In 1965, the first Asian American theatre company, the East West players, was founded by a group of actors who wanted to find better opportunities in the acting industry. Forty years later, Asian American theatre is one of the fastest-growing theatre sectors with over thirty active theatre companies and numerous award-winning artists such as Frank Chin, Jessica Hagedorn, Ping Chong, David Henry Hwang, Philip Kan Gotanda, Velina Hasu, and B. D. Wong. Based on over seventy interviews, this book surveys the history of Asian American theatre from 1965 to 2005 with focus on actors, playwrights, companies, audiences, and communities. Emphasizing historical contexts, Esther Kim Lee examines how issues of cultural nationalism, interculturalism, and identity politics affect a racially defined theatre. Addressing issues ranging from actor's activism to Asian Diaspora, the book documents how Asian American theatre has become an indispensable part of American culture.
Esther Kim Lee is Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Winner of Association for Theatre in Higher Education Outstanding Book Award 2007.