What is the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists? And what does it mean to me?

CAATA organizes the biennial Asian American Theatre Conference and Festival. Planning for the 6th national convening is underway. We hope that you can support the future of Asian American theatre by contributing to our Indiegogo campaign.

“How has CAATA impacted the work that I do? What does CAATA mean to you?”

Jonathan Castanien, Stage Manager

CAATA has been a major impact on the work that I do, especially as a theatre professional in the early stages of my career. Not only has it been a place that has connected me to brilliant artists, but it serves as a reminder of the community that I am a part of. It’s the place where I can go to recharge my creative energies and be blown away by the vibrant work of my community. It reinvigorates my drive to be an advocate and voice in equity and inclusion across the theatrical landscape by seeing what Asian American artists can do first hand.

Marie-Reine Velez, AAP Producing Artistic Leader

CAATA has played a very important role in my career and how I participate in theatre. The convenings have given me the opportunity to participate in the national dialogue of Asian American theatre, creating the tools to move our field forward and continue to build a stronger community of artists and organizations. I have met incredible artists and people at CAATA, ranging all ages, disciplines, and regions around the world. Because of CAATA, I have been introduced to amazing new work being created and developed by our colleagues on a national level, and these experiences inspire me to broaden my scope and capacity as a theatre producer and patron of the arts.

Julia Cho, AAP Producing Artistic Leader

The very existence of CAATA serves as an important reminder that I am not alone in the theatre I help create or in the passion I have which fuels that work. Artists at Play is just one small theatre-producing collective here in Los Angeles. Producing and presenting theatre—not to mention Asian American theatre—can feel incredibly thankless, wondering whether the masses even care, knowing that showcasing Asians onstage may not be as flashy or exciting as seeing them on a screen. But knowing that there are others throughout the country also putting in the countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears bring us back to the importance of the work that we do. Yes, theatre is important even if people have been decrying its validity or calling about its demise for years and years. Theatre still exists and Asians will continue to grace its stages in growing numbers based on the work that we do alongside our fellow CAATA members and countless other theatres and artists nationwide.

Stefanie Lau, AAP Producing Artistic Leader

In 2003, I represented East West Players at a historic gathering of theatre leaders of color at a Theatre Communications Group retreat. It was there that the first conversations were had about a national Asian American theatre conference. Three years later, East West Players produced “The Next Big Bang” and Asian American theatre artists, practitioners and academics convened in Los Angeles. I was in awe. I was meeting titans of the Asian American theatre movement, people who had dedicated their lives to bringing equity, diversity and inclusion to American theatre. It was the first time I understood how I could contribute to the legacy of Asian American theatre. CAATA is the organization that grew from the first conference, and I am so proud to sit on its board of directors, representing Artists at Play, a company that is creating theatre with the knowledge of the past and possibilities of the future.

Kristina Wong, Performance Artist

When I hear Asian Americans say that our stories aren’t being reflected back to us in culture and that we are rarely the leads in our own stories, I think, “That’s because you haven’t been to the theater.” Asian American narratives that are nuanced, experimental, queer, hilarious and edgy as hell have been here the whole time inside theaters but the rest of the world can’t seem to find us. CAATA gives us a voice in the national theater conversation.  CAATA has given me a space to try insane shit out that nobody else will. CAATA is letting America that we have already arrived.

Katherine Chou, AAP Producing Assistant

CAATA is about the shared as well as the specific: bringing Asian-American theater artists together while showcasing their artistic differences and encouraging collaborations between artists of so many different stripes. Asian-American artists have emotional and cultural labor to shoulder on top of their efforts as artists. An organization like CAATA lightens that load by bringing together the collective strength of our shared experiences. For someone at the start of their career like myself, this support is invaluable. CAATA builds on work that has been and is being done across the country, so that the art itself can take off in exciting new directions. 

Howard Ho, Playwright and Composer

CAATA has changed my life as a theatre artist. I met so many amazing colleagues from all over the world who I would never have otherwise been in a room with. I even got my first LORT theatre job out of the connections there. In panels, I learned important insights from a producer who put an Asian American show on Broadway all the way to veteran academics trying to better understand our history and culture. And as a panelist myself, I had a platform to share insights of my own. But most of all, CAATA has given me confidence that the work I do is not in a vacuum and that, even when I’m by myself writing a play or a musical, I’m not alone but a part of a diverse, creative and supportive global community.

Peter J. Kuo, Director and AAP Co-Founder

When I was in high school, I was extremely lucky to have a drama teacher who introduced me to Asian American theatre. Even luckier to have an Asian American Drama course in undergrad. Most educators aren’t aware of our history or even our contemporaries. In educational institutions and regional theatres which are predominantly white, knowledge of Asian American drama is rarely known. CAATA allows us to get together and share our histories, our experiences, and our vision for the future. It empowers us to raise our voices, and be heard. CAATA gives us a presence in the American Theatre, which will someday be taught in high school, colleges, and sitting on the shelves of literary managers across the country. I’m glad CAATA exists and I’m grateful to attend the National Asian American Theatre Festival and Conference. It fills my artistic soul. It gives me an opportunity to connect with my colleagues from around the country and see the amazing work they are doing. I hope everyone will stand with us and support CAATA and the visibility of Asian Americans in the theatre.

Carla Ching, Playwright

I am so grateful CAATA exists so that Asian American theater artists don’t exist in silos, but are brought together during Confest to know and appreciate one another’s work.

Prince Golmolvilas, Playwright

Thornton Wilder reminds us that “theatre is an art which reposes upon the work of many collaborators.” While numerous Asian-American artists have been able to thrive within institutions where people of color are scarce, we long for greater representation, not only on the national stage but also behind the scenes—on design teams, in administrative hallways, around the tables in which decisions are made. Gatherings like CAATA connect us to like-minded individuals and inspire real-world action. We’ve done well collaborating with others—but when we create opportunities for ourselves to collaborate with people who share our backgrounds, who understand our struggles, and who dream our dreams, there’s no limit to the beautiful work we can give to the world.

Giovanni Ortega, Director and Playwright

During CAATA’s first conference in 2006, I was an actor looking up to the organizers and participants, which included Jessica Hagedorn, Mia Katigbak & Chay Yew just to name a few. The years that followed allowed me to realize that there was still so much work to be done in regards to representation and visibility. Since then, I have been given the great opportunity to write and create content for our community, specifically in regards to the Filipino, Fil-Am Diaspora. ALLOS, The Story of Carlos Bulosan and Criers for Hire have been well received, from LA to Chicago, Hawaii, Australia, Austria and Kampala Uganda due to the simple fact that communities are hungry to hear our stories told through the lens of our people. CAATA allows us to have the courage and resilience to continuously share our narratives for the world to see and experience.

Anu Yadav, Playwright and Actor

At CAATA 2014, artist Andrea Assaf led me and a few other Asian heritage artists in a devised theater piece. In a matter of hours we found visceral connection, tenderness, and in doing so, created beautiful art out of our nearly instant sense of community. It was truly moving. It reaffirmed to me the power of community building within constituencies. Our society has deep wounds around racism today, from historical legacies that still have not healed. And in order to transcend those divides, part of our work is exactly this. We build towards a larger collective voice, and gather strength to also do the important work of building across differences too. We need all of it, and CAATA plays a significant role in this larger healing process. Doing so shatters some of the limitations society has placed on our collective creativity. CAATA continues to enrich me personally, and theater as a whole.

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