Kit and Melissa

Can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration for the show? 

ML: It’s a semi-autobiographical show. Kit and I met in Boston a really long time ago when we both performed at a monthly Queer Asian cabaret where we became friends. One day he asked me to go on tour with him and I said “I’m in my early 20s, I don’t have all that much going on, sure!” and so we went on two tours (in 2008 and 2009) where we performed as “Good Asian Drivers”. It was sort of the beginning of social media “stardom” and we had a pretty big following. And then some things happened (some of which made its way into the show) and we broke up as a band and were actually like mortal enemies for two years. But during that time Kit was actually processing that by writing a lot of poems, and when we became friends again, he brought them to me and I was like “What are these? These are terrible!” 

KY: Hey! [Laughter] Okay yes so I wrote this shitty collection of poems and I brought them to Melissa and said “I think this should be a musical, what do you think?” because I knew she’d written a musical before. 

ML: Yeah, I usually never want to write a new musical, so it’s kind of funny that we ended up here. 

KY: As a job. 

ML: Whenever I do it, it’s always like birthing a child and then I think “I never want to do this again”. But even when we weren’t friends, Kit, I wanted to write something about our experience too. I think it just came together that we both wanted to process this through art. 

KY: Like when we were more mature. [Laughs] 

ML: That was in 2013, so this show is 7 years in the making. 

How much of an effort did you make to differentiate yourselves from the main characters? 

ML: Originally, it was much closer to us, but we found that can actually be really constricting and when we remove ourselves from the characters they can become more interesting and have more flaws and we can dig deeper into things that ring true for us but are also theatrical. For example, I think Dash has a lot of flaws (many of which have to do with toxic masculinity) but it would be unfair to say Kit had all of those flaws. [Laughter] But I think because we have that distance we can say more about the world. 

KY: You know what’s so funny to hear about that? Melissa has described the first five years of this show’s journey as essentially one long journal entry about that time via a musical. And then we spent all this time removing ourselves a little bit and incorporating people that we met on the road. But as we spend more time developing INTERSTATE on the stage, I feel like we’ve been coming back closer and closer to real life. We definitely fictionalize a lot of the plot points, but as we made the first couple of drafts we were trying to put in a lot of emotional distance, and now that I’ve processed that experience I feel like I’m able to get closer to that story and what it was like to be on the road and have tension with a friend, what it was like to have pressure of how we’re gonna make a living. 

ML: Yeah, once we were able to move some of the plot elements to be further away from real life, we’ve been able to get closer to the heart of the emotion of the show, which is what makes this show powerful for other people as well. 

The relationships between Dash and Adrian about their parents seem really rooted in the challenges of the young Asian American experience. Can you speak to the importance of including the band’s parents in the show? 

ML: It was important for us to see a glimpse of how they were raised, the people that influenced them at home, and how that caused a ripple effect to how they behave on tour. Like for Adrian, [you might ask] why is she so ambitious, what does she have to prove? And then you see it is her mom who is the person always saying she’s going to fail and that’s the thing that drives her to really prove her wrong. With the dad character, it was important for us to show an accepting Asian parent. And obviously with the dad teaching what he’s learned from society to his son about being a man and just perpetuating that sort of idea of masculinity. 

KY: We come from really communal communities, our families are really important to us. And I think a lot of time for Queer Asian Americans coming out doesn’t always mean breaking out on your own and being individualistic and rejecting your family. A lot of times folks in Asian American communities may never come out because it’s more important to maintain their home life and their identity in that particular arena. There are issues around wanting your family to be a part of your journey, even if it’s going to be a slow process. I definitely felt that no matter how hard it was going to be I wanted to have my family be a part of my queer and trans journey. In my view, it’s part of my responsibility to be in conversation with my family regardless of what it’s about. Being queer and trans is one thing, but being an artist was a whole other thing…even leaving home for college. It’s important for me to always talk to my family and my parents. Melissa and I started out in Queer Asian organizing and time and time again a lot of folks in our community do not want to reject our families and our parents just because we’re sharing a new part of ourselves. I think that’s a very Western narrative. It’s not bad, it’s just different. 

ML: And to add to that, the role that the parents play is really important in the exploration. One of the themes of the show is transphobia and homophobia and what that looks like depending on context and “who has it harder”. And that’s part of what we want to explore, like, Adrian gets a record deal because the music industry is transphobic but then at home her queerness is rejected by her mother whereas Dash’s dad is totally accepting. And then in terms of them going out on the road, Dash gets all these solo opportunities to perform for trans groups. And that’s something that just adds an interesting dynamic; the parent’s reaction to their kids. 

