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Under This Light Podcast Series

“You Can Find Equivalence” with Carey Wong

Scenic Designer, Visual Artist, Adjunct Professor

Episode 2 - “You Can Find Equivalence”

In this episode Carey Wong (Scenic Designer, Visual Artist, Adjunct Professor) shares his experience as the only Asian-American boy in an all-white school during integration. He talks about his love-affair with opera and his ideas for scaling Shakespeare for smaller stages. Carey also muses about a futuristic production in the clouds.

Carey Wong

Carey Wong

Carey Wong has designed scenery and/or costumes for over 300 productions during a career spanning 45+ years. His projects have included plays, operas, musicals, ballets, and museum and environmental installations. He has designed for every major theatre company in Seattle as well as regionally for the Berkeley Rep, Portland Center Stage, Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage Baltimore, Syracuse Stage, Prince Music Theatre, and Mixed Blood Theatre, among others. He has been the resident designer of Portland Opera, Opera Memphis, and Wildwood Park for the Arts, and he has designed productions for Seattle Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Carolina, Orlando Opera, Edmonton Opera, and Anchorage Opera, among others. His production of Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera, “The Consul,” directed by the composer, was seen at at the first Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina, and subsequently appeared on Great Performances. His work has been seen internationally at the Macao and Beijing Music Festival and via Spain’s Nearco Producciones. Carey recently created the exhibition design for “Beyond the Gate: A Tale of Portland’s Chinatowns” for the Portland Chinatown Museum. A retrospective of his design work featuring 16 set scale models is scheduled there for early 2022. Upcoming projects include “Orfeo ed Euridice” for Seattle Opera,” Pelleas et Melisande” for Opera Southwest, and the new musical “Afterwords” for the 5th Avenue Theatre.

Lamar Legend (00:08):

You are listening to Under This Light, A Revelation of Shakespeare and Self brought to you by Seattle Shakespeare Company. I’m your host Lamar Legend. And today we have scenic and costume designer extrordinaire, Carey Wong, Carey, you’re no stranger to classical storytelling. As for over 40 years, you’ve designed sets and costumes for a slew of opera companies that stretch across every region of the U S as well as Macau, Beijing and Spain. Your creations have appeared on PBS’s Great Performances, the Prague Quadrennial for which you won a gold medal and your work was exhibited in the Performing Arts Library at New York’s Lincoln Center. I went to high school right across the street from there, and I’ve also gone to the Prague Quadrennial. It’s an amazing festival. At Yale College, you graduated Summa Laude and later attended the Yale School of Drama. Since then, you’ve maintained a career in academia as a professor at University of Puget Sound, Seattle University, the University of Washington, you’ve written for publications, such as Live Design and featured in Stage of the Art in American Theater magazine and you’re an NEA grant recipient. Wow. Carey, it’s so good to have you,

Carey Wong (01:23):

Oh, thanks for asking me to be here. You obviously did a lot of research.

Lamar Legend (01:29):

That is my job.

Carey Wong (01:30):

I had forgotten about lot about that stuff.

Lamar Legend (01:37):

I love that. Yes. All of that happened. I love that because it’s the most factual and at the same time, humble way of admitting your achievements. It’s like, yes, that, that is a fact. So let’s just start from your beginnings. How did your relationship to theater begin theater and the arts?

Carey Wong (02:01):

Well, it’s funny when I was growing up in Portland, Oregon I developed this fascination with little toy theaters and things like that. And my grandfather built me a little toy stage that was about three feet wide by, you know, a foot and a half tall. And I would kind of design these little spectacles that I would kind of force my family to watch. And they were all more like little scenes of things. There wasn’t much dramatic action, but I really enjoyed working on just creating, you know, kind of little stage sets and things like that. And as I was growing up, you know, when I was in grade school my mom took me to a lot of community theater in Portland, and I found myself being slightly disappointed by what I was seeing on stage. Not because acting or the directing was bad or things like that, but because the physical environments that I was looking at, I thought detracted from the storytelling and I kind of kept thinking to myself, oh, I think, I think this should look like this.

