rasgos asiáticos

By Virginia Grise
Directed by Alexis Macnab
Installations Designed by Tanya Orellana


“I am searching for my dead ancestors at the markets in Monterrey, the Chinese restaurants in Tampico, in the newspapers from Sonora, at the henequen plantations in the Yucatan, in forgotten photos from Arizona.”
– from rasgos asiáticos


Workshop Presentation
An intimate story about the fluidity of borders and time, Virginia Grise’s site-specific performance installation rasgos asiáticos examines migration and displacement, and unearths hidden histories in the confluence of China, Mexico, and the United States. Created in collaboration with designer Tanya Orellana, rasgos asiáticos is a constructed space for personal and political excavation, revealed through inherited stories, fragmented memories, historical re-imaginings, and recurring dreams.

In Los Angeles’ Chinatown, large-scale cargo crates offer audiences a series of vivid environments that use sound, light, and objects to conjure narratives of immigration and migration in the U.S.–Mexico borderlands. Each visually-distinct station offers music and poems recorded on vinyl, filling the plaza with sound from individual record players. As viewers move in and out of these sensory experiences, their exploration leads to encounters with live performance elements directed by Alexis Macnab.


More Related Events
Puesto de Palabras
Open Story Sharing and Writing Space
Feb 23–March 13 from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Piñata Lantern Making
Participatory Craft Event
Sun March 8 from 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM

These Are My Papers
Performance Talk by Virginia Grise
Thu Feb 27 at 7:00 PM
El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument


This work marks the beginning of Grise’s ongoing project to trace the diasporic journeys and hidden histories of Chinese communities along the USMX border.

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rasgos asiáticos was commissioned and produced by CalArts Center for New Performance / Duende CalArts, in association with a todo dar productions.

rasgos asiáticos is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by CalArts Center for New Performance, DiverseWorks in partnership with MECA Houston, Performance in the Borderlands, Fulcrum Theater, and NPN with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

rasgos asiáticos was created with support from the MAP Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Soho Rep Theater’s Writer/Director Lab; and Pregones Theater’s Asuncion Award for Queer Playwrighting.

This presentation is made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Photo: Archival family photograph, courtesy of the artist.


About the Artists

Virginia Grise writes plays that are set in bars without windows, barrio rooftops, and lesbian bedrooms. Her published work includes Your Healing is Killing Me (Plays Inverse Press), blu (Yale University Press), The Panza Monologues co-written with Irma Mayorga (University of Texas Press) and an edited volume of Zapatista communiqués titled Conversations with Don Durito (Autonomedia Press). Virginia is a recipient of the Yale Drama Award, Whiting Writers’ Award, the Princess Grace Award, and the Playwrights’ Center’s Jerome Fellowship. In addition to plays, she has created a body of work that is interdisciplinary and includes multimedia performance, dance theater, performance installations, guerilla theater, site specific interventions, and community gatherings. virginiagrise.com

Alexis Macnab is a multi-disciplinary director and deviser whose works have been produced internationally and across the U.S. Macnab brings her experience in environmental and site-responsive performance to this collaboration with Virginia Grise and CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP). Other site-specific projects include her company, Chamber Shakespeare, bringing intimate adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays into people’s homes. At Automata, Macnab has curated multiple interactive art events which brought together artists across media to engage with L.A.’s Chinatown and Downtown neighborhoods. Macnab recently directed the world premiere of Amanda Jane Shank’s The Fasting Girls, using Bunraku-style puppetry, in San Francisco. Whether inside or outside a theater, Macnab’s work explores interdisciplinary collaboration, ensemble creation, and audience agency. Her work has received support from The Jim Henson Foundation, The Puffin Foundation, the Automata Residency Program, Theatre Bay Area, HERE Arts Center, chashama arts, CNP, and the City of Santa Monica.

Tanya Orellana designs performance spaces for Theater, Dance, Opera, and Puppetry. She is a core member of the award-winning ensemble Campo Santo for the past 10 years, participating in their intimate New Work Process, conceptualizing and designing sets alongside the writing process. She received her MFA in Scenic Design from CalArts and is the 2016 recipient of the Princess Grace Fabergé Theatre Award. Her design work on Angels in America was presented in the US Emerging Designers Exhibit at the Prague Quadrennial 2019.  Her work has been seen in Cuba, Mexico, Scotland, and across the USA.

Creative Team
Virginia Grise, Writer
Alexis Macnab, Director
Tanya Orellana, Scenic Designer
Christine Ferriter, Lighting Designer
Colin Yeo, Sound Designer
Nan Zhou, Costume Designer
Cameron Squire, Production Manager
Tara Griffo, Stage Manager
Joseph Jin, Assistant Scenic Designer
Amy Huang, Assistant Sound Designer
Jacenta Yu, Assistant Sound Designer
Ashlen Harris, Assistant Stage Manager
Sharon Gahlla, Props Maker
Kari Swanson, Master Electrician
Chu-hsuan Chang, Electrician
Adam Hunter, Carpenter
Marlene Beltran, Performer
Antonia Cruz-Kent, Performer
Likun Jing, Performer
Lydia Li, Performer
Isaias Miranda, Performer
Angela Rosado, Performer
Keerati Sivakuae, Performer
developed in collaboration with:

Spring 2019 Workshop
Ivan Brizuela, Megan Carter, Shayok Misha Chowdhury, Antonia Cruz-Kent, Christine Ferriter, Likun Jing, Tanya Orellana

Fall 2017 Workshop
Sophie Blumberg, Megan Carter, Christine Ferriter, Heaven Gonzalez, Betty Hu, Maricella Infante, Ingrid Luo, Topher Rohrer, Ruben Rubio, Krystle Tugadi, Kendra Ware

Fall 2016 Workshop
Megan Carter, Hannah Cruz, Heaven Gonzalez, Betty Hu, Ani Kazandjian, Jiao-Meng Lin, Tyree Marshall, Tanya Orellana, Dante Rossi