Ma-Yi Gala Promises Great Entertainment and Live Auction April 24th


The Ma-Yi Theater Company 28th Anniversary GALA will be held on Monday, April 24th, 6PM at 360 Tribeca


Over 300 attending will be treated to premium cocktails and magician, Mark Mitton, followed by a gourmet dinner featuring a live musical performance by Broadway Barkada and vocalist Kea Chan, and Comedian Joel Kim Booster.  This year’s event is hosted by trans super-model Geena Rocero of Gender Proud and  Paolo Montalban,  best known for the Disney film, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, as Prince Christopher (and known to insiders from his role in Mayi’s The Romance of Magno Rubio). The event honors Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish, legendary prima ballerina of Ballet Philippines and Alvin Ailey Dance Company, and Frank and Lolita Savage, a remarkable couple that combine exquisite artistry with cultural advocacy and business acumen to inspire and help new generations  of youth achieve their goals.

In addition to the traditional silent auction, featuring restaurant and travel gift certificates and jewelry this year. a LIVE auction is featured, putting items like tickets to Hamilton and other hard-  to – gets up for the highest bidders. Our sponsors and auction donors have outdone themselves this year, and we hope you’ll consider attending to fulfill Ma-Yi’s mission of continuing to produce the groundbreaking works of The Ma-Yi Writers Lab, the largest collective of Asian American playwrights ever assembled!

Ma-Yi is busy working on the upcoming fall production of KPOP in association with ARS NOVA and Woodshed Collective with a book by Lab Member Jason Kim, and not soon after Lab Member Diana Oh’s (my lingerie play) in association with Rattlestick Productions opens. This season promises to be the most memorable and successful yet. Please consider helping us continue the almost three decade tradition of bringing quality Asian American written plays to the world by attending this important and festive benefit.

If you’re unable to attend, but believe in supporting forward thinking Asian American playwrights and their work, we are grateful for even the smallest donations.

To learn more about this important fundraiser click here  or email us



Below see a sample of the special silent and live auction items being offered to attendees this year:

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Three Sixty-Tribeca / 10 Debrosses Street / New York, NY 10013

Dustin H. Chinn awarded Berkeley Rep Summer Residency

Dustin Chinn HeadshotMa-Yi Writers Lab Member, Dustin H Chinn has been awarded a summer playwright residency at Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep in June of this year.

He will be concentrating on his work, Colonialism is Terrible, But Pho is Delicious, a “meditation on ownership and authorship in modern food culture. It’s a triptych that spans the evolution of Vietnamese noodles, which are indisputably better on the West Coast than in New York”.

Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep Lab gives residents the opportunity to bring a specific work where they can present and interact with other artists, staff, board to help them identify where the project is in its development path, and to move it to the next stage, whatever that stage may be. According to past residents, the residency encourages works in the early development and the flexibility and self determination of schedule. Collaborators are often invited to attend as well,  making this lab unique and, to some, revolutionary.

A native of Seattle, in 2015, Dustin was awarded a commission from the Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Project to write about Herschel, an infamous sea lion who terrorized the waters of Seattle’s Ballard Locks in the mid ‘80s. Full-length plays include SNOWFLAKES, THE RISE AND FALL OF THE UNITED STATES OF ASIAN AMERICA, SHARKSUCKER, ASIAN WOMEN IN SPACE and I AM NAKAMURA. more

World Premiere of QUEEN by Madhuri Shekar April 14th

Ma-Yi Writers Lab Member

Following the recent SPRING LABFEST reading of one of our newest Ma-Yi Writers Lab Members works, Madhuri Shekar’s play, QUEEN will premiere April 14 – May 14, 2017 at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue. 

The play centers on PhD candidates Sanam and Ariel, who have spent years exhaustively researching vanishing bee populations across the globe. As the two are finally about to publish a career-defining paper, Sanam stumbles upon a miscalculation. What appears to be a small error could cause catastrophic damage to their reputations, careers, and close friendship. Now, Sanam is confronted with an impossible choice: look the other way or stand by her principles and accept the consequences.

