NY Korean playwright Young Jean Lee brings ‘Straight White Men’ to LA

November 27, 2015

Young Jean Lee’s Single White Men poster

Infamous New York playwright Young Jean Lee’s “Straight White Men” had its Los Angeles premiere inside Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City last week.

The play follows a middle-class father and his three sons as they celebrate Christmas together while each facing his own issues.

They confront “a problem that even being a happy family can’t solve: when identity matters, and privilege is problematic, what is the value of being a straight white man?”

Lee, praised as “the most adventurous downtown playwright of her generation,” saw the play well-reviewed as “surprisingly poignant” by LA Weekly and as a work that “transcends psychological realism with sly moments of theatrical mischief” by the Los Angeles Times.

The play is presented in collaboration with the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA and will run until Dec. 20.

Lee, who was born in South Korea, came to the United States at a young age. After studying at the University of California, Berkeley, she set up the Young Jean Lee Theater Company and has, for over 10 years, put on a number of experimental, hot-issue shows.

Young Jean Lee, middle, also has a band she performs with.

Young Jean Lee, middle, also has a band she performs with.

Those include “Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven,” a play that brings to question the Asian American identity through four Korean women named Korean 1, Korean 2, Korean 3 and Korean American, and “Shipment,” an unsettling work on racial attitudes.

Lee is a two-time winner of the prestigious Obie Awards, which honors off-Broadway theater. She is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a handful more accolades.

“Straight White Men” is her theater company’s 10th production and premiered last spring. It’s since been performed in Paris and Austria.

The playwright has also ventured into filmmaking, with two short films under her belt and a Hollywood comedy pilot in the works.

For “Straight White Men” tickets, visit centertheatergroup.org. Kirk Douglas Theater is located at 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232.