Gung Ho Projects is a New York-based performance and education platform aimed at increasing understanding between China and the United States. Founded in 2015, Gung Ho initiates projects that create opportunities for self-expression, empowerment, exchange, and understanding across linguistic and cultural divides.
Gung Ho is currently developing two theater projects towards full production: a multilingual adaptation of Romeo and Juliet in partnership with ethnic minority groups in Sichuan province, and a new piece with Chinese American artists looking at Arthur Miller’s work in China and the politics of “playing American” on stage. Gung Ho recently received a SU-CASA grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council to work with Chinese American and Jewish seniors in Sheepshead Bay on a remix of Fiddler on the Roof, and the company is also leading courses in traditional and contemporary theatermaking in Mandarin at New York City public schools and after school programs.
Gung Ho was founded by Michael Leibenluft, a Brooklyn-based teacher and theater director. Michael is fluent in Mandarin, has lived and traveled throughout Mainland China, and is a former China Fulbright Scholar. He received his undergraduate degree from Yale in Theater Studies and East Asia Studies and a Masters from the Shanghai Theater Academy in Performance Studies. Michael is also a professional theater director working regularly Off-Broadway and throughout China on new plays and musicals. For more information about Michael's directing work, you can visit his website: www.leibenluft.com.
The term "gung-ho," meaning "enthusiastic" or "overzealous," entered into colloquial American English from its Chinese equivalent 工合 “gong he," meaning "working together." The term was first adopted by Major Evans Carlson, a Marine Corps officer who heard it used by his friend, Rewi Alley, a New Zealand-born political activist instrumental in forming the Chinese Industrial Cooperatives (abbreviated as "Gong He"). Major Carlson was inspired by what he understood as the "can-do" attitude of the Chinese and adopted the term as a slogan for his battalion.
At Gung Ho, we carry on the collaborative spirit of the original Chinese phrase as well as the "can do" attitude of its Americanized use.
(Founder and Artistic Director)
Michael Leibenluft is an Obie Award winning director and educator. Fluent in Mandarin, Michael has directed numerous theater projects in Chinese or bilingually, including The Subtle Body by Megan Campisi, North Bank Suzhou Creek by William Sun, Salesman之死, and Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive. Michael graduated from Yale as a double major in Theater Studies and East Asian Studies and completed his Masters in Performance Studies at the Shanghai Theatre Academy. For more information about Michael's directing work, see www.leibenluft.com
As an educator, Michael has developed bilingual theater curriculum at PS101, PS20, and School of Global Leaders as well as the Children's Chinese Book Garden in New York. He was invited by the Asia Society to teach a workshop on Teaching Chinese through Theater at the National Chinese Language Conference in 2017.
Shu Cao Mo
(Liangshan Project Retreat Coordinator)
A classically trained musician and theater-maker, Shu Cao Mo graduated with a Master’s degree in Arts in Education from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Political Science. Since 2013, Shu Cao Mo began curating performing and visual art workshops for migrant children in China. Shu co-founded the arts nonprofit, Mosaic Project, Beijing, working with museums and performance spaces to bring artists to teach in various communities. As a social practice artist, she has created public art interventions using storytelling and digital media. Her works have been shown in Montevideo (Uruguay), Keflavik (Iceland), and Cambridge (USA).
(Master Teaching Artist)
Upon Graduation with honors from the National Academy of Arts in Taiwan, Lu Yu won a 6-year movie contract with the Cathay Film Co. in Hong Kong and appeared in more than 30 movies. After moving to New York in 1972, he was an original member of LaMaMa ETC. and toured with the Co. to Taipei in 2006for the Asian Arts Festival, as well as Sicily, Spoleto, and was the co-director, choreographer of Carlos Gozzi's “The Raven”, which opened the Venice Biennale Theater Festival in Italy in 2006. He is an advisory board member at Pan Asian Rep. Theater Co. and a co-founder of Yangtze Rep. Theater Co, Mr. Lu Directed and Choreographed at Berkshire Theater Festival, Memphis Theater in the square, and Directed “Butterfly Lovers” at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, bringing together Chinese opera and Martha Graham modern dance. He played a principal role in Woody Allen's “Hollywood Ending”, Nominated for an Emmy for his role on CBS T.V.'s “Due South”.
He was the Director of Performing Arts at A.R.T.S. Inc. From 1972-2007, and a teaching Artist at City Lore Inc. 1993-present, He works with students from 4 year old to 90 year old, he directed and choreographed more than two hundred musicals in New York City's public schools, and Senior centers, ranging from Chinese Opera to “Phantom of the Opera” and everything in between. Mr. Lu was a panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts Special Art Services division, 2007-2009. Lu currently runs bi-weekly chorus and dance groups at the Open Door Senior Center in Chinatown, as well as teaches residencies for Chinese New Year at PS105 in Fort Hamilton and PS124 in Chinatown.