Tea is rooted in Ms. Houston's own experiences growing up in Kansas as the daughter of a Japanese mother and half African-American, half Native American father who met during the American occupation of Japan. They were married after a nine year courtship, and although born in Japan, Ms. Houston's family moved to Kansas when she was two years old. Ms. Houston has said that 90 percent is based on true incidents and women she has known in her life.
Artistic Director Bob Combe along with Queens/Nassau theater veteran Ben Fabrizi serve as co-directors of this production. When asked why Mr. Combe selected Tea, he stated "everyone in this world is so different from each other - while all the time we are more alike than we'd care to admit. That's what attracted me to it. This beautiful little play illustrates so perfectly that within our differences we can find our similarities - that we really need to if we're going to find any peace in this life." The entire cast is making its Phoenix debut with this production; they are Yuki Akashi, Yoko Hyun, Jan Mizushima, Maylin Murphy and Hiroko Tanaka.
A frequent speaker on multicultural issues in America and Asian American theater, Ms. Houston is presently a professor and head of the playwriting program at the University of Southern California, School of Theatre, in Los Angeles. Tea was selected as one of the Best Ten Plays by Women Worldwide for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize in London; it also received the National First Prize at the American Multicultural Playwrights' Festival. Winner of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Children's Theater Festival, Ms. Houston is the recipient of numerous other awards and fellowships including the Rockefeller Foundation Playwriting Fellowship, the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award and the David Library Playwriting Award for American Freedom.