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East West Players
Formation1965 [1]
TypeTheatre group
Purpose Asian American theatre
  • Union Center for the Arts
    120 Judge John Aiso St.
    Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, California 90012
Website Edit this at Wikidata

East West Players is an Asian American theatre organization in Los Angeles, founded in 1965. [1] As the nation's first professional Asian American theatre organization, East West Players continues to produce works and educational programs that give voice to the Asian Pacific American experience today.


Established in 1965 by Mako, Rae Creevey, Beulah Quo, Soon-tek Oh, James Hong, Pat Li, June Kim, Guy Lee, and Yet Lock as a place where Asian-American actors could perform roles beyond the stereotypical caricatures they were being limited to in Hollywood. [2] An early statement of purpose read: "To further cultural understanding between the East and West by employing the dual Oriental and American heritages of the East-West Players." [3]

Current mission statement: As the nation's premier Asian American theatre organization, East West Players produces artistic works and educational programs that foster dialogue exploring Asian Pacific experiences. [4]

Current vision statement: [4]

  • Continuing the movement to develop, foster and expand Asian Pacific performance into a major force on the national arts scene in the 21st century
  • National recognition of the organization's productions and programs
  • Increased opportunities for Asian and Pacific Islander artists on stage and in other media
  • Introducing audiences to the diverse Asian Pacific experiences
  • Educational programs and mentorship in the literary, technical and performing arts
  • Financial and organizational sustainability and growth

East West Players has been called “the nation’s pre-eminent Asian American theater troupe” [5] for their award-winning productions blending Eastern and Western movement, costumes, language, and music. EWP has premiered over 100 plays and musicals about the Asian Pacific American experience and has facilitated over 1,000 readings and workshops. Its emphasis is on building bridges between East and West; attendance estimates are 56% Asians and 44% non-Asians.

In 1998, EWP Producing Artistic Director Tim Dang led the company’s move from a 99-seat Equity Waiver " black box” into a new 240-seat venue at an Actors' Equity Association contract level. EWP’s mainstage is the David Henry Hwang Theater, housed within the historic Union Center for the Arts in downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district. The theater serves over 15,000 people each year, including low income audiences of whom are provided free and discounted admissions as well as deaf audiences via ASL-interpreted productions.

EWP hosts an annual awards dinner to celebrate the achievements of individuals who have "raised the visibility of the Asian Pacific American (APA) community through their craft." [6]

Educational programs

EWP offers a growing array of educational programs training over 200 multicultural artists each year – the Actors Conservatory (performance workshops and an intensive Summer Conservatory); David Henry Hwang Writers Institute; the career program, Alliance of Creative Talent Services (ACTS); and the touring Theatre for Youth (reaching an estimated 50,000 K-8th graders and their families via in-school performances and festivals). Scholarships have been offered for these programs in the past to maintain accessibility for students. [7]


Notable EWP alumni include actors Mako, Nobu McCarthy, Pat Morita, James Hong, Yuki Shimoda, John Lone, Rodney Kageyama, [8] BD Wong, James Saito, Freda Foh Shen, Lauren Tom, Amy Hill, Alec Mapa, Alan Muraoka, Emily Kuroda, Sala Iwamatsu, Chris Tashima, Anthony Begonia, John Cho, Kal Penn, Daniel Dae Kim, Matthew Yang King, Parvesh Cheena, James Kyson-Lee, Masi Oka, Francois Chau, Jeanne Sakata, Rachna Khatau, Greg Watanabe, Dante Basco, and dramatists Wakako Yamauchi, Hiroshi Kashiwagi, David Henry Hwang, Philip Kan Gotanda, Roberta Uno, R.A. Shiomi, Judith Nihei and Soji Kashiwagi,and Clyde Kusatsu. East West Players has also had the opportunity to work with many respected artists and faculty such as actors Dennis Dun, Danny Glover, [9] Bill Macy, Takayo Fischer, George Takei, Tsai Chin, and Nancy Kwan, directors, Lisa Peterson and Oskar Eustis, musician Dan Kuramoto and instructors Calvin Remsberg and Fran Bennett.

