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IT'S THE BITCH OF LIVING
By Erin Quill for US Asians

Interview with Pun Bandhu

One of the Producers of the new Broadway smash, SPRING AWAKENING.
The show has been nominated for 11 TONY Awards and
He is one of the only Asian American Broadway Producers.

 

FILM & TV CREDITS
Film: The Understudy (2008)
Film: Michael Clayton (2007)
TV: Without a Trace (2006) - "aka W.A.T"
TV: Conviction (2006) - "Denial"
FILM: Dark September Rain (2005)
TV:Law & Order C. I. (2004) - "V"
Pun Bandhu
TV:Law & Order C. I. (2004) - "Mis-Labeled"
THEATER CREDITS OF PUN BANDSHU
Spring Awakening
Glengary Glen Ross
Preview: Nov. 16, 2008 Preview: April 8, 2005
Total Previews: 28 Total Previews: 27
Opening: December 10, 2006 Opening: May 1, 2005
Closing: (Not Closed) Closing: August 28, 2005
Total Performances: 185 (As of 5/20/07) Total Performances: 137
Theater: Eugene O'Neill Theater Theater: Jacobs Theater
For additional info, click on the below-listed subject:
Spring Awakening * Glengary Glen Ross * TV/Film Credits
Just blocks from where Spring Awakening,
the recipient of 11 TONY nominations is playing on Broadway to dreamlike reviews, such as "Broadway may never be the same . . . This brave new musical, haunting and electrifying by turns restores the mystery and the thrill to that shattering transformation that stirs in all our souls” – Charles Isherwood, New York Times”, I sat down at NY theatrical ‘hotspot’, The Coffee Pot, to talk with one of it’s producers, Pun Bandhu. Though relatively new to the game, his company ZenDog Productions has already racked up one TONY Award for 2005’s Glengarry Glen Ross.
With 11 TONY Nominations, Spring Awakening is in the lead in terms of number of nods, in a very tough season that has some blockbuster competition, such as Legally Blonde, the musical.

Bandhu did not set about to have a career in the Arts.
He had always been involved in theatrical productions as a child in Indonesia. He attended an International School in Jakarta, where, as he put it, “they made a huge effort to inculcate the Arts on every level”. The productions were so lavish that the entire town focused on them, and it ingrained in him not only a love of theatre, but a desire to be on stage. While growing up, he was the lead in many of the productions, but he saw no future in show business for Asians once he moved to the USA and attended Washington University.

“I didn’t think it was practical, frankly. I majored in Political Science and set myself towards a career in international diplomacy. However, I always performed in the productions at school. After school, I thought – do I really love what I’m doing? What I loved doing was performing, so I thought – I’ll give it a year. Well aft

er a year of working as an Actor, and studying with Ann Bogart, it was going better, much better. After a year and half of doing fairly well in terms of booking, I decided I needed more training, I applied to Yale School of Drama.”

I think the support for us was a huge statement for Yale to make – it’s not about quotas, it’s about talent.

Those in the Arts, and most of those who are not, know that the Yale School of Drama is an exceptional dramatic training program. Names of legend roll through every hallway and across our movie, television, and stages – Meryl Streep, Paul Newman, and playwright Wendy Wasserstein to name but a few. It is the second oldest drama school in the country. To quote one article that was run in the Yale Herald in 1996 “1270 applied, 68 got in”, and it’s only grown more intense since then. It is a highly competitive training program that does not use color as a benchmark for talent.

ERIN QUILL

ERIN QUILL was most recently seen in THE MIKADO PROJECT, where BACKSTAGE WEST noted, "Whether sending up Bette Davis, or cutting to the quick of the matter, Erin Quill excels in the role of Viola, eithical center of the piece and the vocal backbone..."

She holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon's Music Department and was honored last year by CMU with an Alumni Service Award. An Original Broadway Cast Member of TONY Award winning AVENUE Q, she has also been seen as Lady Thiang in The King and I, opposite Debby Boone as Mrs. Anna, in the star studded concert version of PIPPIN - a fundraiser for World AIDS Day, other credits include And the Earth Moved, Godspell, Anything Goes, The Vagina Monologues and many more.

On TV she has been seen in NYPD Blue and as several character voices in the E! cartoon, Starveillance, also Girlsclub, and House of Buggin'. She was one of the hosts for the Bravo Pilot, DISHIN', and a guest reviewer on AMC's MOVIE CLUB WITH JOHN RIDLEY. Her one woman cabaret - They Shoot Asian Fosse Dancers, Don't They? has been seen in LA, NY, and Sydney, Australia.

She will next be seen in the film, Dennis Hensley's SCREENING PARTY, which will premiere at LA's OUTFEST film festival.

As a reviewer/columnist she has worked for HipOnline.com, Out.com, and IMDiversity.com. She is currently working on her first novel, SUPERHAG, and her screenplay, KTOWN P.I., is in pre-production.

That being said, there were not many Asian attendees while Pun was there - we had Esther K. Chae in front of us, and there were three in my class including myself – one Korean American – Jane Cho, and one Phillipino – Rio Portollano. I remember Esther getting us together and saying we should do something because it was the most in the history of Yale as far as we knew, so we applied for a grant and produced works by Asian playwrights. Sung Rno's play, "Cleveland Raining" at the Yale Cabaret using was the first. I think the support for us was a huge statement for Yale to make – it’s not about quotas, it’s about talent.

"The more representative a piece of art can be of its community,
the more powerful it will be."

Attending Yale changed my life completely – it developed my skills, yes, but it also made me look at the world as an Artist, and at what my role and my responsibility was in the creation process. I will be grateful to those teachers for the rest of my life, I would not be here without them.”

After moving to New York, Bandhu focused mainly on acting and did not produce anything for two years.
Though drawn to the front of the camera, his additional skills kept him working on multiple levels. “I was naturally finding myself in a position where I was urging people to produce their works themselves, but they usually said that they did not know how. I had produced at Yale, so I started helping them out, and before you knew it, I was doing a lot of producing and I was doing a lot of "de-facto" producing, casually helping friends - and I liked it."

"While producing is first and foremost a business, I think being an artist has made me a better producer. My understanding of dramaturgy aids me in seeing the strengths and weaknesses in a script. A knowledge of theatical history helps me evaluate a project within a wider context. Most importantly, I understand the process and am able to support and collaborate with the artists with whom I am working."

From the Yale Metropolitan Newsletter, January 2007: The Unofficial NY Yale Cabaret (UNYYC), made up of alumni from 2001 all the way back to 1969, was created to showcase the talents of Yale School of Drama graduates and their collaborators in New York City. In its inaugural year, it has presented an ambitious slate of four productions, one world premiere, one US premiere, and one NY Premiere. It has been featured nationally and internationally in media from the New York Times to the Malaysian Star, and in December received the distinction of one of NYTheatre.com's "People of the Year" for its exciting contributions to the New York Theatre scene. Many of its productions have topped the NYTheatre.com Top Ten Picks list of productions to see in all of NY, including Broadway and Off Broadway shows, have been TimeOut NY and Backstage's picks of the week.

Bandhu got together with like-minded colleagues and together they started the UnOfficial Yale Cabaret. “I did it in part because I got to a point where I was playing doctors and lawyers and roles on the periphery. That’s where people in entertainment saw Asian Americans, so I decided to create my own opportunities. Partnered up with like minded people, and there it all fell into place, the Unofficial NY Yale Cabaret.”

Much of the growth and economic health of Broadway in the past few years can be attributed to the diversification of its offerings.
The Color Purple brought in, at first, primarily African American crowds. Spamalot brought in straight males.

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