Video: Beyond Orientalism Public Forum on Race and Identity in Theatre at Fordham University

Jointly produced by the Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC), in partnership with TCG (Theatre Communications Group), the Asian American Arts Alliance, Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts, and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center with Fordham University Theatre Program

beyond orientalism

(NEW YORK)—How can the creative community advance race equity in the theatre? How do artists and producers agree to work together to eradicate yellowface and brownface? What are lessons learned that can be shared? On Monday, May 2nd, 2016, at 7 pm, Beyond Orientalism: The Forum will be held at Fordham University’s Pope Auditorium to explore these vital questions. This interactive public event, in which every attendee will play a role and have a voice, features panel conversations, a breakout session, and multimedia components, more than just a series of talking heads.

This three-hour forum will include two panels and a breakout session. The first panel will be a conversation among influencers in the American theatre—artistic directors and producers impacting the American theatre landscape. The second panel will feature Asian Pacific Islander (API) artists who are activists for diversity in the theatre community. Composed of theatre artists and allies, the public forum will also explore collaborations among API and primarily white arts organizations around the country. The first panel features cultural influencers Chay Yew of Victory Gardens, David Wannen of New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players and other panelists pending. The second panel features playwright Lloyd Suh, director Nelson Eusebio and NAATCO artistic director and actor Mia Katigbak..

Panelists confirmed include:
James Nicola, Artistic Director New York Theatre Workshop
Neil Pepe, Artistic Director Atlantic Theater Company
Randy Skinner, Director, Dames at Sea on Broadway
David Wannen, Exec Dir, NY Gilbert and Sullivan Players
Chay Yew, Artistic Director Victory Garden Theatre, Chicago
Lloyd Suh, Playwright (“Charles Francis Chan Jr’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery”)
Mia Katigbak, Artistic Director National Asian American Theatre Co
Nelson Eusebio, former Artistic Director Leviathan Lab, co-founder Creative Destruction
Moderated by Carmen Morgan, founder ArtEquity.

After a series of yellowface/brownface productions across the United States in 2015, including multiple revivals of Gilbert and Sullivan’s THE MIKADO, API theatre artists across the country felt a necessary dialogue was missing from the theatre community. Beyond Orientalism conversations began in November 2015 with a Town Hall gathering of API theatre artists in response to the persistent practice of racial impersonation in U.S. theatre. Beyond Orientalism: The Forum is the launch of a national initiative to directly address the harmful effects of yellowface and brownface in US theatre, while advocating for diverse representation of API people– and all characters of color – on all stages.

“The Asian American Arts Alliance is proud to be working with our tremendous partners on Beyond Orientalism: The Forum,” said Alliance Executive Director Andrea Louie. “In a political climate that is increasingly polarized, the issues of yellowface and brownface have never been more important. Asian Americans make up 15% of the NYC population and represent its fastestgrowing racial group. But there is a glass ceiling in nearly every sector of the creative workforce, most obviously on New York City stages, which do not reflect the vibrant and diverse world in which we live.”

Angel Desai, a steering committee member of the Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC), said, “There is an imbalance in the theatrical world, a gap between how Asian Pacific Islanders see ourselves and how some theatre makers see us. Yellowface/brownface is but one symptom of this imbalance. We hope our May 2nd forum can be a step toward bridging that gap. AAPAC is excited to share the conversation about Asian American representation in New York City theatre with such dedicated, passionate partners.”

“TCG renews our call for color-conscious casting to help end the harmful practices of yellow face and brownface,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director, TCG. “We’re proud to partner with organizations who have been leading that work for years, and hope that Beyond Orientalism: The Forum will spark transformative conversations about cultural appropriation, stereotype, racial equity, and more.”

“It seems every day brings a new account of a film, of a TV show, of a theatre production, that fails to represent the variety and breadth of America’s cultural life, and in many cases, with seeming intent, denies truthful depictions of our diversity. Only by engaging with one another, and challenging practices that create barriers, can we ever hope to have our entertainment reflect the true nature of the country,” said Howard Sherman, interim director of Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts.

Fordham Theatre is proud to present the AAPAC Forum because it is fitting conclusion to their 2016/17 season, “A Season at the Mountaintop,” which has been devoted to the vision of a society in which everyone is included.

Click below to watch lifestream of panel.

