NAATCO Announces New National Partners

NAATCO Announces Theatre Squared and People’s Light as Partners

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NAATCO Returns Off-Broadway This Summer
With the World Premiere of Isabel by reid tang,
Co-Commissioned by NAATCO and Long Wharf Theatre

Coming in 2025:

The New York Premiere of a Modern Translation of Cymbeline by Andrea Thome (Pinkolandia),
A Play On Shakespeare Commission

NAATCO, the National Asian American Theatre Co., today announced that TheatreSquared (in Fayetteville, AR) and People’s Light (in Malvern, PA) will be the third and fourth partners to join in an effort towards promoting more expansive and long-lasting representations of Asian Americans in theater. The NAATCO National Partnership Project (NNPP) is the ambitious initiative created by NAATCO to establish relationships with theaters around the country to develop and implement strategies for the intrinsic inclusion of Asian American theater artists, technicians, and administrators in their practices. On American stages today, there is a growing emphasis on inclusion and belonging. But Asian Americans continue to be largely excluded from this movement and continue to be portrayed in stereotypical and formulaic ways. Since its founding, NAATCO has been dedicated to changing this dynamic. These theaters join current partners Long Wharf Theatre (CT) and Soho Rep (NY).

Previous productions to come out of the NNPP include Queen, by playwright and screenwriter Madhuri Shekar (House of Joy, Evil Eye – Amazon, Three Body Problem – Netflix, and upcoming: The Nevers – HBO, Sister Act 3 – Disney/Whoopi Goldberg/Tyler Perry), directed by Aneesha Kudtarkar (produced with LWT); and Public Obscenities, the New York Times Critic’s Pick written & directed by Shayok Misha Chowdhury, produced by Soho Rep as part of the NNPP, and subsequently presented at Woolly Mammoth in Washington DC and Theater For A New Audience in NYC. Chowdhury won the OBIE Award for Direction for Public Obscenities, as did Enver Chakartash (for costume design), Barbara Samuels (for lighting design), and dots for Sustained Achievement in Scenic Design. Public Obscenities was also nominated for three Drama League Awards and four Drama Desk Awards; the cast won the Drama Desk Ensemble Award for embodying “the transnational world” of Misha’s “bilingual play with memorable authenticity, remarkable specificity, and extraordinary warmth.”

“Not just a production-related partnership, the NNPP is about bringing about change in our partners’ practices so that the inclusion of Asian American programming is organic and permanent. We kick off our partnerships by working together on a production, the better to get to know each other and to familiarize each other with our thinking and operating processes. To further implement the NNPP’s purpose, we then ask our partners to craft other strategies to support Asian American inclusion: supplementary events to productions that center Asian Americans; recruitment of Asian Americans to their staff, board, and volunteers; and active outreach to Asian American creative teams. We look forward to beginning our work with TheatreSquared and People’s Light, and our continuing efforts with Soho Rep and Long Wharf. We also celebrate our relationship with Play On Shakespeare, a meaningful partnership in its own right. Their substantial support of our mission, making the production of their translations with all-Asian American casts possible, is laudable and important. In partnership, we mean to change the world!” said NAATCO co-founder and Actor-Manager Mia Katigbak.

“This partnership hits on so many levels. Artistically, to join forces with such an exceptional group of theater practitioners could not be more exhilarating. Plus, this project is a perfect expression of our mission here at TheatreSquared: to uplift a diverse range of voices; to bring what is best in American theater to the heartland, and to amplify our region’s participation in the national conversation. We’re thrilled!” said Robert Ford, Artistic Director, TheatreSquared.

“People’s Light is thrilled to collaborate with NAATCO as part of our effort to engage a broad range of artists and community partners around new plays and projects that illuminate our American identity through stories of deep meaning to local populations. This is a terrific opportunity to elevate awareness of AAPI experiences and history in South Eastern Pennsylvania in ways that will resonate across the country. We are greatly honored to contribute to the growing impact of NAATCO’s alliances and among such other prestigious theaters,” said Zak Berkman, Producing Artistic Director, People’s Light.

Upcoming Productions:

This summer NAATCO will present the World Premiere of Isabel, by reid tang, co-commissioned by NAATCO and Long Wharf Theatre as part of the NNPP. It will be presented Off-Broadway in June and July at Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand Street at Pitt Street). Casting, schedule, and ticket information will be announced shortly. tang’s credits include Work Hard Have Fun Make History (Clubbed Thumb Summerworks), Future Wife (Theatertreffen Stückemarkt), and Party In A Google Sheet (New Georges). tang was the recipient of the Obie Award-winning Breaking the Binary Theatre’s first $10,000 commission to develop a new, original full-length work. They grew up in Singapore and presently live in Brooklyn.

Coming in 2025: The Off-Broadway Premiere of Andrea Thome’s modern translation of one of Shakespeare’s most complex plays, Cymbeline. Thome’s update brings the play’s language into the present, highlighting new resonances and providing a more accessible version of Shakespeare’s play for today’s audiences. One of Shakespeare’s final plays, Cymbeline tells the story of the British king Cymbeline and his daughter, Imogen. It is a tale of deceit and jealousy, with accusations of infidelity that often draw comparisons to Othello and The Winter’s Tale. Andrea Thome is a Chilean/Costa Rican-American playwright who grew up navigating the multiple landscapes and languages that inhabit her plays. Her play Pinkolandia received a rolling world premiere at INTAR Theater (NYC), Austin’s Salvage Vanguard Theater, Two River Theater (NJ), and 16th Street Theater (Chicago). It was awarded the Lark/Mellon Foundation’s Launching New Plays Fellowship, and was translated into Russian and presented at Moscow’s Meyerhold Center. Other plays include Undone (Whitman Award; developed at Queens College, Victory Gardens, Lark), Worm Girl (Cherry Red Productions), various short plays and many collaborative projects. Her play translations (including Guillermo Calderón’s Neva) have been produced by the Public Theater, CTG, La Jolla Playhouse and more. Schedule, casting, and more information for Cymbeline will be announced at a later date.

