We are excited to announce the creation of the APAFT & AAP Emerging Playwright Commission, which will award $1,000 to an emerging Asian American playwright. Artists at Play’s artistic leadership and members of APAFT’s Artistic Advisory Board reviewed an exciting array of diverse narratives, voices, and experience levels from the AAPI playwriting community to find the recipient of this commission. The inaugural recipient is current UCSD Playwriting MFA student Ankita Raturi.

“Ankita Raturi’s writing feels fresh in its depth, strength, and empathy,” said Artists at Play Producing Artistic Leader Marie-Reine Velez. “She is addressing difficult topics around colonialism and its legacy in today’s messy world, and we admire her ability to articulate and demonstrate these complexities in a very meaningful and theatrical way.”

The commission will also provide Raturi institutional and artistic support to help advance her work on the commissioned play as well as a public staged reading in 2022. Finalists for the APAFT & AAP Emerging Playwright Commission included Kathryn de la Rosa, Lisa Sanaye Dring and Mary Lyon Kamitaki.

“APAFT encourages the development of new APA plays as part of its mission to enable APA theatre artists to enhance their talent and gain access to the mainstages of this region,” said APAFT President Judge Ernest Hiroshige. “We enthusiastically join with Artists at Play to select an up and coming APA playwright and help develop a new play by this writer.”

For the last 10 years, APAFT has been a non-profit corporation that advocates for the inclusion of Asian Pacific American actors, writers, directors and other performers in mainstage productions. APAFT supports theatre productions featuring APA performers or themes through developing APA theater audiences by hosting theater partiers and artist talk backs. APAFT scholarships fund APA high school and college students, professional actors and playwrights to attend classes to elevate their theater arts skills. The Playwright Commission is the culmination of APAFT’s vision by creating a dedicated space for Asian Pacific American stories.

“We are grateful to Judge Ernest Hiroshige and APAFT, who generously agreed to partner with us and fund the first APAFT & AAP Emerging Playwright Commission,” said Artists at Play Producing Artistic Leader Stefanie Lau. “With this collaboration, we will be able to ambitiously create and support new works, and uplift an emerging talent.”

The APAFT & AAP Emerging Playwright Commission marks an expansion and deepening of Artists at Play’s new play development programs that include the annual new play festival Artists at Play Readings. Since 2013, Artists at Play has provided developmental support to over a dozen writers including Sanaz Toossi, Carla Ching, Leah Nanako Winkler and Preston Choi. The Two Kids that Blow Shit Up by Carla Ching and Two Mile Hollow by Leah Nanako Winkler emerged from the Artists at Play Readings and have gone on to world premiere productions with Artists at Play and other theatres across the country. Artists at Play will produce the world premiere of Preston Choi’s This is Not a True Story in 2022.

“This commissioning project is a natural progression of our commitment to new works,” said Artists at Play Producing Member Nicholas Pilapil. “And our vision of bringing new Asian American and Pacific Islander narratives to the canon of American theatre.”

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