Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Larissa Fasthorse, Sigrid Gilmer, Erin La Rosa, Jeanne Sakata and Kristina Wong in East West Players 2017 Inaugural Playwrights Group

East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theatre of color in the country and the largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work, has launched its inaugural playwrights group, providing space and artistic support over the course of a year for six writers. The 2017 program is directed by playwright Alice Tuan and composed of all-female playwrights, as part of EWP’s 51st Anniversary Season, Radiant, that focuses on featuring stories by and about women.

“The inaugural playwrights group is a brilliant and amazing gathering of artists, whose work I deeply admire and cannot wait to have in residence at EWP over the coming year,” says EWP Artistic Director Snehal Desai. “East West Players hopes to provide an artistic home for these talented playwrights, so they can explore their creative voice. Each playwright will focus on a new work of their choosing while in residency.”

“I look forward to engaging with these exciting playwright voices and continue to activate (and agitate) vibrant theatrical artistry,” says playwright Alice Tuan. “I’m thrilled to be part of Snehal Desai’s vision for EWP, his programming of new Asian American voices, and bringing a collective of interdisciplinary talents to Little Tokyo.”

The members of the 2017 inaugural playwrights group are Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Larissa Fasthorse, Sigrid Gilmer, Erin La Rosa, Jeanne Sakata and Kristina Wong.

Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s produced plays include Snow in Midsummer (Royal Shakespeare Company) and The World of Extreme Happiness (Manhattan Theatre Club, Goodman Theatre), and she was awarded the Wasserstein Prize.

Photos: Francis Jue, Telly Leung, Jennifer Lim, Jo Mei, James Saito, Sue Jin Song, Harriet Harris and More at Opening Night of The World of Extreme Happiness

Larissa Fasthorse is a member of the Sicangu Lakota Nation. Her produced plays include What Would Crazy Horse Do (Kansas City Repertory Theatre) and Urban Rez (Cornerstone Theater Company), and she is the recipient of the PEN USA Literary Award for Drama.

Sigrid Gilmer’s produced plays include Harry and the Thief  (Skylight Theatre Company) and Slavey (Clubbed Thumb). She is a recipient of the Map Fund Creative Exploration Grant and The James Irvine Foundation Fellowship, and is a USA Ford Fellow in Theatre.

Erin La Rosa is the author of two nonfiction works, Womanskills and The Big Redhead Book. She currently serves as the Deputy Editorial Director for BuzzFeed and has performed at Mortified, “Funny but True” at the LA Times Book Festival, and Sunday Night Sex Talks.

Jeanne Sakata’s solo play about Gordon Hirabayashi, Hold These Truths, had its world premiere at East West Players in 2007 and will be produced at Pasadena Playhouse, in association with EWP, in May-June 2017, and at Arena Stage in February-April 2018.

Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS Starring Ryun Yu Set for Pasadena Playhouse, May 30 -June 25 

Jeanne Sakata, Emily Kuroda, Mia Tagano, Elizabeth Pan and William Thomas Hodgson in Velina Hasu Houston’s CALLIGRAPHY at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley

Kristina Wong’s produced performances/plays include Wong Street Journal (REDCAT) and her solo show, Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (toured nationally). Her favorite accolade is being named #2 Trump Twitter Troll by Black Enterprise!

Alice Tuan is best known for Ajax (por nobody), which premiered at The Flea Theater in New York City, toured at the Melbourne Fringe, and was produced at Toronto’s SummerWorks Festival. Her other plays include Hit (The Los Angeles Theatre Center), BATCH (Humana), Last of the Suns(Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Ma-Yi Theater Company), Roaring Girle (The Foundry Theatre), Ikebana (World Premiere at East West Players; Taper, Too; Dramalogue Award), and Coastline (Serious Play!, Edinburgh Fringe Festival). Four of these plays are archived in the Billy Rose Collection of the New York Public Library. She is currently commissioned by Yale Rep/Binger Centre for New Theater.

As the nation’s premier Asian American theatre organization, East West Players produces artistic work and educational programs that foster dialogue exploring Asian Pacific Islander (API) experiences. Founded in 1965, at a time when APIs faced limited or no opportunities to see their experiences reflected outside of stereotypical and demeaning caricatures in the American landscape, EWP not only ensures that API stories are told, but works to increase access, inclusion, and representation in the economy.

For more information about East West Players, please visit www.eastwestplayers.org.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

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