Carey Wong (03:14):

Or I think that, I think I could do better with this. So that kind of started my interest in stage design. But you know, when I went to school, I went to school to be a mathematician. I was really good at math in grade school and high school. And that’s what I went to college for. I wanted to be a theoretical mathematician. And in, as an undergraduate, I soon realized that there were people who were far more talented in that field than I, and so I left mathematics and started to look around and see what other fields of interests were interesting to me. And at the time Yale was on a pass fail system. It didn’t have grades really. So it allowed, I think all of us as students to, to just kind of explore things and without the worry of being so grade conscious or, you know, kind of grade point average conscious.

Carey Wong (04:16):

And so I kind of dabbled in English, literature and photography, filmmaking psychology, just kind of looking around at what I was interested in. And I thought maybe that I might, at one point become an English teacher. But as I got more and more into English literature, I just felt that I wanted to do something more practical. And so I became interested in stage design and what stage design looked like for the Renaissance audiences at court or in public, and that led to an interest in stage design. And in my fourth year as an undergraduate, I was in a program called scholars of the house, which allowed you to do a full year of independent study instead of taking classes. And so I decided to reconstruct a Stuart court masque for the court of James the first that was written by Ben Johnson called News in the New World, Discovered in the Moon. And it had original designs by Inigo Jones who was a very well-known English architect at the time. And he was also known for bringing Italian Baroque stagecraft to, to England. And, and so that launched me on a year of doing research and going to England and looking at Inigo Jones’s designs at the National Portrait Gallery and kind of coercing or enticing people in the college and at the university to kind of get involved in producing this piece as an actual performed work. And so I got people to sing and to dance and to act as well as musicians and choreographers and kind of everybody that I needed. And my, my job was to produce direct and design the whole thing.

Carey Wong (06:33):

And it was kind of a big project. And I got some great help from people like John [inaudible] who was then a university teacher at school, and he agreed to be the conductor and a woman named Mary Kyte who who later went on to create the show Tintypes to be the choreographer. And anyway, it got a lot of people involved in and that kind of spur and, and it happened. And it was something that people seem to really respond to because they had never seen something like a Stuart court masque, which was essentially a theatrical production that becomes a masquerade party and dance celebration. And this was because it was for the court of James the First it was designed to be a tribute to him and to people who go to the moon and find that the moon is filled with people who who are very in awe of the court of James the First so it, so it was kind of a palace celebration and things like that.

Carey Wong (07:51):

And that kind of spurred my interest. And I got a fellowship the year after to go to England and to do more research on Stuart court masques. And during that year off, I also kind of tried to figure out what I wanted to do. Did I want to go back to school to go into stage design, or there was also the opportunity of thinking of going into museum work and curatorial studies? So I applied for both kinds of programs and among the schools that I got into was Yale Drama, Yale School of Drama. And so I went back to Yale and was in the drama school there for only a year, partly because I just felt that I had very little, if no background in stage design or drama, really, I I had had no studio art courses. I had had no classes in drama.

Carey Wong (08:51):

It was just an interest of mine, and I felt that I really needed kind of get more practical experience before going to graduates, continuing a graduate school. So I took a leave of absence and I wrote to a lot of different opera and theater companies around the country and tried to get work as an intern or as an apprentice. And it turned out that Portland had an opera company, and I wasn’t aware that Portland, my hometown actually had an opera company until the general director responded to my inquiry and said, I’d be really interested to talking to you. And so I went in and he, I showed him my portfolio and he was interested in what he saw. And he said, I have a proposition to make, I have an opera that’s coming up in our next season. Carl, Carl Maria Von Weber’s yeah, Der Freischütz, which is the first German romantic opera.

Carey Wong (09:53):

And he said would you be willing to design scenery and costumes on speculation for it? And I said, sure, it sounds like an interesting project. And so I did and it turned out that he decided to accept my scenic design and it was built for that particular production. And based on that and my work with him I was able to grant get a grant from the National Endowment’s National Music Theater Institute at that point to study production management with Portland Opera. And then I became the production manager and resident designer first I was guest designer, and then I became resident designer and I stayed with the company for eight years. So it was kind of like, I look at Portland Opera as being kind of my substitute grad school experience. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had a lot of imagination and enthusiasm and energy.

