It's a wrap...

Okay so that’s what you say when you’re done filming, but since this show is about television, I’m saying it.

This marks the last weekend of the premiere run of 99 Tropes.

If you haven’t seen it and still hope to - GO FOR IT. It runs until Sunday’s 2:00 finale.

Regardless of what brings you to this page, I want to say thank you. Everyone involved in this production agree, it was a joy from start to finish. Whatever part you played, you did us proud.

A well-oiled machine...

Not enough has been said about the cast and crew of 99 Tropes. Because it’s about television, the association with the hard work of developing the text, casting the actors, creating the setting, and then putting the show on its feet can easily be forgotten. Especially when the house is roaring with laughter, as it frequently does, the whole thing seems inevitable.

But the success of the show has come from commitment, and good decisions, and the experience of every person involved, shared with a generous spirit. Far harder than it looks.

If you haven’t already, take a moment to check out our image and bio pages. The people represented there have done an incredible job of taking a germ of an idea and turning it into a theater alive with humor.

Thanks, guys!

99 Tropes closes in two weekends. If you’re thinking about coming, please get your tickets now, while you still can.

The Stranger...liked us? Maybe...? Because Netflix?

What do you think?

99 Tropes Offers a Glimpse of the Television Industry's Underbelly

by Rich Smith • Nov 27, 2018 at 11:55 am

Working in writers' rooms for television shows can be a maddening, precarious, and not very lucrative situation that almost immediately requires you to sell off large portions of your soul—and for what? To bust your brain making some bullshit, basically misogynistic thriller that'll get canceled after two seasons—if it doesn't get canceled after two episodes—only to build up your resume to the point where you can write slightly less misogynistic thrillers? Well, sure. But there's also a chance you can get on a show that changes the way people think about the world, the way The Sopranos or The Wire or Burn Notice did.

All the action is set in the aggressively boring environs of a typical writers' room. You're looking at a long table, some roller chairs, a white board, and a lot of light gray surfaces dotted with sticky notes.

Jen Anderson plays Sally Higgins, a salty showrunner working on a network show about a deadly virus spreading across the U.S. When the show starts to tank in the ratings, the annoyingly academic show creator C. Chan (aka C.C., played by E.J. Gong) dreams up a way to right the ship. His new direction bucks convention and seeks to challenge audiences with a radical social justice message. This gamble initially pays off big time, which leads to a power struggle between C.C. and Sally. Since Sally is a lesbian woman in a field dominated by men, and since C.C. is an Asian American newcomer to the industry, the internal battle is *charged* with issues of class, race, and experience that pits the younger writers on the team against the veterans, but nothing really sparks.

Chapman doesn't focus the drama on the plight of being a woman in the television industry versus the plight of being an Asian American man in the television industry—though one of the characters does succeed in making a feminist appeal for Sally to wrestle back control of her show from C.C. He mostly focuses on the drama of whether the writers think a largely white network audience will watch a show with a premise that takes them out of their comfort zone. The tension in this question, however, is deflated by the play's circumstances—the television show is failing and all the writers are about to get fired anyway, so why not try something a little different?

The internal battles between the writers are mostly form and content questions related to this problem of assumed audience interest. At one point a young black writer named Reggie Jenks (played by Jonathan Keyes) convinces an older white writer named Paul Montgomery (played by Nicholas Horiatis) to simply imagine a non-white writer as his primary audience, which was enough for him to shake off his white fragility and start writing scenes for a new episode. In terms of form, Mitch Goldman (a bad writer who fails up thanks to his extreme likability, played by a perfectly aloof Steve Murphy) advises C.C. to remove overt language about race/class power differentials in the script and replace it with action movie pablum. C.C. is receptive, seeing the concession as a spoonful of sugar to help the audience take its medicine. But the fate of the show ultimately doesn't appear to be tied to its subject matter nor its writing style, so it's hard to tell what Chapman's argument about race/class/gender in TV is. He mostly abandons that question and settles on the notion that television is a weird, ephemeral genre and you really don't know what people want to watch. The real social justice TV show is the friends we made along the way, etc.

Moreover, this scene between Mitch and C.C. presents my favorite part of any show, which is the moment when the performance contains its own critique. In his writing lesson, Mitch defends his stripped-down writing style by saying, "If you overwrite it, it sounds like a play." This is meant to be a knowingly self-deprecating joke, but it's also kind of true of 99 Tropes. Chapman's script repeats a lot of beats, and the characters exchange plenty of spoken subtext. With another pass, this snappy and humorous play could have been snappier and funnier.

