The New School’s Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts and College of Performing Arts Celebrate 30 Years of Ping Chong and Company’s Groundbreaking Undesirable Elements Series

Two-day Symposium on February 3 and 4, 2023 Features Performances, Panels, Courses, and Workshops  

New York, January 19, 2023—The renowned Ping Chong and Company (PCC) joins The New School’s Eugene Lang College and College of Performing Arts for a two-day symposium on February 3 and 4, 2023, celebrating the 30-year history of the company’s groundbreaking interview-based, community engaged, theater series Undesirable Elements. The celebration brings Undesirable Elements cast members, presenters, creative collaborators, producing partners and colleagues in the field of documentary theater to the university to lead courses, panels, and student workshops, culminating with an evening performance from a new work in progress, Undesirable Elements: Ukraine. The symposium was coordinated by Victoria Abrash, Part-Time Assistant Professor, Theater, Eugene Lang College, who will also lead a 1-credit undergraduate course on Undesirable Elements.

Undesirable Elements is a series of interview-based theater productions by PCC that features local community members telling their own stories of place, identity, and belonging. Unlike a traditional play or documentary theater project performed by actors, Undesirable Elements is produced with local partner organizations and features local community members as on-stage participants. Presented as a chamber piece of storytelling, the production’s development is shaped by an extended community residency during which PCC artists conduct intensive interviews with the local participants and develop the script based on the cast members’ experiences. The script is performed by the interviewees, themselves, who have final approval of content, many of whom have never before spoken publicly. 

Since 1992, over 65 productions have been made in communities across the country and around the world, exploring issues such as the experience of immigrants and refugees in the U.S., the experience of living with disability, Muslim American identity, and the experiences of survivors of sexual violence. Recent productions have looked at living with chronic illness and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth of color in New York City.
The emphasis on spotlighting local community members and their experiences connects with the core elements of the theater programs at Lang College and the College of Performing Arts, which prioritize investigations into the relationship between theater and social justice and how it can be used to address current events. The programs embody The New School’s tradition of progressive education through intellectual and artistic inquiry while simultaneously posing questions about today’s critical issues. Social justice is embedded in the theater program curriculum of seminars in theater history and theory, dramatic literature, and performance and production opportunities.

The upcoming symposium is part of a milestone Ping Chong and Company season including the retirement of Ping Chong and Executive Director Bruce Allardice from the Company, at the end of 2022, on the occasion of the 50th year of Chong’s career; and the announcement, on January 11, of Talvin Wilks, Nile Harris, Jane Jung, and Sara Zatz as the new Artistic Leadership Team that will chart the Company’s next chapter.

“Ping Chong and Company are a global treasure. They have created new forms of artistic practice and illuminated our world in ways that only the arts can do. Lang College and the College of Performing Arts are grateful to be able to partner with Ping Chong and Company on this rich and rewarding two-day symposium, celebrating the landmark work, Undesirable Elements, while also recognizing the historic Ping Chong season, with the retirements of Ping Chong and Bruce Allardice, Executive Director,” said Richard Kessler, Executive Dean of the College of Performing Arts.”

"I am thrilled to collaborate with the College of Performing Arts in hosting Ping Chong and Company at The New School. PCC so wonderfully exemplifies what we aspire to at Lang: to engage the mind and the senses in addressing urgent political and social challenges that are both global and local. This fantastic residency is sure to expand our sense of what activist, community-oriented theater can be." said Christoph Cox, Executive Dean of Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts.”

All events are free and open to the public. Please visit the symposium event website for more information. 

February 3, 2023
7:30PM (EST)
Opening night session (Livestream)

Ping Chong, Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus of Ping Chong and Company, Creator of Undesirable Elements, in conversation with Gonzalo Casals, senior research and policy fellow for Arts and Culture at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Opening Remarks by Taryn Higashi, Executive Director, UNBOUND PHILANTHROPY
February 4, 2023
Daytime Panels:

Real People, Real Stories, Real Theater: Undesirable Elements and Community Impact
11:00AM (EST)


  • Ping Chong, Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus of Ping Chong and Company, Creator of Undesirable Elements
  • Kyle Bass, resident playwright a Syracuse Stage and Assistant Professor, Department of Theater at Colgate University
  • Billye J. Jones, LCSW, therapist, educator, trainer, and nonprofit leader
  • Zeyba Rahman, Director, Building Bridges Program at the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art
  • Kirya Traber, writer, performer, and cultural worker, MFA in Theatre from the School of Drama at the New School
  • Moderator Sara Zatz, Associate Director of Ping Chong and Company, lead artistic collaborator on Undesirable Elements series

The Power of Naming Yourself in Public: Cast Members Reflect
2:30PM (EST)


  • Amir Khafagy, cast member in Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity, journalist
  • Zazel Chavah O’Garra, cast member of Inside/Out: Voices from the disability community, founder and Artistic Director of ZCO/DANCEPROJECT
  • Vaimoana Niumeitolu, cast member and of multiple Undesirable Elements productions, Ping Chong and Company teaching artist, performer-poet and visual artist
  • Kilhah St. Fort, cast member Generation Rise, poet, Lehman College student
  • Moderated by Leyla Modirzadeh, Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre Arts, SUNY New Paltz; cast member and creator of multiple Undesirable Elements productions

Testimony, Dialogue, Community: Documentary Theater, Raising Up Voices 
4:00PM (EST)


