Perspective from our TD Intern Tijiki Morris

fu-GEN’s 11th Annual Potluck recently passed and as always it was an amazing evening. The first time I went to a ‘fu-GEN Potluck’ I knew that I had come across something special.  Something I hadn't really experienced a lot of in Canada, that echoed memories and feelings of community from my childhood.  This community was celebrating their work and supporting the work of newer artists. fu-GEN exemplifies a  a commitment to creating theatre, coupled with representing, serving and incorporating that community. With the opportunity to be the TD Administrative Intern here at fu-GEN, I'm learning all about this and many more ways to use theatre as an administrator for change, inclusion and education.

As the ‘Admin’ I'm exploring multiple facets of a running and developing a company. There are the basics: general day to day tasks within a company, sweeping the floor, managing the rehearsal space, improving my grant writing skills, research for future projects and the essential; how to pick locks. I've also learnt that I have to be more organised than I've ever been before in order to stay available to plug the holes at a moment’s notice and keep an eye out for bumps in the road ahead.  

The big learning curve?  Vision development. Yes, I'm learning plenty about budgets, timelines and people management working on projects, organizing Potluck and other fundraisers, however it’s the talks about future projects and the long term vision for fu-GEN that has really been a source of inspiration and empowerment for myself.  We've been exploring this process and mapping out what a theatrical landscape in our city could be like.  A theatrical landscape that embraces diversity, questions assumptions and exemplifies a more open world.  Developing this sort of vision extends beyond my personal work as an artist hoping to create work about a particular subject.  It extends to include artists from across the communities of our city to create a tapestry of works.   

The opportunity to explore how fu-GEN is developing this vision is kind of like getting an updated prescription on your glasses.  Your vision is just that much better and clearer.  With half of my internship still to come, I am eager to see what perspectives this coming season will provide.

Tijiki Morris is a queer theatre artist who was raised in Pakistan and came to Canada after secondary school. She graduated from Humber College’s Theatre Performance program and engages in theatre as a director, actor, puppetry artist/coach and administrator. 


Happy New Year from Derek

Happy New Year from Derek
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Looking back, looking forward

It's certainly been an interesting year around here. I've met a lot of fascinating people, worked with some really awesome folks, cooked a few good meals, and created memories to last a lifetime.
I spent part of this evening looking back at my calendar for the past year: reminiscing, ruminating and remembering all that has been in 2013. It is humbling to put all of it into perspective, seeing what I've been up to for the last 12 months. It's been a huge year of growth and exploration; I feel like I finally know what I need to do as an artist and what kind of work I'm supposed to be doing. As my agent Tom says, I get to do some pretty cool stuff, and I am grateful for the opportunities I have to work with inspiring artists on interesting and groundbreaking projects.

Unfortunately there is no way to share everything that I've been doing the past year, but here are some of my favourite memories from 2013:

Visit My New Website


I had the incredible privilege of premiering Alice Ping Yee Ho and Marjorie Chan's opera The Lesson of Daji in May with Toronto Masque Theatre. This new Canadian opera was my first full-scale opera in Canada and featured a Baroque ensemble (harpsichord, archlute, gamba, etc) with traditional Chinese instruments (pipa, erhu, gushing). We also presented John Blow's Venus and Adonis. Alice and Marjorie also received the Dora Award for Best New Opera/Musical for this piece.
My biggest surprise was the great reviews I received from a number of publications:
Derek Kwan has a lovely, high, firm tenor ideal for the cautious, sincere Bo Yi, drawn to love Da Ji in spite of the danger.
     – Christopher Hoile, Stage Door

With his pleasant tenor, Derek Kwan (Shepherd/Bo Yi) held his own in both operas. More importantly, he brought key acting skills to the part of Bo Yi.
Paula Citron, Opera Canada (Summer 2013)

There were some good performances, notably Derek Kwan as Bo Ji and Marion Newman as Da Ji. Both showed skill, artistry and versatility.
– John Gilks, Opera Ramblings


This year, I headed up a project called Winterreise Projekt- a collaborative exploration of Winter, Canada and the Other. I got to work with a dream team of amazing artists and friends, and thanks to generous grants from the TAC, OAC and CCA, we were able to do a series of explorations, including at Harbourfront HATCH in May 2013.

The project has since morphed into an extremely personal journey about my parents' death and my grief process. In October, I was able to make a trip to Khao Lak, Thailand to do research that will form the basis for the further development of this piece.
Stay tuned for more info!


I wrote my first opera! With Nicole Ratjen, I devised and wrote a 20-minute opera for the Lab Cab Festival in Parkdale in July for tenor and viola da gamba (played by the incomparable Jöelle Morton). This show was an experiment in mask, opera and site-specific theatre and featured an incredible rotating mask for 2 characters that Nicole designed. It also spawned the Park:LIFE project which aims to bring mask work to public spaces in Toronto as a way of interrogating how we view our surroundings.


I had the immense honour of working with Jani Lauzon on her new piece for Native Earth's Weesageechak Festival. Based on the life of Tsianina Redfeather, this work-in-progress weaves together historical fact, present fiction, and the very real opera that was written about her.

HERE's a clip of Lionel's super cheesy and amazing love aria from  the original opera. Recorded at Jani's house during a rehearsal with Kevin McGugan on piano. 