Over seventy-five percent of all Asian Pacific performers in the acting unions living in Los Angeles have worked at EWP. East West Players has provided training and opportunities to many emerging and professional artists who have gone on to win Tony Awards, Obie Awards, Emmy Awards, LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards, and Academy Awards.

East West Players has collaborated with many organizations though its history, including Center Theatre Group, Robey Theatre Company, [10] Cornerstone Theater Company, [11] Ma-Yi Theatre Company, and Cedar Grove OnStage.


EWP hosts an annual gala fundraiser in order to honor "individuals [as well as corporations and foundations] who have raised the visibility of the Asian Pacific American (APA) community through their craft." There are five awards: the Visionary Award, Corporate/Foundation Visionary Award, Made in American Award, Breakout Performance Award, and the Founders Award. Past honorees include Tia Carrere, John Cho, Tim Dang, Prince Gomolvilas, Amy Hill, Mako, Mike Shinoda, and BD Wong. [12]

The event itself comprises a formal dinner followed by a silent auction. Proceeds from the event go directly toward funding the theatre's many educational and artistic programs. [13]

Current season

2020 - 2021 55th Season

"Between Worlds"
Production Title Written by Directed by In Association with
Daniel Ho Andy Lowe
Today is My Birthday Susan Soon He Stanton Lily Tung Crystal
Kaidan Project: Alone Lisa Sanaye Dring and Chelsea Sutton Rogue Artists Ensemble
From Number to Name Kristina Wong API Rise
1 Hour Photo Tetsuro Shigematsu Richard Wolfe Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre
Running Danny Pudi Arpita Mukherjee Hypokrit Theatre Company and EnActe Arts

