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Artists At Play
Artists At Play
Artists At Play
Artists at Play is a Los Angeles-based theatre-producing collective dedicated to programming that explores the Asian American and Pacific Islander experience. Since 2011, we have presented plays that demonstrate the humanity and complexity of diverse AAPI communities while championing and uplifting AAPI theatre artists. We curate theatre plays and programs that provide a lens through which we try to understand the influences of our past, the varied experiences of our present and the potential for change in our future. Through this process, we prioritize AAPI voices onstage, behind the scenes, and within our ever-expanding community. Artists at Play’s mainstage productions have achieved box office success and critical acclaim, including “Critics’ Choice” by news outlets and a GLAAD Media Award nomination. Our producing history includes West Coast and world premieres of contemporary Asian American plays by writers such as Lauren Yee, Michael Golamco, Madhuri Shekar, Carla Ching, and Lloyd Suh. Through Artists at Play’s New Play Development program, we have provided resources and support to 20 artists writing new plays, with about half of those going on to world premiere productions across the country. In 2022, we launched our Emerging Playwright Commission, adding new AAPI plays to the canon of American theatre. We support and provide resources for new, emerging and established AAPI theatre artists who come from different backgrounds within the diaspora and we include as many voices as possible from a spectrum of intersectional identities. The stories we tell build community, dialogue and belonging across communities and generations.
About the Organization:
$0 - $50,000
People of color in the United States rarely see themselves represented as the main character in popular entertainment. For Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, our communities have endured decades of stereotypes, caricatures and sidekick roles. Rarely do we see ourselves portrayed with depth, complexity and nuance because our lives don’t exist in the imagination of industries dominated by white creators and decision makers. When Artists at Play was founded in 2011, there was only one other theatre company in Los Angeles dedicated to telling the stories of the AAPI community. In New York, the Asian American Performers Action Coalition released a report of the 2011-2012 season that tallied the ethnic make-up of cast members from Broadway and the 16 largest non-profit theatre organizations. Asian American actors only made up 3 percent of cast members. Predominantly white theatre organizations and producers do not include plays about the history, issues, struggles and joys of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities on their stages. They do not produce work by AAPI playwrights, cast AAPI actors, or hire AAPI directors and designers. Because this erasure and lack of meaningful representation contributes to the “othering” and invisibility of our existence, Artists at Play is committed to addressing these inequitable practices by focusing on creating theatre by AAPI artists.
Artists at Play supports our community and provides a platform for meaningful representation through employment opportunities, inclusive programming, advocacy, and administrative and artistic resources such as new play development and commissions. We support and provide resources for new, emerging and established artists in their goals to challenge and engage theatrical communities and audiences. Artists at Play works as a training ground and pipeline for artists of color throughout the region. We seek out emerging artists and provide individuals with their first professionally paid opportunities. This includes casting understudies for all our mainstage productions so young actors have access to learn in the rehearsal room, and hiring novice stage managers and designers as they build their resumes. Another solution is the Emerging Playwrights Commission, where Artists at Play provides direct financial support and other artistic resources for a playwright to write and develop a new play. The program is a way to invest in emerging writers and better support the creation of new work in Asian American theatre. Our initial search process for the first commission yielded introductions to many young artists who we were excited to learn about and potentially support in the future. Since 2015, Artists at Play has presented free Theatre for Young Audiences performances as a way to encourage youth to build empathy and understanding between diverse people. The plays explore Asian American and Pacific Islander history and issues in ways that are educational and entertaining. It allows students of all backgrounds to see Asian American and Pacific Islander history as part of the fabric of American history. Because arts and creative industries are notorious for mostly benefitting privileged individuals who can afford to work for little- to no-pay, we would like to address this pipeline issue directly by offering equitable pay to young and emerging arts administrators and producers to work with the Artists at Play team. These individuals will have the opportunity to learn what it means to run an organization that prioritizes Asian American and Pacific Islander artists through the lens of inclusive programming and leading with agency and consent.