Hi, We’re Artists at Play!
Artists at Play produces theatrical programming that explores the Asian American experience. In the presentation of these multifaceted stories, we provide resources and a platform for underrepresented theatre artists while serving audiences within the Los Angeles community.
Artists at Play’s body of work will bring new Asian American and Pacific Islander narratives to the canon of American theatre. Through our work locally and nationally, we will support new, emerging and established artists in their goals to challenge and engage theatrical communities and audiences.
Provide opportunities for the artistic development of underrepresented theatre artists.
Respect and observe the cultural nuances and contexts of the stories we tell.
Take an active stance on anti-racism in the work that we do, both on- and off-stage.
Who We Are
Julia Cho (Producing Artistic Leader, Founding Member), born and raised in Los Angeles, is an actor and proud member of Artists at Play. Upon graduating from UC Berkeley, Julia made her professional acting debut in the Bay Area premiere of An Alphabet, presented by the John Cage Trust Fund. She then starred in the Word for Word production of Amy Tan’s Immortal Heart at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. After an extended award-winning run, the show toured domestically and in France. Since then, Julia has performed/toured shows with East West Players, Will & Company, Lodestone Theatre Ensemble, hereandnow, as well as readings for The Blank Theatre, Playwrights’ Arena, Pasadena Playhouse, and Center Theatre Group.
In the summer of 2009, Julia embarked on her first producing venture, leading an ensemble cast– calling themselves Actors at Play– to create and perform an original Valentine’s Day show. Beware of Cupid had a successful run in February 2010 and was featured on angryasianman.com as well as the Hyphen blog.
Julia is probably best known for playing “Charlotte Lu” in the Emmy Award-winning web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Other credits include films like Larry Crowne (starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts), the web series Jeff and Ravi Fail History which screened at SXSW, and recurring roles on TV shows such as Scandal, Goliath, and This Is Us. Check out IMDb for a full list of credits, and look for @thatjuliacho online.
Stefanie Wong Lau (Producing Artistic Leader, Founding Member) has been a theatre professional since 2000 when she graduated from UCLA and became an intern and volunteer at East West Players. She joined the staff full-time in 2001, serving as the Public Relations and Marketing Director. Before Stefanie left in June 2006, she increased the theatre’s earned income through innovative marketing and outreach initiatives and helped launch the first national Asian American theatre conference. In November 2006, Stefanie joined the Center Theatre Group Development Department as their Special Events Coordinator. She helped plan the organization’s successful annual fundraisers, and other major events include Freakin’ Sweet! with Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane and Center Theatre Group’s 40th Anniversary Luncheon. When Stefanie left in July 2008, she had organized or assisted with more than 75 donor events ranging from opening night dinners to backstage tours and intimate artist dialogues. She continues to work part-time at CTG on fundraising events including Season Celebration, Angels’ Night Lite and Enter Laughing (honoring Carl Reiner).
Stefanie is the Managing Director of Cold Tofu Improv, the nation’s oldest Asian American comedy improv group. She started with the organization as a student in 2003, completing its improv training workshops and becoming an Ensemble member. She joined the Board of Directors in 2006 and was appointed Managing Director in 2013. As a producer, Stefanie has worked on the organization’s comedy sketch show Tofu Exposed, fundraiser Changing of the Guard, monthly improv performances in the Los Angeles Arts District and TeleMongol: Invading Your Box 24/7 (co-production with Cold Tofu Improv, Lodestone Theatre Ensemble, 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors and OPM).
As an independent theatre professional, Stefanie has worked with many organizations on a number of successful productions including: Letters to a Student Revolutionary (AddWord Productions and Metamorphosis Theatre Company); Songs for a New World and Ordinary Days (Yes, and… Productions); Beware of Cupid (Actors at Play); and The Chinese Massacre (Annotated) (Circle X Theatre Company). She also worked for the Ford Amphitheatre’s Community Bridges Program and served on its advisory committee. Twitter: @MsStefanieL
Marie-Reine Velez (Producing Artistic Leader, Founding Member) is an arts leader working towards systemic anti-racism and equity through radical empathy, resource sharing, and questioning the status quo. She is the assistant director at Visions and Voices, the arts and humanities initiative at the University of Southern California, where she has had the honor of working events with noted speakers and artists such as Ira Glass, Anna Deveare Smith, Pedro Almodovar, David Henry Hwang, Patti Smith, Tony Kushner and Alonzo King Lines Ballet, among others.
Having served on the host committee of the National Asian American Theatre Festival and Conference in Los Angeles (2011), Marie-Reine has been a theatre and music events producer in Los Angeles since 2005. At TeAda Productions, she produced four years of the TEADAWORKS New Performance Festivals and Labs, along with work by D’Lo, Robert Karimi, Leilani Chan, Ova Saopeng, and Kristina Wong.
Marie-Reine previously worked with Center Theatre Group in the literary department. From 2005 to 2009 she co-founded and ran the Eagle Rock Indie Rock Bowling Night at All Star Lanes, providing community and production support for rising local and touring bands in the greater Los Angeles area. Twitter and IG: @mariezpz
Nicholas Pilapil (Producer) is a Filipino American producer and playwright. As a producer, he is passionate about developing new works by AAPI writers, and has been an Artists at Play producing member since 2013.
