East West Players
|Purpose||Asian American theatre|
|Notable members||Mako (d.), Artistic Director emeritus
Nobu McCarthy (d.) Artistic Director emeritus
East West Players is an Asian American theatre organization in Los Angeles, founded in 1965. As one of the nation's first Asian American theatre organizations, East West Players today continues to produce works and educational programs that give voice to the Asian Pacific American experience.
Established in 1965 by Mako, Rae Creevey, Beulah Quo, Soon-Tek Oh, James Hong, Pat Li, June Kim, Guy Lee and Yet Lock as a place where Asian American actors could perform roles beyond the stereotypical parts they were being limited to in Hollywood. An early statement of purpose read: "To further cultural understanding between the East and West by employing the dual Oriental and American heritages of the East-West Players."
Current mission statement: As the nation's premier Asian American theatre organization, East West Players produces artistic works and educational programs that foster dialogue exploring Asian Pacific experiences.
Current vision statement:
- Continuing the movement to develop, foster and expand Asian Pacific performance into a major force on the national arts scene in the 21st century
- National recognition of the organization's productions and programs
- Increased opportunities for Asian and Pacific Islander artists on stage and in other media
- Introducing audiences to the diverse Asian Pacific experiences
- Educational programs and mentorship in the literary, technical and performing arts
- Financial and organizational sustainability and growth
East West Players has been called “the nation’s pre-eminent Asian American theater troupe”  for their award-winning productions blending Eastern and Western movement, costumes, language, and music. EWP has premiered over 100 plays and musicals about the Asian Pacific American experience and has held over 1,000 readings and workshops. Its emphasis is on building bridges between East and West; attendance estimates are 56% Asians and 44% non-Asians.
In 1998, EWP Producing Artistic Director Tim Dang led the company’s move from a 99-seat Equity Waiver "black box” into a new 240-seat venue at an Actors' Equity Association contract level. EWP’s mainstage is the David Henry Hwang Theater, housed within the historic Union Center for the Arts in downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district, where it serves over 10,000 people each year, including low income audiences provided free and discounted admissions and deaf audiences attending a series of ASL-interpreted shows.
EWP offers a growing array of educational programs training over 200 multicultural artists each year – the Actors Conservatory (performance workshops and an intensive Summer Conservatory); David Henry Hwang Writers Institute; the career program, Alliance of Creative Talent Services (ACTS); and the touring Theatre for Youth (reaching an estimated 50,000 K-8th graders and their families via in-school performances and festivals).
Notable EWP alumni include actors Mako, Nobu McCarthy, Pat Morita, James Hong, Yuki Shimoda, John Lone, Rodney Kageyama, B.D. Wong, James Saito, Freda Foh Shen, Lauren Tom, Amy Hill, Alec Mapa, Alan Muraoka, Emily Kuroda, Sala Iwamatsu, Chris Tashima, Anthony Begonia, John Cho, Kal Penn, Daniel Dae Kim, Parvesh Cheena, James Kyson-Lee, Masi Oka, Francois Chau, Jeanne Sakata, Greg Watanabe, Dante Basco, and dramatists Wakako Yamauchi, Hiroshi Kashiwagi, David Henry Hwang, Philip Kan Gotanda, Roberta Uno, R.A. Shiomi, Judith Nihei and Soji Kashiwagi. East West Players has also had the opportunity to work with many respected artists and faculty such as actors Dennis Dun, Danny Glover, Bill Macy, Takayo Fischer, Lauren Tom, George Takei, Tsai Chin, and Nancy Kwan, directors, Lisa Peterson and Oskar Eustis, musician Dan Kuramoto and instructors Calvin Remsberg and Fran Bennett.
Over seventy-five percent of all Asian Pacific performers in the acting unions living in Los Angeles have worked at EWP. East West Players has provided training and opportunities to many emerging and professional artists who have gone on win Tony Awards, Obie Awards, Emmy Awards, LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards, and Academy Awards.
East West Players has collaborated with many organizations though its history, including Center Theatre Group, Robey Theatre Company, Cornerstone Theater Company, Ma-Yi Theatre Company, and Cedar Grove OnStage.
2014/16 50th Anniversary Season
- Animals Out of Paper, by Rajiv Joseph
- TAKARAZUKA!!!, by Susan Soon He Stanton
- Washer/Dryer by Nandita Shenoy
- The Who's Tommy, Book by Pete Townshend & Des McAnuff, Music and Lyrics by Pete Townshend, Additional Music and Lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon
- Chinglish, by David Henry Hwang
- World Premiere of a new play commissioned in honor of East West Players' 50th anniversary. TBD
- Artistic Director's Choice. TBD
- La Cage Aux Folles, Book by Harvey Fierstein, Lyrics and Music by Jerry Herman, Based on the book by Jean Poiret
2013/14 48th Anniversary Season
- Steel Magnolias, by Robert Harling
- The Nisei Widows Club: How Tomi Got Her Groove Back, By Betty Tokudani
- A Nice Indian Boy by Madhuri Shekar
- Beijing Spring, Lyrics by Tim Dang, Music by Joel Iwataki
2012/13 47th Anniversary Season
- Encounter, by Aparna Sindhoor, S.M. Raju and Anil Natyaveda, Music by Isaac Thomas Kottukapally, Directed & Choreographed by Aparna Sindhoor and Anil Natyaveda, Inspired by a short story by Mahasweta Devi
- Tea, With Music, Book and Lyrics by Velina Hasu Houston, Composed by Nathan Wang, Directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera
- Christmas in Hanoi by Eddie Borey, directed by Jeff Liu
- Chess, Music by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, Lyrics by Tim Rice, Directed by Tim Dang, Musical Direction by Marc Macalintal
2011/12 46th Anniversary Season
- A Widow of No Importance, by Shane Sakhrani, directed by Shaheen Vaz
- The Language Archive, written by Julia Cho, directed by Jessica Kubzansky
- Three Year Swim Club by Lee Tonouchi, directed by Keo Woolford
- A Little Night Music, Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by Hugh Wheeler, Directed by Tim Dang, Musical Direction by Caroline Su, Choreography by Reggie Lee
2010/11 45th Anniversary Season
- Mysterious Skin, by Prince Gomolvilas, directed by Tim Dang
- Crimes of the Heart, written by Beth Henley, directed by Leslie Ishii
- Wrinkles by Paul Kikuchi, directed by Jeff Liu
- Krunk Fu Battle Battle, Book by Qui Nguyen, Lyrics by Beau Sia, Vocal Music by Marc Macalintal, Directed by Tim Dang
2009/10 44th Anniversary Season
- Art, written by Yasmina Reza, directed by Alberto Isaac
- Po Boy Tango, written by Kenneth Lin, directed by Oanh Nguyen
- Cave Quest by Les Thomas, directed by Diane Rodriguez
- Road to Saigon, developed and directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera, music direction & arrangement by Nathan Wang
2008/09 43rd Anniversary Season
- Be Like Water, written by Dan Kwong, directed by Chris Tashima
- The Joy Luck Club, written by Susan Kim, directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera
- Ixnay by Paul Kikuchi, directed by Jeff Liu
- Marry Me a Little, music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, directed by Jules Aaron and The Last Five Years, music & lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
- 1968 playbill for "The Medium"
- New York Times 12/16/01
- "Danny Glover". TCM Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved on 26 July 2010.
- Foley, F. Kathleen. "Theater Review: An Earthen Vessel Cracks Under Fire", page 3 of 3, Los Angeles Times, 15 January 1999. Retrieved on 26 July 2010.
- "As Vishnu Dreams - 39th Season". East West Players. Retrieved on 22 July 2010.