Beyond Orientalism: The Forum will take place from 7 to 10 pm at Pope Auditorium on Fordham University’s Lincoln Center Campus, located at 113 West 60th Street in Manhattan. Admission is free. Interested attendees should RSVP.

Asian American Arts Alliance is dedicated to strengthening Asian American arts and cultural groups through resource sharing, promotion, and community building. Since 1983, the Alliance has sought to unify, promote, and represent the artistic and cultural producers of one of New York City’s fastest-growing ethnic populations. The organization is a diverse alliance of artists, organizations and arts supporters who believe that working together as a pan-ethnic, multidisciplinary community is essential to nurturing the development of artists and arts organizations and to providing meaningful and innovative ways for civic engagement in society

The mission of Asian American Performers Action Coalition is to expand the perception of Asian American performers in order to increase their access to and representation on New York City’s stages.

Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the U.S. theatre, was founded in 1961 with a grant from the Ford Foundation to foster communication among professional, community and university theatres. Their mission is to strengthen, nurture and promote the professional not-for-profit American theatre.

The Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts is America’s leading advocate for full diversity as a key to the vitality and dynamism of American theatre, film, and television, with a particular focus on artists of color and artists with disabilities.

The Fordham University Theatre Program is regarded as one of the most outstanding BA theatre training programs in the country. The program combines the intimacy of a small conservatory with an exceptional liberal arts education, and the rich resources and opportunities available in the world capital of the performing arts. Ignite your vision at TWITTER WATCH: Lea Salonga, David Henry Hwang, Ann Harada, More Share #MyYellowfaceStory

Other articles by Lia Chang:
 Internationally Acclaimed Playwright Velina Hasu Houston named Distinguished Professor at the USC School of Dramatic Arts
Lia Chang and Garth Kravits’ HIDE AND SEEK Screens in 11th Annual DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon on May 1; Complete Lineup 
Qui Nguyen’s “Vietgone” wins $25,000 Steinberg/ATCA Award for 2015; Additional $7,500 citations for Steven Dietz’s “Bloomsday” and Jen Silverman’s “The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane”
Sandra Oh, Sola Bamis, Corey Brill and Raymond Lee Star in South Coast Repertory’s World Premiere of Julia Cho’s OFFICE HOUR, April 10-30
Lily Mariye Talks Directing “Nashville,” the Disney-ABC Creative Talent Development Program and What’s Next 
East West Players to Honor Broadway’s ALLEGIANCE, Hit TV Show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” and Pan Asian Repertory Theatre Founding Artistic Director Tisa Chang at 50th Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner & Silent Auction on April 25
Photos: Denise Burse, Chinaza Uche and More in Kimber Lee’s “brownsville song (b-side for tray)” at Seattle Rep through April 24
Thom Sesma, Greg Watanabe and Jeanne Sakata Set for A SINGLE SHARD at People’s Light, April 27 – May 29
Maxine Hong Kingston to Receive Randolph College Pearl S. Buck Award on April 20 
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, Ellen Burstyn, Bobby Cannavale and Paola Lázaro-Muñoz at The Drama Book Shop for BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY Reading and Signing
Broadway Vet Gedde Watanabe and MISS SAIGON’s Jon Jon Briones Lead the Cast of East West Players’ Production of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, May 12 – June 26
Tony Award-winning playwright and screenwriter David Henry Hwang and singer-songwriter, producer, and actor Leehom Wang to Receive Honorary Degrees from Williams College
Closing Night Party of Encores! 1776 with André De Shields, Santino Fontana, John Larroquette, Nikki Renée Daniels, Bryce Pinkham, Ann Harada at New York City Center
Mia Katigbak, Jojo Gonzalez, Tonya Pinkins, Cory Michael Smith, Andre Holland, Jessica Hagedorn and More Celebrate Opening Night of Ma-Yi Theater Company’s HOUSE RULES
Garth Kravits and Benjamin Halstead win TUNE IN TIME Musical Theater Song Writing Competition at The York Theatre
“Sunny Side Up” on Sprout, starring Emily Borromeo, Carly Ciarrocchi, Kaitlin Becker and Tim Kubart, Receives Daytime Emmy Nod for Best Pre-School Children’s Series
Q & A with Emmanuel Brown, Actor, Award-Winning Fight Choreographer and Champion Martial Artist 
Multimedia: Garth Kravits Featured on Latest Episode of Joel B. New’s SOMETHING NEW Podcast

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and

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