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LabWorks Artist Spotlight: Leah Ogawa and Andrea Ang

New Victory LabWorks Artists Leah Ogawa and Andrea Ang join forces on Whale, Come Home! Their piece of puppet theater celebrates the humpback whale’s return to New York City waters after pollution drove the species away for many years.

Leah Ogawa and Andrea Ang

How did you first fall in love with theater?

Leah: I grew up watching Hollywood movies in Japan because my dad loves action. He specifically only had American “Hollywood” movies on the television. I remember being amazed by Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, which played a big role in making me fall in love with storytelling. 

I realized I wanted to be a puppeteer when I took a class in college and saw three puppeteers bring a piece of paper to life. I’ll never forget that moment—I saw so many possibilities for using puppetry in my storytelling.

Andrea: I fell in love with theater (specifically acting) when I attended my first speech and drama class at 9 years old. As a kid, I had tried out so many different things, like playing the organ and ballet, but I couldn’t seem to follow through with anything. After my first drama class, I was hooked and I’ve been on this theater journey ever since. 

What do you most hope to gain from your New Victory LabWorks experience?

Leah: I’m excited to learn from other artists and see their approach to their work. Every artist has their own process in making art, and as I navigate this process with my performance partner Andrea, I also want to learn from other artists to gain new ways of looking at making work.

Andrea: This is my first time working on my own project for young audiences, I’m looking forward to learning about creating work for this audience, meeting other artists and finding out about their work. Because our work is still in its beginning stages, I’m excited to see where our time at LabWorks will bring us. I hope to gain a new approach to my practice!

What is your favorite part of your creative process and why?

Leah: I love the moments when I’m playing and exploring with materials. I get a feeling of not knowing what I am making but searching for something I know I want. It is a frustrating place to be, but also a moment when I can see a lot of possibilities.

Andrea: Definitely the beginning phases of a project when you get into the room, explore the ideas and play! Also, I love it when we begin to rehearse the work as we move into performances.

What excites you about creating work for family audiences?

Leah: It excites me that I’m creating moments for the family to share. It gives me a warm feeling to know that everyone is seeing the show together and it makes me want to make sure I’m doing my best so that everyone is being engaged and having a fun time.

Andrea: The unbridled, pure reactions and responses one gets from them. My favorite moments are when they repeat lines or talk about moments from the work after the show. 

What three things would you bring with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

Leah: A book: The Tale of Genji, a solar lantern, a fishing spear 

Andrea: A bible, a pen (that never runs out of ink) and a lighter (to start fires)

Tell us one fun fact about yourself!

Leah: I grew up on the mountains in Japan! I walked 40 minutes to my middle school with my friends every day and made up stories and adventures.

Andrea:  I can touch my nose with my tongue!

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