Asian American Theatre Timeline

The following timeline created was collaboratively by the attendees as a record of
events as part of Asian American theatre (both in general and to them personally) and performance history. (Note: dates are not verified)


Broadway production  of Onoto Watanna's (Winnifred Eaton) A Japanese Nightingale, at Daly's Theater in 1903. First Asian American author produced on Broadway.

1918 Sadakicu plays  
1920's Asian American student playwrights begin writing at the University of Hawaii  
1924-31 Winnifred Eaton [1875-1954], the first Asian American novelist and screenwriter, wrote hundreds of screenplays and treatments from 1924 to 1931": She is also known as Onoto Watanna. Her IMDB listing is under a married name, "Winifred Reeve. Note: her sister Edith Maud Eaton [1865-1914], writing as "Sui Sin Far," is held to be "the first person of Chinese ancestry to write in defense of the Chinese in America, countered beliefs widely held at the time that the Chinese were unassimilable [sic], morally corrupt, and corrupting. Sui Sin Far demonstrated that the Chinese were human, like everyone else, but victimized by the laws of the land." Another sister, Grace (1867-1957), was the first Chinese-American female attorney in Chicago; she went to her law practice every day until her death at age 89":
1920's-1930's Ling-Ai Li & Wai Chee Chun Yee begin writing and become pioneering Asian American women playwrights in Hawaii  
1920's-1930's The Filipino Manongs came to California (Stockton, etc.) -- My dad immigrated to NYC (Nicky P)  
1938-39 Willand Wilson begins collecting student plays at the University of Hawaii Manoa (including Asian American plays)  
Early 20th Century The Forbidden City thrives--Asian American Cabaret  
1940's-1950's Chop Suey Circuit  
1942-46 Japanese American Internment Going by when the first main camp, Manzanar, opened [March '42] and the last one, Tule Lake, closed [March '46].
1942 Dutch & Indonesians in concentration camps under Japanese occupation  
1959 The Crimson Kimono" debuts starring James Shigeta -- one of the first studio marketed films in which an Asian Pacific American gets the girl! "  
1959 Creation of the San Francisco Mime Troupe  
1961 Flower Drum Song starring Nancy Kwan was the first TV. performance of Asian American actors and positively influenced Asian identity. We saw ourselves in the media.  
1961 Breakfast at Tiffany's shows a buck tooth stereotype of Japanese man  
1965 Immigration Act of 1965 - Relaxation of anti-Asian immigration laws, large wave of Chinese, Filipino and Korean immigration to the US as pent up demand lasts for at least two decades.  
1960's Yoko Ono's appearance on "The Tube" & in the media  
1960's Vietnam War  
1960's Tanzaman Socialist dance performances  
1965 East West Players is founded - Mako is the founding Artistic Director  
1966-67 Bruce Lee as Kato  
Late 1960's Collaboration between East West Players and Inner City Cultural Center  
1969 Demonstration at Los Angeles Music Center (re) Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen  
Late 60's Early 70's Great Asian American actors audition but no roles for Asians  
1970's Most consistently multicultural ensemble in SF Bay area and the oldest" political theatre in the nation "  
Kumu Kahua Theatre Honolulu -- as a response to the absence of local voices and material in Hawaiian theatre. Local" is an identity shaped by/for largely  
1970's Asian American Studies begins  
1970's First courses in Asian American Theatre taught at UCLA  
1970's Second City establishes improv + sketch comedy as an art form  
1970's BITAW -- Basic Integrated Theatre Arts Workshop was an educational program created in the Philippines and used in the Philippines and the United States to teach and empower  
1970's American Conservatory Theater develops Asian American actors  
1970's Indian Sheer Theatre meets Asian American solo performance  
1970's-1980's Anti-Asian Violence  
1970 Country Dinner playhouse toured Teahouse of the August Moon  
1970 International Manila Voice Fest  
1972 Ping Chong's Lazarus at La Mama ETC  
1972 Production of Chicken Coop Chinaman by Frank Chin  
1972 Creation of Theatrical Ensember of Asians (which became Asian Exclusion Act, then Northwest Asian American Theatre ) in Seattle
1972 Creation of Asian American Theatre Workshop (later Company) in San Francisco  
1972 Coda written by Tri-Am, Alberto Isaac, produced by East West Players  
1972 Kearny Street Workshop founded -- San Francisco  
1973 Chinese Theatre Group Act La Mama Return of the Phoenix  
mid 1970's Asian Americans protest Broadway parts being given to non-Asian Americans  
1974 Nicky Paraiso was the first Asian-Filipino-American to be admitted to NYU's graduate acting program. Harsh Nayya, a South Asian actor, was in the class a year ahead and Marion Yue was a Japanese American classmate.  
