The Asian Pacific American (APA) population is seriously under represented on stage. “Our Perspective: Asian American Play Readings” is a staged play reading series intended to provide inspiration, space, and audiences for Midwest APA playwrights, directors, and actors. These are script-in-hand concert readings where actors read plays written and directed by Asian Americans. Presented by Asian Improv Arts Midwest’s AA Arts Incubator, “Our Perspective” is the first ever Asian American play reading series in the Midwest. These history making events are long overdue.
From the Chicago Sun-Times : “For decades, “Chicago Med” regular Mia Park has seen race used as an excuse for lazy or uninformed casting. On the one side, she constantly hears the refrain that Asian-American actors — whether their roots are in Hawaii or India or China or Pakistan — are hard to find. On the other edge, there’s the belief that they simply aren’t right for shows that don’t deal specifically with Asian storylines or characters.
Park has a succinct response: “It’s all bulls—,” she said. “The talent base in Chicago alone is huge. And unless ethnicity or culture is specifically written into a character to help drive a story? There’s no reason you can’t cast someone who looks like me.”
Time Magazine’s article on the lack of Asian American representation on television confirms what we already know: the Asian Pacific American (APA) population is seriously under represented. The same can be said for APA under representation in the oldest form of public story sharing, the theatrical stage. NBC News reported on Asian Americans in theatre speaking out against the white-washing of Asian roles in entertainment and the challenges the APA community faces in the acting industry.Chicago’s theatre community is a microcosm of our global theatre’s lack of APA opportunities. As a Chicago based Korean American actress and playwright for almost twenty years, I’ve experienced directly how, locally, our APA voices are often unheard in plays and on-screen. Since 2016, I’ve advocated for the training of local Asian American actors by hosting workshops in order to promote a qualified talent pool for casting directors to choose from, so that the explanation of “Chicago doesn’t have talented APA actors” can no longer apply.
I recognize that an important way to continue advocating for APA representation is to encourage the creation of content created by the APA community. I intend to provide inspiration, space, and an audience for local Asian American playwrights, directors, and actors in the series, “Our Perspective: Asian American Play Readings”.
I believe that our universal voice will be best developed and strengthened by focusing on local talent. The only way to be heard and seen is to speak up and have presence, and “Our Perspective: Asian American Play Readings” aims to accomplish these goals.
Support Our Perspective through Asian Improv aRts Midwest