The Impact of CAATA

What is the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists? And what does it mean to me?

CAATA organizes the biennial Asian American Theatre Conference and Festival. Planning for the 6th national convening is underway. We hope that you can support the future of Asian American theatre by contributing to our Indiegogo campaign.

“How has CAATA impacted the work that I do? What does CAATA mean to you?”

Jonathan Castanien, Stage Manager
CAATA has been a major impact on the work that I do, especially as a theatre professional in the early stages of my career. Not only has it been a place that has connected me to brilliant artists, but it serves as a reminder of the community that I am a part of. It's the place where I can go to recharge my creative energies and be blown away by the vibrant work of my community. It reinvigorates my drive to be an advocate and voice in equity and inclusion across the theatrical landscape by seeing what Asian American artists can do first hand.
Marie-Reine Velez, AAP Producing Artistic Leader
CAATA has played a very important role in my career and how I participate in theatre. The convenings have given me the opportunity to participate in the national dialogue of Asian American theatre, creating the tools to move our field forward and continue to build a stronger community of artists and organizations. I have met incredible artists and people at CAATA, ranging all ages, disciplines, and regions around the world. Because of CAATA, I have been introduced to amazing new work being created and developed by our colleagues on a national level, and these experiences inspire me to broaden my scope and capacity as a theatre producer and patron of the arts.
Julia Cho, AAP Producing Artistic Leader
The very existence of CAATA serves as an important reminder that I am not alone in the theatre I help create or in the passion I have which fuels that work. Artists at Play is just one small theatre-producing collective here in Los Angeles. Producing and presenting theatre—not to mention Asian American theatre—can feel incredibly thankless, wondering whether the masses even care, knowing that showcasing Asians onstage may not be as flashy or exciting as seeing them on a screen. But knowing that there are others throughout the country also putting in the countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears bring us back to the importance of the work that we do. Yes, theatre is important even if people have been decrying its validity or calling about its demise for years and years. Theatre still exists and Asians will continue to grace its stages in growing numbers based on the work that we do alongside our fellow CAATA members and countless other theatres and artists nationwide.

Stefanie Lau, AAP Producing Artistic Leader
In 2003, I represented East West Players at a historic gathering of theatre leaders of color at a Theatre Communications Group retreat. It was there that the first conversations were had about a national Asian American theatre conference. Three years later, East West Players produced “The Next Big Bang” and Asian American theatre artists, practitioners and academics convened in Los Angeles. I was in awe. I was meeting titans of the Asian American theatre movement, people who had dedicated their lives to bringing equity, diversity and inclusion to American theatre. It was the first time I understood how I could contribute to the legacy of Asian American theatre. CAATA is the organization that grew from the first conference, and I am so proud to sit on its board of directors, representing Artists at Play, a company that is creating theatre with the knowledge of the past and possibilities of the future.
Kristina Wong, Performance Artist
When I hear Asian Americans say that our stories aren't being reflected back to us in culture and that we are rarely the leads in our own stories, I think, "That's because you haven't been to the theater." Asian American narratives that are nuanced, experimental, queer, hilarious and edgy as hell have been here the whole time inside theaters but the rest of the world can't seem to find us. CAATA gives us a voice in the national theater conversation.  CAATA has given me a space to try insane shit out that nobody else will. CAATA is letting America that we have already arrived.
Katherine Chou, AAP Producing Assistant
CAATA is about the shared as well as the specific: bringing Asian-American theater artists together while showcasing their artistic differences and encouraging collaborations between artists of so many different stripes. Asian-American artists have emotional and cultural labor to shoulder on top of their efforts as artists. An organization like CAATA lightens that load by bringing together the collective strength of our shared experiences. For someone at the start of their career like myself, this support is invaluable. CAATA builds on work that has been and is being done across the country, so that the art itself can take off in exciting new directions. 

