You-Shin Chen Receives Lucille Lortel Award

Theatre faculty member receives prestigious award for outstanding achievements in off-Broadway theatre, for her scenic design of 'Wolf Play.'

 Friday, May 19, 2023 03:34 PM

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Photo by Slaven Vlasic

You-Shin Chen, assistant professor of theatre, has received the 2023 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Scenic Design, for her design for Hansol Jung’s Wolf Play, at the Off-Broadway MCC Theater. Given annually, the prestigious Lucille Lortel Awards recognize outstanding achievements in off-Broadway theater.

“It was inspiring and encouraging at the Lortel awards ceremony to see theater artists support and cheer for each other,” Chen says. “Even though the awards are categorized in this way, this award is for all of the Wolf Play design team members. All the design areas — set, props, lighting, sound, puppetry and costumes — are highly integrated. We constructed this world together.”

Four actors perform on a stage filled with fog and theatrical lighting. One sits off to the left on a stool, their head down. One stands on a table at center, facing away and holding a microphone. The other two sit at the table, opposite each other.

Chen joined the Muhlenberg theatre faculty in fall of 2021 as assistant professor of scenic design. A Taiwanese designer committed to diversity and humanity, she centers the human experience in the process of creating a three-dimensional space. Chen is the recipient of the 2019 Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award at The Lilly Awards, as well as another Lucille Lortel Award in 2020 for her work on Mrs. Murray’s Menagerie. Her work has appeared in theaters across the continental United States and Europe.

Chen’s work at Muhlenberg has included scenic designs for The Threepenny Opera, Local Girls, Miss You Like Hell, and the world premiere of Call Me by Any Other Name… Just as Sweet.

Wolf Play first premiered in New York City in February 2022, produced by Soho Rep in collaboration with Ma-Yi Theatre Company. The production was later presented by the Off-Broadway MCC Theater in January 2023, with two extensions through April 2. Directed by Dustin Wills, Wolf Play received five Lucille Lortel Awards, also including Outstanding Play, Outstanding Director, Outstanding Ensemble and Outstanding Sound Design. In addition, it was nominated for Outstanding Lighting Design.

The play tells the story of Jeenu, a Korean boy who may or may not be a wolf, and who is depicted on stage by a life-size puppet. Jeenu is adopted by an American family before being suddenly “rehomed” to another couple. But when his original adoptive father decides he wants the boy back upon learning his new parents are queer, Jeenu finds himself caught in the middle of a custody battle, two strained marriages, and a pro boxer’s debut. Wolf Play is a story about acceptance, choosing and fighting for the people you love.

This summer, Chen will be designing scenery for Sam Shepard’s True West at People’s Light, in Malvern, Pennsylvania. This fall, she will design Marcus Gardley's …And Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi, here at Muhlenberg, and The Dragon King’s Daughter, a new musical for young audiences, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.


About the Muhlenberg College Theatre & Dance Department
Muhlenberg offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in theatre and dance. The Princeton Review ranked Muhlenberg’s theatre program in the top twelve in the nation for eight years in a row, and Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theatre and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States. Muhlenberg is one of only eight colleges to be listed in Fiske for both theatre and dance.

About Muhlenberg College
Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg is a highly selective, private liberal arts college offering baccalaureate and graduate programs. With an enrollment of nearly 2,000 students, Muhlenberg College is dedicated to shaping creative, compassionate, collaborative leaders through rigorous academic programs in the arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences; selected preprofessional programs, including accounting, business, education and public health; and progressive workforce-focused post-baccalaureate certificates and master’s degrees. Located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, approximately 90 miles west of New York City, Muhlenberg is a member of the Centennial Conference, competing in 23 varsity sports. Muhlenberg is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.