Carey Wong (11:00):

And so we were able to create some, I think, some really exciting designs that opera audiences hadn’t seen before on the stage of Keller auditorium and Keller auditorium is, you know, kind of the big auditorium in downtown Portland. So it was trying to design scenery for a procenium that was 60 feet wide and 30 feet high. And, you know, so you, you kind of had to do big things. And in some ways I think that came in handy for me because, you know, kind of going from opera, which I w worked in almost, you know, kind of almost continuously, and I would say exclusively for the first 10 years of my career and then kind of moving into theater where the, the stages are smaller and doing things that are very particular and viewed at close range, like an ACT here in Seattle.

Carey Wong (12:06):

I mean, you have to suddenly go from big to kind of much more intimate it’s scaled down and details really matter. And I think in some ways it was easier for me to go from big to smaller than it is sometimes for designers to go from smaller to bigger, because I th I think one thing that I think we all work on as designers is to get a sense of a big picture. And once we have that big picture, we can kind of scale it to kind of any size that it needs to be. But if you’re used to thinking small or small scale, sometimes it can be very difficult to figure out how to expand that vision to make it bigger without, without it kind of being noticeable in a way I think. So I felt fortunate to work in opera for the first 10 years.

Carey Wong (13:00):

And I think opera is still the my preferred medium. I mean, I, I would give anything to design more opera, but my career kind of hasn’t gone that way. I find myself doing more theater just regular theater, theater for young audiences, musical theater some design installation for art exhibits and historical exhibits. And occasionally I still get to do opera, but in fact, I am doing Seattle Opera’s, upcoming Orpheus and Eurydice EG, but it’s going to be in a, in a smaller venue. It’s going to be in the Tangey Jones Hall. So it’s a venue for about 200 people, and that’s very exciting because the director who is Ecuadorian Chia Patino has very exciting immersive environmental ideas for the installation, for the show for the opera. And Stephen Stubbs is going to conduct it, and he’s a very well-known early music expert and musician from the Seattle area. So I think, I think it could be a really exciting production, but I’m so glad to kind of be doing op a little bit of opera again.

Lamar Legend (14:29):

What is it about opera specifically? I mean, I just worked with Seattle Seattle Opera directing for them, and it was one, a wonderful relationship that, and their spaces are so, are so vast and so beautiful and, and, and they really allow you the freedom to go big, you know, and, and what I love about opera is because it’s the, is that very fact is that you, can’t not be small, you know, and when you do go small it’s it’s an intentional act. So for you as a designer, exactly. Where is your entry point or what, where does your love sit?

Carey Wong (15:09):

I, you know, I think for me, one thing that opera allows, and I would say musical theater allows it as well. Is just that when you add music, when you add singing, when you add dancing, it suddenly expands the emotional expressiveness of the story in a way. And that carries over into the visual medium as well, that designs can suddenly kind of come to life or blossom in a larger way than they might not be able to do on a stage for a play, for example. I mean, I think that, I think that if you, I think sometimes for plays and I’m generalizing here, a great deal, but I think a lot of plays even contemporary plays, they are often very site-specific. And even if they move from place to place to place, they’re very site-specific and they, a lot of times don’t allow you the kind of grand gesture, the visual expansion, the the exuberance the spectacle that the addition of music allows you.

Carey Wong (16:32):

And so in musical theater, or in operas, you have the capability of doing something very big, something very lavish, something very conceptual. That might seem to be a little bit overblown or a little bit too intellectual, perhaps for a dramatic piece, but in opera, it somehow works just fine. And I think opera audiences go to performances. Of course, they go to performances to hear the musical aspect of the piece being presented, but there’s an expectation, I think, on their part that they’re going to see something that perhaps they can’t see any place else that it’s either going to be bigger, or it’s going to be a very different and unique viewpoint about a particular piece that they may have seen many, many times before. And it’s that familiarity with the repertoire in opera that allows opera directors, I think, to play with the storytelling, to play with the motivations of, to play with time and place.

