|2016 AAP Readings rehearsal of As We Babble On by Nathan Ramon (seated, center)|
Artists at Play is constantly looking for plays that go beyond the immigrant experience. We seek stories that expand the Asian American narrative in theatre and reflect Asian Americans who are tackling modern lives that both encompass and transcend issues of cultural identity. AAP is proud to carefully mine selections that are fantastic examples of this narrative.
When AAP debuted back in 2011, we wanted to showcase Asian American plays that had yet to be experienced by local audiences. Since then, AAP has had the great fortune of connecting with many Asian American playwrights. We soon realized the need to add our commitment to the development and production of new plays by these artists. With several L.A. premieres of already-published works under our belt, we naturally shifted more of our focus to supporting writers—both established and emerging.
When we had the opportunity to partner with Carla Ching on her play The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up, we knew it was something special. Working with a playwright to develop a new play is a greater challenge, but it was the right step for AAP to begin using our resources and experience to help shepherd new and diverse stories to American theatre. The overwhelmingly positive response from our 2015 Artists at Play Readings led to a world premiere the following fall season.
|2015 reading of The Two Kids… by Carla Ching with Julia Cho and Raymond Lee
2016 production of The Two Kids... with Nelson Lee and Julia Cho
This coming season bolsters our reputation as champions of new works. Along with The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up, Leah Nanako Winkler’s Two Mile Hollow is another great outcome of our annual spring reading series. In the words of the playwright:
Leah Nanako Winkler
“Artists at Play is one of the smartest, fearless supportive theater companies I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. They have had a tremendous impact on my career—especially with the success of my play Two Mile Hollow.
In 2015, Julia emailed me and asked if I had any plays that could potentially be submitted to Artists at Play’s annual reading series. I sent them an early draft of Two Mile Hollow—a satire of white people by the water plays (a genre where white people sit in a big house by the water and complain about their problems)—which was at the time did not cast actors of color playing white people on the central parts. This idea was sparked by Artists at Play and completely elevated the script’s intention and made the satire more biting and nuanced. The next year, Artists at Play and Second Generation productions presented a reading of the play at CAATA (National Asian American Theatre Festival & Conference) and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. There I got to meet and share the work so many amazing people. I’m so excited to present the play with Artists at Play—the very company who gave this play a chance in the first place and made me see the potential it had from a wider lens. It would probably still be an unopened document on my computer if it were not for the good folks at Artists at Play!”
As our next mainstage show (and part of a national simultaneous world premiere), Two Mile Hollow demonstrates that AAP not only fosters work through development but also gives playwrights first productions of their new plays. AAP is proud to encourage and enable writers who will contribute not only to Los Angeles theatre but American theatre as a whole.
|2016 workshop of Two Mile Hollow by Leah Nanako Winker
at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Our work over the last six years has shown us that the L.A. theatre community is hungry for the work that we do. We hear from Asian American playwrights and actors of color wanting to present their craft on stage, as well as audience members wanting to see new, fresh stories about the world around them. Taking all that into account, our future goals include producing an expanded version of our spring reading series and commissioning full-length works. We are excited to explore new ways in which we can cultivate the work of artists of color and consequently contribute to the further diversifying of voices in theatre.
We’re thrilled to continue our mission of the development of new plays this spring in our Artists at Play Readings series. On April 28, we will present two new plays by emerging playwrights: Three Women of Swatow by Chloé Hung and Young Dumb Broke High School Kids by Nicholas Pilapil.