Eugene Ma is a theatre director, actor and teacher with an inter-disciplinary background born in Toronto, brought up in Hong Kong and based primarily in New York. Enamored by the live theatrical complicity conjured by our sincere hopes and fears, the poetic and grotesque extremes of the human experience, Eugene deeply craves the empathy we must uncover in order to make sense and meaning of the messy world in which we live.
Eugene is recently named a Resident Director at the Flea Theatre, developing works with the robust resident acting company under the mentorship of Artistic Director Niegel Smith. He will also be reprising his Silvio in Theatre for a New Audience's upcoming production of The Servant of Two Masters Fall 2016, once again directed by Chris Bayes and starring Steven Epp.
(above photo by Jenny Graham) With Leah Anderson & Joe Wegner in Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2015 Production of Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land.
Eugene is interested in delving into worlds that are theatrical and alive, surprising and enchanting. These are worlds that demand virtuosic, spontaneous, present and vulnerable performances, ones that exploit theatrical complicity with poetic verve and radical earnestness.
At the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, he directed Paula Vogel's the Baltimore Waltz as the Annual Daedalus Staged Reading in the historic Angus Bowmer Theatre. The event contributed $12000 of ticket sales to the day's cause to end HIV/AIDS! He also workshopped a piece that shone a new context on two Sarah Kane plays as an OSF Midnight Project.
Other recent directing credits include Thornton Wilder's Childhood, Mark Ravenhill’s pool (no water), Moliere's the Imaginary Invalid, Saviana Stanescu's Aurolac Blues, and new works by Mike Lew & Shane Sakhrani. Eugene is currently incubating a new musical with the award-winning poet-playwright Sally Dawidoff.
Receiving his B.F.A. in Drama (Directing Concentration) from Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, Eugene trained as a director with Bob Moss, Rachel Chavkin, Fritz Ertl, Mary Robinson, Kevin Kuhlke and Michael Krass among others.
A proud member of AEA, Eugene is most recently an Acting Company Member at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, performing in the English premiere of the seminal Chinese-language play, Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land, directed and adapted by original auteur Stan Lai as well as Tony-Winner Mary Zimmerman's production of Guys and Dolls.
At other esteemed regional theaters, he acted in The Servant of Two Masters at Seattle Repertory Theatre and in Accidental Death of an Anarchist at Yale Rep and Berkeley Rep under Physical Comedy master Christopher Bayes. Eugene's performances have also been seen in New York at La MaMa E.T.C., Ontological-Hysteric Theater @ St. Mark’s Church, Joe’s Pub/Public, Mabou Mines, Ohio Theater, the Stone, NYU, and even at the Greenwood Cemetery!
Incubating Future Collaborators
Uncensored spontaneity, stubborn authenticity, contagious vulnerability, and an abandoned sense of play are the core qualities that make a good actor; coincidentally, they are also the core values of clown training, opening up actors into present and emotionally available creatures that we can't help but be entranced by.
Enchanted by the ingenuity of the Clown and virtuosic transformations in Commedia dell'Arte, Eugene embarked on and completed a two-year teaching apprenticeship with Christopher Bayes, making him one of a selected few "Bayes-certified" physical acting teachers in America. During the apprenticeship, Eugene served as Chris' teaching assistant and musical director for Clown and Commedia classes as well as student productions at Yale School of Drama, the Juilliard School as well as summer and corporate workshops, infusing more musicality into the curriculum as a tool to open up the actor's imagination and sensitivity.
Eugene has since guest taught at Yale's Undergraduate Theater Studies Program, Professional Performing Arts School (Arts High School) in Midtown Manhattan, St. Andrew's College in Canada, co-founded Professional Institute for Young Actors in New York and has advised on directing projects at New York University.
Having been trained as a pianist (ABRSM Gr. 8), organist and composer at a young age at the Yamaha Music Foundation in Hong Kong, Eugene still recalls his first composition assignment being motific explorations inspired by a picture of a large zoo on the music stand as he captured the journey of zoo-going as well as channeling the essence of different animals. As a result of his very aural-based training, impulsively framing and supporting a story with relatable motifs -- not the most complex and intricate musical structures -- has always been the priority and strength in Eugene's musical work. At age 9, he was selected to represent Hong Kong to attend the Junior Original Concert in Tsumagoi, Japan at Yamaha's headquarters. Years later, he music directed a couple cabarets at places like Joe's Pub, and began composing again for Commedia Shows for final year MFA Acting students at Yale School of Drama. Eugene was nominated for a Drama Desk Award in 2013 (alongside hero Steve Martin and his bluegrass score!) for his music in the Hugo-inspired silent film for the stage, The Man Who Laughs, as he aurally framed the 70-minute non-verbal theatrical event.