Carey Wong (17:53):

And in, in the predict in the production of, Orpheus and Eurydice, for example, that I’m working on the director has some very specific ideas about the motivation of Orpheus and Eurydice. She has a very specific idea of how the piece should end, mow the piece should be edited so that there is a perhaps contemporary, miew of the relationship between Orpheus and Eurydice. Umnd I think all of these things make it an interesting interpretation that, hudiences are going to experience, hhen the piece is presented in January. Umnd, and that, that doesn’t mean that that’s the, the only, hnterpretation that is, malid for this piece. I mean, other directors and other production teams could choose to produce this work in any of a number of different ways, but that’s, I think the great thing about working in opera is that you have at least for these, mtandard pieces of the repertoire or historical pieces, you have a way you have a way into re evaluating these pieces, reviewing these pieces, looking anew with these pieces, ho create new interpretations of the piece. If you want to do that

Lamar Legend (19:32):

Slightly moving, moving in another direction. Now talking specifically about theater you have an interesting path journey with Shakespeare. You’ve directed tons of Shakespeare, especially for in Tacoma. So let’s, let’s go back and talk about, you know, your relationship to Shakespeare and how that began, and then your work and how your work grew from that.

Carey Wong (19:55):

Right. Well you know, too, there was a really wonderful small equity theater company in Tacoma called Tacoma Actors Guild, which existed for quite a while. In that city, it was founded by a two university professors William Beckvar from Pacific Lutheran University and Rick Tutor, who was, I think at the University of Puget Sound. And they first performed in an old I think it was an old possibly church building or school. And then later on had moved to a new site called Theater on the Square which is part of the Pantages complex in downtown Tacoma. And when Bill Beckvar retired a new artistic director named Bruce Sevy came on the scene and he was interested in doing a lot of different things. And one of the things that he initiated towards the end of his tenure was doing Shakespeare.

Carey Wong (21:08):

And so the first Shakespeare play that I worked on was in the mid nineties, and it was The Comedy of Errors, and we decided to set it in an unnamed Japanese port city around the, the kind of in the, I’d say, late 19th century, so that the, the twins and their servants ended up in this place, which was completely foreign to them. There, it was easy to be misunderstood. It was easy to be mistaken, obviously because they were identical twins, but it kind of created more chaos, both visually and dramatically to the, to the piece. And it was a wonderful experiment. And again, a wonderful opportunity to explore Shakespeare because like opera can be, as opera pieces can be reinterpreted in many different ways. Shakespeare’s plays can be reinterpreted in many different ways by directors and designers. And I have been and when Bruce left the company, Pat Patton, who had been with the Oregon Shakespeare festival for many, many years came up to Tacoma and was the artistic director of that company for a number of years.

Carey Wong (22:36):

And he made sure to include Shakespeare in, I think, every season that he was there. And so while Pat was with the company, I got to design, I think seven more Shakespeare plays, mostly the comedies. We only did one tragedy Macbeth but again every show had its own particular visual and dramatic flavor. I remember Merry Wives of Windsor was set in in Britain just after the first world war. Oh, wow. And in a small town square. And the Macbeth that we did looked like the wreckage of it actually looked like the wreckage of a building from 9/11, because we did Macbeth shortly after 9/11 happened. And, and it was taking those kinds of viewpoints to things and of overlaying them on Shakespeare’s plays that was so thrilling to work on.

Carey Wong (23:53):

And so engaging, I think, and audiences, I think really loved the Shakespeare plays that Pat did every year. The final Shakespeare play that I did, which was in the, I guess the mid, the mid to like 2006 was Two Gentlemen of Verona. And by that time, Pat had left the company and Kent Phillips took over the company and he turned Two Gents into kind of a it was, it was still the play, but we added kind of disco music to it. And it was kind of an updated seventies version. And it was really fun to work on again, because it was a slightly different viewpoint from, you know, a classical treatment of a Shakespeare play. So, but I haven’t worked on Shakespeare since then. I mean, the only show I’ve done for Seattle Shakes has been The Importance of Being Earnest and I was going to do, I was going to do a Shakespeare play and then I had to drop out just because of family issues a couple of years later. But but yeah, I haven’t done any Shakespeare since 2006.

Lamar Legend (25:12):

So it’s still a, I mean, a part of your your appetite, I assume.