1976 Pacific Overtures on Broadway  
1977 Pan Asian Rep founded by Tisa Chang  
1977 Wakako Yamauchi's And the Soul Shall Dance at East West Players  
1978 Nobuko Miyamoto founds Great Leap – Asian American performing arts organization in Los Angeles "  
1979 New World Theatre founded -- Asian American female artistic director -- Asian American theatre presented, produced, developed since its founding  
1979 David Henry Hwang writes F.O.B. at Stanford  
1979 Pacific Asian Actors Ensemble in San Diego founded by Thom Sesma, Gingerlily Lowe, David Tamayo, Kent Brisby, Ed You, & Janine Lowe  
1980's East West Players' productions hit me in my theatrical heart, and I knew someday I wanted to be involved with East West. I got my opportunity in 1991.  
1980's AIDS epidemic devastates the theatre world  
1980's Paper Angels at Chinese Cultural Center in San Francisco  
1980's Reading Fanon & Rustom Barucha  
1980's Participating in Street Theater in India -- watching Badal Sircar's extraordinary production Procession  
1980's Seattle Group Theatre -- multicultural playwrights, festivals, national gatherings  
1980 Song for a Nisei Fisherman at Asian American Theatre Company  
1981 Cold Tofu founded by four women: Marilyn Tokuda, Denice Kumagai, Judy Momii, & Irma Escamilla  
1981-82 Japan America Theater opens its doors  
1982 Yellow Fever at Asian American Theater Company and Pan Asian Rep  
1983 Chicago's first Asian American theatre formed: MinaSama-No Co-founded by Marc Rita
1983-84 Yellow Fever by Rick Shiomi in Vancouver Canada  
1984 Who Killed Vincent Chin?  
1984 Karate Kid with Pat Morita - 1st Asian American born Oscar nominee  
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (as a bad thing)  
1986 1st Production of David Henry Hwang's F.O.B. in our Capitol City Sacramento  
1986 Creation of Cahoots Theatre Projects in Toronto  
1986 The end of Asian Writers Basement Workshops led by Fay Chiong in NYC  
Late 1980's Velina Hasu Houston's Tea at San Diego's old Globe Theatre  
Mid 1980's Films like Sixteen Candles & Gung Ho portrayed Asian stereotypes and sparked a movement for Asian Americans to fight these stereotypes.  