From Broadway World’s recent article, Victory Garden’s Artistic Director Chay Yew says:
“The current conversation around climate change, the disappearance of bees, and our nation’s response to environmental protection continues to be challenging on a daily basis…Playwright Madhuri Shekar has kept this dialogue alive and urgent in the world premiere of Queen. With Madhuri’s signature wit and her uncanny ability to weave a complex yet remarkably insightful story.”

tumblr_omxzsd2BKW1qcwfdlo1_500Madhuri Shekar is a playwright based in New York. Her plays include ‘In Love and Warcraft’, ‘A Nice Indian Boy’, ‘Queen’ and ‘Antigone, presented by the girls of St. Catherine’s’.  She co-created the Shakespearean web series ‘Titus and Dronicus’ (

For a full and updated schedule of performances, special events, post-show discussions and presentations centered on performances of Queen and tickets HERE

More about QUEEN World Premiere:

Broadway World

Time Out

Chicago Sun Times














Diversity for Dummies

Originally Published in HOWLROUND, March 25, 2017

The first thing to say about this “Quick Start” manual is that I’m a dummy myself. In all the years I’ve grappled with diversity, the one constant has been recalibration. What was diverse ten years ago is privileged today, and today’s diversity models will become obsolete in the coming years. Historically disenfranchised groups are just now finding their voices after decades, even centuries, of silence. Diversity requires periodic check-ins, assessment, and retuning.

“I think it’s fair to say that the theatre community is committed to the ideals of diversity. This guide will focus on implementation, which can be trickier. And while every exercise in diversity must include gender, physical abilities, and age (to name just a few), this guide will focus on ethnic diversity.”

Here are a few ways you can check on your theatre’s diversity smarts.

It’s not really about numbers—but look at them anyway.

Diversity is not a numbers game, but a quick look at your digits can be telling. How many people of color work in your back office? How many artists of color perform on your stages? Divide those numbers by your total employees, and the total number of artists you employed for the season. What number do you get?

Compare that number to your community’s demographics. Don’t use your ticket subscriber base, use the population of the geographic area in which you operate. Don’t gerrymander or re-district your sample area. Is your diversity percentage a close approximation of your area’s ethnic diversity? If not, why not?

Here’s a sample comparison between New York City’s 2010 ethnic demographics and a hypothetical theatre company’s organizational and season programming numbers. The total columns at the bottom and the far right have a story to tell. It may not be the full story, but it deserves close investigation.

If your theatre has been around ten or twenty years, take a look back and see how your organization and programming lines up with the demographic changes in your community over time. That may tell another story.

Don’t lump all peoples of color into one category. One ethnic group is not a surrogate for the other. In other words, just because you hired four black actors for the season, you’re not off the hook from hiring performers of other ethnicities.

Here’s a link to the US Census Bureau, where you can look up your city’s data.

Who’s in charge?

Let’s look at agency, and the power to make decisions.

Look at your organization’s hierarchy. Who are the top decision-makers? Who has the power to advance a play into production? For many theatre organizations, one person holds this power.

Who are the other gatekeepers in your organization? This includes your literary managers, casting directors, and associate producers. Oftentimes, they are the sentries that give or deny access to your theatre. Is diversity a part of their operational objectives? Are they empowered to open your theatre’s doors to artists of color?

Putting managers of color in these positions is important—as important as providing them with the training and work environment to succeed.

White men run a majority of theatres in the US, and that needs to change. Not because white men are incapable of empathy or because they don’t have a sense for what’s right or wrong—we need diverse leaders because it drives innovation, adaptability, and organizational smarts. Diverse thinking is crucial in navigating a world in flux, and ultimately, in how the theatre responds to its changing environs.

Who’s on stage?

I have heard Artistic Directors and Managing Directors boast of how diverse their organization is. “Our back office is a veritable Rainbow Coalition!”

But wait. Aren’t you running a theatre? How diverse are the faces you put on stage? What opportunities are there to diversity your casting practices?

