The Producing Associate

by Katherine Chou

AAP Producing Associate Katherine Chou (center)

I had never been an associate anything before Artists at Play. An associate is someone James Bond is told to meet, someone who is always seen in profile lurking behind pillars before they ultimately betray him and are killed for making their own plans. An associate is the craggy old guy flanking the mafia kingpin with a velvet-lined briefcase full of money. But here I am, a Producing Associate at Artists at Play, and not a single briefcase or pillar has been made available to me.

What has been made available, beyond new friendships and connections, is room and permission to grow. With each production, Artists at Play has handed me new roles I sometimes struggle to picture myself inhabiting. With their trust, however, all I have to do is step into them. This is one gift Artists at Play has given me, but there are other ways in which joining this small theater company has affected my work that go beyond personal ambition.

Katherine Chou
What I cherish the most about my work with Artists at Play is the chance to step outside my own cultural circles. As a writer and filmmaker, every project is deeply, even painfully personal. The emotional stakes are always so high. It is both a privilege and a relief to be able to champion other people’s work.

And while emotion and personal ties are what lead me to latch onto a particular project as a producer, I relish the chance to step back and tell stories that live outside my experience. For me, there is as much joy in getting to know the nuances of other communities as there is in weaving my own specific cultural knowledge into our production of The Chinese Lady.

The desire for representation comes from a self-centered place, a desire to see oneself reflected in storytelling. When I write, I am compelled to think of my own story as the Most Important Story. But the truth is, we will only reach real representation through a multiplicity of voices. We are stronger when we amplify each other, because representation is not a zero-sum game.

In fact, having a bounty of stories to look to alleviates the pressure on all of us as individual creators. If there’s a full table at the potluck, that makes your very specific and kind of mediocre pina colada banana bread (a real recipe I have seen on Pinterest) less of a crisis.

As a young artist, I have often been on the receiving end of others’ generosity, and I have asked myself how I might pay it forward in turn, with so little at my disposal. With Artists at Play behind me, I have the reach, resources and know-how to support creators who excite me. Being able to help tell stories that are not my own through Artists at Play has become a vital part of my creative practice. Wherever our individual paths take us in the future, I am proud to have been associated with them.

Support AAP, the work that we do, and the opportunities we provide by making a tax-deductible donation.

The New AAP Logo
















Artists at Play is proud to unveil a new logo as we enter our ninth season in 2020.

We’ve had the good fortune of working with designer Chris Komuro since our start in 2011. When it came time to rebrand, he shared this: “For this logo I wanted to do a modern take on the Asian ‘chop stamp’...without being too literal. I used a contemporary sans serif typeface and a bright, vibrant color palette.”

Chop stamps have been around for centuries throughout Asia, originating in China and spreading early on to places like Korea and Japan. In their most common form, they are small personal seals carved from wood, ivory, or jade. They have been used by emperors and commoners alike, and can be used as a marker of one’s given name, chosen names, or organization. 












In East Asia, personal seals are used to stamp documents in lieu of or in combination with a signature. From the stamped image to the seal itself, they can be as elaborate or as simple as you can imagine. Chinese emperors would use them as seals of approval on works of art and calligraphy. The Qing Dynasty emperor Qianlong was known to be quite zealous about his art appreciation, covering the work itself with red self-asserting squares. Today in Japan, you can buy seals with common names ready-made for purchase, like novelty license plates at a souvenir shop, if novelty license plates were legally binding.

While the role and legal authority of the chop stamp is in flux around Asia, artists like Takuma Yamazaki have introduced its next iteration: QR codes. It’s a reminder that although Asian culture is often positioned in the past by the West, even by Asian-Americans ourselves (as the land we left behind, etc.), it is living, breathing, and ever-evolving.

Because even though chop stamps have become iconic and evocative of cultures across Asia, they are also just a functional part of everyday life. And they change as our lives change. The stories we tell at Artists at Play try to bridge the same line: tackling the enormous burden of representation while sharing the minutiae that make up our individual experiences.

