A New Musical for a Changed World
(tickets are here)

Even as America struggles with the tidal wave that Covid-19 continues to be, there are experiences unique to different communities. NOT WORKING uses music to help shed light on some of these, illuminating secrets and surprises along with pains that are all too familiar. And despite the serious subject of Covid’s inescapable, mysterious, and transformative effect on all of our careers and lives, NOT WORKING confronts this subject with honesty, energy, humor, and hope.




NOT WORKING tells the story of a young American-born woman named Anqa, returning to America for the first time since her family was deported 12 years ago.  She’s back to prove to herself and her still-exiled parents that she has the talent to succeed in America or anywhere else, and the lost opportunity of growing up in America was insignificant.  By a random (?) coincidence, she arrives in America at the same time as COVID, and is swept up in the pandemic whirlwind.  By the end of the play Anqa has begun to see her personal quest as more selfish than important, and finds empathy for new friends facing much more emergent questions of loss and finding their way home from the devastating impact of the virus.

The all-original songs of NOT WORKING are from AJ Rafael, Howard Ho, Luis Aragon, Creative Spés, Antonio TJ Johnson, Gingerlily Lowe, Marc Macalintal, Leonard Patton, DaJahn Blevins, Raya Heart Pearson, Annabelle Ramos, and Dave Scott, composers and songwriting teams invited by co-producers Asian Story Theater, Teatro Mascara Magica, and San Diego Black Ensemble Theatre. Invited from each company’s collaborators and friends based in San Diego and Los Angeles, the musical styles and perspectives are as varied as COVID’s symptoms, ranging from singer-songwriter irony to angry rock, big band to powerful ballads, all performed live.  

A highlight of NOT WORKING is that each performance is immediately followed by a different short, open dialogue about a particular theme or song from the show. These post-show chats are each hosted by a different community leader, inviting audience questions and insights from the Covid experience we have all come to know first-hand.

Post-show forums

Friday, October 28 @ 7:30pm
El Salon Theatre, 114 W. Hall, San Ysidro

Ron Baza, PhD University of San DiegoCOVID LOST & FOUND.
Our communities lost a lot during the pandemic-families, businesses, connections. Discussion on strategies for non-profits and public service agencies impacted by Covid-19: employees, students, funding, clients, education
Lisa Cuestas-Casa Familiar
Additional panelist/s TBA
Saturday, October 29 @ 2:00pm
El Salon Theatre, 114 W. Hall, San Ysidro
Susan Hasegawa, writer and professor of US and Asian American History, San Diego City CollegeDON’T STAB ME PLEASE, I’M NOT CHINESE. Violence against Asian Americans. Guest panelist Michael Yee, CSU San Marcos and San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
Saturday, October 29 @ 7:30pm
El Salon Theatre, 114 W. Hall, San Ysidro
Luis Aragon, President of Border Angels, former Deputy District Attorney, President of La Raza LawyersIMMIGRATION DURING AND AFTER COVID–if there is any such time.

Panelist: Sheila Solorzano, board member of Border Angels
Sunday, October 30 @ 2pm
El Salon Theatre, 114 W. Hall, San Ysidro
Gingerlily Lowe
Asian Story Theater- Education Director,
Meet some of the composers from Not Working.

Panelist: Raya Heart Pearson, Belle Ramos, Dave Scott, Kent Brisby…
Friday, November 4 @ 7:30pm
Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd, San Diego
Frankie (and/or Matt), Diversionary TheatreTHE NEW NORMAL: real and virtual life as a performing artist during and post-Covid. Guest panelist/s TBA.
Saturday, November 5 @ 2pm
Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd, San Diego
Gingerlily Lowe, Teaching Artist & Retired SDUSD TeacherTEACH THE CHILDREN WELL
Education and Teaching during a Pandemic
Guest panelist: Nick Irby, Teacher from Nye Elementary and SDEA AR
Saturday, November 5 @ 7:30pm
Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd, San Diego
William BJ Robinson, host of KPBS Arts program, and Tough Talk virtual discussion seriesPANDEMIC LIFE 
Its impact on the Black and LGBTQ community: Our personal experiences in and out of the arts.

Guest Panelists:
Ajay Junious, choreographer, arts and wellness advocate, founder of Continuum Arts & Pilates
DaJahn Blevins, President of SD Urban Warrior project, Founder of Kuumba Fest at Lyceum Theatres
Sunday, November 6 @ 2pm
Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd, San Diego
Johnny Tran, musician and co-owner of Thumbprint Gallery in La Jolla, Organizer of Bar Basic in Downtown, Art Around Adams, and East Village Art Walk MAKING ART IN THE TIME OF COVID
Johnny is releasing his third album “Ghost of John Okada” based on 1957 novel NO NO BOY.
Guest panelist BIPOC artist: Thao Huynh French
Saturday, November 12 @ 11am
Chula Vista Library, 565 F St, Chula Vista
Erwin Magbanua, Principal Librarian and Cultural Arts Manager, Chula Vista Public LibraryTHE FAKE NEWS PROBLEM. Free tools for telling fact from fiction. The definition for “alternative facts” is lies. Guest panelist Matt Hall, Union Tribune newspaper Editorial and Opinion Editor
Saturday, November 12 @ 2pm
Chula Vista Library, 565 F St, Chula Vista
Carlos Morton, PhD
UC Santa Barbara, Playwright
with San Francisco Mime Troupe, New York Shakespeare
Festival, La Companía Nacionál de México.
HISTORY WITH HAM AND WRY. The process of creating theater around real events and individual histories–with respect, honesty, and insight.
Sunday, November 13 @ 2pm
Chula Vista Library, 565 F St, Chula Vista
Delores Fisher, Africana Studies, San Diego State University, African American Music in US socio-cultural historyESSENTIAL WORKERS: FIRST RESPONDERS.
Guest Panelist: Andrea Bayona- Intensive care unit nurse at Scripps Mercy Hospital and clinical instructor.

Dr. Brandon Gamble, Director for the Black Resource Center at San Diego State University

Share this page: