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Shinshin Tsai


Time in Greater OC: 12 Years

Neighborhood: Costa Mesa

Hometown: Chicago

What are you currently working on?

Mother Courage and Her Children at Chapman University

What's been inspiring you recently?

The students at Chapman are filled with such life and passion that it reminds me why I decided to pursue theater as my life's vocation and passion.

Tell us a story from your childhood that illuminates who you are as an artist.

My Highschool drama teacher on the first day of my freshmen acting class did this exercise that captured my attention and set me on the path I walk today.

We were a chaotic class and he commanded the attention of everyone by holding up an orange. He pointed at one of the students to come up and handed them said orange.

My teacher informed the student that the orange he held in his hand was to be used with extreme caution. My teacher knelt in front of the student and said "when you put the orange to my forehead, my life will cease to exist" and then my teacher closed his eyes and bowed his head forward.

The student looked at us and we all shrugged on what to do so the student touched the orange to my teacher's forehead and he crumpled over onto the ground. Several seconds later he got up, snatched the orange from the student's hand, and said "I hope it's never that easy to kill someone ever again.

I think about that all the time and my takeaway is still unclear but when I tell you that moment shook my belief of what I thought I was going to do in life, please believe it because initially I was supposed to be a chemical engineer!

What's the craziest thing you have ever needed to do for theatre?

During a run of The Pillowman, my actors and I were almost held at gunpoint by police officers who had been called to investigate screaming in the back woods of UCI and I had to explain the situation and clear everything up before act 2 ended so we could make a set and costume change happen without anyone knowing what was going on during the show. Happy to report that we were all safe, everyone none the wiser, and we even had 10 minutes to spare.

Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

Mr. Kiley - My highschool drama teacher
Oanh Nguyen
…and every asian who is brave enough to take space in this scary world.

What kind of theatre excites you?

Comedies, but the ones that are so sharp and clean, the ones that get ahead of you, that you couldn't even see coming.

But I suppose any that makes an audience laugh.

Outside of a theatre, what's your favorite hot spot in Orange County?

All you can eat restaurants. I've carefully curated a list of the best value, most premium offerings, and overall good choices for as many cuisines as I can.

What surprises you the most about your role in the theatre community?

That I'm part of a team that consistently creates space and opportunities for POC's in OC and that all our hard work is paying off.

What advice do you have for theatre artists just starting out in Orange County?

Know your goals, be specific about them, and then find a mentor that you're willing to learn everything from. Don't be afraid to admit you don't know, be brave enough to listen.

Go ahead, promote your things...

No MSG Added, my AAPI sketch comedy troupe has two shows at Chance Theater Dec 15 and 16, 9pm!

Mother Courage and Her Children @ Chapman university opens Nov 3 and closes Nov 11

Shinshin Tsai
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