Previous seasons

Season Production Title Directed by Written by Music by Choreography by In Association with
1965-1966 1st Season Rashomon Fay and Michael Kanin
Based on short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
Twilight Crane Junji Kinoshita
Lady Aoi Yukio Mishima
1967 2nd Season Martyrs Can't Go Home Soon-Teck Oh
Camels Were Two-Legged in Peking Soon-Teck Oh
Adapted from a novel by Lao She
1968 3rd Season The Medium Gian-Carlo Menotti
The Substitute, a Kyogen
The Servant of Two Masters Carlo Goldoni
The House of Bernarda Alba Federigo Garcia Lorca
1969 4th Season The Year of the Cock (revue)
Now You See, Now You Don't Henry Woon
Three Kyogens
The Inspector General Nikolai Gogol
1970 5th Season Rashomon (revival) Fay and Michael Kanin
Based on short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
Tondemonai-Never Happen! Soon-Teck Oh
1972 7th Season Monkey Ernest Harada (from a Chinese folktale)
Three Kyogens Leigh Kim, Betty Muramoto, Irvine Paik
No Place For a Tired Ghost Mako
S.P.O.O.S. Bill Shinkai
Tales of Juan and Taro Glenn Johnson and Alberto Isaac
1973 - 1974 8th Season Enchanted Pumpkins E.M. Rafn and Sheri Emond
Transfers and the Rooming House Conrad Bromberg
Two Shades of Yellow: Coda Alberto Isaac
Two Shades of Yellow: Yellow Is My Favorite Color Edward Sakamoto
Pineapple White Jon Shirota
The Emperor's Nightingale Sam Rosen
1974 - 1975 9th Season Harry Kelly Harold Heifetz
In the Jungle of Cities Bertolt Brecht
The Year of the Dragon Frank Chin
When We Were Young Momoko Iko
1975 - 1976 10th Season A Doll's House Henrik Ibsen
Revelations as a Tight-Eyed Devil Bill Shinkai
S.P.O.O.S. (revival) Bill Shinkai
The Chickencoop Chinaman Frank Chin
Nobody On My Side of the Family Looks Like That! Dom Magwili
Three Sisters Anton Chekhov
The Asian American hearings: A Multi-Media Extravaganza
1976 - 1977 11th Season That's the Way the Fortune Cookie Crumbles Edward Sakamoto
And the Soul Shall Dance Wakako Yamauchi
Gee Pop Frank Chin
Psychechain Irvin Paik
Adapted from a short story by William Wu
Twelfth Night William Shakespeare
1977 - 1978 12th Season Points of Departure Paul Stephen Lim
Bunnyhop Jeffrey Paul Chan
O-Men: An American Kabuki Karen Yamashita
1978 - 1979 13th Season Voices in the Shadows Edward Sakamoto
Frogs Aristophanes
The Avocado Kid or Zen and the Art of Guacamole Philip Kan Gotanda
Princess Charley Book by Jim Ploss and Norman Cohen
Lyrics by Jim Ploss
Roger Perry
Pacific Overtures Book by John Weidman
Additional material by Hugh Wheeler
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim
1979 - 1980 14th Season Pacific Overtures (encore performance) Book by John Weidman
Additional material by Hugh Wheeler
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim
Stories with Strings & Sticks & Shadows: Lawson Lawson Inada
Stories with Strings & Sticks & Shadows: Karasu Taro Taro Yashima
Stories with Strings & Sticks & Shadows: The Princess and the Fisherman & Magic Show Michiko Tagawa
Hawaii No Ka Oi: Aala Park and Manoa Valley Edward Sakamoto
What the Enemy Looks Like Perry Miyake, Jr.
Da Kine Leigh Kim
Happy End Lyrics by Bertolt Brecht
Original German play by Dorothy Lane
Book and lyrics adapted by Michael Reingold
Kurt Weill
1980 - 1981 15th Season F.O.B. David Henry Hwang
Hokusai Sketchbooks Seiichi Yashiro
Translated by Ted T. Takaya
Godspell Conceived by John-Michael Tebelak
Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Stephen Schwartz
Not a Through Street Wakako Yamauchi
East West Stories
The Life of the Land Edward Sakamoto
1981 - 1982 16th Season Station J Richard France
Christmas in Camp Dom Magwili
Conceived by Mako
12-1-A Wakako Yamauchi
Pilgrimage Edward Sakamoto
1982 - 1983 17th Season Imperial Valley Margaret DePriest
Have You Heard Soon-Teck Oh
Additional writing by Kwang Lim Kim and Sukman Kim
Yong Mann Kim
Yamashita Roger Pulvers
The Dream of Kitamura Philip Kan Gotanda
No Smile For Strangers Harold Heifetz
Yellow Fever R.A. Shiomi
1983 - 1984 18th Season Live Oak Store Hiroshi Kashiwagi
You're on the Tee & Ripples in the Pond Jon Shirota
The Grunt Childe Lawrence O'Sullivan
Paint Your Face on a Drowning in the River Craig Kee Strete
Asaga Kimashita Velina Hasu Houston
Visitors From Nagasaki Perry Miyake, Jr.
1984 - 1985 19th Season A Song for a Nisei Fisherman Philip Kan Gotanda
The Music Lessons Wakako Yamauchi
The Threepenny Opera Bertolt Brecht

