East West Players Announces 52nd Anniversary Season

East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theatre of color in the country and the largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work, is pleased to announce its 52nd Anniversary Season, The Company We Keep, which takes place from Fall 2017 through Summer 2018 and features co-productions with Rogue Artists EnsembleThe Robey Theatre CompanyJapanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC), and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, including two world premieres, an acclaimed revival, and the Los Angeles premiere of an award-winning Broadway musical.

“For our 52nd Anniversary Season, I thought a lot about the company we keep—the vital artistic and community partnerships that have supported and nurtured East West Players over the past 52 years. To that end, we are offering something no other theater company is doing: an entire season of co-productions. These extraordinary works reflect on and refract a wide range of Asian Pacific Islander experiences as seen through the lens of gender, race, and sexuality. We don’t shrink or hide. Instead, we stand taller, unafraid, and, most importantly, together. Welcome to The Company We Keep,” says EWP Artistic Director Snehal Desai.

EWP’s 52nd season commences with the world premiere of Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin, a special event presented in association with Rogue Artists Ensemble—a collective of multi-disciplinary artists that creates Hyper-theater, an innovative hybrid of theater traditions, puppetry, mask work, dance, music, and modern technology—with support from Venturous Theatre Fund of The Tides Foundation, the Jim Henson Foundation, the Japan Foundation, and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. Written by Lisa Dring, Rosie Narasaki, and Chelsea Sutton with Rogue Artists Ensemble, and directed by Rogue’s Artistic Director Sean T. Cawelti, Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin is a multi-sensory, site-specific experience refracting ancient Japanese ghost stories through a modern, multi-cultural lens, revealing the noise of our histories and the silences that haunt us. Performances run from October 5 – November 5, 2017 and will be staged at a secret Mid-City, six-story warehouse built in 1927, to be revealed after tickets have been purchased. More information at www.rogueartists.org.

EWP and The Robey Theatre Company—which explores, develops, and produces provocative plays written about the Global Black Experience—present the revival of Yohen, written by Philip Kan Gotanda, directed by The Robey’s Producing Artistic Director Ben Guillory, and starring Danny Glover, with support from the S. Mark Taper Foundation. In Japanese pottery, the term “yohen” refers to unpredictable changes that take place in the kiln. James and Sumi Washington are an interracial couple struggling to maintain their 37-year marriage after James retires from the US Army. The dramatic change in routine prompts questions about life, love, and aging, as the couple attempts to repair what’s broken and decide what is worth saving. Performances run from October 26 – November 19, 2017 at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. More information at www.eastwestplayers.org and www.robeytheatrecompany.com.

EWP and Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC)—one of the largest ethnic arts and cultural centers of its kind in the United States and a hub for Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture in Southern California—and by special arrangement with Sing Out, Louise! Productions and ATA, present the Los Angeles premiere of the Broadway musical Allegiance. With music and lyrics by Jay Kuo and a book by Marc Acito, Kuo, and Lorenzo Thione, Allegiance is inspired by the true childhood experiences of TV/film actor and social media icon George Takei (Mr. Sulu on “Star Trek”). Allegiance tells the story of the Kimura family, whose lives are upended when they and 120,000 other Japanese-Americans are forced to leave their homes following the events of Pearl Harbor. An uplifting testament to the power of the human spirit, Allegiance follows the Kimuras as they fight between duty and defiance, custom and change, family bonds and forbidden loves. Performances run from February 21 – April 1, 2018 at JACCC’s Aratani Theatre at 244 South San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. More information at www.eastwestplayers.org and JACCC.org.

EWP’s 52nd season closes with the world premiere of As We Babble On, presented in partnership with the Los Angeles LGBT Center and with support from the S. Mark Taper Foundation. Written by Nathan Ramos, winner of EWP’s “2042: See Change” playwriting contest, As We Babble On explores the pursuit of success, its costs, and conquering the Swedish BIGBOX. Benji, a first-generation Asian American, struggles in New York City to find his voice as his writing career stalls. As the professional paths of his best friend Sheila and his half-sister Laura begin to blossom, he begins to unravel. As We Babble On explores what lengths we are willing to go to realize our dreams, whether morality is tied to upward mobility, and whether boxed wine and soda is an appropriate sangria recipe after the age of 24. Performances run from May 31 – June 24, 2018 at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. More information at www.eastwestplayers.org and www.lalgbtcenter.org.

Single ticket sales will be announced at a later date. Season subscription options will be forthcoming in June 2017. For additional information about the 52nd season, please visit www.eastwestplayers.org or call (213) 625-7000. Dates, details, and ticket prices are subject to change.

As the nation’s premier Asian American theatre organization, East West Players produces artistic work and educational programs that foster dialogue exploring Asian Pacific Islander (API) experiences. Founded in 1965, at a time when APIs faced limited or no opportunities to see their experiences reflected outside of stereotypical and demeaning caricatures in the American landscape, EWP not only ensures that API stories are told, but works to increase access, inclusion, and representation in the economy.

For more information about East West Players, please visit www.eastwestplayers.org.

In California, May 10th is Declared ‘Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial Day’

This being May, it’s not a surprise to see a lot of events and activities commemorating Asian Pacific American Heritage month, including most recently, the Rally for Inclusion: 135th Anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act in San Francisco.

On Monday, May 8th, Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) authored House Resolution 31, which declares May 10, 2017 as California Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial Day, in honor of the nearly 12,000 Chinese railroad workers who helped build the Transcontinental Railroad. From the actual text of the bill:

“The 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad will take place on May 10, 2019 … That the Assembly recognizes and honors the Chinese railroad workers who labored from 1865 to 1869 to build the Transcontinental Railroad by designating May 10, 2017, and each May 10 thereafter, as California Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial Day.”

I had blogged about the 145th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad, where the Chinese railroad workers were essentially Photoshopped out of history.

The original photo commemorating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869 did not include Chinese laborers.

It’s terrific to see a 4th generation Chinese American bring up a bill to recognize the work of over 12,000 Chinese railroad workers who were essentially to connecting the nation from East to West via rail.

LAAPFF 2017: ‘King of Peking’ (京城之王)

8Asians is proud to be a community co-presenter of this film at the 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF). As a reader of 8Asians, please enjoy a discount to this film using the code: 8AZN17. Or the code CGVBP17 for $4 off General Admission tickets to all Buena Park screenings!

May 2, 2017 at 9:30 PM (Downtown Independent)
May 10, 2017 at 6:30 pm (CGV Buena Park)

King of Peking 京城之王
Directed by Sam Voutas

International Competition, LAAPFF Best of the Fest in OC / Australia, China, USA / 2017 / 88 mins / Mandarin with English subtitles / Color / 16:9, D-Cinema / West Coast Premiere

Sam Voutas and Producer Melanie Ansley in attendance!

“A heartwarming story about movie piracy,” just doesn’t gel well at a film festival where the theatrical experience is the enterprise’s bread and butter. Yet in the case of Sam Voutas’s sophomore directorial feature KING OF PEKING, this tagline fits the story to a tee. Set in late ‘90s China, KING OF PEKING evokes CINEMA PARADISO in its depiction of a country at the cusp of a socio-cultural explosion into a new century of economic prosperity.

Big Wong and Little Wong are a close-knit father-son duo. They travel around in a mobile cinema projecting Hollywood movies for local villagers. When Big Wong’s ex-wife demands he start paying child support, he realizes he may lose custody of his son. In order to raise enough money to stay together, Big Wong takes up a job as a janitor in an old Beijing movie theater. Happening upon an old DVD recorder at a pawnshop, he hatches a plan to raise money to pay for child support and retain custody of Little Wong. Setting up shop in the basement of the theater, Big Wong secretly records movies after hours and the result is the birth of a nascent bootleg DVD empire. At first, Little Wong has a good head for this business, which they name ‘King of Peking.’ But as business booms, Little Wong soon develops a crisis of conscience over the moral and ethical implications of this scheme. Big Wong sees his son’s torment and senses that he may be losing his trust.

Like his first film RED LIGHT REVOLUTON (Festival 2011), director Voutas’ stories capture working-class heroes trying to buck the system, infusing them with inherently Chinese nuances (thanks in part to his many years living and working in China, along with his producer and partner Melanie Ainsley). KING OF PEKING is an ode to cinema that eschews the sappy histrionics often associated with the magic and inspiration of the movies. This gritty take on a movie pirate’s desperate attempt to keep his son brims with inflections of Hollywood movie plots and characters that permeate into their everyday lives. It is an endearing love letter to cinema, but one populated by pedicab drivers, factory workers, fathers and sons.

— Anderson Le

LAAPFF 2017: ‘Plastic China’

8Asians is proud to be a community co-presenter of this film at the 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF). As a reader of 8Asians, please enjoy a discount to this film using the code: 8AZN17

April 30 at 4:00 PM (CGV Cinemas 3)

Plastic China
Directed by Jiu-Liang Wang
International Competition / China / 2016 / 82 mins / Mandarin with English subtitles / Color / 16:9, D-Cinema / Los Angeles Premiere

Eleven year old Yi-Jie plays with her younger brothers in piles of used plastic materials, often made into wondrous simulacra of modern life. Sheets of confectionery wrapping become colorful wallpaper; old newspapers and grocery store leaflets take flight, either as a superhero cape or an English lesson. While her family lives and works alongside their employer in the ever-continuous task of sifting, processing, melting and reformatting the vestiges of the first world, Yi-Jie takes care of the household. Being put to task by her ne’er-do-well father, a Yi minority man who brought his family to a small industrial town that is thousands of miles away from home, Yi-Jie remains ever willful and perspicacious, stealing moments away to learn a new word or concept — or to observe the parallel lives of Kun, their family’s employer, while he aspires and works hard towards achieving a better life for his own peasant-rooted family.

Director Wang Jiu-liang spent years investigating the post-consumer waste industrial systems which link China to the rest of the world (and vice versa), beginning with his renowned photography work and documentary BEIJING BESIEGED BY WASTE (2011). His unique approach to the award-winning documentary PLASTIC CHINA, however, remains far from didactic or inflammatory. Closely following two families over six years, this work invites us to see the universal in the ultra-personal: we may witness difficult family conversations, take stock in the banality (and toxicity) of their work, decipher divisions along ethnic and social classes, and even rejoice at the miracle of life. Coming full circle, then, the film may even prepare us to answer the question: How are we personally connected to one girl’s dreams of going to school, and what are we doing about it?

— Chanel Kong

Din Tai Fung Coming to San Diego in Fall 2017

Looks like Din Tai Fung is in expansion mode again, with reports in late January that the restaurant chain will be expanding into San Diego:

“Joining previously announced newcomers, including big-time national burger outfit Shake Shack and Javier’s and The Winery from Orange County, is world-renowned dumpling house Din Tai Fung. Founded in Taiwan, with locations now spanning the globe, the crowd-drawing eatery is known for its delicate, soup-filled steamed dumplings.”


Now the Westfield UTC mall is located at 4545 La Jolla Village Dr, San Diego, CA 92122. According to news reports, the new restaurants will be opening this fall. However, given the delays in the Santa Clara, California restaurant’s opening, I would be very surprised to see if this restaurant actually opens as scheduled.



Disneyland Resort Expands 2017 Lunar New Year Celebration to 17 Days, through Feb. 5

Lunar New Year Celebration Presents New ‘Hurry Home’ Presentation, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese Food and Entertainment, plus Disney Magic at Disney California Adventure Park

LUNAR NEW YEAR ENTERTAINMENT Ð Guests will celebrate and experience Asian culture with colorful live performances from various performing groups. This year's Lunar New Year celebration at Disney California Adventure Park is expanded for 17 days from Friday, Jan. 20 through Sunday Feb. 5, 2017, and pays tribute to the Year of the Rooster. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland)
LUNAR NEW YEAR ENTERTAINMENT Ð Guests will celebrate and experience Asian culture with colorful live performances from various performing groups. This year’s Lunar New Year celebration at Disney California Adventure Park is expanded for 17 days from Friday, Jan. 20 through Sunday Feb. 5, 2017, and pays tribute to the Year of the Rooster. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland)

Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Mulan and Mushu will join guests for a bigger-than-ever Lunar New Year celebration at Disney California Adventure Park, from Friday, Jan. 20, through Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. This joyous celebration for the Year of the Rooster expands to 17 days, with colorful live performances, fun-filled activities, beautiful decor, Disney characters in their Lunar New Year costumes, and special food and merchandise offerings.

Guests at the Lunar New Year celebration will discover new Disney magic as they experience Chinese and Vietnamese cultures through a variety of live performances, including Chinese acrobats and authentic musicians. Each night prior to “World of Color,” a new feature called “Hurry Home – Lunar New Year Celebration” will tell the tale of a journey home for Lunar New Year. The six-minute feature is presented in sequences, utilizing projected animation along with the lighting, special effects and powerful fountains of “World of Color.”