Nicholas has a B.A. in Theatre Management from CSU Long Beach and is an alumnus of artEquity’s National Facilitator Training. As an arts administrator, he specializes in marketing and communications, and has worked at Long Beach Opera, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and South Coast Repertory.
In 2015, he co-founded the production company Becky and Baldwin, and has since produced the new play festival Other Plays, the critically-acclaimed short film I Don’t Love You and the podcast Dealing (One of the Best Podcasts of 2021 by Music Times), among other theatrical and digital projects. @nicholaspilapil
Katherine Chou (Producer) is a Taiwanese American writer, director, producer, and sometimes actor. She first began making theatre and film in Southern California, before traveling the world for new perspectives as a storyteller. Over the years, she’s backpacked solo across Europe and Asia, learned to play sanshin at the foot of Shuri Castle, and punched a deer in self-defense. Along the way, she’s come to tell strange, surreal stories rooted in themes of identity and personhood.
A graduate of L’Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, she is an alumna of the Armed With a Camera Fellowship, the BIFAN Fantastic Film School in South Korea, and Imago Theatre’s Artista Program in Montreal. Her work in theatre has extended to assistant directing, dramaturgy, and stage management on productions including The Chinese Lady at Denver Center for the Performing Arts, as well as Artists at Play’s 2019 co-production with Greenway Arts Alliance; In Search of Mrs. Pirandello and The Tashme Project in Montreal; and Artists at Play’s 2021 reading of Non So Più Cosa Son. She played Daughter in Artists at Play’s 2018 presentation of Three Women of Swatow.
As a filmmaker, she has worked with directors including Christopher Nolan, George Tillman Jr., and Denise Di Novi on films like Dunkirk and The Hate U Give. Her short film, A Cure for All Things, has screened at festivals around the world and was named a finalist in the Telling Our Stories Contest presented by STARZ, The Wrap, and Women in Film. @kacawcaw
Naomi Horibe (Producing Associate) is a producer from Tokyo, Japan. She was an Associate Producer for Is This a Room and Dana H. on Broadway. She has worked for various theatrical organizations in NY, including Ars Nova, Manhattan Theatre Club, and New York Musical Festival. Before she moved to the United States from Tokyo, she sold musicals and plays, such as some with a Japanese cast: Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Wicked, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Sister Act, etc., and shows while they were on international tours in Japan: Dreamgirls, War Horse, American Idiot, Once, Bring It On, etc. She was a participant in the inaugural group of Theatre Producers of Color. She earned her MBA from Monroe College, King Graduate School of Business in New York, and certificates in Copyright Law, Trademark Law, Operations Management, and Marketing from the University of Pennsylvania.
Artists at Play unofficially began when Peter J. Kuo first directed Julia Cho in the 2008 production of Letters to a Student Revolutionary. The following year, the production was picked up for an encore run in Downtown Los Angeles by AddWord Productions with Stefanie Wong Lau as the marketing director. Peter, Julia, and Stefanie continued to successfully collaborate on several productions. When it came time to round out this current team of artists/arts administrators, it was easy to include Marie-Reine Velez due to her experience in production, marketing and programming with TeAda Productions as well as USC’s Visions and Voices. Having already collaborated on different projects in various configurations, these four embarked upon continued growth collectively as Artists at Play.
In Fall 2011, the Los Angeles Premiere of Lauren Yee’s cheekily subversive comedy Ching Chong Chinaman marked Artists at Play’s debut on to the local theatre scene. That successful show was followed by 2012’s Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them, which earned nominations from the GLAAD Media Awards (for Outstanding Los Angeles Theater) and LA Stage Alliance (for Best Acting Ensemble for a Play, also Ovation Recommended).
For Edith Can Shoot Things…, Artists at Play worked with Nicholas Pilapil as Assistant Production Manager. Nicholas was later welcomed into the group as Associate Producer for the 2013 season, which saw the launch of Artists at Play’s spring reading series. That fall brought on another commercial hit with the L.A. premiere of Cowboy Versus Samurai by Michael Golamco. In 2014, Artists at Play presented the L.A. premiere of 99 Histories by Julia Cho (the writer, not to be confused with the actor/AAP co-founder). Written more than ten years ago, the Los Angeles-set play received a much-deserved homecoming production.
Artists at Play continued presenting theatre with the 2015 West Coast Premiere of In Love and Warcraft by Madhuri Shekar, which also marked their first co-production (with The Latino Theater Company at LATC). In August-September 2016, Artists at Play presented their first World Premiere, Carla Ching’s The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up. Then, after presenting two workshop readings of Two Mile Hollow, Artists at Play presented the World Premiere of this new work by Leah Nanako Winkler in 2018.
Officially adding Katherine Chou to the team, Artists at Play wrapped up their ninth year of producing theatre with the Los Angeles Premiere of The Chinese Lady by Lloyd Suh in Fall 2019. In 2021, Artists at Play is celebrating a decade of producing Asian American theatre.