English adaptations by Marc Blitzstein

Kurt Weill
1985 - 1986 20th Season Christmas in Camp II Dom Magwili
Conceived by Mako
Additional writing by Mako and Keone Young
The Memento Wakako Yamauchi
Rashomon (revival) Fay and Michael Kanin
Based on short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
1986 - 1987 21st Season Chikamtsu's Forest Edward Sakamoto
The Gambling Den Akemi Kikumura
Wong Bow Rides Again Cherylene Lee
The Medium (revival) Gian-Carlo Menotti
The Zoo Story Edward Albee
Hughie Eugene O'Neill
Lady of Larkspur Lotion Tennessee Williams
1987 - 1988 22nd Season A Chorus Line Conceived by Michael Bennett
Lyrics by Edward Kleben
Book by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante
Marvin Hamlisch
Stew Rice Edward Sakamoto
Mother Tongue Paul Stephen Lim
Mishima Rosanna Yamagiqa Alfaro
Where Nobody Belongs Colin McKay
An Afternoon at Willie's Bar Paul Price
1988 - 1989 23rd Season The Fantasticks Words by Tom Jones Harvey Schmidt
Laughter and False Teeth Hiroshi Kashiwagi
Webster Street Blues Warren Sumio Kubota
Vacancy Lillian Hara and Dorie Rush Taylor
Based on "An Apple, An Orange" by Diane Johnson
1989 - 1990 24th Season Company Book by George Furth
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim
The Chairman's Wife Wakako Yamauchi
Performance Anxiety Vernon Takeshita
Come Back little Sheba William Inge
1990-1991 25th Season Songs of Harmony Karen Huie
Doughball Perry Miyake, Jr.
Hedda Gabler Henrik Ibsen
Canton Jazz Club Book by Dom Magwili
Lyrics by Tim Dang
Nathan Wang and Joel Iwataki
1991-1992 26th Season Not a Through Street Wakako Yamauchi
Uncle Tadao Rick Shiomi
Six Characters in Search of an Author Luigi Pirandello
Translation by Robert Cornthwaite
Accomplice Rupert Holmes
1992 - 1993 27th Season Into the Woods Book by James Lapine
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim
Fish Head Soup Philip Kan Gotanda
The Rising Tide of Color Vernon Takeshita
The Dance & Railroad House of Sleeping Beauties David Henry Hwang
1993 - 1994 28th Season 29 1/2 Dreams, Women Walking Through Walls Conceived and developed by Nobu McCarthy and Tim Dang
Written by Emily Kuroda, Jeanne Sakata, Judy SooHoo, Marilyn Tokuda, and Denise Uyehara
Arthur and Leila Cherylene Lee
The Maids Jean Genet
Letters to a Student Revolutionary Elizabeth Wong
1994 - 1995 29th Season Hiro Denise Uyehara
Sweeney Todd Book by Hugh Wheeler
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim
Twice Told Christmas Tales Judy SooHoo
S.A.M. I Am Garrett Omata
Cleveland Raining Sung J. Rho
Twelf Nite O Wateva! James Grant Benton
1995 - 1996 30th Season Merrily We Roll Along Book by George Futh
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim
And the Soul Shall Dance Wakako Yamauchi
Whitelands: Part I – Porcelain
Part II – A Language Of Their Own
Part III – Half Lives
Chay Yew
Lettice & Lovage Peter Shaffer
1996 - 1997 31st Season Cabaret Book by Joe Masteroff
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
John Kander
Ikebana Alice Tuan
The Taste of Kona Coffee Edward Sakamoto
F.O.B. David Henry Hwang
Woman From the Other Side of the World Linda Faigao-Hall
1997-1998 32nd Season Pacific Overtures Book by John Weidman
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim
Heading East Book and Lyrics by Robert Lee Leon Ko
Big Hunk O' Burnin' Love Prince Gomolvilas
Lava Edward Sakamoto
Dance and Sing for the Holidays Deborah Nishimura Deborah Nishimura
1998 - 1999 33rd Season Yohen Philip Kan Gotanda
Carry the Tiger to the Mountain Cherylene Lee
Hanako Chungmi Kim
Beijing Spring Lyrics by Tim Dang Joel Iwataki
1999 - 2000 34th Season Leilani's Hibiscus Jon Shirota
Golden Child David Henry Hwang
My Tired Broke Ass Pontificating Slapstick Funk Euijoon Kim
Follies Book by James Goldman
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim
2000 - 2001 35th Season The Theory of Everything Prince Gomolvilas
The Year of the Dragon Frank Chin
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum Book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim
Yankee Dawg You Die Philip Kan Gotanda
2001 - 2002 36th Season Red Chay Yew Chay Yew
Chay Yew Philip Kan Gotanda
Monster Derek Nguyen
And the World Goes 'Round Scott Ellis, Susan Stroman, David Thompson

