Illegal: the Theater of the Angel Island Immigration Station’s Paper Sons
One island, two plays: Skyler Chin and Sita Sunil will discuss their new musical Illegal with Filipino-American playwright Jeffrey Lo, who recently directed The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin, which like Illegal dramatizes the family traumas created by racially exclusionary policies carried out at Angel Island. Skyler Chin was inspired to co-write Illegal by his own ancestors’ experiences at Angel Island, and Sita Sunil’s work as an artist is also shaped by her family’s history of immigration. In addition to his directing work, Jeffrey Lo’s playwriting often deals with issues of Asian American identity. This will be a stimulating conversation across generations and genres.
Skyler Chin is a sixth-generation Chinese American whose family stories inspired him to write Illegal: one grandfather was a “paper son” who entered the U.S. under an assumed name during the era of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and the other suffered months of separation from his family at age 10 when he was detained at Angel Island. Born in San Francisco and raised in New York, Chin graduated from Yale University in 2019 with a degree in environmental and energy studies. He is the winner of the Yale Creative Performing Arts Award and the Pauli Murray Class of 2019 Outstanding Achievement in the Arts Award.
Sita Sunil has resided since 2019 in New York City. Influenced by her study of both evolutionary biology and visual art at Yale University, Sunil’s work is rooted in the intersection of color, sound, emotion, nature, and Asian-American identity. She has composed for short films, concert performances, and soundtracks. Sunil co-composed Illegal, which was recently named a semifinalist for the Eugene O’Neill National Music Theater Conference and was commended by US Congresswoman Grace Meng, NY Assemblywoman Gina Silletti, and Senator Anna Kaplan for responding to anti-AAPI hate crimes via art.
Jeffrey Lo is a Filipino-American playwright and director based in the Bay Area. His recent production of Jessica Huang’s The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin at San Francisco Playhouse highlighted the ways the trauma of migration can stretch across generations. He is the recipient of the Leigh Weimers Emerging Artist Award, the Emerging Artist Laureate by Arts Council Silicon Valley and Theatre Bay Area Director’s TITAN Award. As a playwright, his plays have been produced and workshopped at Berkeley Repertory Theater, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, The BindleStiff Studio, City Lights Theatre Company and Stanford University.