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‘Tiger Style!’ audio play explores Asian immigrant stereotypes

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
‘Tiger Style!’ audio play explores Asian immigrant stereotypes
Emily Kuroda, Jon Norman Schneider and Ruibo Qian in the Huntington’s 2016 production of “Tiger Style!” PHOTO: T Charles Erickson

In partnership with GBH, the Huntington Theatre Company presents an audio version of Mike Lew’s comedic play “Tiger Style!” directed by Tony Award nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel. The full audio play was broadcast on Feb. 6 and is currently being released by the Huntington in four weekly installments alongside a companion podcast series titled “Exploring ‘Tiger Style!’”

Ruibo Qian and Jon Norman Schneider PHOTO: T Charles Erickson

Ruibo Qian and
Jon Norman Schneider PHOTO: T Charles Erickson

The performance first debuted as a fully staged play at the Huntington in 2016, to a very positive reception. Much has changed in five years, and Lew found that some of the play’s content needed to be adapted for this rendition, both because of the new audio format and the new state of the nation. “Americans’ perceptions of the Chinese and of Asian Americans have been evolving so rapidly since I wrote ‘Tiger Style!’ a few years ago,” says Lew. “The structure of the play has stayed the same, but the lens is a little different now, and I considered the emergence of COVID, the scapegoating of the Chinese, and how the veneer of civility was wiped away quickly in the pandemic.”

In the comedy, siblings Albert and Jennifer Chen have been model children. They both graduated from Harvard after years of hard work striving for academic achievement and parental approval. In adulthood however, things are a different story. When Albert is passed up for a promotion and Jennifer gets dumped by her boyfriend, they confront their parents. The poignant, riotous play explores the immigrant experience, racial stereotyping of Asian family dynamics and the true definition of success.

Francis Jue, Ruibo Qian, Jon Norman Schneider and Emily Kuroda in the Huntington’s 2016 production of “Tiger Style!” Emily Kuroda, Jon Norman Schneider and Ruibo Qian in the Huntington’s 2016 production of “Tiger Style!” PHOTO: T Charles Erickson

Francis Jue, Ruibo Qian, Jon Norman Schneider and Emily Kuroda in the Huntington’s 2016 production of “Tiger Style!” Emily Kuroda, Jon Norman Schneider and Ruibo Qian in the Huntington’s 2016 production of
“Tiger Style!” PHOTO: T Charles Erickson

The play will be accessible for free on the Huntington and GBH websites and Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Stitcher in four audio parts, along with the podcast about adapting the show for an audio medium. One episode of the play will be released every week through February 25. The podcast will be released through March 2, and both will be fully accessible thereafter. A video of an American Sign Language reading of “Tiger Style!” directed by Monique Holt is also slated to hit the website in February.

“[Lew] deals with complex social issues like racial bias and the immigrant experience in a way that’s couched in madcap misadventure,” says director Moritz von Stuelpnagel. “Making a podcast recording of a play is a whole new way of making art. While we won’t get the immediate satisfaction of being in the same room as our audience, we can still reach people near, far, and wide. It’s a beautiful and egalitarian way to tell the story.”

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