Angry Reader of the Week: Roger Tang

What's up, folks? You know what time it is. It is time again to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Roger Tang.

Who are you?

I am a hard core theatre goer and producer, an occasional writer, an equally hard core middle aged comic book and SF nerd, a fundraiser, an occasional community activist and VERY occasional actor.

What are you?

A second generation Chinese American. I'm also single, but that's somehow not nearly as paramount to me these days.

Where are you?

Currently in Seattle, working my day job at the University of Washington, recovering from my night job(s) (see below).

Where are you from?

Originally from Arizona (where my parents wore born and raised), I spent a few years in the Bay Area for college and as a geologist, then went to the Puget Sound for grad school, where I've been for the last 30 or so years.

What do you do?

I SEE theatre (LOTS, over 100 shows a year). I DO theatre; I've founded Pork Filled Productions, an Asian American theatre and sketch comedy group, where I produce and write, along with fellow Angry Reader Maggie Lee (I also help with SIS Productions, an Asian American women's theatre). I ADVOCATE for Asian American theatre and drama. I run the Asian American Theatre Revue, a web resource on Asian American theatre: calendar of Asian American shows across the country, a directory of Asian American theatres and a listing of as many Asian American plays that I know of. It's entering its 20th year, and I've seen the landscape grow from just five theaters to several dozen across the continent.

What are you all about?

I started out with David Henry Hwang (a college classmate) and Phillip Kan Gotanda on their first shows. Like everyone who came of age then, I saw Asian American theatre as inherently political; self expression WAS activism. That gave me the responsibility to encourage emerging artists to create, whether or not it's overtly political—and to take that case on to the mainstream. In this post-racial age, Asian American artists are STILL stereotyped and pigeon-holed: actors are foreign outsiders, writers are easily ignored "ethnic", boutique playwrights. I'm promoting roles where Asian actors can play anyONE and developing plays where Asian writers can write anyTHING.

A few years back, I got the nickname "the Godfather of Asian American theatre" for connecting theatre artists across the country. I can also be called "Head Cheerleader for Asian American theatre," because I'm simply an advocate for Asian American theatre artists.

Hm. After reading this, I guess I can also be called an old windbag (but I distress...)

What makes you angry?

Knee jerk thinking that replaces careful, considered thought. That occasionally puts me at logger heads with allies, but I dislike ill-considered talking points masquerading as an argument, whether it's economic policy or color-aware casting ("Ya can't assume they're hiring the best actor for the part when they automatically think 'white' when a part says 'lawyer.' ")

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