by Student Blogger: Rosanna Gao
Co-written by Iris Liu
March 16, 2022
On March 12th at eight in the evening, the Munsey Park Auditorium hosted a musical performance named Illegal: A New Musical by theater graduates of Yale University. With Skyler Chin as its writer, Olivia Facini as its producer, Sita Sunil as its co-composer, Iris Liu as the student producer, and Annissa Gao as the photographer. The show gathered more than 1,000 audience members from 3/11 to 3/12 and received an uproaring reaction from its audience who gave standing ovations for both days of the performance.
Congresswoman Grace Meng also attended the performance on March 12th with her family and awarded Skyler Chin’s outstanding performance with the nomination of 3/12 as “Skyler Chin Day”. She said, “It touches me that young Chinese American students are making a production based on our culture. They are trying to teach America Chinese-American history, and that is so important.”
Illegal: A New Musical is a historical fiction, rap-rock musical that utilizes a humorous approach to portray the story of the first “Illegal” Chinese-American citizens during the era of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Inspired by the 1923 detainment and interrogation of Skyler’s grandfather on Angel Island, Illegal confronts the history of anti-Asian prejudice that Chinese Americans experienced during the Chinese Exclusion era and that many still face a century later.
“History always repeats itself. Looking around us, the hatred, violence, and rejection towards Chinese Americans are still ongoing. I hope this musical will draw attention to the unfair treatment that Chinese Americans have been subjected to, especially during this age when such injustices are still predominant in our daily lives. This is the reason why I wanted to bring Illegal to the spotlight.” Iris reflected at the beginning of the performance.
The Chinese American community continues to remain an “outsider” to many. To prevent the history of prejudice and violence from repeating, we need to remember our history, to actively speak out against bias and brutality. Only by speaking out can the American society begin to pay attention to the needs and rights of the Asian American community
If you are interested in supporting the timely message behind this musical, please visit the production’s website. If you are interested in hosting this musical in your community, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Skyler through the information listed on the website.