Favoring Brechtian devices over conventional realism, many of these playwrights write Asian-American characters with a self-conscious knowingness that they’re centering Asian bodies before a white audience.
Often, they break the fourth wall or use multimedia — like Christopher Chen’s LCT3 production “The Headlands” — to unseat any preconceived notions the audience may have of the Asian race.
Sometimes, just as the audience identifies with characters, the playwright unmasks them, exposing the scaffolding of the plot.
“In purely naturalistic theater you’re not supposed to break the fourth wall, and the main tool at your disposal is audience identification with the characters,” Lee said to me recently.
“In experimental theater, you can use a wide range of techniques and tricks to have an emotional impact on the audience.”