Meet the Author: Norman Yeung
Meet the author behind the thrilling Theory—Norman Yeung!
Describe yourself in one sentence.
Golden era hip-hop head who will gush with pride ad nauseum about coming from East Vancouver and a Guangzhou village.
Tell us a little bit about your new book.
In Theory, a young professor named Isabelle creates a discussion board for her class. Her intention is to have her students learn from each other by engaging in thoughtful dialogue. But a mysterious student posts messages and videos that become increasingly bizarre and dangerous, threatening Isabelle’s values and relationship with her wife, Lee. These events show Isabelle how she can begin to become a better partner to Lee. Ultimately, Theory is about empathy, listening to others, and learning.
What’s something unique about you or something you like to do?
I’m also an actor and visual artist whose preferred medium is spray paint, but I’m not sure that’s unique. I was a Vancouver city champion in freestyle wrestling when I was thirteen. That’s kinda unique.
What is something that you enjoy doing, and why?
I love watching the Raptors, Canucks, and Leafs at sports bars. Besides simply enjoying this activity, watching sports has absolutely nothing to do with my work, so it’s a few hours of blissful escape. I prefer watching sports at bars because of the communal experience, which is similar to watching theatre, which... has absolutely everything to do with my work. I haven’t set foot in a bar since the pandemic started so I’ve been loveless for over a year.
What are some of your favourite plays?
M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang, Look Back in Anger by John Osborne, The Zoo Story by Edward Albee, A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney, and almost everything by Anton Chekhov, Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Eugène Ionesco, Sam Shepard, and Michel Tremblay. In recent years, some plays that really moved me artistically and/or emotionally include Harlem Duet by Djanet Sears, Heisenberg by Simon Stephens, Vietgone by Qui Nguyen, The Flick by Annie Baker, Birds of a Kind by Wajdi Mouawad, and K Body and Mind by Conor Wylie and A Wake of Vultures. I could go on...
What are you reading these days?
I’m about to dive into One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. But at this very moment, I’m entrenched in reading about Zheng He, the renowned Chinese-Muslim-eunuch-admiral, and Ching Shih, whose powerful feats earned her stature as the most successful pirate in history. It’s for my new play I’m writing called Eunuch v. Pirate, so I’m swimming through research about fifteenth century Ming Dynasty naval voyages and eighteenth century pirate exploits in the South China Sea.
What’s something that makes you laugh?
Whenever a Texan lawyer shows up for a Zoom trial as a cat.
Learn more about Norman Yeung:
Norman Yeung is a writer, actor, and visual artist. His play Theory won the Voaden Prize and was nominated for the Carol Bolt Award. Pu-Erh received four Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations, including Outstanding New Play, and was a finalist for the Voaden Prize. Other plays and performance pieces include The Zoonotic Story (Stratford Festival/National Arts Centre), I Know I’m Supposed to Love You (Touchstone Theatre), Deirdre Dear (LaBute New Theater Festival, St. Louis), In this moment. (Scotiabank Nuit Blanche), and Black Blood (Tapestry New Opera Showcase, with composer Christiaan Venter). Theory and Ms. Desjardins were recorded as radio drama podcasts for PlayME from CBC Podcasts. Norman was a playwright in residence at Outside the March, and has been a member of playwright/creator units at the Stratford Festival, Tarragon Theatre, fu-GEN Theatre Company, Tapestry Opera, and Canadian Stage. As an actor he has worked with the Stratford Festival, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Canadian Stage, Theatre Calgary, the Citadel Theatre, Thousand Islands Playhouse, LA Opera, Theatre Conspiracy, Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, Firehall Arts Centre, Gateway Theatre, and many more. Among his many roles in film and TV, favourites include Resident Evil: Afterlife and Todd and the Book of Pure Evil. He holds an Honours B.F.A. in Film from Ryerson University and a B.F.A. in Acting/Theatre from the University of British Columbia. Norman was born in Guangzhou and divides his time between Los Angeles, Toronto, and his hometown of East Vancouver, on the traditional and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples.