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10 Years Later, the Lodestone Takes a Final Bow with Grace

Korean soap opera.jpg
The Kim family women cry over a Korean soap opera in Grace Kim & The Spiders from Mars (Lodestone Theatre Ensemble Nov 14-Dec 20, 2009) | Photo by Nic Cha Kim
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by Lyle Zimskind/Special to LAist

Since its inception in 1999, the members of the Lodestone Theatre Ensemble "have always done the shows we wanted the way we wanted,” asserts company co-founder Philip W. Chung. “We were all young back then, and none of us had any experience running a theater company. Maybe if we knew better, we wouldn’t have done it that way. But we’ve maintained our identity the whole time and we never deviated from our initial mission: to stretch the definition of Asian-American theater."

When the company was starting out, Chung recalls, “the standard range of themes was pretty narrow: immigration stories, identity, internment, generational conflict….” Declining to be limited by cultural expectations, Lodestone created a venue where its members could do all kinds of theater, from Tennessee Williams revivals, Greek classics, and musicals to cutting-edge premieres by contemporary playwrights Matt Pelfrey and Judy Soo Hoo. And thanks in some part to the group's influence, Chung suggests, the theater world at large has become at least a bit “more open. It doesn’t feel weird any more to see Asian faces in a non-Asian play.”