Press Releases

World Premiere rasgos asiáticos Explores Confluence of Chinese and Mexican Cultures

World Premiere rasgos asiáticos Explores Confluence of Chinese and Mexican Cultures
Photo: Mother and Mother’s Godmother of rasgos asiáticos playwright Virginia Grise. Courtesy of CalArts.
Click here for higher-resolution photo.

CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP) / Duende CalArts to debut performance installation at Automata and in historic Chung King Plaza in L.A.’s Chinatown, March 19-22

In addition, beginning on February 27, a series of public events bring the themes of rasgos asiáticos to the community. 

“I am searching for my dead ancestors at the markets in Monterrey, the Chinese restaurants in Tampico, in the newspapers from Sonora, at the henequen plantations in the Yucatan, in forgotten photos from Arizona.” – from rasgos asiáticos

Feb 19th— A new performance installation from CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP) and Duende CalArts, rasgos asiáticos explores the fluidity of borders and time, unearthing hidden histories in the historic confluence of China, Mexico, and the United States. The site-specific work makes its world premiere March 19-22 in Los Angeles Chinatown’s historic Chung King Court and the adjacent Automata arts space. Written by CalArts alumnx Virginia Grise and directed by alumnx Alexis Macnab, rasgos asiáticos is produced by CNP, the professional producing arm of California Institute of the Arts, and Duende CalArts, a CNP initiative dedicated to developing and producing innovative work emerging from Latinx and Latin American communities and sources.

rasgos asiáticos is on view nightly in Chung King Court at Automata and from 6-9pm, March 19–22, 2020. Admission is free. RSVPs are required to assure admission. Reservations provide a two-hour window to visit each of seven installations placed throughout Chung King Court, and to experience a live performance inside Automata. In addition, a series of community-focused conversations and activities will highlight the issues presented in Grise’s work, including the complex intersections of cultures that have shaped California’s history. In conjunction with the creation of rasgos asiáticos, a series of talks and participatory events are offered. 

“The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first immigration policy in the United States to target a group by nationality, effectively pushing many Chinese into Mexico,” notes Grise. Grise’s own family travelled from Canton, China to Tampico, Mexico to Monterrey Mexico, where they worked as fruit and vegetable merchants. “For the Los Angeles production, we chose to create a series of installations in Chung King Court to honor that history, but also because L.A.’s Chinatown—where we are telling the story—was created after the original community was demolished in order to construct Union Station. Throughout the text of rasgos asiáticos, there is this longing for something that no longer exists, something far away. How do you make a home in a place that does not want you?” asks Grise.

rasgos asiáticos is created as a space for personal and political excavation told through a series of inherited stories, fragmented memories historical re-imaginings, and recurring dreams.  CalArts alumnx Tanya Orellana designed seven multi-sensory installations where sight, sound, smell, and touch weave together a topography of remembering. Chinese opera recordings from the 1930s and 1940s that once belonged to Grise’s great uncle in Monterrey, Mexico, serve as touchstones for the installations.  Large shipping crates containing music and poems, recorded on records played on record players, will be placed throughout Chung King Court. Audiences are invited to explore narratives of immigration and migration in the U.S.–Mexico borderlands, stepping in and out of highly sensory environments that they must walk through and discover, alongside elements of live performance.

After its Los Angeles debut, Grise plans for rasgos asiáticos to travel to different cities around the country. This premiere marks the beginning of Grise’s ongoing project to trace the diasporic journeys and hidden histories of Chinese Mexican communities along the USMX border.  

Calendar Editors Please Note:


Thursday through Sunday, March 19-22, 2020, on view between 6 and 9pm


Automata, 504 Chung King Court, Los Angeles, CA 90012

And throughout Chung King Court


FREE // Tickets and info at


rasgos asiáticos was commissioned and produced by CalArts Center for New Performance / Duende CalArts, in association with a todo dar productions.

rasgos asiáticos is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by CalArts Center for New Performance, DiverseWorks in partnership with MECA Houston, Performance in the Borderlands, Fulcrum Theater, and NPN with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts - visit

rasgos asiáticos was created with support from the MAP Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Soho Rep Theater’s Writer/Director Lab; and Pregones Theater’s Asuncion Award for Queer Playwrighting.

This presentation is made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities - visit

Community Partners


Chinatown Business Improvement District

Chinese American Museum

El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument