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An Interview With Marcus Yi, Author of Micro Shrimp

By Gary Wien

originally published: 03/19/2015

An Interview With Marcus Yi, Author of Micro ShrimpChances are that when Marcus Yi’s parents first bought him a microscope they never expected it would lead to a musical involving dancing shrimp, but that’s exactly what happened.  His play, Micro Shrimp,  won the 2014 New Jersey Playwright’s Contest held each year by William Paterson University and will have its world premiere March 31 through April 18 at the Hunziker Black Box Theatre.

“I first discovered the existence of brine shrimp when my parents bought me a microscope,” recalled Yi. “The booklet that came with it suggested that I take a look at smaller creatures such as algae and brine shrimp so I started breeding brine shrimp to observe through a microscope. Years later when I was looking for subject material to turn into a musical I remembered the shrimp, I thought it was a very original idea to set a musical in a brine shrimp breeding tank. The religious undertones come from my love/hate relationship with institutionalized religion.”

This musical comedy is a microcosm of the loves, beliefs and hardships of everyday life in a brine shrimp breeding tank. A society that is complete with beliefs that shrimp are meant for a greater good; the other side, from which no shrimp returns; and an unknown deity - a moving light source and a net. They also have sibling rivalry; gangs of no-goodniks and lovers who vow to spend their entire lives together. The system is challenged when one shrimp returns from the “other side” to reveal their true fate: they are but fish food, and the revolt begins.

If it sounds like a metaphor for human life, you’re not far off.

 “When I was writing the show, the economy just crashed in 2008 and there was the whole Occupy Wall Street movement going on,” explained Yi.  “I started to realize that there is a definite hierarchy of humans. Some are meant to be predators and others end up becoming the prey. But sometimes those that are perceived as predators are also trapped by circumstance like Felicia Fish in the show. To me, the show is a cautionary tale about the dangers of blind faith.”



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One of the most valuable benefits of winning the New Jersey Playwright’s Contest is having a full production of the play produced on stage.  Yi says that it’s difficult to get a full production of a musical whether you have a well-known name in the business or not.

An Interview With Marcus Yi, Author of Micro ShrimpThe Visit, which is finally coming to Broadway has been floating around the developmental circuit for years,” said Yi. “Urinetown was rejected by every single theater submission which resulted in the creators of the show having to self produce it. Lucky for them, a producer brought it to Broadway after that. I think if a creator of a show wants it to be produced badly enough, and is willing to put in the hard work to make it happen, it will happen for them.”

According to Edward Matthews, the producer of the New Jersey Playwrights Contest and director of this production, the contest judges look for shows and musicals they feel they can do.  They’re interested in playwrights whose work is at a level in which they can benefit from a production and work that showcases imagination and theatricality.  “Marcus Yi and Micro Shrimp have all of that,” said Matthews.

“In both the play and musical playwriting contests, originality is a key factor but the primary factor – and the main difference between the NJPC and many play contests – is that we are trying to help the authors/composers,” explained Matthews.  “This does not mean we aren’t looking for quality pieces, quite the contrary.  But we also are trying to help move the writers to the next step, those who we feel will benefit from the experience and exposure we can provide.”  

Originally from Singapore, Marcus Yi moved here in 2005 to pursue a B.A. in musical theater performance and later moved to New York to study law and is a full-time immigration attorney. As a writer, actor, and performer, he has created work in Singapore, Atlanta and New York and is the artistic director of Living Room Theater. Yi has worked on over 100 productions.  He believes that his work as a director helps him become a better playwright.

“As a director you are always concerned with what the audience sees,” said Yi. “Sometimes playwrights that do not work in the other aspects of theater tend to write works that are extremely difficult to realize on stage. I feel that my work as a director has definitely helped me become a better playwright by understanding the limitations of live performance, as well as molding the pace of the piece.”

“We do quality work with a limited budget and very generous support from William Paterson University,” said Matthews.  “And for the fans, that taking a chance on new plays and musicals is a great experience and really does help authors shape their work going forward.”    