A seal is, after all, a representation of self. The beauty of our new logo is that we can play around with looks while remaining undeniably Artists at Play.

We hope you give it your seal of approval.

Support AAP, the work that we do, and the opportunities we provide by making a tax-deductible donation.


A Conversation with Min Kahng

Julia Cho and Min Kahng
Julia Cho: Alright there, Min Kahng. (laughter) First of all, thoughts on our upcoming collaboration of The Four Immigrants?

Min Kahng: Mmhmm.

JC: Mmhmm, we’re excited, rehearsals are about to begin …

MK: Yeah!

JC: Yeah! What are your immediate thoughts as that event is coming up, what are you looking forward to, what are you concerned about?

MK: I think there are two kind of realms in which I’m thinking about it. One is from a just as a writer development standpoint, I think this is a very interesting opportunity to revise a couple things from the previous version, as well as presenting it in this reading format takes a lot of pressure off of it being about how it’s being presented and let’s me focus in on how the words and the songs are flowing. There have definitely been some revisions made to this version and this will be a chance to hear how those revisions are working, both in the rehearsal room and during the presentation itself.

And the other realm that I’m thinking about this event is just spreading the word about the show. I think just being able to work with a team, a production company so to speak, plus a new group of actors—basically new people working on it that I have not been connected with before is exciting and will help spread the word in a region I'm not really known in. So this is also a chance to invite some folks to get to hear about the show. But even after the event, my hope is that whoever else was involved will be able to tell other people who might be interested in this project.

JC: In terms of you not being known in this region, you do have your South Coast Repertory show coming up ... I kind of feel like you're maybe on the verge of becoming a much more well-known artist in LA. I mean, how did that South Coast Repertory workshop come about?

MK: Um, well, I hope that's the case is my first response. (chuckle) I hope that’s the case because I think I'm pretty known here in San Francisco and part of my focus has been on trying to reach national recognition. And so in LA, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is the show that South Coast Repertory will be producing in February, but that came about purely through my Theatre for Young Audiences circles. I have a few works that been produced by
Bay Area Children’s Theatre

When Bay Area Children’s Theatre was remounting it, that’s when South Coast Repertory was interested in producing it themselves. So that honestly happened through the TYA circles that I’m in, not so much that I was in LA and trying to get my name out there. So it’s just kind of a lucky thing that has happened, it kind of is happening in close proximity to this upcoming reading for The Four Immigrants. Hopefully both of these events will get people just interested in the work that I do.

JC: Let’s talk about how this Artists at Play/Four Immigrants collaboration came about in the first place.

MK: Mmhmm. Well, I ran into somebody named Julia Cho, not the playwright (laughter) at the CAATA conference, the Consortium of Asian American Theaters & Artists, which has a bi-annual gathering. In 2018 they gathered in Chicago and I ran into somebody who I went to college with and we were in the same Rhetoric—I think it was Rhetoric and Theater class, The Rhetoric of Theatre class? …

JC: Oh, it was cross-listed?

MK: I was a Rhetoric major, but you were ...

JC: No, I was both!

MK: See, I wouldn’t have been in that class if I wasn’t a Rhetoric major. But that’s where you and I met. And I was also further aware of you, just ‘cause even in college I had secret longings of doing theatre and I think I saw you in The Vagina Monologues. Right?

JC: (laughing) I definitely did my fair share of Vagina Monologue productions.

MK: And I believe at CAATA, I didn’t understand why, but it seemed like both of us were nervous around each other. In my head, I was like ‘oh, she’s in LA. she’s been on stuff, I’ve seen her on TV’ She’s gonna be like, ‘Who's this guy trying to talk to me, like trying to get something out of me…’

JC: (laughter) Min Kahng and I had been keeping tabs in your career and to me you were a legit multi-hyphenate and here he is in the flesh! Will he remember me from Cal all those years ago? (laughing)

MK: And I did! I absolutely I did, because I had been low-key following your career. So that was nice that we both kind of entered into the conversation and got over that kind of awkwardness and just catching each other up. So that was the reunion piece and as a result of those conversations you had said ‘send me your’—I think I gave you the cast album for The Four Immigrants.

