Making Tracks tells the story of how a people have long struggled to find a homeland. The journey began for me as an exploration into the rich and diverse history of Asians in America and how my own life fit into that context. Despite growing up as all-American as one can be, as an actor I realized that to most of America I still looked like a foreigner. I was often limited to playing the roles of "the gook," "the geek," and "the gangster." In the summer of 1993, after being accosted by a border guard who refused to believe that I was American, I began searching through history books, reading stories of Asian Americans before me: stories that through a privileged prep school and Ivy League education had somehow remained unknown to me. I discovered stories of Chinese laborers risking their lives to tie this country together, immigrants detained for years at Angel Island, and Japanese Americans who fought valiantly for their country while their families were locked away in internment camps. These were my stories too, I realized, and they belonged not only to me, but to all Asian Americans, and to all Americans.

In 1998, I asked two friends to collaborate with me to develop the concept of a journey through history into a book musical: Woody Pak, a recent Julliard graduate who I met through a mutual friend, and Brian Yorkey, a classmate from Columbia University. We wanted the music to be rock because it was important to us that we reach out to young people-a generation distanced not only from these stories, but from the theater as well.

We produced the show Off-Broadway in cooperation with the Taipei Theater in New York City in February 1999, bringing on another Columbia classmate, Lenny Leibowitz, as director, and a first-rate cast of Asian American theater professionals, many of whom I had performed with in Miss Saigon. After the show received an overwhelming response from the audience and the media, Village Theatre invited us to Washington to continue developing the show as part of the Village Originals program in the spring of 2000. Once again we went back to the drawing board, and with the help of Alan Muraoka, Second Generation's resident Director, we created a new second act, nine new songs, and a new framing device for the story. It was after that successful production that our good friends at the Taipei Philharmonic Foundation asked us to bring the show to Taiwan, to share our stories with their audiences. That production also marks the simultaneous launch of the show's concept album, in collaboration with Sony Music Taiwan.

Bringing Making Tracks to Washington was a fantastic journey and a labor of love for all of us involved. We dedicate this show to all of those who have come before, because it is in their stories that we discover sustenance and strength for our present, and inspiration and promise for our future.

Welly Yang

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