As “Hurry Home” unfolds, guests follow along on the journey of a Little Lantern returning home for the annual celebration of good luck and fortune. Little Lantern encounters three “dream sequences,” featuring appearances by Mulan and the dragon Mushu. “Hurry Home” employs two contrasting animation styles, with fully rendered CG animation and sequences inspired by traditional Chinese paper cut-out style animation. The story is scored with music created for the opening ceremony of Shanghai Disney Resort by Academy Award- winning composer Tan Dun (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”).

LUNAR NEW YEAR CELEBRATION Ð Guests will celebrate Lunar New Year with the new, six-minute feature called ÒHurry Home Ð Lunar New Year CelebrationÓ presented before ÒWorld of ColorÓ at Disney California Adventure Park. The heartwarming nighttime water show follows the journey of a Little Lantern returning home for the annual celebration, and features appearances by Mulan and Mushu. This year's Lunar New Year festivities are expanded for 17 days from Friday, Jan. 20 through Sunday Feb. 5, 2017, and pays tribute to the Year of the Rooster. (Richard Harbaugh/Disneyland)
LUNAR NEW YEAR CELEBRATION Ð Guests will celebrate Lunar New Year with the new, six-minute feature called ÒHurry Home Ð Lunar New Year CelebrationÓ presented before ÒWorld of ColorÓ at Disney California Adventure Park. The heartwarming nighttime water show follows the journey of a Little Lantern returning home for the annual celebration, and features appearances by Mulan and Mushu. This year’s Lunar New Year festivities are expanded for 17 days from Friday, Jan. 20 through Sunday Feb. 5, 2017, and pays tribute to the Year of the Rooster. (Richard Harbaugh/Disneyland)

Lunar New Year, traditionally celebrated within Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures, commemorates the moment when both the sun and the moon begin their journey for another year. Highlights of the Lunar New Year celebration at Disney California Adventure include:

  • Three locations within the Lunar New Year Marketplace offering foods inspired by the cultures of China (Pork Soup Dumplings, Turnip Cakes with Spicy Sausage), Korea (Kimchi Fried Rice, Steamed Vegetable Dumpling) and Vietnam (Sticky Rice Cake with Pork, Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer)
  • Additional Lunar New Year menu items at Paradise Garden Grill, including Vegetable Japchae, Kalbi Beef Short Ribs with Steamed Rice, Whole Crispy Tilapia with Citrus Chile Vinaigrette, Beef Pho Noodle Soup, Mango Pudding and Cassava Coconut Cake.
  • Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Chip ‘n Dale, Mulan and Mushu, dressed in their Lunar New Year attire, will welcome guests to a beautiful photo location with a Lunar New Year-themed setting and Happy Lunar New Year banners in English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese.
  • Live performances by an array of authentic performers, including Chinese concert musician Jie Ma performing on the traditional pipa string instrument, and Vietnamese concert guitarist, composer and teacher Dat Nguyen.
  • The Acrobats of China perform an exciting mix of traditional and classic Chinese dance with human performance art including riveting feats of strength, grace and balance. This award-winning troupe showcases a cultural art form that has been thrilling audiences for more than 2,500 years.
  • “Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession” – Mulan and her dragon friend Mushu welcome the Year of the Rooster with a colorful and exciting procession of beautiful Chinese umbrella dancers and other delightful performers who arrive to music from Disney’s beloved animated film “Mulan.”
  • Lucky Wishing Wall, where guests may add their own wishes for a wonderful future
    Lunar New Year décor, including beautiful ornamental lanterns and banners wishing guests a Happy Lunar New Year in English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese
    Lunar New Year commemorative merchandise, including a specially designed t-shirt, pin, decorative trinket box and traditional red envelopes for gift-giving.

