the first national asian american theater festival

This Village Voice article poses an interesting question about Asian American theater: The Asian Equation. What exactly should an Asian American theater festival celebrate? Discussions between particpants at an Asian American theater conference apparently revealed an interesting generational divide at the heart of the debate. Why does it always have to be about identity? Why is racial identity such an obsession? Why do companies keep producing plays about being Asian? According to Ralph Pena, director of the Ma-Yi Theater Company, "The younger group wants to branch out into new and different territory, while the older generation still sees race as important." It's definitely a debate worth having. I think it doesn't always have to be about racial identity, though the truth is, it's always about identity, even when it's not. Figuring out how to keep Asian American theater fresh and relevant, that should be the real debate. But hell, what do I know?

The very first Asian American Theater Festival kicks off next week, starting June 11, presenting 31 works from more than 25 companies around the country at multiple venues in New York. A huge, diverse selection of works from all over, showcasing a variety of different styles, genres, performers and views—drama, musical, solo works, spoken word, sketch comedy, and everything outside and in between. For the full lineup of shows, and ticket information, visit the festival's website here. Support Asian American theater!

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