Asian American plays from the heartland
Asian American Plays for a New Generation
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edited by Josephine Lee, Don Eitel and R. A. Shiomi
Asian American plays provide an opportunity to think about how racial issues are engaged through theatrical performance physical contact, bodily labor, and fleshly desire as well as through the more standard elements of plot, setting, characterization, staging, music, and action.
Asian American Plays for a New Generation showcases seven exciting new plays that dramatize timely themes that are familiar to Asian Americans. The works variously address immigration, racism, stereotyping, identity, generational tensions, assimilation, and upward mobility as well as post-9/11 paranoia, racial isolation, and adoptee experiences.
Each of these works engages directly and actively with Asian American themes through performance to provide an important starting point for building relationships, raising political awareness, and creating active communities that can foster a sense of connection or even rally individuals to collective action.
"Asian American Plays for a New Generation is a timely, varied, and provocative anthology that does a wonderful job of showcasing the increasing diversity and visibility of Asian American drama. The collection’s strengths are many, chief among them the uniform excellence of the dramatic works that have been chosen for inclusion. The skillful ways in which the complexities of Asian America are represented and complicated by the playwrights is impressive. By focusing on the diverse histories of Asian America—including the significance of transnational adoption and the more recent historical impact of events like 9/11—the collection also makes visible the ‘secret histories’ that rupture the coherence of an imagined and imaginary Asian America. The result is striking, a testament to the ongoing development of an Asian American literary tradition that draws on the power of genre to reassess the politics of representation."
Smithsonian BookDragon featured a July 27 blog entry about Asian American Plays for a New Generation edited by Josephine Lee, Don Eitel, and R.A. (Rick) Shiomi.
Introduction • Josephine Lee
Josephine Lee is Professor of English and Asian American Studies at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She is currently the president of the Association for Asian American Studies. Her most recent book is The Japan of Pure Invention: Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado. She is also the author of Performing Asian America: Race and Ethnicity on the Contemporary Stage and co-editor of Re/collecting Early Asian America: Essays in Cultural History. (both Temple).
Don Eitel is a musician, composer, actor, director, and arts administrator. Currently the Managing Director of Mu Performing Arts, he was also a founding Artistic Director of Starting Gate Productions and has worked as the Development Associate and Assistant to the Artistic Director at Park Square Theatre, a mid-sized company based in St. Paul, MN.
R. A. Shiomi has been one of the leaders of the Asian American theater movement since the 1980's, as a playwright, director and artistic director. His plays include Yellow Fever, Rosie's Cafe, Play Ball, Mask Dance and Journey of the Drum. He has directed at Mu Performing Arts, AATC in San Francisco and Interact Theater in Philadelphia. He is one of the founders of Mu Performing Arts and has been its artistic director since 1993. He received the Sally Irvine Ordway award for "Vision" in 2007 for his work with Mu Performing Arts.