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20 Years of Asian American Playwriting

Explore the evolution of Asian American playwriting.

Airs November 9 @ 8PM on All Arts

Watch on All Arts
All Ages | Non-sexual, non-violent | 30 minutes

Produced by Ma-Yi Theater Company, The First Twenty: 20 Years of Asian American Playwriting is a new 30-minute documentary film that showcases the evolution of the Asian American playwright over the last 20 years as part of ALL ARTS’ The First Twenty content initiative. Created and directed by Ma-Yi’s Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña, the documentary takes a close look at the shift in how Asian American plays are broadly perceived, as well as the widening scope of subjects tackled by Asian American writers that move far beyond identity politics. The First Twenty: 20 Years of Asian American Playwriting premieres Tuesday, November 9 at 8 p.m. ET nationwide on the ALL ARTS app and, and in the New York metro area on the ALL ARTS TV channel (channel lineup).

Interview subjects include the following theater luminaries: Tony, OBIE and Grammy Award winner and Pulitzer Prize in Drama Finalist David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly, Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, Tarzan); playwright, director and filmmaker Young Jean Lee, winner of the Guggenheim Fellowship, two OBIE Awards and a PEN Literary Award, who was the first Asian American female playwright to have a play produced on Broadway; Qui Nguyen, (Vietgone, co-writer of Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon); Lloyd Suh (Charles Francis Chan, The Wong Kids) winner of the 2020 Horton for his play The Chinese Lady; playwright Mike Lew (tiny father, Teenage Dick), a Guggenheim Fellow and Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Ma-Yi; playwright Rehana Lew Mirza (A People’s Guide to History in the Time of Here and Now, Soldier X), a Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Ma-Yi; playwright Lauren Yee (Cambodian Rock Band, The Great Leap); and playwright and director Chay Yew (Porcelain, A Language of Their Own).

The First Twenty is a new content initiative from ALL ARTS, curated by Artistic Director James King, uncovering the ways that the first two decades of the 21st century have impacted American art, culture, and the collective consciousness. The First Twenty: 20 Years of Asian American Playwriting is the fourth special in the series. Previous offerings include The First Twenty: Afterwards, a compelling monologue by award-winning playwright Enda Walsh (Lazarus, Sing Street) in partnership with Irish Arts Center; The First Twenty: Ma’s House, an exploration of the evolution of Native American art from photographer and member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation Jeremy Dennis; and The First Twenty: Michael Mwenso Honors George Floyd, a powerful concert homage featuring some of today’s greatest Black artists, on the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s killing.

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David Henry Hwang | Playwright

Young Jean Lee | Playwright

Mike Lew | Playwright

Rehana Lew Mirza | Playwright

Qui Nguyen | Playwright

Lloyd Suh | Playwright

Lauren Yee | Playwright

Chay Yew | Playwright, Director

Creative Team

Ralph B. Peña | Director

Francisco Aliwalas | Cinematographer & Editor

Douglas Bachman | Additional Camera

Fabian Obispo | Original Music

Katie Andrew | Production Coordinator

Jennifer Haining | Production Coordinator & Assistant Editor

Alisha Shreshtha | Intern, Ma-Yi Theater Company

Jakob Carter | Associate Producer, Ma-Yi Theater Company

Anna Campbell | Producer, All Arts

Jake King | Field Producer, All Arts

Mark Andersen | Camera, All Arts

Samuel Blackwell | Health Safety Officer, All Arts

Sonoko Aoyagi Leopold | Operations Manager, All Arts

Eric Krugley | Production Manager, All Arts

Kristy Geslain | Executive Producer, All Arts

Joe Harrell | Executive Producer, All Arts

James King | Artistic Director, All Arts

Diane Masciale | Executive in Charge, All Arts

Neal Shapiro | Executive in Charge

As we navigate these tumultuous times with resilience, humor and grit, we’re also forging new ground. This talented theater community needs your support.