Jason Wang is a non-binary Chinese-American playwright, voice actor, and game developer from Queens, NY. Their art sometimes engages themes of diaspora, healing, etcetc-- but is most often created in service of their community-- those who, in the faces of their oppressors, will themselves to thrive.
"STUY OR DIE"
6th graders--Brian, Eileen, and Alex are thrust into a vigorous test prep center where they will spend their summers and weekends preparing for the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) in New York City. As the date of the high school placement test approaches, they begin to mourn–summers spent indoors, hobbies and friendships unpursued, and their future should they fall short of parental expectations. With a countdown until the day their childhood becomes packaged into a score– the children must find ways to define themselves outside of the colossal test they have been anointed to take.
I started writing STUY OR DIE because I was angry. I did test prep for ten years, and when I got into Tisch Drama having barely acted in my life, I felt bitter. Why was everyone else having such an easy time socializing, advocating for their needs, and pursuing their dreams without fear of judgment or retaliation? Why did I feel like an imposter? At the same time, it felt selfish to question the privilege and love my parents bestowed upon me–as they did what they thought was best for me by investing in my education. I needed time to process and heal. I needed a community, so I wrote a play.
STUY OR DIE is being workshopped with a team of collaborators, many of whom have taken the SHSAT– just like the characters. With the support of HEAR US, we will produce STUY OR DIE in Flushing, Queens. Each performance over the summer will be accompanied by an event-- encouraging open dialogue, and collective creation of artistic installation pieces. By bringing our community together around topics of isolation, fulfillment, and expectation, our goal is to foster compassion for our younger selves, to acknowledge the ways they have been hurt, and all the dreams they have for a world they will feel safe in.