1988 David Henry Hwang's M Butterfly  
1988 David Henry Hwang wins Tony for M Butterfly  
1989 Joy Luck Club written by Amy Tan  
1989 Ma-Yi Theatre Company founded in NYC  
1989 Chinese Story Theatre (later renamed Asian Story Theatre) founded by Kent Brisby & Gingerlily Lowe  
1989 Highways Performance Space founded by Tim Miller & Linda Frye Burnham in Santa Monica, California  
1989 Dan Kwong premieres first solo performance, Secrets of The Samurai Centerfielder  
1989 Tianamen Square student protests  
1990's Exit the Dragon in Berkeley  
1990's Development and rise of Asian American stand-up comedy (Margaret Cho)  
1990 Production of Yankee Dog You Die at Washington Project F/T Arts  
1990 Petition in protest to Colleen Dewhurst & Actor's Equity regarding non-Asian American casting of Miss Saigon  
1990 Miss Saigon Opens, starring Jonathan Pryce & Lea Salonga  
1990 The first Gulf War  
1990 David Mura's reading of After We Lost Our Way  
1990 Bindlestiff studio in San Francisco founded  
1990-1992 Tokyo Bound Amy Hill's solo show  
1990's-2005 Chay Yew teaches the Asian Theatre playwriting workshops at the Mark Taper Forum  
Early 1990's David Henry Hwang Writer's Institute  
1991 Treasure in the House Asian Pacific American performance series born at Highways note: founded by Dan Kwong
1992 Theater Mu founded  
1992 Rich Shiomi writes and Theater Mu produces the first play about Korean Adoption  
1992 LA Riots and the subsequent founding of Society of Heritage Performance  
1992 NWAAT's 20th Anniversary  
1992 Asian American Renaissance -- conference & organization forming in Minneapolis, MN 55407  
1992 The Public Theater forms an Asian American Playwrights Lab headed by Chiori Miyagawa with members Sung Rno, Lesli Jo Morizono, Diana Son, Eugenie Chan, Dawn Akemi Saito and Cary Wong.   It is shut down a year later after Artistic Director JoAnne Atkalitis is replaced by George C. Wolfe.
1993 Joy Luck Club the film  
1993 Red Earth & Pouring Rain won the Booker (Indo-American novel).  
1993 Unbroken Thread published -- edited by Roberta Uno and Velina Hasu Houston -- the first anthology of plays by Asian American women playwrights.  
1993 Canadian premiere of David Henry Hwang's The Dance and the Railroad  
1993 Club O'Noodle - Vietnamese American Theatre Company started  
Mid 1990's 2nd Spoken Word Summit APIA Chicago  
Mid 1990's Youth Speaks in NYC at the teachers & writer's collaborative  
1994 Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra established -- introducing Asian American theatre to the whitest county in California (Nevada County)  
1994 All American Girl with Margaret Cho  
1994 Asian Boys -- Nicky Paraiso's first full-length performance piece  
1994 Dan Kwong's Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Asian Men - but Didn't Give Enough of a Shit to Ask at Japanese American National Museum Los Angeles  
1994 Cleveland Raining Sung Rno  
1994 Berkeley Rep's Woman Warrior  
1995 Stir-Friday Night! Discovered a fun yet powerful method to show a truthful perspective on the Asian American experience-- that method was sketch comedy.  
1995 Asian American Repertory Theatre founded in San Diego: Andy Lowe, Vince Sobbrano, Jenn Wong, Donna Maglalang, Jyl Kaneshiro  
1995 Peeling the Banana Writing and performing workshop at Asian American Writers Workshop - NYC note: founded by Gary San Angel
1995 Lapu (UCLA's Asian American Theatre group)  
1995 Ann Bogart's Still Co. - Suzuki Summer Program  
1996 Asian Arts Institute - First nonprofit community arts center targeted to Asian American forms.  
1996 RAW - Real Asian Woman Talk (performance art/dance) at the Walker Art Center. Shared stage with Denise Uyehara & Canyon Sam  
1996 Roger Tang develops Asian American Theatre Review website which suddenly links API artists nationally through the world wide web.  
1996-1999 Produce APIA Arts Initiative @ Pomona College hosting readings of John Song/ Judy Soo Hoo, & Michael Premsirat's plays.  
Late 1990's New World Theater's Third World American Theatre Conference  
Late 1990's Introducing & directing South Asian play at regional theatre  
Late 1990's San Francisco Chronicle article on interracial dating: Asian women and Caucasian Men  
Late 1990's Spoken word turned theatre  
Late 1990's Journey to the West at Berkeley Rep  
1997 Asian American Women Playwrights archive founded at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. It becomes a national repository of plays, interviews, photos, etc.  
1997 Josephine Lee's publication of Performing Asian America  
1997 API 101 at Asian American Theater Company  
1997 Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center founded  
1997 Ching Valdes Aran-Obie -- best performance, Flipzoids @ Ma-Yi Theatre  
1997 Scholarly work by Josephine Lee's Performing Asian America  
1997 Asian American Theatre Listserv established  
Post 1997 Import of Hong Kong Box Office stars like Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, Chow Yun Fat.  
