Loved the show! But I was especially moved listening to the questions from the audience and the incredibly thoughtful and honest answers from the cast [during the hour-long after-talk]. Bringing such a meaningful and provocative work here [to China] must not be easy but it's so important to the young people you touch! Brava!
Condé Nast China
I learned more about the American judicial system in the last 90 minutes [of watching the play "Top Secret: Battle for the Pentagon Papers"] than I have in 3 years of reading case studies at law school.
Audience member, Shanghai 2011
Third-year law school student
"I can't imagine touring my company to China without the expertise, attention to detail, and deep cultural sensitivity provided by Ping Pong Productions. Alison Friedman is a full genius when it comes to ... everything she does. She is reliable, direct, kind, funny, enthusiastic, intelligent, and trustworthy. And a friend. I have nothing but praise for the whole operation.Plus, Ping Pong is a great name."
Mark Morris, Artistic Director
Mark Morris Dance Group
Alison doesn't work on the surface. She and her team dig deep in their projects. No one knows performance in China like Alison Friedman and the Ping Pong staff. They not only know how to get things done in China (which in itself is a mammoth skill) but they know what is going on, from the traditional scene to the most cutting edge. Alison and her team have given themselves over to making real, lasting, and powerful connections between audiences and artists in China, America, and worldwide. Their deeply personal approach and persistent cultivation of relationships in China over decades created beautiful bonds across borders, encouraging entire communities of artists in both countries to press into the difficult work of intercultural exchange.
Liza Bielby, Co-Director
The Hinterlands (Detroit, MI, USA)
"We shared our thoughts and beliefs about the value of talent and creativity. One student even asked, 'My education has not taught me to be creative and find my own voice ... can you help me understandhow to cultivate this on my own?' And what a fruitful conversation ensued! Thanks to Ping Pong's ACCT program for creating environments where this kind of intimate discussion of life and creativity can unfold."
Grammy-winning banjo musician and TED Fellow
"Ping Pong Productions has been producing really cutting edge dance productions all over the world. This highest caliber, this intellectual and aesthetic content, is exactly what we strive to bring to our University. Ms. Friedman is not only a good producer but she's actually a cultural ambassador in the best sense of the word, like the Confucius Institute is doing. She's working with Chinese and international governments and institutions to facilitate cultural exchanges and artistic collaborations. Without her expertise and patience, events like these would not happen."
Joseph Lam, Director
Confucius Institute, University of Michigan
"My experience [with Ping Pong] has been one of the most rewarding of my career, because I felt that I had the chance to really connect with people. It was incredibly gratifying to bring music to new audiences, and to try to share with them my story as well as learn from the people in China about their culture and their values. I am deeply moved by my experience."
Carla Dirlikov Canales
"To get as far as it has, L.A. Theater Works relied on Ms. Friedman, whose company, Ping Pong Productions, specializes in taking international performing arts to China and Chinese troupes to the West. After nearly a decade living and working here, she has learned how to navigate a maze of permits and egos, when to massage cultural bureaucrats and, perhaps most important, whom to call when roadblocks suddenly appear."
The New York Times, December 3, 2011
Tonight was transformative -- that type of play and messaging and that environment of creativity and meaning is rare for my team in China. Thank you!
Mike Violette, P.E.
Washington Laboratories, Ltd and American CB Beijing
"Alison Friedman is a consummate professional and knows how to work in China better than anyone. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater toured China twice in recent years and enthusiastically engaged Ms. Friedman for each tour. She helped us with all aspects of our tour, logistics, translation, and much more."
Calvin Hunt, General Manager
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
"I'm most moved by your devotion and consciousness in relation with spiritual and social messages for the good sake of the human kind. Nothing can sooth and heal better than arts and music."
Shalom Eilati, Author and Holocaust Survivor
"Crossing the River"
“I just read this article [from the NYTimes about the woman in NYC who told her Asian-American neighbor to go back to his country] and thought about how meaningful and important your work is.”