In September, I decided to take some R&R and visit Stewart in Taipei for 5 weeks. Little did I know how productive the trip would be: I ended up giving a Lecture/Recital and Masterclass at Hsinchu University of Education thanks to Professor Fanling Su, and I helped to open thinkers' theatre's cool new space with a demonstration of singing with Contact Improv. You can catch the video of how it went down HERE.


I love Theatre Direct and was overjoyed for the opportunity to work with them on this really special project. Lynda Hill brought up Jacqueline Russell of Chicago Children's Theatre, who is known for her pioneering work in creating theatre for children with autism. Together, we created and workshopped a piece specifically designed for children on the autism spectrum and it was truly one of the dearest projects I've ever had the pleasure to work on. The room was all love, and it is pure magic to see how these children respond to theatre in ways that are 


In June, I was the interpreter for Feng Yi Ting, a show that came to Toronto for Luminato. Directed by Atom Egoyan, this show was a fusion of various Chinese opera styles, Western Classical music, and Asian and Western theatrical forms. It was fascinating to be in the room with the Chinese artists, maestro Ken Lam, and Atom Egoyan: all incredible artists from such vastly different traditions. I learned a lot about Chinese operatic music forms, producing larger scale touring opera, and how to deal with divas!


I got to sing a couple of Messiah's this year in Oshawa and Owen Sound. It's been a few years since I've sung it, so it was great to give the old chestnut another crack. I also sang a few Bach Christmas Oratorios, and a number of small concerts that were a lot of fun.


Who knows what this year will bring? But I'm excited to find out!

Copyright © 2013 Derek Kwan, All rights reserved.
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Job Opportunity with fG!

Job Opportunity!

Through the generous support of TD Bank Group, fu-GEN Theatre Company is offering a nine-month Administrative Intern position beginning in January 2014. This opportunity is ideal for a recent graduate with a passion for theatre who wants to build a diverse skill set in arts administration through mentorship with Canada's foremost Asian Canadian theatre company. This position offers a valuable training opportunity in a not-for-profit model.

The successful candidate will report directly to the General Manager and the Artistic Director and assist with many aspects of implementing the company's activities including development workshops, special events, fundraisers and other hijinks.

Duties and responsibilities will include:

·                     Updating headshot and resume files

·                     Organizing and maintaining company archives

·                     Networking and liaising with various community partners

·                     Assistance with marketing and fundraising initiatives

·                     Attending fu-GEN events and acting as an ambassador for the company

·                     Support staff for fu-GEN events and fundraisers

·                     Managing volunteers for various events

·                     General office duties as assigned

The successful candidate possesses excellent written and oral communication skills; initiative; strong organizational skills; computer skills (Microsoft Word, Excel); and is resourceful. A background in the arts is an asset.

This is a part-time position (from January 2014 to September 2014), at $14/hour, approximately 20 - 30 hours per week on average. Hours per week will adjust according to the level of activity.

Please submit a cover letter and resume by December 27, 2013 to submissions@fu-gen.org

Selected candidates will be interviewed beginning in January.

About fu-GEN fu-GEN is a charitable, not-for-profit theatre company dedicated to the development of professional Asian Canadian theatre artists through the production of new and established works. Our vision is to be a home for Asian Canadian theatre artists and their work. We exist to make our artists and our stories visible in the theatre community, and the Canadian community at large. We have become the premiere producer of Asian Canadian theatre in Canada and have built a reputation of artistic excellence with 17 Dora Mavor Moore nominations. 



Can You Say the Name of This Play?

So... can you?

Come to the Aki Studio Theatre, Daniels Spectrum (585 Dundas St. E.) between March 12-30 to find out how we say the title of Lauren Yee's Ching Chong Chinaman.


CHING CHONG CHINAMAN by Lauren Yee receives Canadian Premiere

"Now, open your eyes wide, everyone!"

fu-GEN Theatre Company is proud to present the Canadian premiere of CHING CHONG CHINAMAN by Lauren Yee, directed by Nina Lee Aquino March 12 – 30, 2013 in the Aki Studio Theatre, Daniels Spectrum. At once cheeky and contemporary, CHING CHONG CHINAMAN is a smart, fast-paced ride that examines the Asian North American Dream.

The ultra-assimilated Wong family is as Chinese-American as apple pie: teenager Upton dreams of World of Warcraft superstardom; his sister Desi dreams of early admission to Princeton. Unfortunately, Upton’s chores and homework get in the way of his 24/7 video gaming, and Desi’s math grades don’t fit the AsianAmerican stereotype. Never one to admit or accept failure, Upton comes up with a novel solution for both problems: he acquires a Chinese indentured servant, who harbors an American dream of his own.

Featuring Zoe Doyle, Brenda Kamino, Oliver Koomsatira, Richard Lee, Jane Luk and John Ng, CHING CHONG CHINAMAN is rounded out with a stellar creative team that includes playwright Lauren Yee, director Nina Lee Aquino, and designers Camellia Koo (Shaw Festival), Michelle Ramsay (9 Dora Mavor Moore nominations) Christopher Stanton (The Room) and choreographer Carin Lowerison.

March 12-30, 2013 at the Aki Studio Theatre
Daniels Spectrum at 585 Dundas Street East, Toronto
Tuesday-Saturday 8pm / Saturday 2pm / Sunday 2pm (PWYC)
Tickets: $15-$28 (includes HST, additional $2.00 per ticket surcharge)

Phone box office hours 10am-6pm MON-FRI 1-800-204-0855
Walk-ups are 1 HOUR before every performance
for online ticket purchases visit www.fu-gen.org