East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theater of color and the largest producer of Asian American artistic work, will lead a discussion on race politics in the American theater entitled “Why Not Asian? Why Asian?” on Monday, Oct. 22, at 2 p.m. PDT/5 p.m. EDT at East West Players’ David Henry Hwang Theater in Little Tokyo.
The purpose of the forum is to find ways for theaters to provide more opportunities for Asian Americans. This past July, the La Jolla Playhouse (LJP) set off a firestorm when it presented a workshop production of a play entitled “The Nightingale,” set in a mythical China with several Chinese characters, including the Emperor. The mixed cast consisted of several white males, no Asian American males and only two Asian Americans in a cast of 12.
The panel will include the artistic directors of four of the leading theaters in Southern California: Christopher Ashley (La Jolla Playhouse), Sheldon Epps (Pasadena Playhouse), Marc Masterson (South Coast Repertory), and Michael Ritchie (Center Theatre Group). The discussion will be moderated by Linda Oku, corporate diversity consultant for Fortune 500 companies and nonprofit organizations.
Actors Sandra Oh (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and Tamlyn Tomita (“Glee,” “Days of Our Lives”) will also participate in the forum, which will focus on the following questions:
– How can Asian American talent (writers, directors, designers, performers) be more visible/participatory in the American theater process?
– What is the role of artistic vision in a community of changing demographics?
– How can we propel a nationwide movement to advance greater diversity in the American theater?
– What is the strategy we can walk away with after this discussion?
For more information and the latest updates, check out the EWP website or Facebook page.