Pan Asian Repertory Theatre
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Founded in 1977 and led by Artistic Producing director Tisa Chang, the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre is a New York based theatre group that explores the Asian American experience. Pan Asian Rep provides professional opportunities for Asian American artists to collaborate and create unique works where quality and excellence are key criteria.[weasel words] Mel Gussow of The New York Times noted that "Before Pan Asian Rep, Asian Americans had severely limited opportunities in the theater…(now) heartened by Ms. Chang's example, similar companies have sprung up around the United States." Pan Asian Rep has opened doors and paved the way[weasel words] for many who have formed their own companies or enjoy careers in film, television and on Broadway. For 30 years Pan Asian Rep has created opportunities for minority artists to compete equally and bring to the stage modern classics that give insight into the evolution of Asians in America.
Specializing in intercultural productions of Asian American new plays, Asian masterworks in translation and innovative adaptations of Western classics, its many presentations and contributions to the canon of Asian American plays include:
- Empress of China, featuring Tina Chen in the title role of China's last dowager ruler
- Yellow Fever, which went on to enjoy a long Off-Broadway run
- Ghashiram Kotwal, the Marathi play with music
- Teahouse by Lao She, spanning fifty years of modern Chinese history
- Cambodia Agonistes by Ernest Abuba, with music by Louis Stewart
- The Teahouse of the August Moon by John Patrick
- Forbidden City Blues by Alexander Woo
- The Fan Tan King by C. Y. Leethe, a world premiere
- Yohen, by Philip Kan Gotanda
- Tea, by Velina Hasu Houston, the 20th Anniversary Production
Stagings of the early works of Asian American pioneers include Momoko Iko, Wakako Yamauchi, Philip Kan Gotanda, R. A. Shiomi, and David Henry Hwang. Now entering their 39 Anniversary Season Pan Asian will continue Master Piece cycle begun in 2007.
Pan Asian Rep has a regular New York season at the West End Theatre in the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew where they serve a diverse range of audiences. In 2007, they returned to the Julia Miles Theatre to re-mount their classic large cast productions. Major programs include the Senior Artist Resident Ensemble, the Theatre For Youth program, touring and residencies nationally and internationally, Staged Reading Series directed by Ron Nakahara, and year-round Actor Training Workshops taught by Ernest Abuba.
The company has been invited to several National Theatre Festivals including Edinburgh (1988), Singapore (1992), Cairo and Johannesburg (1995) and most recently Pan Asian Rep became the first professional theatre from the United States to be invited to The Xi Havana Theatre Festival (2003). From June 11–24, 2007, Pan Asian Rep served along with Ma-Yi Theater and NAATCO as a Co-Steering Committee member of the first ever National Asian American Theatre Festival. This two-week festival brought work from more than 35 emerging and established artists and groups from across the nation to over 13 venues around New York City.
The Company will celebrate its 39th Anniversary in 2016, and continues a cycle of Masterpiece productions. The cycle began in 2007 with THE JOY LUCK CLUB a play by Susan Kim, adapted from the novel by Amy Tan, directed and choreographed by Tisa Chang. THE JOY LUCK CLUB is a timeless story with universal relevance of four Mahjong playing mothers from different provinces in China, and their relationships with their American born daughters.
In 2008 Pan Asian presented the first professional theatrical production from Vietnam THE MISSING WOMAN, written and directed by Nguyen thi Minh Ngoc, Performed in Vietnamese and English it enabled diverse audiences to explore themes of social justice and human rights through the lens of traditional Vietnamese art forms. THE MISSING WOMAN is part of Pan Asian's larger efforts towards international artistic collaboration.
SHOGUN MACBETH kicked off the 2008 season. Adapted by John R. Briggs from the play by William Shakespeare, this epic production infused with medieval history utilized traditional Japanese techniques of Noh, Kyogen and extraordinary Samurai sword fighting while retaining the complexity and challenges of Shakespeare's language. Ernest Abuba who portrayed the title role 22 years ago directed this new innovative version.
In the fall of 2009 the company will produce IMELDA a tantalizing and powerful new musical based on the political but controversial figure Imelda Marcos. Pan Asian Rep and East West Players will collaborate to bring this important new work to New York City audiences.The show was directed by Tim Dang, book by Sachi Oyama, lyrics by Aaron Coleman, music by Nathan Wang, and choreographed by Reggie Lee
In spring 2010, Pan Asian produced the east coast premiere of CHING CHONG CHINAMAN, a comedy by Lauren Yee and directed by May Adrales that used the pejorative jinggle to examine commonly held assumptions about identity and culture. Pan Asian continued their relationship with Vietnamese audiences and artists during 2011's VIETNAM PROJECT II: Past and Present, which presented WE ARE, by Nguyen thi Minh Ngoc, about Vietnamese women who work or marry abroad, and MONSTER by derek Nguyen, about a Vietamese American detective in search of a missing child and his past. The company's 35th Anniversary season will include SHANGHAI LIL'S by Lilah Kan with music by Louis Stewart, Pan Asian's popular musical about the nightclub circuit in San Francisco's Chinatown shortly before Pearl Harbor; and RANGOON, a world premiere by Mayank Keshaviah about a family of Indian emiges pursuing the "American Dream".