KITKA: Women's Vocal Ensemble

BIOGRAPHY: ELLEN SEBASTIAN CHANG

Ellen Sebastian Chang is a director, writer and a creative consultant with the Zellerbach Family Fund’s Technical Assistance Program. Through Young Audiences of the Bay Area, she teaches play creation through out the Bay Area . Ms. Sebastian Chang was the cofounder and artistic director of LIFE ON THE WATER, a national and internationally known presenting and producing organization at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center from 1986 through 1995.

In 2004 she premiered “Thieves in the Temple: The Reclaiming of Hip Hop” and “Aya deLeon is Running For President” written and performed by spoken word artist Aya de Leon; staged the west coast premiere of the Philip Glass opera “Ahknahten” for Oakland Opera Theater(Joshua Kosman’s top ten classic events of 2004).

2003 “KAWIT LEGONG: Prince Karna’s Dream”(after it’s successful premiere in 2001) with Gamelan Sekar Jaya and Shadowlight Productions at Cal Performances Zellerbach Auditorium; and the final phase of "INVISIBLE LINES: The Welcoming" a collaboration with Lauren Elder and the Oakland Housing Authority.

2002 “Strands” a collaboration with the Asian American Theater and performance artist Naomi Quinones.

2001 Produced and directed “The Gentleman Caller” a soundscape location and radio production created for the front and back porch of a private home and KPFA Radio; "INVISIBLE LINES: Groundbreaking" a collaboration with Lauren Elder and the Oakland Housing Authority; and directed the final weekend of the Ethnic Dance Festival.

2000 Staged the premier of “When Sorrow Turns To Joy” by Jon Jang and James Newton, a tributary to Paul Robeson and Mei Lanfang with members of the Beijing Opera, at Zellerbach Playhouse and Walker Art Center, Minnesota. She, also, directed “Game of Life” by Suz Takeda; “Close Encounters of the Third World” a collaboration between Latina Theater Lab, 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors, Asian American Theater Company and Culture Clash; and “Don’t You Ever Call Me Anything But Mother” by John O’Keefe performed by Helen Shumaker.

1999 Directed the premier of “Walkin-Talkin Bill Hawkins by William Allen Taylor for the stage and also produced this work as a documentary for LOST and FOUND Sound, The Millennium Radio Project for NPR.

1998 Directed the Word for Word project “Lily Daw and the Three Ladies” at the Magic Theater; Teatro Armonia with BRAVA’s youth program; “Mr. Backlash” with Allison Wright at Venue 9; Miya Masaoka’s “Dark Passages” at the Asian Art Museum and KLEZMER MANIA! for Cal Performances. In March of 1998 her Word For Word project “The Blues I’m Playing” by Langston Hughes toured France; directed magician David Hirata’s premier work “Kanji by Starlight” -- a story of Japanese American Interment stories illuminated with magic.

1997, She was awarded third place in the San Francisco Bay Guardian Fiction Contest for her first short story “Little Miss Echo”; directed “Solo Pieces of the Quilt” original AIDS monologues by Danny Hoch, Octavio Solis, Erin Cressida Wilson for Sean San Jose Blackman; directed and performed in “Second Skins”, an environmental fashion show for the San Francisco Exploratorium; “STUFF” (Coco Fusco and Nao Bustamante); “Mission Possible” an anti-gang youth project for BRAVA! for Women in the Arts. Her radio play “G-O-to the D”(based upon her 1992 the stage adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's “The Adventures of the Black Girl In Search Of God”) was broadcast by NPR’s SOUND PRINT.

Ms. Sebastian Chang began her career as a lighting designer and technician. She served as the technical director and lighting designer for The Blake Street Hawkeyes from 1979-1983. Her directorial work is highly influenced by this love of and affinity with the movement, color and temperature of light and shadow.

In 1982 her directorial and writing debut called “Your Place Is No Longer With Us” was created in a Victorian mansion and told the story of the coming of age of a ten year old biracial girl; a meal of black-eyed peas, mustard greens and corn bread cooked throughout the performance and was served to the audience at the end of the play. “Your Place Is No Longer With Us” is published in West Coast Plays and won a Bay Area Critics Circle Award for New Directions in Theater. This work was the beginning of Ms. Sebastian Chang’s ongoing interest in children, exploring dialogues in regard to race in particular mix race issues and strong female identified images. “Your Place...” was also one of many location/environmental works created by Ms. Chang. Other notable pieces were “The Stairs” for the Galleria de la Raza; “Building Images” staged for the American Institute of Architects at the Vaillancourt Fountain Justin Herman Plaza and “The Surreal Meal” also in a private home in San Francisco.

In 1988 her work based upon the life and work of Zora Neal Hurston called “The Sanctified Church” premiered in San Francisco and was later rewritten as a smaller touring production called “Sanctified” with productions in LA, Wash.DC, Miami and Texas.

Ms. Sebastian Chang has had successful working collaborations with such solo performers as Awela Makeba(“Rage-Is not a one day thing”), Anne Galjour(“Okra”), Whoopi Goldberg(“Moms”), Holly Hughes(“No Trace of The Blonde”), Leonard Pitt(“Ned”), Bill Talen(“The Shape”) and Charlie Varron(consultation “Rush Limbaugh in Night School”).

She has worked as an Artist in Residence and teacher, developing original stage productions at the following high schools in the Bay Area: “The Last Word”, Skyline High; “ICU: the children’s ward” Mt. Tamalpais; “The Hunger Artist” Redwood; “Hot Soup” The Urban School of SF and in Richmond High teaching dramatic writing and an acting workshop. She worked at The Urban School of San Francisco teaching technical theater and managing Gumption Theater from 1982 through 1986.

Ms. Sebastian Chang is a recipient of funding from the NEA, Ford, Rockefeller and LEF Foundations, Arts Matter of New York, Zellerbach Family Fund and the California Arts Council.

Ellen Sebastian Chang
email elschang@sbcglobal.net