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I first met Lydia Tanji, the amazing costume designer of several Wayne Wang movies including Joy Luck Club, at the Hawaii International Film Festival when The People I’ve Slept With world premiered. A few years later, we started to collaborate on a project that I plan to shoot in China. She invited me up to San Francisco to see the world premiere of Dead Metaphor, a play that she’s costume designing for ACT (American Conservatory Theater) and I simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see her work and also talk further about our project.

World premiering in San Francisco, Dead Metaphor is a satirical comedy written by Canadian writer George F. Walker about an ex-sniper returning from the war who gets hooked up with a politician and ends up in an unexpected assassination plot. The production plays like Married with Children meets Fargo. Lydia’s costume design reminds me of a timeless David Cronenberg production that’s modern yet classy and specific about an iconic era.

Before the show, Lydia met up with Wylie Wong, an Asian antique dealer who is also the very subject of the documentary that Lydia has been producing. We all had a nice meal and a few drinks before heading over to the theater across the street.

Showing up at the theater, I discovered that an old acquaintance Chew Yew is directing the next production Stuck Elevator at ACT, a musical based on the real story of an illegal Chinese immigrant stuck in an elevator for 81 hours.

“Many people are buying tickets for the show,” said Lydia before running off to get our tickets, “You should come up for it!”

The evening ended up in the after party for the play in the basement of the theater. I bumped into a bunch of old friends, playwright and director Chew Yew, filmmaker Leo Chiang, playwright Philip Kan Gotanda, and composer Byron Au Yong, another friend I hadn’t seen for more than ten years who ended up to be the music writer for the potential upcoming hit Stuck Elevator.

Even though I’m not the typical theater person, I had a blast. Being in San Francisco is always lovely. Being out of the city of angels always gives me new inspiration.

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