors made this an incredibly powerful experience.”
“This was so dark and so funny and did I mention SO DARK and it is one of my favorite plays all year and everyone totally killed it and you should go see it.”
“The play gave me goosebumps.”
“Beautiful work.”
“I could stay and talk about this for days.…”
“Liked this company and the venue as well….the actors were all very convincing and quite talented. We are fairly regular at the 5th Ave and Center Theaters, Paramount, etc. — and would expect to see more than one of these folks at one of them. The story itself was gripping and thought provoking.”
“This play addressed so many issues including China’s political turmoil, inequality of the role of women, the struggle between classes, the actions of the totalitarian state and the hollowness of the self-help movement. The author addressed them all, and with great talent. It was not always easy to watch, but it was very worthwhile.”
“Good screenplay and writing on some heavy subject matter, yet included levity and realism.”
“This is one of the most intense and dark plays I have ever seen. It can feel like the darkness of modern China has no end. It’s worth seeing; expect to be wrung out by the end of it. Although it is set firmly in China, it remains universal in its themes.”

FRANCES YA-CHU COWHIG‘s plays have been produced at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre of Great Britain, Manhattan Theater Club, the Goodman Theatre, Trafalgar Studios 2 [West End], Crowded Fire, Page 73 Productions, Interact Theatre, Borderlands Theatre and the Contemporary American Theatre Festival. Her work has been awarded the Wasserstein Prize, the Yale Drama Series Award, an Edinburgh Fringe First Award, the David A. Callichio Award and the Keene Prize for Literature.

Frances has received artist residencies from Yaddo, Macdowell, Hedgebrook, Ragdale, the Sundance Playwright Retreats at Ucross and Flying Point, and the Santa Fe Art Institute. She has been Playwright-in-Residence at Manhattan Theater Club and Marin Theater Company and is currently under commission from South Coast Rep, the Goodman Theatre and the National Theatre. Her work has been published by Yale University Press, Glimmer Train, Methuen Drama, Samuel French and Dramatists Play Service.

Frances received an MFA in Writing from the James A. Michener Center for Writers at UT Austin, a BA in Sociology from Brown University, and a certificate in Ensemble-Based Physical Theatre from the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre.  She was born in Philadelphia, and raised in Northern Virginia, Okinawa, Taipei and Beijing. Frances is currently an Assistant Professor of Playwriting at UC Santa Barbara.