1997-98 Making Tracks NY Musical Workshop  
1998 First the Forrest worked with Dipankar Mukherjee in one-woman show  
1998 Conference at Seattle's Northwest Asian American Theatre  
1998 Dan Kwong & Gary San Angel introduced an all Asian American performance workshop in Philadelphia  
1998 East West Players moves into new 240-seat Equity theater in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo  
1998 Something to Say performance group at Asian Arts Initiative in Philadelphia  
1998 East is East Premieres in NYC  
1998 World Premiere of Dogeaters at La Jolla Playhouse  
1998 Hapa Performance Weekend @ Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica  
1998 East West Players produces first Thai-American play Big Hunk O' Burnin' Love by Prince Gomolvilas  
1998 In Vancouver, the Asian Canadian population constituted 40% of the general population, but we were not represented at all on stage in Vancouver. Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre (VACT) was born to right this injustice.  
1998 Resurrection of Stanford Asian American Theater Project (a group started by David Henry Hwang). Sean Lim of AATC involved as student.  
1999 Singapore Festival of the Arts hosts Los Angeles based playwright of Dutch, Indonesian, & Spanish Apache descent. If I Only Had a Heart Made Out of Levi's written by Annette Jilts Jacobs  
1999 Mighty Mountain Warriors & Latina Theater Lab & Culture Clash collaborate and create a piece.  
1999 Lodestone Theatre Ensemble founded in Los Angeles  
1999 Manhattan Theatre Club and The New Group collaborate to produce UK play East is East in NYC with mostly South Asian cast  
1999 Jooks Songs Performance Group at Yale University ( founded by Dave Lin, original member of Peeling the Banana, NY)
1999 Generasian -- Next teen theater troupe starts its first season at the Asian Arts Initiative.  
1999 I Was Born with Two Tongues founded using the idea of "Asian American Identity" through powerful and proficiently worded spoken word poetry.  
1999 Sirenz -- women's multi-ethnic spoken word group founded in response to white supremicist hate crimes in Illinois  
2000 A Jive Bombers Christmas 2nd Generation continues the tradition at the Japanese American National Museum "  
2000 TeAda Productions -- JACCC -- Hawaii artists in Los Angeles  
2000 Roberta Uno's reading of her anthology Unbroken Thread  
2000 Disha Theatre -- The first South Asian theatre company in New York City launches at Dialectica Art Gallery.  
2001 Teada Productions presents Native Immigrant at JAT in Little Tokyo  
2001 1st APIA Spoken Word & Poetry Summit in Seattle  
2001 Karen Shimakawa's National Abjection  
2001 Mango Tribe, a collective of 30 APIA women from Chicago, NYC, Minneapolis, LA -- produces Sisters in the Smoke in Chicago at the Vittum Theater in response to violence within APIA communities.  
2001 Mellow Yellow's 1st show opens two weeks after the events of September 11, 2001  
2001 American Desi released -- 1st major Indo-American independent film nationally released  
2002 Better Luck Tomorrow opens (grassroots community, globalization)  
2002 YAWP begins in Chicago!  
2002 1st TeAda workshop featuring Kristina Wong, Ova Saopeng, & Robert Karimi  
2002 Leadership shift and new direction at Asian American Theater Co. of San Francisco. Sean Lim starts as Artistic Director.  
2002 Great Leap's Sacred Moon Songs at East West Players with Asian. Chicano  
2002 Flower Drum Song by David Henry Hwang opens -- Asian American patronage extend the run  
2002 Sex in Seattle: Episode II -- other women influence Vancouver Asian Canadian theatre productions Sex in Seattle is the country's longst running serial drama for stage.