Carey Wong (25:17):

Oh sure. Oh, absolutely. I think that, I think that the th the great thing about Shakespeare of course, is that his pieces have a timeless quality to them. They speak to very basic human concerns about love, loyalty just a whole variety of emotional and human situations. And, and, and th, and the characters obviously were written for his day, but they have a universality to them so that you can find equivalents of those characters in a lot of different times in places and situations. So I think that’s why directors and designers have such great joy working in Shakespeare is they’re working on works that are, you know, centuries old, but they still speak to audiences today. And they have the capability of being shaped in a way in productions that, that contemporary audiences can perhaps respond to or relate to more. And I think that’s the great joy of working in Shakespeare,

Lamar Legend (26:59):

Your work of course. As I mentioned earlier crosses the globe. And, and so I’m curious, you know, as a person of color, have you experienced in working with different companies encountered any difference in the way that you work in the way that you carry out your work in companies in the United States versus companies abroad?

Carey Wong (27:27):

That’s a good question. The of course you never, as a person of color, you often don’t know what conversations have gone on in your being chosen to work with a group of people or with an organization. I think careers are really interesting sort of thing because we don’t, we’re, we’re often not able to choose the work that we do are the work has chosen for us. And so our resumes can end up being filled with things that suggests that we’re one kind of person or one kind of designer when in reality, if we were able to choose our own repertoire of things that we wanted to do, it might be, it might look completely different. So so, you know, I’m, I, I don’t really know you know, kind of what, what conversations were, were carried on before I was hired to work on various projects, but I’ve, but I find that I don’t, I don’t necessarily feel like I’m dealt with as a different kind of entity because I’m a person of color.

Carey Wong (28:50):

I think the one thing that people have an expectation of me which is probably verifiable, is that I tend to be a high achiever. And so I tend to be a little bit obsessive and be a little bit you know, kind of over-prepared over organized over finished and everything that I present. And, and I think that becomes an expectation of, well, sometimes they feel that people have said, and actually someone has said it to me, you know, oh, you’re an overachiever, oh, your, you know, kind of an Asian, and we expect that of you. They don’t say it in that respect, but they, they, there’s kind of implied reference. And that’s fine, but it, it kind of puts you in a group of course. And it you know and you’re saying

Lamar Legend (29:54):

That’s more of a character trait of who you are not necessarily tied to your race or ethnicity.

Carey Wong (30:02):

Yeah, I would say so. But I don’t, I don’t think I’ve ever faced directly any sort of, to me noticeable discrimination or harassment or kind of unpleasantness because of my race or if I have, it’s something that I’ve just sublimated, I guess, you know, I mean, I grew up, you know, kind of I’m much older than, than you are. And, you know, kind of when I was going to school, I was, I was, I became integration for the grade school that I went to and for the high school that I went to, I mean, we’re no other people of color at the schools that I went to. And so I, you know, kind of, you know, willingly or not, I was, I kind of became the representative for the other, other person or the other, other P for others.

Carey Wong (31:16):

And it w it w I didn’t feel like I was necessarily treated differently, but you are aware of the fact that they’re not a lot of other “you’s” there that resemble you. And you kind of wonder about that. You kind of wonder, well, why, why is that actually, is that, is that a choice or is that whatever, and, and I, I did go to private schools, so, I mean, it may well have been a choice for for other parents and things like that, but but it’s, it, it was kind of a strange situation. I didn’t have difficulties with friends. I mean it wasn’t like people were, other students were standoffish or anything like that. And by, of course, by the time I got into college, I mean, there were a lot, there was a lot more diversity and certainly diversity at Yale. So so it was, it was it was just in grade school and high school where it was a little bit strange. Yeah.

Lamar Legend (32:26):

It usually starts in those formative years. So you of course, as you know you are a professor, as I mentioned earlier at a couple of different institutions, so I

Carey Wong (32:43):

Should just correct you. I I’m really not a professor. I would, you were an adjunct. Yeah, I’m I, yeah, I met and I’m a part-time lecturer at the University of Washington, and I was, I was an adjunct teacher at Seattle University and the University of Puget Sound. Yeah.

Lamar Legend (33:02):

But I’m pointing out that you have taught, you have taught what you’ve taught, what you love and are here to do, and and mentored and molded young minds. And so the first part of this question is you know, has there been anyone who’s inspired you who was a teacher or a mentor?