For a limited time only, Disneyland Resort guests may celebrate the tradition, sights, sounds and tastes of Lunar New Year with a touch of Disney magic, only at Disney California Adventure. Guests may check for daily entertainment schedules as they become available, at www.Disneyland.com/LunarNewYear

The Disneyland Resort features two spectacular theme parks – Disneyland (the original Disney theme park) and Disney California Adventure Park – plus three hotels and the Downtown Disney District, comprising unique dining, entertainment and shopping experiences. The Resort’s hotels are the luxurious, 948-room Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which also features 50 two-bedroom equivalent Disney Vacation Club units; the magical, 973-room Disneyland Hotel – both AAA Four Diamond properties – and the 481-room Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel with its “day-at-the-beach” theme. For information on attractions and vacations at the Disneyland Resort, visit Disneyland.com, call (866) 43-DISNEY or contact local travel agents. Located in Anaheim, Calif., the Disneyland Resort opened July 17, 1955. Open daily, year- round.

“What Role Can We Play in Fighting Hate Online?” L.A. Event from the ADL Asian Jewish Initiative and NextGen Community

Robert Kang
Robert Kang
The community is invited to a discussion on “What role can we play in fighting hate online?” sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League’s Asian Jewish Initiative and NextGen Community on Wednesday, February 15, at Google, 340 Main St. in Venice, at 7 p.m. There will be a NextGen-hosted happy hour following the program.

Speakers include Brittan Heller, ADL’s first Director of Technology and Society, and Robert Kang, Cyber Security Counsel and lecturer.

The ADL Asian Jewish Initiative is a partnership with Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, Japanese American National Museum, Korean American Coalition, Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, and Search to Involve Pilipino Americans.

The ADL NextGen community introduces ADL’s mission, policies and initiatives to new, youthful audiences and emerging community leaders.

Admission is free but pre-registration is required at:
this form or email [email protected]. Call 310-446-4232 with questions.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is one of the nation’s premier human relations and civil rights agencies and is dedicated to combating anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defending democratic ideals, and protecting civil rights for all.

DNC 2016 – Day 4 – Quick Chat with CA State Treasurer John Chiang and Governor 2018!

Although I had seen California State Treasury John Chiang several times during the week at the Democratic National Convention, I hadn’t had a chance to do an interview. On Day 4 at the California Delegates Breakfast, I finally did, though only briefly, to get his thoughts on the Convention as well as his run for Governor of California in 2018.


Yes, that’s right. I don’t think I’ve had the chance to blog Chiang’s announcement, but back in May or so, Chiang announced that he’s officially running:

“California Treasurer John Chiang has made it official: He’s running for governor in 2018. …

“As your next Governor, I have a blueprint for expanding and renewing the California dream through fixing our crumbling infrastructure, making retirement security our generation’s call to arms, and rebuilding California’s middle class through better jobs and improved educational opportunities,” Chiang said. …

Right now, Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is the only other well-known California politician to officially jump into the governor’s race . Newsom has been aggressively raising money and already has $5.4 million cash on hand.

Skelton said that Chiang has $3.2 million left over from his successful 2014 bid for treasurer and can transfer that money to his new campaign account for governor.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also has expressed an interest in running for governor, but the Democrat isn’t expected to make a decision until the summer or fall.

Chiang, a Democrat from Torrance, has been elected to statewide office three times: twice as controller and as state treasurer in 2014.”

I’m thinking that John has a real chance of being elected governor. Newsom I think is overall more well known, but I think a bit too liberal for a lot of Californians and has some personal baggage that some voters might not like, though Newsom did get elected as Lieutenant Governor. John is a practical Democrat that is well liked among Democratic insiders. I think Asian Americans (especially Democrats and Independents), who comprise of 15% of the California electorate, will overwhelming support John.  We’ll see though, there is a lot of time between now and November 2018!


15th Cycle of Visual Communications’ Armed With a Camera (AWC) is Accepting Applications

Visual Communications is now accepting applications for its prestigious Armed With a Camera Fellowship!

In its 15th cycle, the Armed With a Camera (AWC) fellowship has helped over 120 emerging filmmakers to launch careers and give voice to their Asian Pacific American heritage and communities. This program offers six months of training, funding, mentorship, facilities and equipment and an elite world premiere venue – the 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival!

The AWC Fellowship will award up to ten fellows a cash stipend to complete a four to five-minute digital video. In addition, Fellows will attend an all-expenses paid animated filmmaking workshop to LAIKA Entertainment (KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, CORALINE, CORPSE BRIDE, PARANORMAN) in Portland, OR.