KY: Yeah, and this is part of the story we’re interested in addressing. Oppression doesn’t really work like that; you can’t have a cis lesbian woman and a trans man go at each other about who has it harder. Oppression is such a web and it’s so individual and it has to do with familial, cultural, even world history. And that’s something that’s so important for us to explore with this show. The characters are all individuals, but they’re in this pressure cooker to be representatives of their communities. 

Has the changing political landscape changed the show? 

ML: Through the years I’ve noticed more trans representation. I think we would still be fighting for this piece no matter what, but we wanted it to be set in 2008 because so many things that happened were so specific to that time period. We really were one of the only queer Asians that were out there talking about transness and queerness and being Asian. Now there’s a lot more of it, but it’s important to set it in that time period so people can understand the context now. 

KY: People keep saying that this show is so timely, but 2008 was over a decade ago and we’ve been doing this work all that time. The world is always changing, but we’ll always be making this art regardless of how the tide turns. I have found that people are more open to hearing our story now, and particularly exploring a trans world, but I have found that there is still a really sensational and tokenized lens of what it means to be trans. We really struggled with the fact that we’re still in a moment where people need trans people to be heroes (or sheroes) and to be really exceptional. Our characters are so far from exceptional, especially Dash who has so many issues. When we were first making this musical we would think “shit, if we have a trans character who’s not a perfect person or even a terrible human sometimes what does that say about our community?” But now I think the best thing we can do is to write fully realized characters. Our characters just need to be full people in a full world, and I want to assume that the audience can meet us where we’re at. We’re writing for now, we’re writing for the future, we’re writing to rewrite history.


Media Contacts:

The PR Team,

Tim Komatsu, (612) 338-0937

Mixed Blood ZEALOUS HELLIONS Series Presents


in conversation with Tabitha Montgomery

January 16, 2020

Mixed Blood curates on-stage conversations with iconoclastic thought leaders whose world view aligns with this theatre’s mission, vision, and values: ZEALOUS HELLIONS. A core value of Mixed Blood is to be “predictably unpredictable.” Scores of rascals, renegades, and rebels have found a home at Mixed Blood, a place where unconventional thinking and outspoken people can have a voice. 2019’s Zealous Hellions included Dessa, Oskar Eustis, Ernie Hudson, and Ilhan Omar.

On January 16, Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins will take the stage in Mixed Blood’s Alan Page Auditorium for 2020’s first ZEALOUS HELLIONS offering.

Andrea is the first African American openly trans woman to be elected to office in the United States. A nationally and internationally recognized performance artist, poet, and transgender activist, Andrea received a 2011 Bush Fellowship to advance the work of transgender inclusion. She is also the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, including from the Jerome Foundation, the Napa Valley Writers Conference, the Playwrights’ Center Many Voices Fellowship and was the 2008 Givens Foundation Black Writers Fellow. She will be speaking about art, race, politics, gender, and more in conversation with Mixed Blood’s Tabitha Montgomery (herself the most zealous of hellions).

Tabitha is the Executive Director of the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association and currently serves on Mixed Blood’s Board of Directors. Having abandoned corporate America for the cooperative and non-profit sectors, Tabitha’s values guide her every word and act.

These two Zealous Hellions will empathize, spar, and philosophize with each other, always speaking truth to power. The alchemy of these two can only result in outrage, wisdom, and hilarity.

Andrea moved from Chicago to attend the University of Minnesota in 1979. After graduating, she worked for Hennepin County, and then as a staff member on the Minneapolis City Council for 22 years before beginning work as curator of the Transgender Oral History Project at the University of Minnesota’s Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies. Andrea holds a Masters in Community Development from Southern New Hampshire University, a MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University, and a BA in Human Services from Metropolitan State University. 

ZEALOUS HELLIONS is a project of Mixed Blood Theatre to provide the community with real-time, face-to-face conversations between artists, cultural provocateurs, politicians, and thought-leaders in an intimate setting. The program allows audiences a glimpse of a different facet of a known personality, and a refreshing pause for deeper community dialogue. 

This ZEALOUS HELLIONS offering will take place on January 16 from 7:00PM and last 90 minutes. Guarantee admission for $25, become a member, or attend without charge on a first-come-first-served basis via Radical Hospitality.

For reservations or further information, call 612-338-0937 or visit

Upcoming ZEALOUS HELLIONS include Taylor Mac (March 17) and Tommy Barbarella (May 1).

About Mixed Blood Theatre: Using theatre as a tool to illustrate and animate, Mixed Blood models pluralism in pursuit of interconnections, shared humanity, and engaged citizenry. Mixed Blood Theatre is located at 1501 S. 4th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55454. 