Howard Ho, Playwright and Composer
CAATA has changed my life as a theatre artist. I met so many amazing colleagues from all over the world who I would never have otherwise been in a room with. I even got my first LORT theatre job out of the connections there. In panels, I learned important insights from a producer who put an Asian American show on Broadway all the way to veteran academics trying to better understand our history and culture. And as a panelist myself, I had a platform to share insights of my own. But most of all, CAATA has given me confidence that the work I do is not in a vacuum and that, even when I'm by myself writing a play or a musical, I'm not alone but a part of a diverse, creative and supportive global community.
Peter J. Kuo, Director and AAP Co-Founder
When I was in high school, I was extremely lucky to have a drama teacher who introduced me to Asian American theatre. Even luckier to have an Asian American Drama course in undergrad. Most educators aren't aware of our history or even our contemporaries. In educational institutions and regional theatres which are predominantly white, knowledge of Asian American drama is rarely known. CAATA allows us to get together and share our histories, our experiences, and our vision for the future. It empowers us to raise our voices, and be heard. CAATA gives us a presence in the American Theatre, which will someday be taught in high school, colleges, and sitting on the shelves of literary managers across the country. I’m glad CAATA exists and I’m grateful to attend the National Asian American Theatre Festival and Conference. It fills my artistic soul. It gives me an opportunity to connect with my colleagues from around the country and see the amazing work they are doing. I hope everyone will stand with us and support CAATA and the visibility of Asian Americans in the theatre.
Carla Ching, Playwright
I am so grateful CAATA exists so that Asian American theater artists don’t exist in silos, but are brought together during Confest to know and appreciate one another’s work.
Prince Golmolvilas, Playwright
Thornton Wilder reminds us that “theatre is an art which reposes upon the work of many collaborators.” While numerous Asian-American artists have been able to thrive within institutions where people of color are scarce, we long for greater representation, not only on the national stage but also behind the scenes—on design teams, in administrative hallways, around the tables in which decisions are made. Gatherings like CAATA connect us to like-minded individuals and inspire real-world action. We’ve done well collaborating with others—but when we create opportunities for ourselves to collaborate with people who share our backgrounds, who understand our struggles, and who dream our dreams, there’s no limit to the beautiful work we can give to the world.
Giovanni Ortega, Director and Playwright
During CAATA's first conference in 2006, I was an actor looking up to the organizers and participants, which included Jessica Hagedorn, Mia Katigbak & Chay Yew just to name a few. The years that followed allowed me to realize that there was still so much work to be done in regards to representation and visibility. Since then, I have been given the great opportunity to write and create content for our community, specifically in regards to the Filipino, Fil-Am Diaspora. ALLOS, The Story of Carlos Bulosan and Criers for Hire have been well received, from LA to Chicago, Hawaii, Australia, Austria and Kampala Uganda due to the simple fact that communities are hungry to hear our stories told through the lens of our people. CAATA allows us to have the courage and resilience to continuously share our narratives for the world to see and experience.
Anu Yadav, Playwright and Actor
At CAATA 2014, artist Andrea Assaf led me and a few other Asian heritage artists in a devised theater piece. In a matter of hours we found visceral connection, tenderness, and in doing so, created beautiful art out of our nearly instant sense of community. It was truly moving. It reaffirmed to me the power of community building within constituencies. Our society has deep wounds around racism today, from historical legacies that still have not healed. And in order to transcend those divides, part of our work is exactly this. We build towards a larger collective voice, and gather strength to also do the important work of building across differences too. We need all of it, and CAATA plays a significant role in this larger healing process. Doing so shatters some of the limitations society has placed on our collective creativity. CAATA continues to enrich me personally, and theater as a whole.

2018 AAP Readings

Saturday, April 28, 2018

12 p.m. - Three Women of Swatow
1:30 p.m. - Mid-day Reception
2:30 p.m. - Young Dumb Broke High School Kids

Company of Angels
1350 San Pablo St.
Los Angeles, 90033

by Chloé Hung
directed by Rebecca Wear
dramaturgy by Annette Lee

by Nicholas Pilapil
directed by Jer Adrianne Lelliott
dramaturgy by Michael Golamco

Continuing our mission to present stories of underrepresented communities, Artists at Play will develop and showcase these new works to the Los Angeles theatre community. In the midst of a national discussion on the lack of diversity and representation, we are proud to present two new plays by emerging playwrights of Asian descent with distinct voices that feature diverse casts. 

