Artists at Play Producing Artistic Leader Stefanie Lau

It took a few years for me to find my identity as an arts administrator, and to figure out my role in the 50-plus-year history of Asian American theatre. In 2003 I represented East West Players at a Theatre Communications Group retreat for theatres of color. That’s where I met Mia Katigbak (National Asian American Theatre Company), Jorge Ortoll (Ma-Yi Theatre Company), Rick Shiomi (Mu Performing Arts), and representatives from Pan Asian Theatre and Second Generation. I was intimidated at first. How could I contribute to the conversation about Asian American theatre when I had only worked in the field for a few years and everyone else around me had dedicated decades of their lives?

But I quickly realized that “new” is what sustains theatre. Theatre grows and thrives because there are always new stories to tell, new innovative artists to work with, new technologies to integrate into our productions and new ways to connect with audiences. Asian American theatre is about forging forward with the experiences of the past and all possibilities of the future.

I finally understood that as a young arts administrator, an emerging arts leader, that I had to step up, use my voice and contribute alongside the veterans of our field. That it would take intergenerational collaboration to continue the movement of Asian American theatre and to assume our rightful place in American theatre.

The national gatherings organized by the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists is the epitome of that collaboration. It’s an opportunity for theatre practitioners of all backgrounds, experiences and disciplines to come together and imagine what Asian American theatre can and should be.

Planning for the 5th National Asian American Theatre Conference and Festival is underway. We hope that you can support the future of Asian American theatre by contributing to our Indiegogo campaign.

Stefanie Lau represents Artists at Play as a board member of the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists (CAATA), which hosts the biennial National Asian American Theater Festival and Conference (ConFest). Scheduled for October 1-8, ConFest is a week of performances, panel discussions, plenary and breakout sessions, new play readings, parties, networking and more. Please join us in supporting this year’s gathering at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, titled “Seismic Shifts: Leading Change in the American Theater,” by contributing to our crowd-funding campaign:

Through the generosity of Drs. Judy Shih and Joel Axelrod, major donors to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, every dollar raised through our campaign will be matched to double our impact in providing assistance to artists attending ConFest.

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