Lyrics by Fred Ebb

John Kander
2002 - 2003 37th Season Queen of the Remote Control Sujata G. Bhatt
The Tempest William Shakespeare
Little Shop of Horrors Book and lyrics by Howard Ashman
Based on the film by Roger Corman
Screenplay by Charles Griffith
Alan Menken
The Nisei Widows Club Betty Tokudani
2003 - 2004 38th Season Passion Book by James Lapine

Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim
Masha No Home Lloyd Suh
The Wind Cries Mary Philip Kan Gotanda
M. Butterfly David Henry Hwang
2004 - 2005 39th Season Mixed Messages Cherylene Lee
As Vishnu Dreams Shishir Kurup
Proof David Auburn
Imelda: A New Musical Book by Sachi Oyama
Lyrics by Aaron Coleman
Nathan Wang
2005 - 2006 40th Season Stew Rice Edward Sakamoto
Equus Peter Schaffer
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Book by Hugh Wheeler
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim
Motty-Chon Perry Miyake
2006 - 2007 41st Season Slides: The Fear Is Real... Mr. Miyagi's Theatre Company
Surfing DNA Jodi Long
Master Class Terrence McNally
I Land Keo Woolford
Yellow Face David Henry Hwang
2007 - 2008 42nd Season Durango Julia Cho
Dawn's Light Jeanne Sakata
Voices From Okinawa Jonathan Shirota
Pippin Tim Dang Book by Roger O. Hirson Stephen Schwartz Blythe Matsui and Jason Tyler Chong
2008 - 2009 43rd Season: "Beyond Presence" Be Like Water Chris Tashima Dan Kwong
The Joy Luck Club Jon Lawrence Rivera Susan Kim
Based on the novel by Amy Tan
Ixnay Jeff Liu Paul Kikuchi
Marry Me a Little Jules Aaron Craig Lucas and Norman René Stephen Sondheim
The Last Five Years Jason Robert Brown Jason Robert Brown
2009 - 2010 44th Season: "Art is..." Art Alberto Isaac Yasmina Reza
Po Boy Tango Oanh Nguyen Kenneth Lin
Cave Quest Diane Rodriguez Les Thomas
Road to Saigon Jon Lawrence Rivera Jon Lawrence Rivera Nathan Wang
2010 - 2011 45th Season Mysterious Skin Tim Dang Prince Gomolvilas
Crimes of the Heart Leslie Ishii Beth Henley
Wrinkles Jeff Liu Paul Kikuchi
Krunk Fu Battle Battle Tim Dang Book by Qui Nguyen
Lyrics by Beau Sia
Marc Macalintal
2011 - 2012 46th Season: "Languages of Love" A Widow of No Importance Shaheen Vaaz Shane Sakhrani South Asian Network and USC School of Theatre
The Language Archive Jessica Kubzansky Julia Cho Kaya Press and Libros Schmibros Lending Library & Bookshop
Three Year Swim Club Keo Woolford Lee Tonouchi
A Little Night Music Tim Dang Book by Hugh Wheeler Stephen Sondheim Reggie Lee
2012 - 2013 47th Season: "Spirited Away" Encounter Anil Natyaveda and Aparna Sindhoor S.M. Raju and Aparna Sindhoor
Inspired by a short story by Mahasweta Dav
Isaac Thomas Kottukapally Anil Natyaveda and Aparna Sindhoor
Tea, with Music Jon Lawrence Rivera Velina Hasu Houston Nathan Wang
Christmas in Hanoi Jeff Liu Eddie Borey
Chess Tim Dang Tim Rice Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus
2013 - 2014 48th Season: "Making Light" Steel Magnolias Laurie Woolery Robert Harling Keali'i Ceballos
The Nisei Widows Club: How Tomi Got Her Groove Back Amy Hill Betty Tokudani
A Nice Indian Boy Snehal Desai Madhuri Shekar
Beijing Spring Tim Dang Tim Dang Joel Iwataki Marcus Choi
2014 - 2016 Extended Two-Year 50th Anniversary Season: "Golden" Animals Out of Paper Jennifer Chang Rajiv Joseph
Takarazuka!!! Leslie Ishii Susan Soon He Stanton Cindera Che
Washer/Dryer Peter J. Kuo Nandita Shenoy
The Who's Tommy Snehal Desai Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff Pete Townshend Janet Roston
Chinglish Jeff Liu David Henry Hwang
Criers for Hire Jon Lawrence Rivera Giovanni Ortega
La Cage Aux Folles Tim Dang Book by Harvey Fierstein
Based on play by Jean Poiret
Jerry Herman Reggie Lee
2016 - 2017 51st Season: "Radiant" Mama Bares in Concert: Once Upon a Play Date Sean T. Cawelti Joan Almedilla, Ai Goeku Cheung, Deedee Magno Hall, and Jennifer Paz
Kentucky Deena Selenow Leah Nanako Winkler
Free Outgoing Snehal Desai Anupama Chandrasekhar
Next to Normal Nancy Keystone Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey Tom Kitt
2017 - 2018 52nd Season: "The Company We Keep" Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin Sean T. Cawelti Lisa Dring and Chelsea Sutton with Rogue Artists Ensemble
Yohen Ben Guillory Philip Kan Gotanda Robey Theatre Company
Allegiance (musical) Snehal Desai Marc Acito, Jay Kuo, and Lorenzo Thione Jay Kuo Rumi Oyama Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC)
Soft Power Leigh Silverman David Henry Hwang Jeanine Tesori Sam Pinkleton Center Theatre Group
As We Babble On Alison M. De La Cruz Nathan Ramos
2018 - 2019 53rd Season: "Culture Shock" Vietgone Jennifer Chang Qui Nguyen Shammy Dee
Man of God Jesca Prudencio Anna Moench
Mamma Mia (musical) Snehal Desai Catherine Johnson Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson Preston Mui
2019 - 2020 54th Season: "We Are the Ones We Are Waiting For" Hannah & the Dread Gazebo Jiehae Park Jennifer Chang The Fountain Theatre
The Great Leap Lauren Yee BD Wong Pasadena Playhouse
Sugar Plum Fairy Sandra Tsing Loh Bart DeLorenzo
Assassins (musical) Snehal Desai Book by John Weidman
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim


  1. ^ a b Blaine, John; Baker, Decia, eds. (1973). "Single Arts Experience Orientation". Community Arts of Los Angeles (Report). Los Angeles Community Art Alliance. p. 7. hdl: 10139/2728. OCLC  912321031.
  2. ^ Stewart, Jocelyn; Times, Los Angeles (2006-07-24). "Mako -- actor, East West Players co-founder". SFGate. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  3. ^ 1968 playbill for "The Medium"
  4. ^ a b Team, EWP Web. "About". East West Players. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
  5. ^ New York Times 12/16/01
  6. ^ Wood, Ximón. "East West Players' 53rd Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner and Silent Auction". East West Players. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
  7. ^ "East West Players accepting scholarship applications". La Cañada Valley Sun. 2006-05-25. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  8. ^ Reyes-Velarde, Alejandra (December 13, 2018). "Rodney Kageyama, actor and beloved Little Tokyo icon, dies at 77". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  9. ^ "Danny Glover". TCM Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved on 26 July 2010.
  10. ^ Foley, F. Kathleen. "Theater Review: An Earthen Vessel Cracks Under Fire", page 3 of 3, Los Angeles Times, 15 January 1999. Retrieved on 26 July 2010.
  11. ^ "As Vishnu Dreams - 39th Season" Archived 2011-04-06 at the Wayback Machine. East West Players. Retrieved on 22 July 2010.
  12. ^ Wood, Ximón. "East West Players' 53rd Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner and Silent Auction". East West Players. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
  13. ^ BWW News Desk. "East West Players Honors Tzi Ma, Lily Mariye, Dwight Stuart Youth Fund At 52nd Anniversary Visionary Awards". Retrieved 2019-07-24.

External links