2002 YAWP Young Asians with Power workshop  
2002 Chop! Chop! Asian American Artists collective show  
2003 2nd Asian American Spoken Word &Poetry Summit in Chicago  
2003 World Premiere of Precious Stones by Jamil Khoury -- Chicago  
2003 Mango Tribe produces Sisters in the Smoke in New York at HERE Arts Center -- sold-out run!  
2003 Bombay Dreams produced on Broadway with mostly South Asian cast by Andrew Lloyd Weber  
2003 Ushering in the new generation of Asian Canadian plays and artists (Little Dragon, China Doll, Banana Boys) consistent, continuous, constant  
2003 Beau Sia, Stacey Ann Chinn, & Suheir Hamad receive Tony Award for Def Poetry Jam  
2003-04 Taiko Project (re)generation -- 1st major taiko theatrical production tours in the US  
2004 Harold & Kumar opens with two Asian American leads  
2004 Dogeaters -- LA production  
2004 Theater Mu collaborates with Park Square Theater on the first all Asian American cast musical in MN with Pacific Overtures  
2004 Co-playwright in With love from Ramallah First Arab-American production in the upper Midwest.  
2004 National Performance Network Conference in Los Angeles  
2004 Opening night of Remains at Mo'olelo Performing Arts Co. San Diego  
2004 Pipe Dreams and Paper Trails at Bindlestiff Studio in San Francisco  
Mango Tribe performs 2nd production The Creation Mythology Project  
2004 Henry Street Settlement in NYC.  
2004 M Butterfly production by East West Players  
2004 Tea by Velina Hasu Houston in Chicago  
2004 The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow at The Old Globe  
2005 Premiere of F.O.P. Fresh off the Plane at AATC by Sean Lim  
2005 3rd APIA Spoken Word & Poetry Summit in Boston  
2005 A Korean couple on Lost the television show  
2005 Haruki Murakami's After the Quake premieres at Chicago's Steppenwoolf Theater  
2005 Lodestone Theatre Ensemble production of Aziatik Nation  
2005 YAWP Young Asians with Power benefit in Chicago Untranslatable  
2005 As Vishnu Dreams at East West Players in collaboration with Cornerstone Theatre  
2005 Guantanamo at Culture Project  
2005 World premiere of Amazing Leap of Faith  
2005 Asian American Arts Initiative writing and performance workshop  
2005 Self (the remix) opens in Alaska  
2005 AATC and Bindlestiff Studio production of Sleeper (a chronicle of the return of the remarkable)  
2005-06 Touring work of Youth Speaks through Living Project Rep.  
2006 Making Tracks in San Jose -- Asians can sing and have incredible talent!  
2006 Kristina Wong is awarded creative capital award in theatre to create new work on mental illness among Asian woman  
2006 TeAda Lab development & open rehearsal at Angels Gate Cultural Center  
2006 Scholarly work by Esther Kim Lee History of Asian American Theatres  
2006 Mango Tribe develops 3rd production Un/knowing Desire and Empire at New World Theater summer play lab  
1st collaboration between CATS and a professional theatre group, the Word for Word Theatre Co. in SF, bringing Amy Tan's Immortal Heart to Nevada  
2006 County  
2006 Grace Lee Project  
2006 Mango Tribe & Asian Arts Initiative collaborate on a residency exploring gentrification as an intensive workshop for artists across the country  
2006 Another Heaven depiction of Asian dilemma as indentured labor in Hawaii - produced by Kuma Kahua Theatre  
2006 Asian American Theatre Conference hosted by East West Players in Los Angeles  
2006 Mako passes away, July 21. Bio
2006 SIS Productions (Seattle) launches Insatiable, the Seattle Asian American Playwrights' Festival  
2006-07 I Land solo performance by Keo Woolford & Roberta Uno  
2006-07 Launching of Canada's 1st Asian-Canadian Drama Anthology (acknowledging/recognizing the body of work we love).  
2007 First National Asian American Theatre Festival held in New York City.  
2008 Second National Asian American Theatre Conference, Minneapolis, MN  
2009 Second National Asian American Theatre Festival, held in New York City.  

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Copyright 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
Roger W. Tang

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