“It was inspiring and encouraging at the Lortel awards ceremony to see theater artists support and cheer for each other,” Chen says. “Even though the awards are categorized in this way, this award is for all of the ‘Wolf Play’ design team members. All the design areas — set, props, lighting, sound, puppetry and costumes — are highly integrated. We constructed this world together.”
Chen joined the Muhlenberg College theater faculty in fall of 2021 as assistant professor of scenic design. A Taiwanese designer committed to diversity and humanity, she centers the human experience in the process of creating a three-dimensional space. Chen is the recipient of the 2019 Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award at The Lilly Awards, as well as another Lucille Lortel Award in 2020 for her work on Mrs. Murray’s Menagerie. Her work has appeared in theaters across the continental United States and Europe.
Chen’s work at Muhlenberg has included scenic designs for “The Threepenny Opera,”
Local Girls,” “Miss You Like Hell,” and the world premiere of “Call Me by Any Other Name… Just as Sweet.”
Wolf Play first premiered in New York City in February 2022, produced by Soho Rep in collaboration with Ma-Yi Theatre Company. The production was later presented by the Off-Broadway MCC Theater in January 2023, with two extensions through April 2. Directed by Dustin Wills, Wolf Play received five Lucille Lortel Awards, including Outstanding Play, Outstanding Director, Outstanding Ensemble, and Outstanding Sound Design. It was also nominated for Outstanding Lighting Design.
The play tells the story of Jeenu, a Korean boy who may or may not be a wolf, and who is depicted on stage by a life-size puppet. Jeenu is adopted by an American family before being suddenly “rehomed” to another couple. But when his original adoptive father decides he wants the boy back upon learning his new parents are queer, Jeenu finds himself caught in the middle of a custody battle, two strained marriages, and a pro boxer’s debut. “Wolf Play” is a story about acceptance, choosing and fighting for the people you love.
This summer, Chen will be designing scenery for Sam Shepard’s “True West” at People’s Light, in Malvern, Pennsylvania. This fall, she will design Marcus Gartley’s “…And Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi,” here at Muhlenberg, and “The Dragon King’s Daughter,” a new musical for young audiences, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Information Provided By:
Muhlenberg College Department of Theatre & Dance