who we are
Co-Founders: David J. Jacobi, Anna Chovanec
Past Collaborators: Dave Cooper Boj Capati
Liz Ashforth Cornelia Bogen
Lucy-Louise Evans Jorge Rios
Stan Seiden Rémy Zhang
Holly Naylor Darren Sarkin
David Jacobi’s plays have been performed throughout the U.S. and in China, including the Peter Jay Sharp Theater, FringeNYC, Penghao Theatre, and 798 Dashanzi Art District. His work has been developed at Portland Center Stage’s JAW Festival (Mai Dang Lao,) Cutting Ball Theater’s RISK IS THIS (Ex Machina,) Great Plains Theatre Conference Mainstage (Mai Dang Lao,) WordBRIDGE (The Monster Below, prev. SDO,) and The Flea (Battlecruiser Aristotle.) He received a BFA in Dramatic Writing from Purchase College and is currently enrolled in UC San Diego’s MFA Playwriting program under the tutelage of Naomi Iizuka.
Anna is a dramaturg and librarian-in-training from the American South. She holds a BA in Theatre and Poetry from Clemson University, where she contributed work in both performance and dramaturgy, and began her six-year relationship with Generous Company and WordBRIDGE Playwright's Lab. Moving to China in 2009, Anna has worked with several theatre and performance groups including Cheeky Monkey Theater, Beijing International Theater Experience, Peking University Institute of World Theater and Film, Beijing Independent Artists, and others. She and cohort David Jacobi founded MONSTER DOWN! Theatre Company in 2011. In addition to producing, Anna has also worked as a freelance actor/voice-over-artist, director, and dramaturg in China and the U.S., and has developed and taught a number of university-level courses in American Literature, Culture, Public Speaking, and others at universities in China. She is currently a graduate student at Syracuse University's School of Information Studies, earning a Master's of Library and Information Science (MLIS).
MONSTER DOWN! is dedicated to developing and staging new plays in China and the U.S. Through our work, we hope to help create and nurture a community of interested, engaged, impassioned theatre-goers who not only consume the arts, but desire to become part of the conversation. Utilizing and catering to speakers of both English and Chinese, we have enormous faith in the creative process of playwrights and actors, and in human ingenuity.
We strive to be:
We believe theatre has the unique ability to convey the impossible. We’re lucky to be doing our art in a theatre environment, where the necessary separation between the audience and the performance (tv, cinema) can’t exist.
We choose not to see the physical stage as a limitation. Instead, we wish to, with imagination and a healthy suspension of disbelief, stretch the floorboards into something that can’t possibly be. We wish to explore the space between the straight forward and the abstract.
We love genre, comic books, acrobatics, Chuck Mee, prose poetry, Nick Flynn, gifts from people's garden, bad singers, Seijun Suzuki, stream-of-consciousness, storytime, impossible visions, fever dreams, you.
Shakespeare, Ibsen, and Tom Stoppard are all great, but we're not interested in showing them to you. Great people have dedicated their lives to painstakingly recreating/reimagining their work for you. We are interested in the work that is RIGHT NOW. The work that is informed by the great work we grew up surrounding ourselves with, cooked in our own homes, and given to an audience that is alive RIGHT NOW.
The fate of China and the West are intertwined. We are both on our way to become something terrible or something spectacular. As new, complicated forms of liberation and tyranny are traded back and forth, being re-adopted/repurposed/recycled/incinerated, where will the political/social/economic homeostasis reside? What will we become? What will we become TOGETHER?
We're not here to judge or decide. We're just watching. Our left eye is here, and our right eye is transfixed back home. There's an imagined in-between, and that's where our stage is. We want to create theatre that isn't predominately Chinese or Western, but something that reflects the sublime amalgamation of both systems. Common ground, the shared experiences. "Chinglish" is a pejorative term to encapsulate bad English and bad Chinese; a language steeped in simplicity, puns, homonyms, and cheek. We want to give you a clarified form. A pidgin of the mind.
There are theater companies/groups/artists in the world that are dedicated to creating theater that avoids problem #1. Clubbed Thumb, CITI, 13P, Ontological-Hysteric, Vampire Cowboys, EST; these are a small fraction of artists that achieve great things, and further bring theater into the future. But for most, Problem #2, the financial limitations, are still unavoidable. You’re better off going to see a Chuck Mee play instead of “Men in Black 3,” but your wallet will disagree with you. We guarantee: No ticket will ever cost more than 100RMB general, 50RMB student (15 usd/7.50usd.)
Please come, but more importantly, please stay. All of our performances and readings are followed by an informal cast/crew discussion for the simple reason that you, the audience, are an integral part of the theatre itself. This is a transfer station. We can take any line we want. Let us discuss our choices over theatre. A problem well stated is a problem half solved. Let's half-solve things together.