Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord ran approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
On Day 3 of the COVID-19 pandemic, NYTW Usual Suspect Kristina Wong began sewing masks out of old bedsheets and bra straps on her Hello Kitty sewing machine. Before long, she was leading the Auntie Sewing Squad, a work-from-home sweatshop of hundreds of volunteers—including children and her own mother—to fix the U.S. public health care system while in quarantine. It was a feminist care utopia forming in the midst of crisis. Or was it a mutual aid doomsday cult?
As the demand for masks abated and we began to return safely to space, Kristina was beginning to put her life together post-pandemic cult leadership. With hilarity and boundless generosity, she invited the audience in on her work building community in isolation, while reflecting on what we’d been through and imagining what we wanted to become. NYTW Usual Suspect Chay Yew (The Architecture of Loss, Oedipus El Rey) directed.
Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord was performed at New York Theatre Workshop (79 East 4th Street, NY, NY 10003) from October 25–November 21, 2021. The production was also available to stream online from December 1–December 14, 2021.
Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord was made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.
In compliance with New York City guidelines, all attendees were required to show proof of vaccination. Masks were required at all times inside the building and theatre. For up-to-date information about our COVID policies & reopening plan, please visit nytw.org/covid.
KRISTINA WONG is a performance artist, comedian, writer and elected representative who has been presented internationally across North America, the UK, Hong Kong and Africa. Her work has been awarded with grants from Creative Capital, The MAP Fund, Center for Cultural Innovation, National Performance Network, a COLA Master Artist Fellowship from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, as well as nine Los Angeles Artist-in-Residence awards. Center Theatre Group honored her as the 2019 Sherwood Award. Her rap career in post-conflict Northern Uganda was the subject of The Wong Street Journal which toured the US, Canada and Lagos, Nigeria (presented by the US Consulate). Her long running show Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest looked at the high rates of depression and suicide among Asian American women and is now a concert film. Kristina currently serves as the elected representative of Wilshire Center Koreatown Sub-district 5 Neighborhood Council, the subject of her show Kristina Wong for Public Office. In the pandemic, the national tour of that show pivoted to streaming performances from her home and a professional recording for Center Theater Group’s Digital Stage where she is a member of the Creative Collective. As Overlord of the national mutual aid collective Auntie Sewing Squad, Kristina has deepened her practice as a performance artist neck-deep in doing the work of FEMA.
CHAY YEW‘s New York credits include the Public Theater (Mojada, Oedipus el Rey, Durango, Ameriville, Low), Signature Theatre (Cambodian Rock Band), Playwrights Horizons (A Cool Dip in the Barren Saharan Crick), New York Theatre Workshop (The Architecture of Loss), Rattlestick (Draw the Circle), Playwrights Realm (My Mañana Comes), Ensemble Studio Theatre (Where Did We Sit on the Bus?), National Asian American Theatre Company (The House of Bernarda Alba) and Ma Yi Theatre Company (Last of the Suns). His regional production credits include Humana Festival, Mark Taper Forum, Goodman Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, South Coast Rep, Berkeley Rep, Long Wharf, Huntington Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Theatre, Denver Theater Center, Kennedy Center, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Seattle Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Cornerstone Theatre Company, Round House Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Empty Space, Singapore Repertory Theatre, amongst others. His opera credits include the world premieres of Osvaldo Golijov’s and David Henry Hwang’s Ainadamar (Tanglewood Music Center and Los Angeles Philharmonic) and Rob Zuidam’s Rage D’Amors (Tanglewood). An alumnus of New Dramatists, he is a recipient of the Obie Award for Direction. From 2011 to 2020, he was the artistic director of Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago.
'"I would say the play is about Kristina’s journey during the pandemic, from being an unessential artist, as most artists were called by the government at the time, to finding her own sense of being essential.'"
In a conversation a few days before previews began, Wong discussed her journey from an out-of-work artist to the leader of hundreds of volunteers, her mother’s changed opinion of her performing arts career and how she hoped the show would reshape people’s perceptions of Asian Americans."