Muhlenberg College Faculty Member Wins Scenic Design Award for Off-Broadway Theater

You-Shin Chen, assistant professor of theater at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, has received the 2023 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Scenic Design from the League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers. The awards recognize outstanding achievement in Off-Broadway theater. Lucille Lortel (1900-1999) was an American actress who produced more than 500 plays during her career.

Chen was honored for her design for Hansol Jung’s Wolf Play, which was staged at the Off-Broadway MCC Theater. 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.

“It was inspiring and encouraging at the Lortel awards ceremony to see theater artists support and cheer for each other,” Chen said. “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.”

A native of Taiwan, Chen joined the faculty at Muhlenberg College in 2021. She holds a master of fine arts degree in scenic design from New York University.

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