Well, it’s been a minute.
Pardon the delay, blog. I was busy researching and writing that major paper required for graduation.
Speaking of, you can actually download and read my paper, “Looking for Our Own Stories: Asian American Representation and the Legacy of East West Players and Theater Mu,” on the MD SOAR website (Maryland Shared Open Access Repository). The presentation of my paper is also available to view. It’s worth reading the paper and watching the presentation as they reinforce one another without repeating too much of each other. (I suggest watching the presentation first.) Here’s a little snippet from my paper:
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 Mu 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.
I was going to write a reflection on the research and writing process, but it’s been almost 4 months since I submitted the paper. And frankly, how much do I really remember? (And maybe, that process and reflection should just be for me.)
And yet. I want to document it here as well. Document its existence. Document my words and the words and experiences of the people I interviewed for the paper. Document and share the news that my paper was one of two papers selected as the winners of the Jean Wilhelm Award for best paper!
Is this the time for a mic drop? And champagne? Yes to both!
Since I’m on a documenting spree, might as well drop this here. I was the graduate student speaker at Commencement in May. My speech starts at around 31:35.