JC: You did, and it was on repeat in my car for the longest time and I was like I am so in love with this music, I am seeing the show in my head—There was the world premiere with TheatreWorks, but there was just something—

The music really kind of makes or breaks a musical, does it not? And these songs were immediately catchy, and there are some that moved me to my tears, and it was just such a fun fun show. And I, with my producing cap on—I mean, Artists at Play we're always looking for artists and shows that deserve to be seen by a wider audience and this definitely fit that bill.

MK: Yeah, and I appreciate that and I remember kind of, you know, I shared with you but in my head I thought 'eh,' You know, I don’t know what—because Artists at Play is a smaller company, I don't know if this means anything to her but here it is.

JC: It kind of just seemed like here is an example of my work so you know I’m legit. And I was like yes and yes.

MK: And I so appreciate that. I think I’m so impressed and excited about the fact that—It was like you and Artists at Play started to look for ways to support me and look for ways to help me. It wasn’t—You know, oftentimes a company that may be smaller and I have a show that’s like a larger cast size they can’t handle or a musical element they can’t handle, it’s like 'oh I love your work but keep me updated’ and that’s where it ends. But I feel like with Artists at Play the conversation moved forward to ‘we want to help,’ what can we do and that’s where the conversation led next to this partnership with USC and Visions & Voices.

I was just so honored and impressed by that, that it wasn’t just an end of the conversation how we do figure something out to help me and help this show, to get to its next level.

JC: Thank you for that, And we're just as excited and that's kind of what propels us, right?  Because none of us are really making any big bucks off of this, so I think it's that passion and excitement for the work that keeps us going towards that finish line. If anything, because we are such a smaller group, because we are so limited in our resources, it forces us to be more creative and a little more resourceful to what can we still accomplish. And this is a great example of that. And it's something new for us! Once our mainstage show is done in the fall, okay, taking a break, let’s regroup and plan out next season. So the fact that we're tacking on one more event for the year and it's a musical …  I mean, yes, in a unique version and capacity. But tackling a musical has always been something we've wanted to do. We know we are not able to put on a full production, but again how can we tackle presenting a musical? And The Four Immigrants came along and now here we are about to launch into rehearsals. And we’re already at capacity for the venue!?

MK: Yes. That was crazy. Like within a week really.

JC: I know! And I know we wondered about maybe moving into a bigger venue? I hope this isn't the last occurrence of this piece in LA. So I mean fingers crossed for a fantastic event and hopefully life beyond.

MK: What I guess I’m proud of—maybe I should wait until after the event (laughter)—is the fact that this is an event that has been made free to students. And that’s always been a thing wherever I go—My career right now has brought me to a place where I travel a lot and I often find myself in situations where I’m connecting particularly with other Asian American artist types. Like I was invited to speak at Harvard University once, and then this musical theatre writer who is Asian American, she just reached out to me and we had coffee and I got to share bits and pieces of my career. And in New York recently, somebody I had taught when he was in middle school, I taught a theatre class, he reached out to me and he wanted to pick my brain about what it was for me to make a career in the arts. So similarly, I feel like making this available to students fulfills this mentorship element that I like to bring into my work and what I do.

And I think it’s awesome because this isn’t the first time AAP has done community-oriented, right? Sure, there’s your mainstage stuff and that’s always community-oriented in that sense of putting Asian American representation before audiences. But also you’ve partnered with other organizations before. So it was totally in just the fabric of your organization to partner with USC to make this something that's not just an opportunity for us as theatre artists but also an opportunity for audiences to come. ’Cause it’s also going to be preceded by a conversation about the show so there’s a little bit more of a glimpse into the artistic process. So I’m excited about all of that and that this isn't just me scratching my own back (chuckles) but it’s hopefully going to be a meaningful thing for audiences to come and see.

JC: Yeah, yeah, I hope so as well. And something that's important to us, and something we’re not always able to do, is to make theatre as accessible as we can. But just the logistics of producing and funding from our end, it does make it hard. We wish we could more, we wish we could do better. But yeah, this partnership with USC is very exciting for us as well. Because of our various USC connections, we’ve been able to have students and professors come see our shows but this is very unique, being on campus ... Yeah, we hope everyone who comes enjoys it.