The readings will be on Saturday, April 28, at Company of Angels. Three Women of Swatow will be presented at 12 p.m., and Young Dumb Broke High School Kids at 2:30 p.m.

Each reading will be followed by a talkback. $15 ticket includes the mid-day reception. (All readings are complimentary.)

Get Your Tickets!


Artists at Play is proud to present Three Women of Swatow by Chloé Hung as part of our annual spring reading series on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 12 p.m.

The Play
Three generations of women must come together to solve a bloody situation. This darkly comedic play takes a look at the legacy of abuse, the power of family, and how to prevent the resurrection of a headless chicken.

The Playwright
Chloé Hung is a Chinese-Canadian writer based in Los Angeles. A graduate of NYU Tisch’s MFA program in Dramatic Writing, Chloé’s first play, All Our Yesterdays, played in two festivals in Canada to critical acclaim. Her second play Issei, He Say (or the Myth of the First) was workshopped at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and will premiere at New Jersey Repertory Company in April 2018 and has garnered an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. Her third play Three Women of Swatow was developed with Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre company and won Chloé the RBC Emerging Playwrights Award. Her play Model Minority was workshopped with Moving Arts Company’s MADlab. Chloé currently writes on the third season of the Ava DuVernay-created TV drama "Queen Sugar."

The Director
Rebecca Wear’s previous credits include If the Saints (Metro Baptist), Obedient Steel (HEREarts), I Run with You (Women’s Center Stage) and Ophelia (Hollywood Fringe Festival). She associate directed the world premiere of Lynn Nottage’s Sweat (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Arena Stage). She has previously assisted Jerry Ruiz, Stew, Kate Whoriskey and Lindsay Allbaugh. Rebecca has worked with Under the Radar, been an associate artist with The Orchard Project, held a Sherwood Fellowship with Center Theatre Group, and is currently pursuing a PhD through a Chancellor’s Fellowship at University of California, Santa Barbara.

The Dramaturg
Annette Lee began her artistic life as an actor in New York before returning to her native Los Angeles as a playwright. Her plays have been performed and read in Los Angeles, New York, Colorado, Portland, and Chicago. She has written for radio, mono-drama, site-specific projects and has served as a dramaturg for both USC’s School of Theater and Master of Professional Writing Program. A recipient of the Mickey Dude Fellowship for the Depiction of Ethnic Life in America and the Edna & Yushan Han Scholarship, she holds an MFA in Playwriting from UCLA, has taught writing at UCLA and East West Players. Formerly, as the Literary Manager for Los Angeles’ Playwrights’ Arena, she curated seven seasons of the New Pages Lab Reading series, a program developing new works for the stage by Los Angeles playwrights, which have been seen and heard across the country.

The Cast

Katherine Chou, Emily Kuroda, Janet Song

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Artists at Play is proud to present Young Dumb Broke High School Kids by Nicholas Pilapil as part of our annual spring reading series on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 2:30 p.m.

The Play
Everything sucks for high school kids Bliss, Olivia, and Miles. Bliss is a dreamer who’s knocked up and knocked down, Olivia is a lover with no one to love her back, and Miles is an orphan who would kill to have a family. And together they sling back slushies, barf down chili cheese fries, and try to sort out their lives in the most dangerous ways. They're unloved and fucked up and it's whatever.

The Playwright
Nicholas Pilapil is a writer of plays and songs. His plays have been developed/performed with Becky and Baldwin, East West Players, Fountain Theatre, Fresh Produce’d LA, Playwrights Foundation and The Vagrancy. His musical-comedy Before and After was the 2017 winner of the Fountain Theatre’s Rapid Development Series. He is also the writer of the short films zoë (Outfest FUSION, Miniature Film Festival Canada, North Portland Unknown Film Festival) and I Don't Love You (Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Los Angeles Philippine International Film Festival). Nicholas is a happy co-founder of Becky and Baldwin.

