Looking for Our Own Stories: Asian American Representation and the Legacy of East West Players and Theater Mu
MetadataShow full item record
Type of Work33 pages
ProgramMA in Arts Administration
RightsThis work may be protected under Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law. To obtain information or permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Goucher Special Collections & Archives at 410-337-6347 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
SubjectsAsian American theatres
Asian American theaters
Asian American arts
East West Players
Asian American representation in the arts
Asian American identity
Arts administration -- Theses.
Asian American theatres have been nurturing Asian American artists and telling Asian American stories since 1965. Theatres such as East West Players in Los Angeles; Asian American Theater Company in San Francisco; Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, National Asian American Theatre Company, and Ma-Yi Theater Company in New York City; Northwest Asian American Theater in Seattle; and Theater Mu3 in Minneapolis were born out of a need for Asian Americans to be seen as complex humans, to tell their own stories, and to carve out space in a field that excluded them or relegated them to minor, often stereotypical, racist roles. As Ralph Peña, the Artistic Director of Ma-Yi Theater Company states, the work of Asian American theatres is to “tell Asian stories from Asian artists, with Asian agency and centering Asian lives, therefore humanizing Asian lives....so when we do that, it’s harder to choke somebody on the subway until they’re unconscious” (Tran). This paper focuses on two Asian American theatres that were founded nearly thirty years apart in vastly different places in the US: East West Players in 1965 and Theater Mu in 1992. This paper draws attention to theatres that have an extensive legacy of serving their communities and producing relevant programming, explores common factors that have led to each theatre’s stability and success, and interprets history through the lens of arts administration. As Asian American theatres, East West Players and Theater Mu are critical sites for negotiating identity and the evolving definition of (what it means to be) “Asian American,” and their longevity has been powered by the resilience of Asian American artists and a vital commitment to representing their communities.
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