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“What? No Ping-Pong Balls,” which is written, created, and performed by Dan Kwong.
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“What? No Ping-Pong Balls,” which is written, created, and performed by Dan Kwong.

Seven Days, Theater, Santa Monica

“What? No Ping-Pong Balls,” On Stage At Highways Space This Weekend

Posted Jun. 14, 2013, 8:58 am

Mitch James / Mirror Contributor

Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica this weekend presents the show “What? No Ping-Pong Balls,” which is written, created, and performed by Dan Kwong.

Shows will be held today and Saturday at 8:30 pm and Sunday at 7:30 pm.

As a solo multimedia performance artist, Kwong collaborates with renowned taiko drummer Kenny Endo to celebrate the life of Kwong’s late mother, Momo Nagano, an eccentric Japanese-American artist who prevailed over sexism and racism as a single parent during the period of social upheaval in America beginning in the early 1960s.

“What? No Ping-Pong Balls?” (from the cryptic title of Nagano’s autobiography) traces her journey from all-American childhood in Los Angeles to WWII internment camp; defiant marriage with a Chinese immigrant to divorcee with four young kids; urban housewife to Venice Beach hippie artist. Set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, the rise of hippie counter-culture and the birth of modern feminism, Nagano’s story is one of courageous border-crossing, continual self-invention and fierce motherly devotion.

In researching the topic of single motherhood in the U.S., Kwong was shocked to find virtually nothing written, researched, or documented about Asian Americans.

Like so much of the Asian American experience, it is an invisible story.

Through video interviews with other Asian American single moms from the ‘60s through today, Kwong weaves the multiplicities of their experiences into his performance.

Along with his trademark comical props and compelling monologues, Kwong utilizes a multimedia arsenal of home movies, documentary footage, archival family photos and period television clips.

An exhibition of several of Nagano’s major weavings will be featured in the Highways Lobby Gallery through June 30.

Highways is located at 1651 18th Street, Santa Monica in the 18th Street Arts Center.

General tickets are $20, members/seniors/students are $15.

For more information, call 310.315.1649 or visit www.highwaysperformance.org.

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