Small Community, Big Draw

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(Nevada City, CA)
Wednesday, January 24, 2007

In the lobby of the Nevada Theatre, CATS artistic director Lisa Moon puts things in perspective.

“Nevada County is actually the whitest county in California. It is 92 percent white, and there’s a very very small percentage of Asians.”

Based on those statistics, you might not think of the foothills as a likely place to launch an ethnic theater company. So why would CATS set up shop here?

“We wanted to bring our culture to this area and share it with this community.”

CATS is now in its 11th season, and the group’s success stems from its cross cultural appeal. This year’s show is “Tea,” a drama about Japanese war brides who married American servicemen after World War II. Their life between two cultures is symbolized in little decisions, like this scene, about deciding which beverage to serve.

(excerpt from show)

CATS actress Jeannie Wood, a longtime Nevada County resident, identifies with characters who emigrate, learn English, and adapt to American society.

“I grew up in San Francisco Chinatown, and I didn’t speak any English, and it was very tough growing up. And so right now, doing stories about immigration, it hits a true chord for me, so my pain had become my strength.”

CATS stages serious plays, and artistic director Lisa Moon plans each show carefully.

“Our strategy is one excellent production a year. And that’s because we are not professional theater people. For example, I am an optometrist by day, and an actress by night.”

An actress with scenes like this one, as a girl coming of age in bombed out Tokyo, right after the war.

(excerpt from show)

Feeling the audience respond to these Asian-American stories is the reward for Jeannie Wood.

“People find CATS, the work that we do, is intriguing. They leave visibly, emotionally, spiritually moved. I like the fact that our work lives with them, and stays with them, for a while.”

Jeff Hudson, KXJZ News.