The 2014 National Asian American Theater Conference and Festival (ConFest), presented by the Consortium of Asian American Theaters & Artists (CAATA), dedicated to advancing the field of Asian American theater, will be held in Philadelphia, PA, from Wednesday, October 8 through Sunday, October 12, 2014. This year’s ConFest exploring the theme, “Home: Here…There…Where?, is the fourth such national convening since the group’s first gathering in Los Angeles in 2006 and the first time the event will take place in Philadelphia.
To produce the 2014 ConFest, CAATA is collaborating with Philadelphia’s Asian Arts Initiative. Co-hosting with Asian Arts Initiative is InterAct Theatre Company. Additional venues include Philadelphia’s Fringe Arts, Painted Bride Art Center, and Underground Arts.
“CAATA’s National Theater Conference and Festival celebrates the significant artistic contributions Asian American artists make to our national cultural landscape and provides an essential platform for Asian American artists to convene and explore issues of social, political, artistic and aesthetic importance,” says Gayle Isa, Executive Director of Asian Arts Initiative and a member of CAATA’s national board of directors.
Festival programming will feature four fully staged productions:
New York City’s Soomi Kim presents CHANG(E), a multi-media devised theater work that draws upon re-enactments of the writings and performances of artist and political activist Kathy Change, an icon in Philadelphia whose life ended in an act of self-immolation on the University of Pennsylvania campus in 1996.
Master storyteller Dan Kwong from Los Angeles teams up with world renowned taiko drummer and musician Kenny Endo from Honolulu in a moving, insightful and hilarious tribute to Kwong’s late mother, Momo Nagano, in WHAT? NO PING PONG BALLS? It’s the tale of a Japanese American woman living life unapologetically as a single parent and artist.
Sue Jin Song’s CHILDREN OF MEDEA, a past winner of the DC Capital Fringe Festival, draws on one of the earliest stories of female immigration in the history of Western drama–the mythical figure of Medea—and explores parallels with modern immigrant experience and family dynamics.
A steamy new work from Toronto based fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company, SEX TAPE PROJECT explores themes of intimacy and voyeurism in the vertical sprawl endemic of our current urban landscape. The performance takes place in a hotel, while the audience is in a second location, directly across the street, watching through a window.
A showcase performance on Thursday, October 9th at Fringe Arts, will feature acts by SLANT Performance Group (New York, NY), Viet Nguyen (Orlando, FL), Kat Evasco (San Francisco, CA), and Anupama Yadav (Washington, DC), among others. An open mic on Friday, October 10th will shine the spotlight on additional artists from Philadelphia and nationally.
In addition, local Partner Productions will include Asian Arts Initiative’s TREE CITY LEGENDS, a hip hop infused parable by spoken word artist and musician turned playwright Dennis Kim, telling the tale of a family of brothers navigating their urban landscape; InterAct Theatre’s CAUGHT by Christopher Chen, cleverly exploring the lines between truth and fiction, perception and reality; and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts’ STATION, a durational piece by Eiko Otake set at 30th Street Station.
The Conference, held in tandem with Festival performances, includes plenary speakers addressing topics including casting and representation of Asian American performers, Asian American activism and social justice in performance, new performance forms, and discussions on the meaning and complexities of home for Asian Americans.
Break-out sessions, held throughout the Conference, delve into areas including professional development, artistic practice and craft, and further explorations of the ConFest theme, Home: Here? There? Where?
A track dedicated to showcasing new plays by Asian American writers includes readings of ALAMEDA by Jeremy Tiang (New York, NY), KUNG FU ZOMBIES VS. CANNIBALS by Saymoukda Vongsay (St. Paul, MN), THE DIVORCEE DIARIES by May Lee Yang (St. Paul, MN) and FAMILIUM VULGARE by Melissa Tien (New York, NY).
For additional information on the 2014 ConFest, passes and individual tickets, please visit www.caata.net.
Other articles by Lia Chang
Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion, On View September 26, 2014 – April 19, 2015 at New York Historical Society
Oct. 10-12: Dan Kwong’s WHAT? NO PING-PONG BALLS? with Kenny Endo at Interact Theatre Company as part of 2014 National Asian American Theater Festival and Conference
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Sept. 17: Tony Award Winning Playwright David Henry Hwang Talks with A Chinaman’s Chance’s Author Eric Liu at 92nd Street Y
David Henry Hwang and Lynn Nottage Appointed to the Playwriting Faculty of Columbia University School of the Arts Theatre Program
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Oct. 2: Alan Muraoka Helms Staged Reading of BARCELONA by Christine Toy Johnson and Jason Ma, featuring Ali Ewoldt, Diane Phelan, Joel Perez and More at CAP 21 Theatre
Photos & Video: The Wiz’s André De Shields Sang “So You Wanted to Meet the Wizard” in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream at Carnegie Hall
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Bryan Cranston, Audra McDonald, Neil Patrick Harris, Jessie Mueller, Lena Hall, Sophie Okonedo, Kenny Leon, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, All The Way, A Raisin in the Sun, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and More Take Home 2014 Tony Awards
Photos: David Henry Hwang, Annie Baker and Rajiv Joseph honored at Sixth Annual Steinberg Playwright “Mimi” Awards
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Crafting a Career
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Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, and made her jazz vocalist debut in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.
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