march, 2023

16marallday23aprUnrivaledRosie Narasaki


Show Info

Playwrights’ Arena and Boston Court Pasadena present

The World Premiere of


By Rosie Narasaki

Directed by Margaret Shigeko Starbuck

MAR 16 – APR 23

Press Opening: March 25

A World Premiere That Tells the Ultimate Frenemy Story of Two of Japan’s Most Revered Female Poets

Boston Court Pasadena opens their 20th anniversary theatre season with Unrivaled by Rosie Narasaki, a world premiere co-production with Playwrights’ Arena, directed by Boston Court’s Associate Artistic Director Margaret Shigeko Starbuck, March 16 – April 23 (press opening: March 25). This production is Starbuck’s Main Stage directorial debut, and features an all-AAPI cast, AAPI playwright, and a primarily AAPI creative team. Unrivaled features Katie Kitani (Murasaki Shikibu), Chelsea Yakura-Kurtz (Sei Shonagon), Cindy Nguyen (Empress Teishi), and David Huynh (Michinaga).

Unrivaled is a fictional account of two of Japan’s most beloved female writers, 11th-century ladies-in-waiting Murasaki Shikibu and Sei Shonagon. This ultimate frenemy tale explores the complicated relationship between two women who simultaneously respect and resent each other’s talent. This hilarious and poignant world premiere is about friendship, heartbreak, and what it means to be a female artist. Perhaps most of all, it’s about no matter how much things change, the more they stay the same.

Narasaki’s play centers on acclaimed Japanese writers Murasaki Shikibu (978- 1014), author of The Tale of Genji and Sei Shonagon (966-1025), author of The Pillow Book. The Tale of Genji is believed to be the first novel in the world and is heralded as the most significant work of literature in Japanese history. The Pillow Book exists in the genre known as zuihitsu and  comprises critical commentaries, short-form poetry, and random vignettes.

Trailblazing playwright Rosie Narasaki, whose prior works have been developed and produced by Becky and Baldwin and hereandnow theatre company, began developing Unrivaled with Playwrights’ Arena and subsequently as a part of the Boston Court’s Playwrights Group, and both companies are delighted to take it to full production. Rosie Narasaki and Playwrights’ Arena received one of the prestigious and highly competitive 2022 Los Angeles New Play Program (LANPP) Awards for Unrivaled.

“I immediately fell in love with this play,” says Director Margaret Shigeko Starbuck. “It is wonderfully (and painfully) relatable, and it  speaks directly to the way the entertainment industry puts artists in competition with one another so that the very people who are your friends, colleagues, and community are also your rivals.”  She continues, “And more broadly, the play speaks to the way our societal structures pit women against each other and convince us that there can only be one exceptional woman at a time. I’m also passionate about the way the play blends the past and the present to show us that for over 1000 years, for better or worse, humans have remained endearingly and infuriatingly insecure, mundane, and awkward, but also capable of so much love, creativity, and wonder.”

Director Margaret Shigeko Starbuck (she/her) is an LA-based director and arts administrator. Her recent directing projects include the world premiere Frankel & Bloom chamber musical We Three Sisters and Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure with Method & Madness Theater Co, as well as numerous developmental workshops and readings of new plays for Meet Cute, Company of Angels, Playwrights Union, EST/LA, the Road Theatre, Occidental College’s New Play Festival, SkyPilot, and Actors Circle Ensemble. She also serves as Associate Artistic Director of Boston Court Pasadena.

Surrounding this world premiere production are a variety of community events giving audiences a closer look behind the scenes of the Unrivaled. These events include but are not limited to: AAPI Affinity Night, the Community Matinee, Student Night, and a sneak preview event at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.

Single tickets range from $22 – $47 and are available now. Visit or call 626.683.6801 to become a member or purchase single tickets.

Performance Schedule:

Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 8:00pm; Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm, check weekly schedule for specific performance days and times

Sneak Preview at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center: Sunday, March 19 at 6:00pm

Post-Show Discussion on Playwriting: Sunday, March 26

Post-Show Discussion on Acting: Sunday, April 2

Pay What You Choose: Monday, April 3 at 8:00pm

AAPI Affinity Night: Thursday, April 6 at 8:00pm

Community Matinee: Saturday, April 8 at 2:00pm (all tickets $5)

Then & Now: Poetry from the 11th to the 21st Century: Sunday, April 9 at 4:00pm

Student Night & Post Show Discussion on Acting: Saturday April 15 at 8:00pm ($5 student tickets)

Post-Show Discussion on Theme: Sunday, April 16

Post-Show Discussion on Directing: Saturday, April 22

Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes

Closing: Sunday, April 23 at 2:00pm

Tickets and Information:

Boston Court Pasadena

70 N Mentor Ave. Pasadena, CA 91106


Phone: 626.683.6801

Prices: $22 – $47


March 16 (Thursday) - April 23 (Sunday)


Boston Court Pasadena

70 N. Mentor, Pasadena, CA 91106

Get Tickets

Tickets and Information:


Phone: 626.683.6801

Prices: $22 – $47

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