AWC provides the springboard for emerging media makers for their career. Many alumni have gone on to produce feature films, documentaries and other media. Past fellows include Daniel Hsia (SHANGHAI CALLING), Eugene-Lee Yang (BUZZFEED MOTION PICTURES), Kristina Wong (WONG STREET JOURNAL), Evan Jackson Leong (LINSANITY), AYA TANIMURA (music videos), ERNESTO FORONDA (BETTER LUCK TOMORROW) and Erin Li (KEPLER X-47).

Apply today. Eligible applicants must be of Asian Pacific descent and residents of Southern California. If accepted, Fellows must be able to attend mandatory meetings and workshops in Los Angeles. Women, Native Hawaiians & Pacific Islanders, South Asian, and Southeast Asian filmmakers (particularly animators) are highly encouraged to apply to the AWC Fellowship.

You can find the application information here: vconline.org/awc. The AWC Fellowship application closes on October 7, 2016.

East West Players Announces Snehal Desai As Its New Artistic Director

8A-2016-07-01-EWP-SnehalDesaiEast West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theatre of color in the country and the largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work for the stage, announces Snehal Desai, as the organization’s fourth Artistic Director, following an extensive nationwide executive search conducted by the Arts Consulting Group. Outgoing Producing Artistic Director Tim Dang will work in an advisory capacity during a transitional period with Desai who assumes his new role starting July 1.

“We are excited that Snehal will be EWP’s next artistic leader,” said Board Co-Chair Daniel Mayeda. “He has a national reputation in the theatre world as a fierce proponent of diversity, multi-culturalism and new Asian American artistic work.” Board Co-Chair Randy Tamura added, “We believe Snehal has the communication and managerial skills, artistic creativity, and dynamic vision for the future of Asian American theatre that make him the ideal candidate to lead the organization into its next fifty years.”

“Since I met Snehal in 2011, aside from his artistic gifts and his producing skills, I recognized a charm and diplomacy in his leadership that will advance East West Players and the next generation of artists through the remarkable sea change that is happening in American theatre,” remarks Tim Dang, East West Players outgoing Artistic Director. “Snehal’s extensive involvement in his career developing over two hundred new plays, the vast majority by artists of color, has allowed him to hone an artistic style and voice that is focused on diversity, inclusion, community building, and social justice. I look forward to his and EWP’s growth and stature in the coming years.”

“I am deeply humbled and thrilled to be East West Players’ next Artistic Director,” said Desai. “EWP has proven time and time again that it is a leader in the American theatrical landscape and that the status quo is not enough. We must keep working to provide artists of color the opportunities and visibility they deserve. Under Tim’s extraordinary 23 year tenure, EWP has consistently demonstrated this with the rich and diverse range of work it has produced. I am grateful for his guidance and example.” Snehal continued, “I am also honored to have been welcomed into the East West Players community these past few years. I look forward to working with the Los Angeles community, the national theater community, board, artists, staff, and patrons to lead this seminal theater company from its golden anniversary into its next golden era.”

As Artistic Director of East West Players, Desai will be charged with providing the artistic vision and strategic, financial and operational direction of one of the most prominent theaters of color in the country. Desai will assume artistic responsibilities immediately and select the 2017-2018 Season.

Desai is currently East West Players’ Associate Artistic Director. His EWP directorial works include the world premiere productions of “A Nice Indian Boy,” and the “U.S. v. Bhagat Singh Thind,” as well as last year’s critically acclaimed production of “The Who’s Tommy.” He has directed plays at venues from The Old Globe in San Diego to Boom Arts in Portland, Oregon to the Old Vic in London, and worked at more than a dozen theaters in New York City. Desai has also produced the annual EWP Visionary Awards gala; oversaw play submissions as Literary Manager; administered the David Henry Hwang Writers Institute; administered the 2042: See Change National Playwriting Competition and the New Asian American Musicals initiative; managed artistic partnerships with local and regional theatres (including Pasadena Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and A Noise Within); and served as EWP representative on the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition. Among various positions he has held, Desai served as Resident Director of Theater Emory; participated in the Lincoln Center Directors Lab; and was a literary fellow with London’s Royal Shakespeare Company.

A Soros Fellow and the recipient of a Tanne Award, Desai was in the Inaugural Class of Theater Communications Group’s (TCG) “Spark” Leadership Program, was featured in American Theatre magazine’s “20 Theater Workers You Should Know”, and was the Inaugural Recipient of the Drama League’s Classical Directing Fellowship. He was recently featured in the Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC) Journal and is a member of SDC. Snehal received his B.A. in Theater Studies and Political Science at Emory University and a M.F.A. in Directing from the Yale School of Drama.