  • Raquel Almazan, interdisciplinary performer, writer, director and educator
  • Aizzah Fatima, actress and writer, creator of Dirty Paki Lingerie (one-woman show) and Americanish (film)
  • Kayhan Irani, writer, storyteller, creative community builder
  • Sara Zatz, Associate Director, Ping Chong and Company
  • Moderated by Cecilia Rubino, Associate Professor of Theater, Eugene Lang College

Evening Performance and Discussion
Undesirable Elements: Ukraine (Livestream)
7:30PM (EST)

Ping Chong and Company and Yara Arts Group will share a 35-minute excerpt work-in-progress of a new Undesirable Elements production exploring experiences of Ukrainian-American New Yorkers and recent arrivals from Ukraine. Created in collaboration with Virlana Tkacz and Yara Arts Group, the production will explore the diversity of Ukrainian identity, immigration experiences, intergenerational connections, the history of Ukrainians in the United States, and the devastating impact of the current invasion by Russia. The work in progress will be followed by a conversation with cast and creative team members, who will be joined by Oksana Kis, Visiting Professor at Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts Department of Anthropology.

About Ping Chong and Company
Ping Chong and Company
(PCC) creates theater and art that reveal beauty, invention, precision, and a commitment to social justice. Founded in New York City in 1975 by leading theatrical innovator and National Medal of Arts recipient Ping Chong, the company engages multigenerational interdisciplinary artists to build on and expand a prolific catalog—at the root of which is Ping Chong and his singular and visionary body of work. The company’s work centers innovation, collaboration, community engagement, and amplifies underrepresented voices.

Across nearly five decades, the New York City-based company has now created over 110 original theater productions, ranging from intimate interview-based works to large-scale multidisciplinary projects featuring puppets, performers, and full sound and projection scores. Reaching audiences throughout New York, the United States, and the world, PCC transcends boundaries, exploring interconnectedness of cultures and how intersectional identities are addressed in society. 2022-2023 marks a transformational year in the history of the company as the organization embarks on a 3 year transition period, announcing new leadership, and transforming Ping Chong’s artistic legacy into practice for the next generation of artists.

Ping Chong and Company presents All Islands Connect Underwater: a Celebration of Ping Chong and Bruce Allardice, hosted by playwright, author, and performance artist Jessica Hagedorn, and taking the form of a party punctuated by brief performances, on Wednesday, January 25, at Chelsea Factory (547 W 26th St, New York, NY 10001). Chinese Theatre Works, Fogo Azul, Meredith Monk, Muna Tseng, and The Jazz Passengers will perform, and other luminaries will toast Chong and Allardice at the event. Tickets can be purchased here.

About Ping Chong
Ping Chong
is an internationally acclaimed interdisciplinary artist, and founder of Ping Chong and Company. Since 1972, he has created over 100 original works for the stage in New York City, and around the world. In 1992, Chong created the first Undesirable Elements production in an ongoing series (over 65 productions) of community-based oral history projects exploring culture and identity. Published works include The East West Quartet and a volume on Undesirable Elements. The first comprehensive volume on his body of work, The Interdisciplinary Theatre of Ping Chong: Exploring Curiosity and Otherness on Stage by Yuko Kurahashi, was released in 2019 and Elizabeth LeCompte, Ping Chong, Robert Lepage: Multi-Media Interrogations edited by Claudia Orenstein, was released in 2021. Ping Chong is the recipient of two BESSIE awards, two OBIE awards, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship, and the 2014 National Medal of Arts. He received an honorary degree from The New School in May 2021.

About The College of Performing Arts
The College of Performing Arts at The New School
 (CoPA) was formed in 2015 and draws together the iconic Mannes School of Music, the legendary School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, and the ground-breaking School of Drama. With each school contributing its unique culture of creative excellence, the College of Performing Arts is a hub for cross-disciplinary collaboration, bold experimentation, innovative education, and world-class performances.

The over 1,100 students at CoPA are actors, performers, writers, improvisers, creative technologists, entrepreneurs, composers, arts managers, and multidisciplinary artists who believe in the transformative power of the arts for all people. Students and faculty at CoPA collaborate with colleagues across The New School in a wide array of disciplines, from the visual arts and fashion design, to the social sciences, public policy, advocacy, and more. 

The curriculum at CoPA is dynamic, inclusive, and responsive to the changing arts and culture landscape. New degrees and coursework, like the new graduate degrees for Performer-Composers and Artist Entrepreneurs are designed to challenge highly skilled artists to experiment, innovate, and engage with the past, present, and future of their artforms. New York City’s Greenwich Village provides the backdrop for the College of Performing Arts, which is housed at Arnhold Hall on West 13th Street and the historic Westbeth Artists Community on Bank Street.

About Eugene Lang College
Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts is The New School's four-year liberal arts college. What began as the experimental Freshman Year Program in 1972 transitioned into the Seminar College in 1975 and became a college of the university in 1985. Through 35 years of growth, the mission of Eugene Lang College has been informed by the values of its namesake: to foster critical thinking, social justice, and cross-cultural understanding.

About The New School
Founded in 1919, The New School was established to advance academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. A century later, The New School remains at the forefront of innovation in higher education, inspiring approximately 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students to challenge the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The university welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and public programs that encourage open discourse and social engagement. Through our online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence.




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Media Contacts:

The New School
Merrie Snead
[email protected]

Ping Chong and Company
Blake Zidell
[email protected]


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