The overall competence of the writing and the quality of the acting, however, was enough to keep me from falling asleep. Everyone took a minute (or ten) to warm up, which is to be expected at an opening night performance, but Keyes, one of Intiman's 2016 Emerging Artists, was the only character who felt like a real human being the entire time. He seemed completely at home on the stage, and I can't wait to see him in a role that shows off his range as a performer. Anderson balanced her rage with her humor well, and Gong perfectly embodied a pompous academic, though both performances seemed a little forced at times.

In general, the play contained all the satisfaction of watching a pretty decent show on Netflix.

Wait, what?

Saturday night was our big debut. The house was packed. The cast and crew were ready. The director and playwright had no nails left to chew on.

But would the play deliver? Would all the hard work and devotion amount to an entertaining, enlightening ride? Or…would people be politely disappointed? Or…worse. Would they hate it?

After all, the play talks about race, mysogyny, and the darker side of our national pastime, i.e. television. And also, baseball. No one holds back. The swear jar is full, as is the opinion bin. There is plenty to offend, no matter who you are.

Guess what? The audience went wild. They gave the actors a STANDING OVATION. The house was full of laughter and whoops of glee.

(Whew. Just…whew.)

The best part is, we get to do it all again, and again, five days a week until December 23. If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, we hope you will (link above).

What do you do when you all look alike?

If you’re e.j. gong, you create an original play.

“I want audiences to see something they usually don’t see, a main character who is Asian American. Not just Asian and not just American, but truly Asian American.”

Check out the origin story behind 99 Tropes in Northwest Asian Weekly:

Read More

Press Release is here! Getting real.


                                                                                    Contact: Lisa Loop


                                                                                                         Phone: (310) 570-7249



World Premier of 99 Tropes Explores Who Gets to Tell America’s Story

Conversation between two Seattle friends sparked new play with outrageous take on race and representation in Hollywood


SEATTLE, Nov. 2 - Veteran Hollywood writer Andrew Chapman tackles race, gender, culture, and money in today's entertainment business in his funny new play, 99 Tropes, which premieres on Nov 24th at 12th Avenue Arts on Capitol Hill for a four-week run.

Chapman, who lives in Seattle, is co-executive producer and writer on The Resident, which runs on FOX Television Mondays at 8 p.m. His new play, 99 Tropes, tells the story of an Asian American writer who finally gets his big chance at TV writing stardom when his show is picked up by network TV.

However, as the program slowly tanks in the ratings, the ambitious writer, C. Chan, stages a coup in the writer’s room, forcing a veteran show runner to the sidelines. And Chan’s vision for the show is outrageous – a race blind America with a shocking twist.

The play emerged from a real-life dilemma: The playwright’s close friend, local actor E.J. Gong, couldn’t find a good play with an Asian male lead. In 99 Tropes, the lead role goes to an Asian American, who finds himself in a collision at the intersection of race, gender, and Hollywood commercialism.   

In the year of Crazy Rich Asians, Chapman’s 99 Tropes explores the timely question of who gets to decide what stories are told in modern America.

Chapman has written numerous movies and TV shows, including Disney’s Pocahontas, Fox’s version of Iron Man and TNT’s show Legends. In addition, Chapman is a novelist (under the name Drew Chapman). His thrillers, The Ascendant, and the follow up, The King of Fear, were published by Simon & Schuster.

Produced by In the Moment Theater, the play is directed by Jeff Woodbridge and features a cast of seven actors with long lists of credits in the Seattle theater projects.


For more information:

Tickets to the show can be purchased on Brown Paper Tickets.



Telling the Story of Identity

At a production meeting recently, longtime-friends Andrew Chapman and EJ Gong talked about the origin of 99 Tropes.

Why this piece, why now?

EJ is an accomplished local actor with a desire for challenge. “I was looking for a play to do with an Asian lead, and simply couldn’t find one.”

Andrew works in television in a time of greatly increased interest in marginal story tellers. “I said, No problem. I’ll just write one.”

They both laughed.

“Who does that?” EJ smiled. “Of course it’s much more than just a story with an Asian man in the lead.”

“I jumped at the chance to write a play,” Andrew said. “I’ve always been interested in identity in America. People talk about it a lot. But what does sharing the storytelling platform really look like? Can it work, in reality?”

The show opens November 24.

99 Tropes, a play

A laugh-out-loud look at the political infighting in a Hollywood TV writers' room, 99 Tropes tackles issues of race, gender, culture and money in today's entertainment business. Who gets to decide what story is told in modern America? What voices should be heard?

When C. Chan's big chance at TV writing stardom - his own show on network television - tanks in the ratings, the ambitious artist stages a coup in the writers' room, forcing veteran show runner Sally Higgins to the sidelines. But C. Chan's vision for the show is outrageous - a race blind America with a shocking twist. 

Sit back and laugh as veteran screenwriter Andrew Chapman's 99 Tropes pokes a big, blunt finger in the eye of Hollywood's conventional wisdom.