The Great Leap 


A sharp-witted new drama

When an American basketball team travels to Beijing for an exhibition game in 1989, the drama goes deeper than the strain between countries. For two men with a past and one teen with a future, the game is a chance to claim personal victories on and off the court. Tensions rise right up to the final buzzer as a pivotal moment in history collides with the action in the arena. Driven by rapid-fire dialogue, this perceptive new play explores the cultural and political risks of raising your voice and standing your ground.

Five things to know

  • This play is (and isn’t) about basketball.
  • It explores how family, identity and survival shape each character and bring them to a pivotal moment of truth.
  • Lauren Yee is one of the most produced playwrights in the country and has collaborated with director Desdemona Chiang for more than a decade.
  • The title refers to the game of basketball and the Communist Party of China’s Great Leap Forward campaign in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
  • You don’t have to be a history or basketball buff to engage with the story. 

Ticket prices

Prices range from $29 to $78.

Pro tip: Preview performances start at $15 (January 12–17). Hurry, these go quickly! 

Detailed pricing

Venue info

The Great Leap will take place on the McGuire Proscenium Stage.

Pro tip: Can't do stairs or have a special seating request? Call the Box Office for details. 

Content advisory

This production contains mature language, strobe light effects, haze and simulated gunshots.

Run time

Approximately 1 hour, 45 minutes (including intermission)

First-timer's Guide

What do I wear? Is there parking? Here is a quick guide to make your first visit memorable. 

Play guide

Did you know The Great Leap is loosely based on the life of playwright Lauren Yee's father? 

Download the play guide


ASL-interpreted, audio-described and open-captioned performances are available on select dates. 

Learn More about Accessibility

Related events

Post-play discussions

The best conversations happen after hours. Stay late or come early on these dates for a discussion with the artists who bring the show to life.

See dates

In the news


“Full of banter you'll want to hear again and characters you want to root for”

Read the full Minnesota Monthly review. 


Learn how playwright Lauren Yee's father inspired The Great Leap and how the game of basketball bridges east and west.

Read the full MPR story.   


Watch the trailer

Basketball provides the framework for this new play that blends history, politics and identity. 


Lee Sellars (Saul) and Lawrence Kao (Manford) in The Great Leap. Photo by Dan Norman. 

Leah Anderson (Connie) and Lawrence Kao (Manford) in The Great Leap. Photo by Dan Norman. 

Lee Sellars (Saul) and Kurt Kwan (Wen Chang) in The Great Leap. Photo by Dan Norman. 

Lee Sellars (Saul) and Kurt Kwan (Wen Chang) in The Great Leap. Photo by Dan Norman. 

Lawrence Kao (Manford) and Lee Sellars (Saul) in The Great Leap. Photo by Dan Norman. 

Kurt Kwan (Wen Chang) in The Great Leap. Photo of Dan Norman. 

Kurt Kwan (Wen Chang) and Lawrence Kao (Manford) in The Great Leap. Photo by Dan Norman. 



Leah Anderson


Lawrence Kao


Kurt Kwan

Wen Chang

Lee Sellars


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Lauren Yee


Desdemona Chiang


Sara Ryung Clement

Scenic Designer

Helen Huang

Costume Designer

Paul P. Whitaker

Lighting Designer

Sarah Pickett

Sound Designer

Tom Mays

Projection Designer

Jo Holcomb


Keely J. Wolter

Voice and Dialect Coach

Jason Clusman

Stage Manager

Tierra K. Anderson

Assistant Stage Manager

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