THE FOUR SEAS PLAYERS was founded by Dr. Joanna Chan, Ms. Sun Fu Lo, Dr. Leo Yam, and Mr. Chung Lo in October 1970 in New York City’s Chinatown, as a community outreach program for young people and recent immigrants. Its purpose is to promote a spirit of harmony and cooperation through artistic involvement and to nurture an interest in and appreciation for the dramatic arts, especially in the tradition of Chinese culture and its relationship with the Western art form as seen in New York. The name “Four Seas” represents the first two Chinese characters in the ancient saying: “Within the four seas, all men are brothers.”
With the financial support of the New York State Council on the Arts (since 1973) Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (since 2010), the community and its members, the Company has been able to produce two to three productions each year in Cantonese Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, and English. Through our corporate sponsorship program began in 1990, corporate sponsors has become major participants in a theater company that has been bringing pleasure and enrichment to residents of both the Chinese community and greater New York for almost five decades.
Under the artistic direction of Dr. Joanna Chan (1970-1972, 1984-1992), Mr. Yeh Yung-Ching (1973-1983), Ms. Liang-Tee Tu (1993-1998, 2004-2006), and Mr. Jackie Huang (1999-2003, 2006–Present), the Company has presented more than one hundred productions, ranging from Chinese and Western classics, such as The Monkey King, The True Story of Ah Q, Thunderstorm, Madame White Snake, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Lady Windermeres’s Fan to contemporary Chinese works, such as Fou Lei and Fou T’song, The Lion Bridge Tavern, The Peach Blossom Land, The Truth About Lying, I Love A-Ai, and Murder in San Jose.
Ms. Ruth W. Messenger, President of the Borough of Manhattan, proclaimed September 8, 1990 as in recognition of the Company’s “contributions to the world of theater and to the Chinese-American community.” She also cited the Company’s 20-year effort “to reach out to Chinese-Americans of different generations and to bridge the cultural gap between traditional Chinese and Western art forms.”
On September 17, 2005, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former New York City Councilman Alan Gerson, and Councilman John Liu all acknowledged the Four Seas Players for our outstanding achievements in the last thirty-five years.
Throughout its first decade, the Company was a vibrant and visible presence in various sectors of the Chinese community, especially among its youth. The second decade saw many of its members maturing and becoming professionals in their own right while remaining dedicated to the Company’s original vision. In the meantime, new immigration from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan has brought to the city a large number of performing artists and theater professionals. In the Company’s third and four decade, it found itself a meeting ground for Chinese actors, directors, writers, and designers. In addition to a core of professional artists, the Company has also attracted individuals from a diversity of professions, educational backgrounds, and talents.