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National Asian American Theater Partners With Regional Companies

By Sophie Haigney

The National Asian American Theater Company is starting a partnership with regional theaters across the country, aiming to foster inclusion of more Asian-American theater artists, technicians, administrators and community members through productions, outreach and other programming.

The first partner theaters will be New York Theater WorkshopSoho RepLong Wharf Theater in New Haven, Conn., and Two River Theater in Red Bank, N.J. The hope is to expand the partnership to theaters across the country.

“I have a habit of getting on a subway train to see the demographics of the train, and I don’t see this reflected on our stages, where we’re supposed to be so imaginative,” Mia Katigbak, the co-founder and artistic producing director of the National Asian American Theater Company, said in a phone interview. “We work very hard to support our fellow Asian-American theater practitioners. But I thought it might be a good thing to look at partnerships with other non-Asian-American theater companies.”

The company was founded in 1989, with a mission to grow Asian-American theater in the United States. As part of the partnership, regional theaters will collaborate with the National Asian American Theater Company to put on a production in one of four categories: a European or American classic with an all Asian-American cast; the adaptation of a classic by an Asian-American playwright; a new work by a non-Asian-American realized by an all Asian-American cast; or a new work by an Asian-American playwright that incorporates other performance arts or media.

The partner theaters will also commit to one or more such productions in future seasons, to planning events to supplement performances that feature Asian-American speakers and to instituting a plan for outreach to Asian-Americans in their communities.

“These organizations that we are partnering with have larger support systems and resources for the kind of outreach that we’ve always wanted to do,” Katigbak said, adding, “There’s a great opportunity in Asian-American communities among people who probably have never thought that theater might be part of their lives.”