LA play explores mother-daughter relationships & stigma of mental illness among AAPI


Artists at Play is a relatively new Asian American theatre collective in Los Angeles, and they are proud to announce the opening of their production of 99 Histories next week.

99 Histories is a play written by Julia Cho in the early 2000’s, and focuses on a young Korean American woman named Eunice — a former cello prodigy and now unmarried and pregnant — returning home to her estranged family. Upon her homecoming, Eunice sets out to mend her relationship with her own mother, Sah-Jin, an emotional process that raises issues of identity and the stigma of mental illness in the AAPI community.

Video after the jump.

From the press release:

“It is my hope that plays such as 99 Histories can help to reduce stigma and discrimination that prevents people from seeking assistance for mental illness. Eunice found a way to manage her symptoms of paranoia, homicidal thoughts, bout(s) of self-harm, etc. If the audience can see that our protagonist was able to seek help and manage her symptoms, then perhaps we could offer others hope and find the appropriate assistance that could benefit them or those around them,” said Dr. Michi Fu, a licensed psychologist who specializes in the Asian American community.

According to Dr. Fu, cultural barriers such as stigma and “loss of face” prevent many in the Asian American community from obtaining the mental health services that they need. For some, a lack of matching services — such as failing to find a mental health professional who knows their native language or understands specific cultural needs — may also serve as a barrier.

“I appreciate how 99 Histories was able to weave many different aspects of the Asian American immigrant bicultural experience (love vs. the Korean chung, methods of coping with loss and bereavement, and cross-cultural communication) and how this impacted one family’s experience of mental illness. Many aspects of this family’s story run parallel to those living with mental illness. I enjoy finding ways of making psychological concepts a household discussion and believe the arts are a non-threatening, mainstream way to open up potentially challenging discussions,” she added.

99 Histories runs from September 13 – September 28 at the Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90038. Multiple performance times are available throughout the play’s run, and tickets are $15-25.

A special panel discussion focusing on the play and mental health issues will follow the September 28, 2pm showing, and will include Dr. Fu, Robert DeMayo (president of the California Psychological Association), director Leslie Ishii and actor and Artists at Play co-founder Julia Cho (who stars as “Eunice”, not the playwright).

Check out the Artists at Play website for more information.

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