School of Music, Theatre and Dance

Christopher Chen’s ‘Passage’ coming to OU stage

Play leads audiences on a journey of self-exploration

icon of a calendarSeptember 24, 2021

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Christopher Chen’s ‘Passage’ coming to Oakland University stage
'Passage,' a gripping and enigmatic play by Chinese-American playwright Christopher Chen, opens Oct. 7 at Oakland University.

Oakland University’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance will present Passage, a gripping and enigmatic play by Chinese-American playwright Christopher Chen, on Oct. 7-10 and Oct. 14-17 in the Varner Studio Theatre on the OU campus.

Set in the fictional “Country X,” Passage engages audiences in an ideological debate about the precarious nature of political borders and the social divides that emerge in times of strife.

Inspired by E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India, the play invites audiences to question their own identity biases and their subsequent impact on professional and personal relationships.

“Passage leads us on a journey of self-exploration in a simple but strong manner,” said Brandon A. Wright, director of Passage and a special lecturer for theatre at OU. “Chen employs neutrality and minimalism to encourage us to see beyond the things we so often use as filters — socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation, etc. — and really dive deeper into the universality of our existence; our shared experiences.

“Though it may hint at some type of therapeutic session by description, the audience is still in for a healthy dose of drama! That, for me, has been the joy of the process so far; how do we honor the story and marry it with theatre.”

OU student Jalen Wilson-Nelem, who plays the role of “G” — a professor of Country X who also serves as a religious and spiritual guide of a holy temple within Country X — said he hopes audience members who experience the show “leave with a refined passion to understand everyone else’s plight.”

“I hope that they crave to share a dialogue with people that they may not have before,” he said. “And that they realize that even though one person can never truly share the experiences of another, that this open dialogue can bring us closer to the possibility of a deeper human understanding.”

Kay Hoffmeyer, who plays “B,” a doctor and citizen of Country X, said she’s looking forward to returning to the stage again after a year and a half of virtual performances.

“My castmates and I are beyond excited to return to live theatre again, and with such a beautiful, thought-provoking show,” she said. “My hope is that audiences will reflect on the play’s social commentary, and how prevalent these topics are in their own lives. And, if some like it enough, I hope they will come see it again!”

Tickets are $15 for general admission or $8 for students and children, and must be purchased in advance at

All guests must complete a daily health screening form before arrival to campus and present documentation of approval to come to campus at check-in. At this time, masks are required for entry to any building on campus.

Ticket buyers may receive an email with special instructions on the day of the event. Tickets may be printed at home or presented on mobile devices at the door. All events are subject to change. Any changes or additions to our season calendar will be posted on the SMTD website. Maps and parking information are available at

**Oakland University has instituted a COVID vaccine mandate for audiences in the Studio Theatre and the Lab Theatre because of the intimate proximity of the performers and audience. Audience members should be prepared to show their vaccination cards and photo ID along with their OU health screening results. We will not save or photograph the documents, nor keep records of any sort.

Because of the short notice for our audiences of PASSAGE, for this show ONLY we will accept results of a negative COVID test administered in the previous 72 hours, in lieu of a vaccination card. In future, proof of a Medical exemption and of a recent negative COVID test will be required.

Performance Schedule:

• Thursday – Saturday, October 7 – 9 at 8 p.m.

• Sunday, October 10 at 2 p.m.

• Thursday – Saturday, October 14 – 16 at 8 p.m.

• Sunday, October 17 at 2 p.m.

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