 





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Center Players Presents "The Emperor's New Duds"
(FREEHOLD, NJ) --  Center Players Dessert Theater will present a family-friendly production of “The Emperor’s New Duds” at Center Playhouse, 35 South St, in downtown Freehold, NJ from December 7 – 16. A musical adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s the “Emperor’s New Clothes,” the play was written by Bernice Garfield-Szita, who co-directed the production with Enid Bush.
Centenary Stage’s Young Performers Workshop presents 2018 Winter Festival of Shows
(HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- Based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Godspell is composed of various musical parables from The Gospel. Jesus Christ recruits a group of followers and teaches them various lessons through song and dance. Toward the end of the second act, the show begins to follow a more linear narrative as Jesus is betrayed by Judas and eventually crucified. Performances are Sunday, December 9 at 5:00pm; Saturday, December 15 at 8pm and Sunday, December 16 at 7:30pm.
The Shakespeare Theatre Presents "The Winter's Tale"
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run from December 5 to December 30. 
American Theater Group Announces Full Cast & Creative For "Tell Them I'm Still Young"
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- American Theater Group has announced the full cast and creative team for its World Premiere production of Tell Them I’m Still Young, a new play by Julia Doolittle, which will run at the South Orange Performing Arts Center from January 24 - February 3, 2019. Joining the previously announced Andre Braugher (Homicide: Life on the Streets, Men of a Certain Age, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) andMichele Pawk (Hollywood Arms, Hairspray, Mamma Mia) are Janice Amaya (Seen/Unseen) and Seth Clayton (The Madrid).
Holmdel Theatre Company Presents 'ART'
(HOLMDEL, NJ) – The Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC) will present 6 performances of Yasmina Reza’s ‘ART’  from December 7th through December 16th. Translated from French by Christopher Hampton, the play tells the story of what happens when Serge buys an expensive painting, and the reactions of his two closest friends, Marc and Yvan, to his purchase. As what begins as a discussion about the quality of the painting that Serge has purchased quickly devolves into petty jabs and personal attacks, the three men border on destroying their friendships.


Broadway’s Mandy Gonzalez LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
Broadway is in the house at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts with a Fearless live concert performance by Broadway star, Mandy Gonzalez!
"The Spitfire Grill" and Caitlin Geisser Return To Their Roots
“I saw something in her that you rarely come across,” recalled Ted Wioncek III, Artistic Director at Eagle Theatre in Hammonton. “She’s more than wise beyond her years; I believe she’s going to be a game-changer and a trendsetter for this art form.”
Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s Friday, October 26, 2018, and the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast is just about ready to take the stage at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ.
The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
Jennifer Fawcett’s new play centers around a mother in a kitchen, doing something countless people across America will take part in over the upcoming holiday season: making an apple pie.
See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
Leapin’ Lizards! Annie’s finally made it to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Park, NJ, and it stars Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, as Miss Hannigan!










Event calendar
Saturday, Nov 17, 2018


MUSIC

THE GAY BLADES @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

HERMAN'S HERMITS STARRING PETER NOONE & THE BUCKINGHAMS @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Nelson Riveros Trio: “The Latin Side of Wes Montgomery” @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Hawaiian Music and Hula @ 1867 Sanctuary at Ewing, Ewing - 8:00pm

Pop 2000 Tour @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

THE MACHINE PERFORMS PINK FLOYD @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 8:00pm

THE FAB FAUX A HARD DAY'S NIGHT AND REVOLVER IN THEIR ENTIRETIES @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm

Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm

Swamp Boogie Trio @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Annie @ Broad Street United Methodist Church, Burlington - 8:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Annie @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 8:00pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Billy Bishop Goes to War @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm

Kiss Me Kate @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Phoenix Productions Presents: The Hunchback of Notre Dame @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Enchanted April @ The Summit Playhouse, Summit - 8:00pm

Heathers, The Musical High School Edition @ Pebble Players, Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

Into the Woods @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm

The Drowsy Chaperone @ Lauren K. Woods Theatre at Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 8:00pm


COMEDY

Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm


DANCE

BALLET FOLKLORICO DE MEXICO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


KIDS

ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA JR. @ Ridgewood Ave School Theater, Glen Ridge - 1:00pm and 7:00pm


LECTURE

Mainebiz Health Care Forum @ Mainebiz Health Care Forum, Newyork - 8:00pm

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