Carey Wong (33:33):

That’s a good question. You know, I, when I was in drama school, Ming Cho Lee was the head of the scenic design program at Yale drama. And he was a very inspiring teacher and was really good at helping to guide a young designers in the direction to develop them. But to my mind, the dura, the designers that have inspired have inspired me but were not, my teachers are a couple of other designers. One designer that I’ve always hugely admired is Boris Aronson. And he was a designer. He designed the original Little Night Music and Pacific Overtures. And what else did he design? I mean, he goes back to Fiddler on the Roof and all kinds of things. And he w he, oh, he did Follies. So he did a lot of the Stephen Sondheim Harold Prince shows God.

Carey Wong (34:41):

And he he was originally an artist who became a designer and before the spate of graduate theater design programs in America flourished a lot of scenic designers and costume designers came to their field in many different ways. I mean, they didn’t necessarily go to graduate school to get a degree in scenic or costume design, but that they came into the field in other ways. And Boris Aronson was one of those people and he was someone that I just, I just found his work. So amazingly versatile that one show didn’t look like another show that every show, even though he had his own artistic stamp, it was not apparent from show to show because he’s so immersed himself in whatever the visual world was and language was of a particular piece, and then created what that show should look like. I think he also designed the original production of cabaret if I’m not mistaken. So, so it’s, It was, I Could be wrong about that, but it, it was someone like him That really, really inspired me a great deal.

Lamar Legend (36:08):

Now to excite your curiosity and in the spirit of infusing the world with the more joy I present to you, some magic questions,

Lamar Legend (36:21):

I think I’ll start with a soft one first. So if you could master one skill that you don’t already have, what would it be?

Carey Wong (36:32):

Gosh, that’s a good question. I, you know, I would love to be able to juggle. I mean, I would love to be able to, you know, throw three or more things in the air and be able to keep them in the air. And I think that, I think that’s one thing I’d really like to master. I mean, because it involves a lot of eye-hand coordination, which I’m horrible at. And and, and I think that would be something that that I would really like to learn how to do. That’s

Lamar Legend (37:06):

Lovely. I want that for you

Carey Wong (37:11):

Doing it around Seattle, just trying to do it. Oh,

Lamar Legend (37:14):

I think that’s great. I’ve, I’ve tried on a few occasions and like, yes, it is its own thing. All right. This one’s a little Sci Fi based, so we’re going to go into the future. And in this future, your health has been maintained and they’ve been incredibly incredible advancements in medicine, so that you are fit as a fiddle, and hale and hardy and technology has moved in leaps and bounds, especially teaming up with the arts. And so theaters are now being built for productions in the clouds. And so with every resource made available to you, what production would you like to design for, for this new innovation of a theater in the cloud for its premiere?

Carey Wong (38:09):

Well, you know an opera that I’ve always wanted to work on, but have never gotten the opportunity to do yet is Puccini’s Turandot and it’s, you know, it’s an opera that’s set in Imperial, China. And it, it kind of requires some kind of spectacle in just the way in which it’s designed, because it, it, it, it just, it exists in that kind of plain and, you know, kind of Zeferelli’s production at the Met is still going strong. And I can’t remember how many decades old it is, but it’s this kind of study in just absolute opulence and sheer numbers of people on stage and everything like that. And I, I would love to do, try to do a production of Turnadot, which isn’t necessarily the ways that Zeferelli did it, but to find a different language for spectacle. And if you could do it in the air with all kinds of technology, I think that could be really incredible. I mean, I just remember the opening of the Beijing Olympics and what that whole ceremony was like, and I was just absolutely flabbergasted by it because it was just so beautifully out of control and unexpected and surprising and delightful. Right.

Carey Wong (39:34):

I would love to try to do something that has… That evokes the same sense of wonder and sense of awe and sense of majesty that, that particular ceremony of evoked. Turnadot in the clouds. So that would be my answer. I think

Lamar Legend (39:53):

That’s a great pick. I would love to see that that’s turned out as great. And yeah, those Olympics, the Beijing Olympics were, I mean, epic, just epic, that was open the opening and closing ceremony.

