The Engineer Behind the Mask

by moxielicious


Dana Byrne in JADE HEART. Photo by Daren Scott

A single mask has a thousand faces and the mask that actress Dana Byrne wears in MOXIE Theatre’s San Diego premiere of JADE HEART, playing now through August 10, 2014,  is no exception. The truth is that the actress gives the mask its faces and Dana Byrne has certainly filled the mask she wears as the character “China Mom.”  Dana also plays several other wonderful characters in JADE HEART, including the charming and wise Mu Chang. San Diego audiences may have seen her in the San Diego Choraleers’ Musical Concert Bye Bye Birdie as Kim in May and June 2014, but to many of our audiences she’s a new talent in San Diego. She took a moment between performances to let the MOXIE Blog interview her.

When did you first begin acting?

I loved acting since I was a young girl and was a pretty successful singer and dancer when I was a teenager. After that, due to culture and family influence, I did not continue acting, instead, I was perusing a career as an engineer.  After two of my children grew up, I returned to my beloved acting about 2 years ago.

How has the process been working on JADE HEART?

Delicia is a wonderful director, and it is a  joy when I feel I have made her directions into my real actions.  I am so happy to work with the talented cast and they are my inspirations. I am grateful that Jo Anne spent a lot of time helping with my diction, and when I hear my improved voice, it is full of joy. Having been working at Moxie Theatre will always be in my happiest memories.


Dana Wing Lau and Dana Byrne in JADE HEART. Photo by Daren Scott

The under-representation of Asia-Americans on stage is something that has been coming more into focus in the public eye over last few years. Obviously for you, it’s an issue you were already aware of. How has working on JADE HEART been in light of those challenges you face as an Asian-American actress?

I appreciate that Will writes this wonderful play that displays Chinese culture, politics, and history. I appreciate that Moxie Theatre embraces this play by using Asian actors to tell the stories.  Asian actors had been under-represented for years and we are not generally considered for many plays. So this production means a lot.

What do you think audiences will enjoy most about JADE HEART?

I think Jade Heart tells a unique story in unique ways. It is a dramatic play with humor. One of my friends said she cried during the play because she felt pain and sorrow for Jade and her two moms and, at the same time, it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and the humor in the play made her laugh.

Some people love the non-linear style of the play. One of my friends said the style of Jade Heart provides opportunities for the audience to think or guess what will happen next, and they continue to think when the play has ended.  

JADE HEART is playing now – August 10, 2014 at MOXIE Theatre. Tickets available at or call 858-598-7620