“MODELMINORITY” Opens This Week at Shaking the Tree Theatre

A mixture of visual art and live performance, the pieces confront the destructive effects of the model minority myth.

On Thursday, April 28, Shaking the Tree Theatre will open MODELMINORITY, a mixture of visual art and live performance that confronts the model minority myth, which has historically been used to make light of racism against Asian Americans by portraying them as being more socioeconomically secure than other marginalized groups.

The production, which will run through Saturday, April 30, was directed by Rebby Yuer Foster. Four installations and four performances will be accessible simultaneously, allowing audiences to move freely through Shaking the Tree’s warehouse space.

Like many Shaking the Tree productions, MODELMINORITY promises to be an intellectually provocative experience. The company’s website says that viewers will be invited “to release their internalized expectations for Asian palatability” and “engage in mourning the dead, celebrating the living.”

Structured as a vigil for all those who have been impacted by violence against Asian Americans, the production takes inspiration from the work of artist Wu ShangZhuan, who was a leader of the Chinese Conceptual Movement during the 1980s.

As both an actor and an artist, Foster has been a crucial part of Shaking the Tree’s success recently, starring in acclaimed plays like Family and Chick Fight, as well as directing the experimental documentary Jia Ren: A Self Portrait, which offered six perspectives on the Chinese American experience.

“I think that in most Western media I see, East Asian people are represented by two stereotypes—the very uncool Asian person and the Asian person who is cool, but not because they are embracing their own Asian culture,” Foster told WW last year. “We as Asian people are cool and empowered in our own identities. We don’t have to cater ourselves to the white gaze or whatever mainstream culture is telling us to be like.”

MODELMINORITY, which runs 60 minutes, plays at Shaking the Tree Theatre at 7:30 pm on April 28, 29 and 30. Tickets start at $5 and are available here.

Related: “Jia Ren: A Self Portrait” Offers Six Perspectives on the Chinese American Experience