Carey Wong (40:11):

Yeah. I mean, the fact that you could choreograph that many people to do those kinds of things. I just, yeah. I mean, the logistics of it, just my mind,

Lamar Legend (40:26):

For sure, for sure. I would love to sit in, in some of those production meetings, like, what were they like, you know, and how, how long and how many people were in the room for them, you know, how were decisions made and ask and then toss in, you know you know, in the actual productions in those ceremonies, in, you know Pavarotti performance and then the KD Lang performance, it was across the board. Yeah. Okay. So will you tell us about a dream that you want to fulfill that no one knows about and why?

Carey Wong (41:05):

Oh my gosh, this is another tough question. Well,

Lamar Legend (41:09):

I’ve got some easy ones. Okay.

Carey Wong (41:11):

Well, I, you know, a lot of people don’t know it, but when I was young, I used to be, I used to tap dance and and I was in an exhibition dance group when I was in, this is probably late grade school, early high school. So we went around Portland and did, you know, kind of dance demonstrations and performed in at various civic functions and things like that. So anyway I, I, I would love to be able to kind of get my tap dancing chops back up again. I can’t even remember what your question was now, a dream that you want to fulfill and that’s. Yeah, yeah. So, yeah, just to be able to kind of tap dance the way I used to, and probably better when I was in, lived in Memphis for a couple of years and worked with the opera company there I took up tap dancing again because we were trying to break the Guinness book of world records.

Carey Wong (42:13):

World’s longest chorus line. Wow. in Memphis, this was in like the eighties and we thought that we could kind of create a tap dance number that, you know, everybody could do together. And it, this is a typical Memphis story. But yeah, I maybe want to tap dance again, but then the other thing about this story was that I don’t think anybody had bothered to check if there was actually a category for that particular thing at the time. And so, although we were able to send it numbers about something, there was no official category for it. So there was essentially no reason to have done it other than just to have done it because we were never going to get in the Guinness book of world records. Oh.

Lamar Legend (43:07):

And lastly when you die because we all will, if people forget everything about you, what’s the one thing you want them to remember,

Carey Wong (43:19):

I guess, I guess this is something that has come up relatively late in my life. And that is I’ve started to work very directly with an organization at the called the Portland Chinatown museum in Portland, Oregon. And they’re trying to preserve the history of Chinese immigrants coming to Portland and their story in that particular community. And I think the thing that I would want to be remembered for is that I was a part of that endeavor to to help work with that museum and do work for them that would help to ensure their future. I guess that’s what I would want to be remembered for. I mean, it’s great to have done a lot of stage designs and all of that stuff, but, you know, it’s kind of like, I think heritage and history are as important as individual accomplishments in a way. And and I’m kind of rediscovering my roots at this late stage of my life in a way that in a way that is much more directed, meaningful to me than at any other time in my life. So so that, yeah, that’s what I would want to be remembered for.

Lamar Legend (44:40):

Yeah. It sounds like legacy. Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you, Carrie. This has been such a treat. It is so good to finally be able to talk to you about your work. Thank you so much for joining us. Oh, thanks. So Mar

Carey Wong (44:56):

I mean, it’s like, you know, we’ve worked together on a couple of shows, but of course we never get a chance to talk to each other because you’re acting and I’m backstage trying to kind of wrestle with people about things should look like. So it’s kind of like this, this was a great opportunity to chat with you.

Lamar Legend (45:12):

And so true. Just kind of hear about life.

Carey Wong (45:16):

Yeah. Thank you for inviting me. I really

Lamar Legend (45:26):

Thank you for listening to Under This Light – A Revelation of Shakespeare and Self. The series is a project of Seattle Shakespeare Company. Seattle Shakespeare is located on lands, taken from the Duwamish Stillaguamish Muckleshoot Suquamish and all Coast Salish people. And we pay respect and honor them as this region’s original storytellers. If you enjoy this discussion and would like to learn more about Seattle Shakespeare Ccompany’s productions and programs, please visit Seattle shakespeare.org. We’d love to hear from you. The music you hear in this episode is provided and composed by Stefan Dorsey artwork for our series was created by Marla Bonner. I’m your host and producer Lamar Legend. And we’ll be back in two weeks with another episode. So subscribe wherever you listen to your podcasts. Give us your hands. If we be friends and Lamar shall restore ammends.