The Director
Jer Adrianne Lelliott is the founding artistic director of Coeurage Theatre Company. Directing highlights include The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up for Artists at Play (World Premiere, Ovation Recommended); Blackbird (Ovation Recommended); and Vieux Carré, The Woodsman and Andronicus for Coeurage Theatre Company. She has appeared in productions at The Pasadena Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Chance Theatre, Laguna Playhouse, La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, MainStreet Theatre Company, and Disney on Broadway.

The Dramaturg
Michael Golamco is a writer/producer and playwright. TV: Syfy/Netflix’s "Nightflyers," NBC’s "Grimm." Film: Untitled Randall Park and Ali Wong Romantic Comedy, Please Stand By. Theatre: Bulid, Year Zero, Cowboy Versus Samurai, with productions at Second Stage Theatre, Geffen Playhouse, Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Guthrie, LA’s Colony Theater, and others both nationally and internationally.

The Cast
Christopher Aguilar, Eddie Liu, Jenapher Zheng

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Playwright Interview: Chloé Hung

Playwright Chloè Hung
How would you describe your writing style or “voice?” 
I write drama with a comedic edge. I write about human fallibility. I am attracted to stories about women—in particular women of color. I love to write about memory and legacy. I write stories where people find their strength in unexpected ways. I write stories where everyone is a little right and a little wrong—it’s true to real life insofar as people are complicated and their opinions are so much more influenced by emotion than facts.

What drew you to playwriting? 
When I was a kid I thought that I would be a novelist. I have always loved telling stories. In high school, I was painfully shy but a drama teacher encouraged me to continue studying drama. I found disappearing into a character and into a story helped build my confidence in the real world. Playwriting was then a natural transition that merged my love of storytelling with theatre. Theatre allows for our imaginations to soar in a way that they can’t on screen. When a theatre audience enters the space, you enter into a kind of social contract: they will suspend their disbelief to a certain extent so long as you tell them a compelling and emotionally resonate story. So long as you hold to that contract, you can take the audience anywhere and show them anything—I find that truly exciting.

Chloè's writing space.
Tell us about where you like to write.
Being close to a TV and a kitchen is a gift and a curse. I like writing at a table where I can spread out. I usually have a copy of the play next to me, whether I look at it or not. When I’m feeling lazy I move to the couch.

Why this play? 
This play examines something that exists in every community and is always swept under the rug: domestic violence and the cycle of abuse. This play is also about legacy and how your actions affect the next generation. We’ve seen similar themes in works by white writers—in particular white male writers—about white families. For Asian communities, domestic violence is extremely pervasive and is never discussed. I wanted to take a look at this topic from the point of view of three Chinese women. I also wanted to show a different side of Chinese women that we don’t often see on stage or in the media but are the women I have grown up with—fierce, funny, and fallible.

Describe Three Women of Swatow in three words.
A bloody mess

Chloé Hung's Three Woman of Swatow will be presented in Artists at Play Readings on Saturday, April 28 at 12pm.

Playwright Interview: Nicholas Pilapil

Playwright Nicholas Pilapil
How would you describe your writing style or “voice?” 

I call the voice Linda. And Linda seems really nice, but she also has a lot of opinions and is actually really mean. I want to describe my writing as very funny, but that's subjective to whoever is in the audience. What I can say for sure is that a Nicholas Pilapil play is most likely a dark comedy—with an abundance of pop culture references, characters with little to no subtext and a song or two I couldn't resist writing—about young people of color who feel ostracized from the world they live in.

What drew you to playwriting? 

Initially, I was reading a lot of bad plays and thought "I can do way better than that!" But, it wasn't until I took a writers workshop—with playwright Madhuri Shekar—that I actually started writing and realized how much I really enjoyed it. Oddly, playwriting felt like a form of activism and to be able to tell a story and share my point of view felt kinda empowering for me. But, what really trapped me was seeing an excerpt of my play performed for an audience for the first time. I'm really into people telling me I'm amazing, so once that audience laughed, I was like "I'm changing careers!"

