September 22, 2003

Wong’s Dating & Mating casts eye on relationships

By Brian Green

Running now through Oct. 4, Theater Emory presents the world premiere of Elizabeth Wong’s Dating and Mating in Modern Times, a series of monologues performed by seven actresses on the joys and pitfalls of today’s fast, frenzied and sometimes frustrating world of sex and relationships.

Covering topics such as cybersex, speed dating, hookups and penis envy, this full-length play opened Saturday, Sept. 20, in the Mary Gray Munroe Theater. There will be a special “Singles Night” (Sept. 27), and on Sept. 21 the cast and playwright hosted a a pay-what-you-can performance and “Artists Up Close” talk-back session.

“Lots of guys think this is going to be one of those emasculating, castrating chick shows,” said Wong, an acclaimed playwright and screenwriter whose work has been performed in New York, Los Angeles and abroad. “But by the end of the run, I predict we’ll be knee-deep in guys, panting and drooling to see this show.”

Wong described Dating and Mating as “a celebration of men, the libido and the white-hot desire for connection between the sexes.” She directs a cast of Emory students and Atlanta professional favorites, including Jill Jane Clements, Mary Lynn Owen, Valerie Payton and Widdi Turner. The actresses portray characters as diverse as a teenage skater girl, a Vegas showgirl and a Southern beauty queen, and will perform what Wong calls “wicked, naughty, nasty, wise and provocative” monologues that delve into the pleasure and pain at the core of the modern dating scene.

Dating and Mating was commissioned last year by the Playwriting Center of Theater Emory and was further developed through workshops during February’s Brave New Works Festival.

“Since Theater Emory’s Playwriting Center is strongly committed to the kind of new work our research university setting encourages, I’m thrilled to see the collaborative creation and discovery experienced with Elizabeth’s development of this play,” said Vinnie Murphy, artistic producing director of Theater Emory. “She is generating what promises to be one of the more daring, hilarious and popular works to premiere in Atlanta.”

Wong’s work has been produced to acclaim across the country. Her spicy satire Kimchee and Chitlins, about the black residents’ boycott of Korean stores in New York, premiered at Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago. She also won acclaim as a writer on the ABC sitcom “All-American Girl” with Margaret Cho.

Wong has received commissions from Actors Theater of Louisville, Denver Theater Center, Cincinnati Playhouse, Omaha Magic Theater, the Mark Taper Forum and recently the Kennedy Center to write the libretto of her play The Happy Prince as an opera for young audiences. Her play China Doll won the Kennedy Center’s Mark David Cohen Award and was featured at Arena Stage’s inaugural New American Play Series.

Remaining performance dates and times are Sept. 25–27, Oct. 2–3 at 8 p.m.; Sept. 28 & Oct. 4 at 5 p.m.; and Oct. 4 at 9 p.m. General admission is $15; $12 for faculty, staff and discount groups; $6 for students. For more information or to order tickets, call the Arts at Emory Box Office at 404-727-5050 or visit Parental discretion is advised; this play contains material that may not be suited for those younger than 17.