ConFest Virtual Series Launches Monthly with Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists (CAATA) and HowlRound Theatre Commons

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ConFest Virtual Series  will spotlight Asian American theatermakers from across the country prior to CAATAʻs 7th National Asian American Theater Festival & Conference (ConFest): “Kuʻu ʻĀina, Kuʻu Piko, Kuʻu Kahua – Return to the Source,” May 21-30, 2021.

July 27, 2020 (New York, NY): Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists (CAATA) announces its new, monthly ConFest Virtual Series featuring the work of Asian American artists and theatres from across the country. The virtual series will explore the theme of the upcoming 7th Annual Asian American Theater Festival & Conference (ConFest) “Kuʻu ʻĀina, Kuʻu Piko, Kuʻu Kahua – Return to the Source” in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi in May 2021, which centers the voices of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander theater practitioners.

This ConFest will feature the thriving theater community of Hawaiʻi, where Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander faces on stage are the norm, not the exception. “Ku‘u ‘Āina, Ku‘u Piko, Ku‘u Kahua – Return to the Source” is a call to all theatre artists to reconnect with their foundations and their sources of knowledge: their land, their family, their center. The online series and its presentation of the wide diaspora of Asian American stories will be a vehicle through which both the audience and artists can ground themselves, their cultural knowledge, and the many identities that we bring to our communities.

The 90-minute premiere episode, also titled “Kuʻu ʻĀina, Kuʻu Piko, Kuʻu Kahua: Return to the Source,” will be hosted by CAATA ConFest Co-Chairs CAATA ConFest Co-Chairs Leilani Chan (Founding Artistic Director, TeAda Productions) and Tammy Haili‘ōpua Baker (Associate Professor, Department of Theatre and Dance, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa), and will focus on CAATA’s decision to convene ConFest in Hawaiʻi.

Featured performances will include an excerpt of work by Hana Keaka, the Hawaiian Theatre Program based in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa on O‘ahu, as well as introduce its May 2021 ConFest keynote speakers, including Dr. R. Keawe Lopes, Director & Associate Professor of Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language; Sammie Choy, Professor of Asian American Drama & Theatre, Kapi‘olani Community College; and Hone Kouka (Ngati Porou, Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Kahungunu), acclaimed Maori writer, director, and co-founder of the theatre production house Tawata Productions.

The monthly online series will premiere on Monday, August 10, 2020 at 1PM HST, 3PM AKDT, 4PM PDT, 5PM MDT, 6PM CDT, 7PM EDT onHowlRound TVCAATA’s website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel.

“The ConFest Virtual Series will feature artists from across the country who represent some of the most groundbreaking work in American theatre, and includes stories from across the breadth of  the Asian American diaspora, including Hawaiʻi, Egypt, Vietnam, and more,” said Chan and Baker. They added, “This series is not meant to be a replacement for the conference and festival, but is an offering to begin discussions around artists, topics and themes proposed by the field that we hope will culminate in celebration when we are able to gather in person again next year. Our goal is to also continue dialogue with other networks of color and connect artists with current BIPOC movements.”

Future episodes of the ConFest Virtual Series will take place on the second Monday of the month through April 2021 with all times at 1PM HST, 3PM AKDT, 4PM PDT, 5PM MDT, 6PM CDT, 7PM EDT on HowlRound TV, CAATA’s website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel, and will be hosted by the following theatre companies and artistic leaders:

Monday, September 14, 2020
“Modeling Solidarity: Theatre As Political Action,” hosted by Leslie Ishii (Artistic Director, Perseverance Theater, (Tlingit Aani) Juneau, AK, and Moses Goods (Founder & Artistic Director, ʻInamona Theatre Company, (Kanaka ‘Oiwi) Honolulu, Hawai’i).

Monday, October 12, 2020 (Indigenous Peoples Day)
“Artists on the Frontlines: Creativity & Change During Covid-19,” hosted by Leilani Chan (Founding Artistic Director, TeAda Productions, (Tongva) Los Angeles, CA).

Monday, November 9, 2020
“Nomadic Imagination: Transnational Homelands & Cultural Return,” hosted by Andrea Assaf (Executive Director, Art2Action, (Lenape) NYC and (Seminole/Tocobaga) Tampa, FL; and Steering Committee Member, MENA Theater Makers Alliance) and Jamil Khoury, (Co-Executive Artistic Director, Silk Road Rising, (Miami/Peoria/Potawatomi) Chicago, IL)

Monday, December 14, 2020
“From the Source, Seeds for a Myriad of Worlds,” hosted by Roger Tang (Executive Director, Pork Filled Productions, (Duwamish), Seattle, WA). With focus on Theater Mu, Pork Filled Productions, SIS Productions and more to come!

Monday, January 11, 2021
“Revolutionary Acts: Lasting Impact of CAATA CONFESTs,” hosted by kt shorb (Producing Artistic Director, Generic Ensemble Company, (Tonkawa) Austin, TX).

Monday, February 8, 2021
“Return to Our Stories: Festival Artists Showcase,” hosted Joan Osato (Producing Director, Youth Speaks, (Ohlone/Ramaytush) San Francisco, CA).

Monday, March 8, 2021
“Directing & Ensemble Creation: Asian American Directors in Conversation & Practice,” hosted by Meena Natarajan (Artistic/Executive Director, Pangea World Theater, (Anishinabek) Minneapolis, MN) and Assaf.

Monday, April 12, 2021
“Hoʻokipa Malihini: Welcoming You (Responsibly) to Hawaiʻi and Our Time Together During ConFest,” hosted by Baker, Chan, Goods, and CAATA ConFest Local Coordinator Ryan I. Kahaʻiʻōlelo Sueoka, (Kanaka ‘Oiwi) Honolulu, HI.

The series will be produced with HowlRound Theatre Commons in Boston, MA, a nonprofit organization that operates as part of Emerson Collegeʻs Office of the Arts. HowlRound provides a free and open platform for theatre-makers worldwide that amplifies progressive, disruptive ideas about the art form and facilitates connection between diverse practitioners. The series will be presented on HowlRound TV, HowlRoundʻs global, commons-based peer-produced, open access live streaming and video archive project.

Series artists will be announced at a later date. CAATA staff member Ariel Estrada is the series Line Producer, and Maximiliano Urruzmendi-Mele will be the series Technical Director, More information about the ConFest Virtual Series can be found on CAATAʻs website at www.caata.net.

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