You’ve said lovely things about Artists at Play, which I very much appreciate. Anything else you’d want to add?

MK: No, not really, other than that … you know, I recognize that you're a small budget organization with limited but very excited, involved staff and people—I don't even know if you have a staff technically—

JC: (laughter) It’s just us! What is it, like four producers and two associates.

MK: To anybody who comes to this event or otherwise gets connected to you, yes, support your smaller local theatre companies. (laughter)

JC: That works. Thanks so much, Min! Okay, now going off the record ...

MK: (laughter)

Support AAP, the work that we do, and the opportunities we provide by making a tax-deductible donation.

Artists at Play and the Impostor Syndrome

by Producing Artistic Leader Julia Cho

On the day that Artists at Play opened our eighth mainstage show, I was honored and privileged to represent our organization in a special conversation between Theater Leaders of Color. Hosted by artEquity and Oregon Shakespeare Festival, this was a two-day gathering all recorded as part of a podcast series. And throughout almost the entirety of that experience, I could not stop thinking that my being there was definitely a mistake.

As an actor first and foremost, I never imagined my theatre producing career (career?!) would lead me to this point. When Sharifa Johka of OSF first emailed me with the invitation, I enthusiastically said yes but also had to cap off my response with “I want to make sure you don't think I'm the WRITER Julia Cho. If so, no offense taken!” Sharifa confirmed the invite was “indeed for you,” and I eventually was transported to a fancy home in the hills of Topanga Canyon with a bountiful culinary spread, the likes of which I’ve never experienced on any set as an actor. I then found myself the company of such esteemed colleagues (colleagues?!) as Torange Yeghiazarian, Executive Artistic Director of Golden Thread Productions; José Luis Valenzuela, Artistic Director of the Latino Theatre Company and the Los Angeles Theatre Center; and Wren T. Brown, Founder and Artistic Director of Ebony Repertory Theatre; along with our moderator, the inimitable Carmen Morgan. This was Session 1: People of Color Leading Theaters of Color. I was/am a Person of Color Leading a Theater of Color?! 

Then the next day, Session 2: People of Color Leading Theaters of Color in Conversation with People of Color Leading Predominantly White Institutions. The previous day’s group was now joined by Jacob Padrón, Artistic Director of Long Wharf Theatre; Hana Sharif, Augustin Family Artistic Director of Repertory Theatre St. Louis; Eric Ting, Artistic Director of Cal Shakes; and Nataki Garrett, the new artistic director of OSF—who shook MY hand and said, “Your reputation precedes you” and I somehow managed not to melt into a fangirl puddle while silently screaming in my head, ‘OH MY GOD SHE THINKS YOU’RE THE PLAYWRIGHT NO WAIT SHE’S NATAKI GARRETT SHE MUST KNOW THE OTHER JULIA CHO SHE’S TALKING ABOUT *YOU* SHE’S TALKING TO *YOU* DON’T BREAK EYE CONTACT.’

Over two days, thoughts were shared, dialogues were introduced, and mutual respect abounded in these discussions regarding the challenges of working within and under the "rules" of predominantly white theatre institutions. With these astounding POC at the helm of their respective organizations, I am hopeful for what's to come in Los Angeles theatre, American theatre, Asian American theatre.

After floating down to the real world from that magical weekend, I now choose to outwardly express my great pride in Artists at Play, not shy away from acknowledging how hard we work and what we’ve accomplished. At the podcast recording, we were asked about what keeps us hopeful and one of my answers was the fact that my AAP family is still here (and remain friends) after each show, every year. Won’t you support AAP with a monetary contribution? Please join me in saying THANK YOU to this team for all that they do—for me, for each other, for every AAP program, for the local and national landscapes of theatre. I remain grateful for my AAP cohorts, who have helped guide and continue to shape my producer self.

P.S. I'm finally done calling myself a "dumb actor" now.