TheatreSquared’s NNPP production will be the premiere of Alison Carey’s modern verse take on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, a Play On Shakespeare translation. Part of their 2024-25 season, this is scheduled for March 2025. Experience this delightful contemporary-language version of Shakespeare’s mash-up of mistaken identity, drunken pranks, and passionate pursuits. Separated by a shipwreck, Viola and her twin brother embark on a journey of disguise and deception, leading to a tangled web of unrequited love. With lively music, captivating swordplay, and a fresh perspective, TheatreSquared’s reimagining of this “most wonderful” romantic comedy promises an unforgettable live theater experience, in a telling that loses none of the original’s timeless poetry. Last season, NAATCO presented the acclaimed Off-Broadway premiere of the Play On Shakespeare commission of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet by Hansol Jung (Wolf Play).

Details for the People’s Light/NNPP collaboration will be announced shortly.

NAATCO Announces

About TheatreSquared

TheatreSquared’s signature offering of bold new plays in an intimate setting has driven its growth to become the state’s largest theater, welcoming more than 80,000 community members to 350 performances and events each year. The company is Northwest Arkansas’s theater, offering a unique audience experience of immersive, professional productions in an intimate setting. Its pioneering work has been recognized with the 2022 Obie Award as well as critical acclaim from The New York Times (“Best Theater of 2020” list), The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and the American Theater Wing, founder of the Tony Awards. A professional company, TheatreSquared employs trained artists from across the country to create its performances at the theater, in schools, and online. The theater is also one of mid-America’s leading new play laboratories, having supported the development of more than 70 scripts.

About People’s Light

Founded in 1974, People’s Light serves as one of Pennsylvania’s most accomplished professional non-profit theaters, known for its resident company of artists, a wide array of productions, and innovative work with young people. Located in Malvern, PA, People’s Light is a cultural and civic center with theater at its core, inviting and creating opportunities for diverse communities to discover and celebrate our shared humanity.

About Play On Shakespeare

The modern verse translation of Cymbeline by Andrea Thome, and Alison Carey’s modern verse translation of Twelfth Night were both commissioned by Play On Shakespeare. Play On Shakespeare is a non-profit company promoting and creating contemporary modern translations of Shakespeare’s plays that originated out of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Since its inception in 2015, Play On Shakespeare has commissioned dozens of contemporary playwrights and translators to translate 39 Shakespeare plays into modern English, with a majority of the commissions being helmed by BIPOC and womxn playwrights. Far from a paraphrasing exercise, each playwright was tasked with matching Shakespeare’s linguistic rigor as they approached the text, preserving rhyme, rhythm, metaphor, meter, imagery, symbolism, rhetoric, and the structure that make Shakespeare’s plays engaging and accessible to today’s audience. Play On Shakespeare partners with artists and organizations across the globe to deliver and advocate for these translations through theatrical productions, podcasts, and publications. For more information, visit Play On Shakespeare is made possible through the generous support of the Hitz Foundation.

NAATCO Announces

NAATCO was founded in 1989 by Mia Katigbak and Richard Eng to assert the presence and significance of Asian American theater in the United States, demonstrating its vital contributions to the fabric of American culture. The company presents the following repertory:
•European and American classics as written with all-Asian American casts;
•Adaptations of these classics by Asian American playwrights;
•New plays – preferably world premieres – written by non-Asian Americans, not for or about Asian Americans, but realized by an all Asian American cast; and
•Development and production of new plays by Asian American playwrights that incorporate other performative arts and media.

NAATCO puts into service its total commitment to Asian American theater artists to more accurately represent onstage the multi- and intercultural dynamics of our society. By doing so, they demonstrate a rich tapestry of cultural difference bound by the American experience. The enrichment accrues to each different culture as well as to America as a whole. NAATCO was the recipient of the OBIE’s Ross Wetzsteon Award, the Lucille Lortel Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women for their work “highlighting the multi- and intercultural dynamics of our society,” and the Rosetta LeNoire Award from Actors’ Equity Association in recognition of its contribution toward increasing diversity and non-traditional casting in American theater. NAATCO was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play, as well as Outstanding Costume Design for a Play for their acclaimed production of Henry VI: Shakespeare’s Trilogy in Two Parts. Additionally, NAATCO Actor-Manager and Co-Founder Mia Katigbak was honored in 2019 with a Special Drama Desk Award: “the backbone of the Off-Broadway scene, we acclaim her for her performances this season in Henry VI: Shakespeare’s Trilogy in Two Parts, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine, Peace for Mary Frances and Recent Alien Abductions. This award also recognizes her vital presence as the artistic director of NAATCO and her sustained excellence as a performer and mentor.”

Peter Kim is NAATCO’s Creative Producer; Mona Moriya is Managing Producer; Todd London is the NNPP Counselor.

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