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Spike Wong's "Dragon" Soars into a Full-Length Production

A scene from the play Dragon Skin presented at the 2018 8 Tens @ 8 Festival
photo © Jana Marcus

One of the most talked about short plays in the 2018 8 Tens @ 8 Festival was "Dragon Skin" by Steve "Spike" Wong. Covering 55 years of the author's life in 10 minutes, “Dragon Skin” was hailed by critic Phillip Pearce (Performing Arts Monterey Bay) as “the most dramatic and visually beautiful of the 2018 festival.” Now the themes Steve first explored in “Dragon Skin” form the foundation of his full-length play, “White Sky, Falling Dragon," which will open on August 26th at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts SecondStage Theater.

Steve first acted with Santa Cruz County Actors' Theatre in the late 1990s in the 8 Tens @ 8 Festival. "The compelling dramas and the professional expectations among directors and actors were a significant draw for me, both as an actor and a writer, and subsequently as a director, " he shares. He acted in roles in Susan Forrest's "Slingin' Hash at the Lowlife Bar and Grill," and Juan Duarte's "Simon Maldonado's Epiphany" in 1997, and endeared himself to Santa Cruz's cat lovers with his portrayal of Rudy the Cat in the play "Nocturn, with Apples" by Scott Munson in 2000.

Actor and playwright Steve Wong performing in the 10-minute play Dragon Skin
photo © Jana Marcus

Directing the play "Jacob's Shoe" by Sandra Hosking in 2003 was a pivotal experience. Steve explains, "Directing this work and dealing with its traumatic subject launched me into a long exploration of writing plays that originate from deep within. 'Dragon Skin' was the seminal work that led to the writing of 'White Sky, Falling Dragon,' which was inspired by my father’s (Captain Ernest Wong) military service in the U.S. Army Air Force in World War II. This new play tells the story of a young Chinese American returning to his hometown of Watsonville, California, after his war service as a bombardier is completed, and how he must come to terms with tragedy on his last mission before he can fully return home. His Chinese family obligations clash with his search for a path to his future, and the way forward depends on a secret. In a blend of drama and comedy, the play mixes factual reality with imaginative fiction to create a unique storyline of Chinese American culture, immigration, family dynamics, veterans’ issues, and love. It is a play with Asian elements mixing with Western traditions, structured in a way that mirrors the challenges facing its characters, and unique in its focus on the Cantonese Chinese American experience. This play is for my ancestors."

"White Sky, Falling Dragon" was presented as a staged reading sponsored by Actors' Theatre and 36North, a local Playwrights Collective in May of 2019. Joan Van Antwerp who is producing the show in Mountain View recalls: "This turned out to be a memorable evening. I was moved by the authenticity of a story and characters I had not ever previously seen. It was a staged reading, but I could tell as a director and producer that this project had real potential and, most importantly, needed to be seen by as wide an audience as possible. Spike and I knew one another from previous work in and around Actors' Theatre, so I wrote to him to say that if he ever wanted to take this project further, I was here to help. Now, several years later, we are about to realize a full production that is both intimate and spectacular."

Presented by Soaring Dragon Endeavors, "White Sky, Falling Dragon" opens Friday, August 26, at 7:30 pm, with additional performances on August 27, 28 and September 1, 2, 3 and 4. Showtime is 7:30 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 3 pm on Sunday. It is appropriate for ages 12 and above due to mature subject matter, including war and combat.



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