As the media, families, and communities reflect on the past decade as 2019 comes to an end, so shall we at Mixed Blood. This is purely my subjective take on the highlights (and some lowlights) since 2010 and I invite others to share that which moved them.

With an unparalleled depth of thought, Mixed Blood’s board studied, dissected, and unanimously voted to launch Radical Hospitality, tackling barriers to participation in live theater in general and Mixed Blood more specifically. Audience composition – in terms of age, race, class, and disability – changed dramatically and it remains our MO today.

On the mainstage were many notable productions. Among them my very favorite included:

NEIGHBORS by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

PUSSY VALLEY by Katori Hall

COLOSSAL by Andrew Hinderaker

ROE by Lisa Loomer

SAFE AT HOME by Gabe Greene and Alex Levy

VIETGONE by Qui Nguyen

HIR by Taylor Mac

AUTONOMY by Ken LaZebnik

AVENUE Q by Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx, Jeff Whitty

LEARN TO BE LATINA by Enrique Urueta




In our On The Job program we offered

BECAUSE, about the stigmas of mental illness, for Hennepin Health

COME ANYWAY, about adolescent mental illness, for The Wilder Foundation

STARS AND STRIPES, dissuading teens from using gun violence for conflict resolution, for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office

COMPLICATIONS, about EDI as a leadership issue, for HCMC

BENCH BIAS LINGO, offering continuing legal education in bias elimination to MN attorneys

GO ASK ALICE, about people’s complicated relationships with pharmacies, pharmacists, and medicine, for the U of M School of Pharmacy

The films WHICH EXIT, FROM HEAD TO TOES, and ALBERTO’S CHICKEN DINNER were co-produced with TPT and Health Partners and used to train health care providers

Mixed Blood toured:


Mixed Blood’s deep investment in Cedar Riverside grew and deepened, evolving civic engagement, community engagement, and audience engagement. From producing KU SOO DHAWAAEA XAFADEENA with Bedlam Theater to health fairs to “Switch Up” to “Teachers Take The Firehouse” to the expansive Project 154 to “Education Before Action,” Mixed Blood tried to establish itself as an anchor of the West Bank and its East African neighbors.

Sadly, Mixed Blood’s board president Ron McKinley tragically died in a motorcycle accident. Director Marion McClinton passed away on Thanksgiving of this year. Stalwart actor Warren C. Bowles died on stage on opening night of NEIGHBORS, but, happily, was dead for only 20 minutes and continues to contribute to the Twin Cities’ vital theater community. Great staff and board members have departed from their official roles, and, before the next decade is toasted, so will have I. But Mixed Blood’s purpose – promoting and modeling equity and successful pluralism – has never been more urgent. 

At Mixed Blood, the best is yet to come. Happy New Year!

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Mixed Blood Announces Lauren Yee’s comedy


as the opening offering of its 44th season,

directed by Addie Gorlin, opening November 1

(Minneapolis/St. Paul) – With catchy tunes and outrageous comedy, Lauren Yee’s THE SONG OF SUMMER – an unrequited romance between a reluctant rock star and his high school BFF – tops the charts.  Named for that inescapable earworm that dominates the summer, THE SONG OF SUMMER is an electrifying romcom about who is behind the song that’s on everyone’s playlist and what happens when the song’s singer runs away from his headlining world tour to return to his hometown.  A play with music, THE SONG OF SUMMER is multi-layered, rich and absorbing, with fascinating, complex, lovable characters who’ll keep you laughing, entertained, and intrigued from the moment the play begins.

Opines Artistic Director Jack Reuler: “Lauren Yee is among my favorite playwrights in America. I have seen and/or read virtually everything she has written and Mixed Blood has commissioned a new script. Her humor is quirky, her dialogue punchy, and her characters memorable. Her appetite for disparate topics knows no bounds. As a pop music junkie, I admit to having all 69 “Now That’s What I Call Music” CD’s! I wrote down the “song of summer” for the past 20 years as we went to work producing THE SONG OF SUMMER. From Crazy in Love to Party Rock Anthem to Call Me Maybe to Uptown Funk as inspiration, this comedy is simultaneously heartwarming and breathtaking, reflective of Mixed Blood’s worldview, and a joyous 90 minutes of theatricality.”