Goldman Sachs / Tsinghua University
“Alison, what you have created is remarkable .... beyond impressive. I just finished watching your most informative presentation at the U Chicago/ Paulson Institute. You provided a view of China and the Party, leadership and bureaucracy which does not make its way into the newscasts, political and economic analysis, but is so crucial if we are to truly understand China. Thank you for sending this to me.”
"My last trip to China [on a different program] was spent mostly interacting with Westerners. This trip was very different in that I was almost entirely performing for and interacting with Chinese people. I learned a lot more about Chinese culture. I was amazed at how curious Chinese people were about my life and culture. I was pleasantly surprised at how well people engaged with the music and the square dancing. The joy on their faces was amazing to see."
"After every city we visited, it felt like we had been there and known our hosts and the students for much longer than just a few days! I'm still in touch with many of the people I encountered. I have such warm memories of all the people I met! It was a wonderful first time in China and I can't wait for the next time to go back."
"The program left so many good friends and good feelings here. We all feel very fortunate to have experienced a piece of American culture that is rare in China. The visit by the Navajo performers has inspired a great deal of discussion, raised many questions, and led to further inquiry by students."
Jenny Tarlin, Director
American Cultural Center at University of Shanghai for Science and Technology
"Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the important United States-China cultural exchanges which serve to deepen mutual understanding and bring our two great peoples and nations together."
Clark T. Randt, Jr., Ambassador
Embassy of the United States of America, Beijing, China
"For Ping Pong Productions, the impossible seems effortless and every project becomes an artful collaboration. Their combination of integrity, experience and skills make them a formidable team of natural leaders and ideal colleagues for any China arts endeavor. I remember our projects of bringing American tap dancers to China and Chinese tap dancers to the US with great joy and look forward to future opportunities to work together."
Lane Alexander, Founder and Director
Chicago Human Rhythm Project
Alison Friedman, aside from being an incredibly energetic, positive and knowledgeable person, knows the Chinese cultural community and its complexities thoroughly. Since meeting her in 2007, she has provided me with deep insight and expertise into countless Chinese arts organizations, leading to an unforgettable Harris Theater presentation of Beijing Dance Theater's Wild Grass. Her skills continue to drive the possibility of future performances with the Leshan Dance Company, Shanghai Peking Opera Company and many others. She is an outstanding colleague, extraordinary collaborator and her expertise in navigating the Chinese cultural community is unmatched. If you want to really learn and understand the nuances of the current cultural scene in China, she is a go-to resource of the highest order.
Michael Tiknis, President and Managing Director
Harris Theater for Music and Dance
"Ping Pong Productions was responsible for building, developing, producing, managing, and distributing China’s most successful and globally sought-after avant-garde performance company."
"I don’t know if you recognize this uncle – a handsome youth back in the day from that movie! Actually, he prefers to be remembered for the work he's done for the stage, from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” a couple of years ago here in China to his recent “Harlequino: Onto Freedom”. As someone who lacks an artist’s genes, I started as a silly fan who follows him to theatres despite not understanding a single line in the performance. Now, I can understand the nuances behind the lines of each of the 13 characters. The lines have piqued my brain: What is freedom? Why do some characters not follow their script? The after-show talk shed a light on the logistics behind the stage, including how the cast worked with American prisons and incorporated related personnel into the performance. What important work! Some people got the hugs they wanted, and some mentioned the recent Presidential election, and that they will continue to fight for inclusion and create a better world. I’ve had a wonderful experience listening to the after-show talk. Thanks to my friend for introducing me to this event, and thanks to Ping Pong for bringing such an amazing cast and production to us!"
Shanghai Audience Member, Daguan Theatre
WeChat Post after Actors' Gang Performance "Harlequino: On to Freedom"
You were a great speaker and people were listening with great attention to what you had to say. You started with the history [of the performing arts in China] and then analysed the situation today brilliantly I thought. Someone in the audience said to me afterwards: “Now this is a truly inspirational speaker. She makes me want to get up and do something with my life.”
Luxembourg Embassy, Beijing and President, Beijing International Society
"What you do is amazing."