#SpillNaropa Cast Highlight: China Young


Spill – written & directed by Leigh Fondakowski
October 14-29, 2016
Naropa’s Performing Arts Center – 2130 Arapahoe Dr, Boulder
$20 general admission/$15 for Non-Naropa University students/FREE for Naropa Students
2nd year MFA: Contemporary Performance student China Young plays the roles of Lillian Miller, Mary Landry, Jolene Danos, and Daun Winslow.


China Young is a second year student in Naropa’s MFA Theatre: Contemporary Performance program. In SPILL, she is playing the roles of Lillian Miller, the first woman to work outside the galley/kitchen on an offshore oil rig and Jolene Danos, the wife of Jorey Danos, an oil spill clean-up worker. China gave us a glimpse behind the scenes of SPILL.

What’s your favorite character?

It’s really hard to pick a favorite. I mean, these are all real people. Part of our character work involves us listening to their actual recorded interviews and/or testimonies, making it incredibly easy to develop deep, intimate relationships with each of them. I do think Jolene has slowly taken first place for me. She only appears in one scene, but she has so much depth within those few pages that it is an amazing honor and challenge as a performer to present a character like hers to the audience.

What did you know about the BP spill before starting rehearsals?

I remember the spill and how devastating it was. I was living in Texas at the time. and knew a few people that went to the coast to help with the clean-up effort. I didn’t have the resources to help at the time myself, but I was so angry and disgusted at how much oil was gushing into the ocean and how long it too them to plug the source. I also remember being very frustrated that BP, a foreign company, was in charge of the operation. Something about that seemed counter-intuitive to the fact that it was “American oil.”

What has the rehearsal process been like so far?

An absolute whirlwind.

It took us about 2 weeks to solidify Act 2, so every day we were getting new pages, writing in text, re-arranging dialogue, shuffling scenes, etc….The pencil has been our most valuable tool. It was difficult to wrap my head around it all, but watching the way Leigh can flow things together in her head and make changes that make little sense to most of us but complete sense to her has been a beautifully fascinating experience. We now have a very solid second act and Leigh has expressed that this is the first time she feels the show makes sense dramatically AND dramaturgically. I feel blessed to have been able to be a part of this scripts journey into a work that will hopefully be experienced by thousands in the future.

Why should audiences come to see this show?

It’s an important story, not just because of how tragic this particular incident was, but because of how globally relevant it is today. With so much discussion around global warming and developing renewable energies, I think (and hope) it has the potential to get people thinking and talking about the future of our planet, as well as the future of an industry that is incredibly dangerous yet funds what little middle class we have left.

But also, it’s a beautiful work and this particular production has some theatrical elements composed with movement and vocal scores that will create a once in a lifetime experience for audiences.

Anything else you’d like to share?

When I first came to visit and audition for the MFA program here at Naropa in the Spring of 2015, I was able to see a presentation of performances created out of a “Moment Work” workshop facilitated by Leigh. I had a couple friends at the performances with me that both told me afterward, based on what we had just seen, that Naropa is definitely where I needed to be. I was so captivated by the work I saw that night that I asked the universe for the opportunity to work with Leigh at some point, ultimately dreaming to work with Tectonic Theatre in New York City in the future. When I found out my cohort would in fact be working with her on this production, my excitement and gratitude could hardly be contained. I had no idea how truly inspirational this process would be. My gratitude for being a part of it, and working with all of the individuals involved in bringing it to life, continues to expand exponentially every moment.



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