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Two-Mile Hollow to explore white supremacy with AAPI cast

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Photo by Joe Moore
Photo by Joe Moore

From April 26 until May 14, Intiman Theatre will present Two Mile Hollow, which features a cast of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders playing the Donnellys, a very white family with very white problems. The cast features Naho Shioya, M. Keala Milles Jr., Ray Tagavilla, and Annie Yim.

It will be director Jesse Jou's first production for Intiman, and in Seattle. Currently based in Texas, where he works at Texas Tech University, Jou met Intiman's artistic director, Jennifer Zeyl, about five years ago.

"She reached out to me last year because Intiman was producing Two Mile Hollow and wanted to see if I was interested in coming out... I know the playwright and I love the play, so I'm super excited by the opportunity," said Jou.

Two Mile Hollow is written by Asian American playwright Leah Nanako Winkler. The story centers around a celebrated acting family whose patriarch has passed away. The matriarch decides to sell their estate in the Hamptons, where the family comes together for a final weekend to tie up loose ends.

"She [Winkler] had noticed this sort of recurring theme in American playwrighting, about what she likes to call 'rich white people by the water' plays... usually about wealthy families that came together," said Jou. "Most of these stories centered around revelations of family secrets and old family grudges."

Jou describes Two Mile Hollow as a humorous and insightful play about white supremacy, and how it can be dismantled and resisted through the choices people make. According to Jou, Winkler wanted to satirize this genre and create further opportunities for actors of the global majority who don't often get to play these kinds of roles.

"The fun we're having in the rehearsal room is really talking a lot about exploring and dismantling these tropes around these stories that we all sort of grew up with in terms of representation," said Jou.

Jou brought up how during his childhood in the 1980s, he noticed how families portrayed in entertainment — specifically dramas — were generally white, such as the Carringtons on Dynasty.

"The impact that had on all of us... seeing only white families dealing with those issues... how fun and ridiculous it is to have a company of AAPI actors who have a chance to explore and celebrate and recognize our own family dynamics inside of these kinds of stories," said Jou.

Jou described how casting a group of AAPI actors to play stereotypical, rich white characters with white issues has been an affirming aspect of the story. "We're also taking a moment to say, 'Oh, hey, sometimes we see ourselves in these characters and in these situations,' and having a little bit of fun with ourselves inside of it as well."

Jou described how he has been heavily thinking throughout the pandemic about what he wants audience members to walk away with following performances. With the difficulties and the pain the pandemic has brought, Jou has one primary goal.

"One of my goals as an artist right now is just to create more joy, and I'm hoping that audiences have a really great time, and they laugh, and they recognize themselves in the story, and they also take a moment to reflect about ways in which we can all create more inclusive spaces for people," said Jou. "But first and foremost, I'm hoping it's just a good time for everybody."

Previews of Two Mile Hollow will take place on April 26 and April 27, with opening night on April 28 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5-75, and each Friday performance will be ASL interpreted. For ticket information visit https://www.intiman.org/two-mile-hollow/.