Support AAP, the work that we do, and the opportunities we provide by making a tax-deductible donation.

Support AAP in 2020


Artists at Play is dedicated to presenting stories of underrepresented communities in Los Angeles. We are passionate about theatre – it is our tool for activism. We believe bearing witness to diverse perspectives and stories builds compassion and empathy that bridges the differences that divide us. 

Ticket sales only cover about 50 percent of our costs. Supporters like you help ensure we have the resources available to continue producing plays that explore the varied experiences of the Asian American community. 

We hope you'll make a year-end tax-deductible donation to support our mission. In 2020, your contribution will help us:

  • Launch a theatrical tour where our work can reach new communities and young audiences.
  • Increase salaries and stipends to artists.
  • Provide additional resources for new play development.
  • Strengthen our fiscal health and future.

When Artists at Play was founded in 2011, our main goal was to present plays written by Asian American playwrights that weren’t being produced locally. Since then, our programming has grown to include new play development, partnerships with Los Angeles arts organization and advocacy for diversity in American theatre. 

The scope of our work demonstrates our commitment to telling compelling stories that reflect the unique communities we live in. We are honored that you believe in our mission and programming, and are our partners in curating quality, diverse theatre in Los Angeles. 

Thank you,

Julia, Stefanie, Marie, Nicholas, Katherine & Jessica
Artists at Play

Artists at Play at The Four Immigrants: Continuing the Work

Since our inception as Artists at Play, we have been dedicated to providing artistic opportunities for underrepresented communities in Los Angeles theatre, and more specifically, to increase the visibility of Asian Pacific American artists and stories in our cultural landscape. While there have always been some opportunities for these artists in Los Angeles, the work of equity, diversity and inclusion in the arts don’t end at some opportunities.

Whether we are producing, developing, or introducing new or new-to-Los Angeles plays to local audiences, we are always working to fulfill our vision of creating opportunities, presenting narratives that will challenge, engage and broaden perspectives and experiences, and supporting the larger community of Asian Pacific American artists.

So, it’s very exciting that we are entering new territory with the upcoming presentation of The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga, and working with author/composer Min Kahng! This show received its world premiere at TheatreWorks in San Jose in 2017 and it should be seen beyond the Bay Area. Being a small organization, we may not have the resources to put up a full production, but we can offer to use the resources we do have to give this musical a boost in visibility and help foster new opportunities for The Four Immigrants and its creators.

We are so grateful to Min for bringing this thoughtful, smart and heartwarming show to our attention – and he is also a thoughtful, responsive and generous artist! Additionally, we are beyond thrilled to partner with USC Visions and Voices, an arts and humanities initiative at the University of Southern California – we would not be able to present the November 20 concert of The Four Immigrants without their support.

Do you also believe in providing artistic opportunities to underrepresented artists and presenting stories that challenge, engage and broaden audience perspective? Please consider supporting Artists at Play with a tax-deductible donation for our year-end giving campaign. Your support will go toward 2020 programming including our spring reading series, fall mainstage production and special events. Thank you!

AAP Community



Artists at Play is dedicated to producing quality work on stage, and providing a professional working environment for our artists and volunteers. We’ve had the privilege of collaborating with talented, hard working individuals since our founding in 2011:

Trieu Tran, actor
"As both an actor and a theatregoer, I am a believer in Artists at Play’s mission and vision. To be a part of a collective of Asian American creative professionals who are telling the stories on stage of underrepresented communities was affirming and inspiring.  In The Chinese Lady, we were able to not only entertain the audience, but also to educate them on the history of Chinese immigrants coming to America. In turn, this helped raise awareness of the plight of most all ethnic groups that have immigrated to America in the past and in the present.  Producing quality theatre is not an easy task.  It requires dedication, passion and competence, which I witnessed firsthand from the producers at Artists at Play. Support from all of us through donations and ticket buying is imperative to their continued success in getting our important stories seen and heard."

Rebecca Wear, director


Support AAP, the work that we do, and the opportunities we provide by making a tax-deductible donation.