Nicholas' writing space.
Tell us about where you like to write.

I love watching TV and I have no self control, so I have to force myself to write at this desk with the WiFi off. However, most of the time I just end up writing with my laptop on my couch in between episodes of "RuPaul's Drag Race," "Schitt's Creek" and something dumb like "The Good Doctor."

Why this play?

I wanted to write a love story. And at the beginning of this play's life it was a boy meets girl kinda story where they just fall in love. It was an epic love story that traveled through time and had a talking fetus. It was called Him and Her, and it was so stupid. Which is why we now have Young Dumb Broke High School Kids. I tend to write plays that are very character driven, and while I hated the first iteration of this play, I loved its characters. Specifically the characters when they were 16 years old in 1997. So I trashed the play, kept those characters, and just wrote random scenes with them until they told me what their story was. And it became less of the typical boy meets girl love story and more of a story about learning to love yourself and the life you live.

How would you describe your play in three words? 

A love story.

Nicholas Pilapil's Young Dumb Broke High School Kids will be presented in Artists at Play Readings on Saturday, April 28 at 2:30pm.

AAP Readings: Interview with the Dramaturgs

Michael Golamco and Annette Lee, both playwrights themselves, serve as dramaturgs for the 2018 Artists at Play Readings. Working closely with our playwrights, Chloé Hung and Nicholas Pilapil, they provide guidance and help to develop these new plays. Read on to learn about what excites them, what they love about the plays and what exactly a dramaturg does.

What excites you most about working on a new play?
Michael Golamco: I love helping someone execute their vision and finding ways to make it better. I get a rush from watching a new story come to life.  
Annette Lee: New plays are like babies. They can sometimes be unwieldy or difficult. Much of the time, you won't know in which direction they are going and they will take you to places you had no idea existed. However, the amazing thing about a new play (and a baby) is the promise of what they will be. In the early stages, you can see it what it wants to be and help shape and guide it. And while there may only be one writer, it takes a team of people to develop a play.   
Golamco: Writers need advocates!  
Lee: The director through their guidance and the actors through their performances, have considerable on how the playwright will shape the work.  They let the playwright see, through their interpretations, what the play can grow up to be. 
Golamco: I love being an advocate for other writers because I know how challenging the job of writing can be. In my own career, other people have been crucial champions to my work -- so it’s fantastic to be able to provide that voice for someone else. 
Artists at Play Readings all-company table read
(with dramaturgs Golamco and Lee, front left)

What do you think audiences will enjoy most about the plays you're working on?

Golamco: THEY’RE BOTH FUNNY. Both of these plays deal with big, gut-wrenching, real-world situations…but they’re also FUNNY. What impresses me about both these playwrights is their strong balance between humor and drama. They recognize that the world is intrinsically full of both. It feels like audiences are already aware of that, so I think people are going to get a lot out of both plays.  
Lee: An audience that comes to a new play reading is ready to hear something surprising and are ready for a wild ride. They are open to new ideas, concepts and images. I think they are going to get all of those things. 
What is a dramaturg?
LeeA dramaturg can serve in a number of capacities. 
Golamco: Literary advisor, production advisor, life coach. 
LeeA dramaturg can provide analysis to the playwright and director, sometimes make suggestions on the direction in which the playwright can take the story and provide research. 
Golamco: To me, being a dramaturg to a playwright is like being a consigliere to a mob boss. I’m the guide, but ultimately, they’re the boss. My job is to advise them during the heated process of development, advance their vision, throw elbows.  
LeeThe dramaturg assists in shepherding the development of a new work.
GolamcoDuring that birthing process, a playwright is usually hyper-focused on their work—down to the word-to-word molecules of dialogue—so they rely on someone else to keep a 50,000 foot perspective and bash heads together to get them what they want.  

See Chloé Hung's Three Woman of Swatow and Nicholas Pilapil's Young Dumb Broke High School Kids in the 2018 Artists at Play Readings on Saturday, April 28.