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Ghetto Baptism: A Short Film

Playwrights’ Corner
A stretch of fence topped with curled barbed wire, in which a plastic bag is caught

David Zheng is a first-generation Chinese American Actor, Playwright, and Photographer, and was recently named a 2018 Van Lier New Voices Fellow at The Lark. In the following video, David explores the place he comes from, and shares it with audiences through his own perspective. Take a look below, and see for yourself why we are thrilled to begin working with David this season.

"Before we begin, I want you to know The Bronx. First - close your eyes. Just listen.

You'll begin to hear it. Then you'll smell it. And then you'll feel it. You feel scared because your eyes are closed. But then you remember that's the reason you closed your eyes in the first place. Then you really begin to feel something. It feels like a hand reaching into your pocket digging for something. Yup, you're right - it is a hand reaching into your pocket. You're getting mugged, stupid. Why would you ever close your eyes in The Bronx? Why would you let your guard down? Don't you ever let your guard down. You closed your eyes in fear that something would happen to you and it became the very reason why it happened to you. Now - keep your eyes open, keep your head up, and keep walking. This is where you begin. This is The Bronx.” 

— opening excerpt from David Zheng’s KINGSBRIDGE

Video: David Zheng, Music: Mozart - Requiem

I am from the Bronx. I lived there, I ate there, I slept there, I fought there, I was jumped there, I was arrested there, I cried there, I laughed there, I ran away from there, and I came back there because I am obsessed with there. Growing up in The Bronx I was one of the very few Asians there. This made life very interesting. When people saw us they expected us to be like the Asians on TV (or didn’t see because we’re horribly mis- and underrepresented). So we made our own rules. We carried books, knives, guns, flags, rice bags, fear, pride, history, and the desire to fit in. We are the nerds, the scholars, the model minorities. We are also the gangsters, the thugs, the pimps, and your drug dealer’s drug dealer. We are the immigrants, the citizens, the refugees, and the dreamers. We are the invisible ones. We didn’t hide - we were hidden. But now we here. Now we tell our stories.