Lauren Yee (she/her/hers), a 2019 Doris Duke Artist, is a playwright whose perceptive work often explores family stories, history reimagined through different lenses and the lives of people on the margins of or outside of a dominant culture. Her award-winning play “Cambodian Rock Band,” a comedy infused with music by the band Dengue Fever and classic Cambodian oldies, shadows a young woman on her mission to take down a Khmer Rouge war criminal thirty years after her father fled Cambodia. The play premiered at South Coast Repertory and is running at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, followed by runs at La Jolla Playhouse, City Theatre, Merrimack Rep, Portland Center Stage, Jungle Theatre and Signature Theatre in New York City. Her play “The Great Leap,” a sociopolitical sports tale that centers on a fictitious friendship game between China and America in the late 80s, has been produced by The Denver Center Theatre Company, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Atlantic Theater Company, the Guthrie Theater, Arts Club Theatre Company and InterAct Theatre Company, Steppenwolf, Long Wharf, Pasadena Playhouse/East West Players, Asolo Rep/Miami New Drama and Cygnet Theatre.

Yee has received the Whiting Award, the Steinberg/ATCA Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters literature award, the Horton Foote Prize, the Kesselring Prize and the Francesca Primus Prize.  She is a Residency 5 playwright at Signature Theatre, a Princeton University Hodder fellow, a New Dramatists member, a Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab member and a Playwrights Realm alumni playwright. Her work is published by Samuel French, and her plays were in the top two slots of the 2017 Kilroys List. Her current commissions include Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Second Stage and South Coast Rep. She currently writes for the TV adaptation of “Pachinko” for Apple and previously wrote for Netflix’s “Soundtrack.”

THE SONG OF SUMMER is the first of three productions by Lauren Yee in the Twin Cities this season, followed by THE HATMAKER’S WIFE at Ten Thousand Things and CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND at The Jungle Theatre (coproduced with Mu). Last season the Guthrie produced THE GREAT LEAP and Theatre Mu has produced CHING CHONG CHINAMAN and THE TIGER AMONG US in 2009 and 2014 respectively.

Minnesota native Addie Gorlin (she/her/hers) returns to her home state and former artistic home to direct, having been a Producer in Residence at Mixed Blood for two years before completing her MFA at Brown University’s/Trinity Rep’s professional training program.

Mixed Blood aspires to be the destination for people with disabilities. Patrons with disabilities are eligible for free advanced reservations and free transportation to the theatre. All performances are captioned in English with projected supertitles for patrons with hearing loss.  For people with vision loss, audio description is available for most performances. Lobby, auditorium, and restrooms are fully accessible.

Tickets can be obtained in two ways: 1) Through Radical Hospitality, admission is FREE on a first come/first served basis starting two hours before every show, or 2) Advanced reservations are available online or by phone for $35 per person. Visit or call 612- 338-6131 or for more information All Performances in Mixed Blood Theatre’s Alan Page Auditorium, 1501 S. 4th St., Minneapolis, MN 55454


About Mixed Blood Theatre: 

Mixed Blood Theatre has invited the global village into its audience and onto its stage for its unique brand of provocative, inclusive, and predictably unpredictable theater since 1976. Using theater to illustrate and animate, Mixed Blood models pluralism in pursuit of interconnections, shared humanity, and engaged citizenry.

THE SONG OF SUMMER previews October 31st and opens November 1, with performances Wednesday-Friday at 7:30, Saturdays at 4:00 and 7:30, and Sundays at 2:00.

October 31        7:30 (preview)

November 1        7:30 (opening)

November 2        4:00 and 7:30

November 3        2:00

November 6        7:30

November 7        7:30

November 8        7:30

November 9        4:00 and 7:30

November 10    2:00

November 13    7:30

November 14    7:30

November 15    7:30

November 16    4:00 and 7:30

November 17    2:00

November 20    7:30

November 21    7:30

November 22    7:30

November 23    4:00 and 7:30

November 24    2:00 (close)

Download a PDF version of the press release.

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Media Contacts: The PR Team,

(Minneapolis/St. Paul) – Mixed Blood Theatre will premiere the new musical Interstate as the headliner of its 44th season. “Interstate is a glorious ‘pop-rock musical’ about inclusivity, queer and trans community, and the open road.” — Village Voice


By Kit Yan and Melissa Li, Directed by Jesca Prudencio

March 6 – March 29, 2020

Interstate is a Queer Asian-American pop-rock musical about two trans people at different stages of their journeys, navigating love, family, masculinity, and finding community in the era of social media. It charts Dash, a transgender spoken word performer as he goes on a cross-country tour with Adrian, a lesbian singer-songwriter, as the activist band, Queer Malady, fueled by the allure of fame and a desire to connect with the Queer Asian community. The band’s fiercely political and deeply personal music touches Henry, a transgender teenage blogger living in middle America, who finds solace in their art as he struggles with his own identity and family.