Mission Statement: As the nation’s premier Asian American theatre organization, East West Players produces artistic works and educational programs that foster dialogue exploring Asian Pacific experiences.

Established in 1965, East West Players (EWP) has been hailed as the nation’s leading Asian American theater troupe for award-winning productions that blend Eastern and Western movement, costumes, language, and music. EWP has premiered more than 100 plays and musicals about the Asian Pacific American experience and has held more than 1,000 readings and workshops. EWP’s emphasis is on building bridges between East and West, and one measure of our success is an audience of 56% Asians and a remarkable 44% non-Asian attendance. East West Players was founded by nine Asian-American artists (Mako, Rae Creevey, Beulah Quo, Soon-Tek Oh, James Hong, Pat Li, June Kim, Guy Lee, and Yet Lock) seeking opportunities to take on roles beyond the stereotypical parts they were being offered in Hollywood. EWP continues to provide unique opportunities for Asian-American artists and is committed to advocating for more diverse representations of the Asian-American experience on TV and across all media.

In 1998, EWP Artistic Director Tim Dang led the company’s move from a 99-seat Equity Waiver “black box” theatre into a new 240-seat venue at an Actors Equity Association contract level. EWP’s mainstage is the David Henry Hwang Theater, housed within the historic Union Center for the Arts in downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district, where it serves more than 10,000 people each year. www.EastWestPlayers.org

Remembering Prolific and Pioneering Asian American Studies Scholar Don Nakanishi


By Dr. Dawn Lee Tu

On Monday, March 21st, the field of Asian American Studies suffered a tremendous loss. Don Nakanishi, Professor Emeritus at the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, passed away at the age of 66. Nakanishi was a beloved, respected and pioneering scholar in the field and spent over four decades combined teaching Asian American Studies, providing national leadership in developing and advancing the field of Asian American Studies and Ethnic Relations Scholarship, and serving as the Center Director.

A prolific writer, and influential scholar and teacher, Nakanishi’s faculty profile describes his body of work that includes over 100 articles, books, and reports on Asian Pacific American political and education research. The profile indicates, “He was the first to demonstrate that Asian Americans, despite their high group levels of education and income that are usually associated with active political participation, had very low levels of voter registration and voting.”

Nakanishi’s record of service includes being a former president of the Association of Asian American Studies, a co-founder and publisher of Amerasia Journal that has been publishing Asian American Studies scholarship since 1971, and a co-founder of AAPI Nexus: Asian American and Pacific Islander Policy, Practice, and Community Research. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund Board of Directors that is credited for the issuing a national apology and issuing reparations for the 120,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. Nakanishi served on numerous boards of directors including Poverty and Race Research Action Council, the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance, and the Asian American Justice Center.

Nakanishi mentored countless undergraduate and graduate students, and as word spread about his passing, many took to social media to share their sadness for the passing of their mentor and colleague. Dr. Cheryl Matias, Assistant Professor in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado at Denver, reflected, “Don was a kind of mentor who said few words but felt fully embraced.” Dr. Oiyan Poon, Assistant Professor in Higher Education at Loyola University Chicago, shared how he “masterfully mentored with a fierce heart for social justice and bridge building.”

Continue reading “Remembering Prolific and Pioneering Asian American Studies Scholar Don Nakanishi”

Hillary Clinton speaks at AAPI for Hillary Launch Event in San Gabriel

8A-2016-01-07-AAPIforHillaryHillary Clinton traveled to San Gabriel, California, on January 7, 2016, to launch Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) for Hillary.

Clinton joined Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chairwoman Judy Chu and dozens of AAPI elected officials and community leaders from across the nation. Clinton discussed what’s at stake in this election for the AAPI community, and how she’ll fight for them as president.

Hillary Clinton began her remarks with a personal anecdote about what the San Gabriel Valley region means to her, sharing that her mother grew up in nearby Alhambra.

Other speakers and dignitaries included Norm Mineta, John Chiang, San Gabriel Mayor Jason Pu, actress Ming-Na Wen, Olympian Michelle Kwan, and more.

The launch of AAPI for Hillary kicks off a number of events and activities that will engage, energize and organize AAPI voters.