Written by Kit Yan and Melissa Li, its development history has included residency at Musical Theater Factory, the 2018 New York Musical Festival, Dramatists Guild, Goodspeed Musicals Residency, and the MacDowell Colony Residency. Interstate won 5 awards at NYMF including Best Lyrics and will be presented at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals in October 2019. Critically acclaimed Jesca Prudencio (How To Use A Knife at Mixed Blood in 2017) will direct Mixed Blood’s production and Natasha Sinha is the dramaturg.

“Mixed Blood, at its core, is about cultural collisions and is predicated on the premise that people like to see themselves reflected on stage in important ways. So when Interstate was presented to us for consideration, it felt as though it had been crafted for this organization. A ‘road show,’ it traverses the country geographically, but also along lines of race, culture, gender, generation, musical styles, and art forms. It is personal, professional, and political. Its remarkable creators – Kit Yan and Melissa Li – and its development pedigrees ready it for its Mixed Blood world premiere, and we can’t wait to share it!” says Artistic Director Jack Reuler.

Kit Yan (they/them/theirs) is a Yellow American New York based artist, born in Enping, China, and raised in the Kingdom of Hawaii.  Kit is a 2019 Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow, 2019 Lincoln Center Writer in residence, a 2019 MacDowell Colony Fellow, 2019-2020 Musical Theater Factory Makers Fellow, and 2019-2020 Playwright’s Center Many Voices Fellow. Their work has been produced by the American Repertory Theater, the Smithsonian, Musical Theater Factory, the New York Musical Festival, Diversionary Theater, and Dixon Place. They have been a resident with the Civilians, Mitten Lab, 5th Avenue Theater, and the Village Theater. In 2018 Kit founded Translab, an incubator for Transgender and Non-binary voices in the American Theater, along with MJ Kaufman and supported by WP Theater and the Public Theater.

Melissa Li (she/her/hers) is a composer, lyricist, performer, and writer based in New York and Baltimore. She is a recipient of the Jonathan Larson Award, a Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow, a 2019 Lincoln Center Theater Writer-in-Residence, a 2019 Musical Theater Factory Maker, a 2019 MacDowell Colony Fellow, and a former Queer|Art|Mentorship Fellow. Musicals include Interstate (New York Musical Festival, Winner “Outstanding Lyrics”), Surviving the Nian (The Theater Offensive, IRNE Award Winner for “Best New Play” 2007), and 99% Stone (The Theater Offensive). Her works have received support from The 5th Avenue Theatre, The Village Theater, Musical Theater Factory, National Performance Network, New England Foundation for the Arts, Dixon Place, and others.

Jesca Prudencio (she/her/hers) is a director and choreographer focused on creating highly physical productions of new plays, musicals, and documentary theater nationally, and internationally. Directing credits include Will Snider’s How To Use a Knife (Mixed Blood), Calling (La MaMa ETC), Anna Moench’s Man of God (East West Players), A&Q (Philippines), and FAN: stories from the brothels of Bangkok (Thailand). Her critically acclaimed productions of Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone and Anna Ziegler’s Actually at San Diego Repertory Theatre received multiple Craig Noel nominations including Outstanding Director. She is a recipient of The Old Vic’s T.S. Eliot US/UK Exchange Fellowship, The Drama League Fellowship, and the inaugural Julie Taymor World Theater Fellowship. Jesca is Artistic Director/Founder of People Of Interest, dedicated to creating community specific documentary theater works. She is currently Head of Directing at San Diego State University. BFA Drama: NYU Tisch, MFA Directing: UC San Diego. Upcoming: The Great Leap at Steppenwolf, PDA at La Jolla Playhouse’s WoW Festival.

Mixed Blood aspires to be the destination for people with disabilities. Patrons with disabilities are eligible for free advanced reservations and free transportation to the theatre. All performances are captioned in English with projected supertitles for patrons with hearing loss. For people with vision loss, audio description is available for most performances. Lobby, auditorium, and restrooms are fully accessible.

Visit or call 612- 338-6131 or for more information.

About Mixed Blood Theatre
Mixed Blood Theatre has invited the global village into its audience and onto its stage for its unique brand of provocative, inclusive, and predictably unpredictable theater since 1976. Using theater to illustrate and animate, Mixed Blood models pluralism in pursuit of interconnections, shared humanity, and engaged citizenry.

Download the full press release for this World Premiere Production.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

men leaning over young person in car, the word :autonomy" on side of car
word "Roe" over graphic with pro-choice rally and three faces

More reasons to celebrate the artistry of Mixed Blood!