Are you color conscious when you choose a play? How white is Thornton Wilder’s Grover’s Corner? What about Shakespeare’s Elsinore? How about Tobias and Agnes’s household in A Delicate Balance? Is ethnicity a marker of historical accuracy? There are many arguments for and against “authenticity,” which we won’t parse here. What’s important is that you’re aware of the implications of your decisions and how they affect who gets on stage.

This might be a good time to touch on the implicit canard in the term “colorblind casting.” It is not meant to provide cover for casting white actors in roles written for performers or color. It is not meant to allow a theatre to cast a white actor as Martin Luther King, Jr., by invoking the what’s good for the goose argument, or the “if we’re truly after equality, then any actor can play any role.” Why not? Because colorblind casting is intended to correct a gross inequity in American theatre, where more than 75 percent of all roles go to white actors. Calling on the goose/gander equation doesn’t work because inequality is the current norm. A tit for tat proposal only works when all parties are on equal footing, so that for every tit, the corresponding tat is intended to rebalance the equation.

Who’s watching?

Do you have a subscriber base? How does it break down ethnically? Why? Does your pricing exclude certain communities? How about your marketing outreach? What has shaped your audience make-up over time?

Here’s a big hurdle for some theatres. When the audience watching is overwhelmingly white, why should a theatre care about choosing plays that are not? For the majority of theatres that find themselves in this position, there’s a good chance they’ve already proven to themselves that their audiences are delighted by diverse programming. Theatre audiences are voyeurs at heart, and relish being able to look into lives other than their own.

But there’s a more important and compelling reason to present a multiplicity of perspectives to our audiences: empathy. Forces that underscore differences and divisions shape our world today. Theatre can propose a compelling alternative by putting a human face on “the other,” and stressing the truism that we are more alike than we are different. If we do this often enough, theatre can be an agent for change.

Note that I inserted a caveat in that last sentence. “If we do this often enough…” One-offs won’t do it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this refrain, “We did an Asian play, but Asian audiences didn’t come.” You can’t expect to mobilize a community that you’ve ignored in the past. You have to engage, and engage again, and again. And again. You have to earn its trust.

This is true for audiences and communities of all colors.

It’s going to cost you.


Diversity requires dedicated resources. You have to invest in it.

As a business proposition, it’s a no-brainer. According to the US Census, just “over half—50.2 percent—of US babies younger than one year old were racial or ethnic minorities. In sheer numbers, there were 1,995,102 minority babies compared with 1,982,936 non-Hispanic white infants.”

This is what drove Google to increase its workforce diversity initiative budget from $115 million in 2014, to $150 million in 2015.

No theatre has $150 million to spend on a diversity initiative, but a close and honest look at your organization will likely reveal practices that should be made more inclusive. But let’s talk about the scary stuff: Box office/Earned Revenue.

Theatres are terrified of losing income because they took a chance on a play their audiences are not familiar with, or “can’t relate to.” A sea of empty seats is a scary sight, but as I said previously, you can’t expect them to come if you’ve never put in the work. It’s also wrongheaded to put up a play featuring Asian American actors and assume the Asian American community will come rushing to your doors. Don’t blame the community if they don’t know you.

This is where the investment opportunities come in.

Put more muscle in your outreach programs. Consider going to communities of color and presenting work there. Not everyone can come to you. Make the first move, and keep making moves. Earning trust takes time and tenacity.

Prepare for the possibility of reduced box office revenue. This may not happen. In some cases, the opposite could be true—a box office bonanza. But there are risks in choosing unknown artists—that is, artists not familiar to your theatre patrons. These are the risks you have to take, not once, but multiple times until your audiences no longer think of diversity as a concession, and begin to accept it as the norm.

Cast a wider net. Diversity is not low-hanging fruit that you can pick and enjoy without much effort. You have to work at it. Sometimes you won’t get enough actors of color to respond to you casting call. Maybe no plays by writers of color crossed your desk for consideration this season. Don’t give up. Go out and get them. Call your colleagues and ask for referrals. Partner with community organizations to get the word out. Make noise and let the world know you want it.

Last word.

This guide is meant to stop theatres from paying lip service to diversity. Giving a playwright of color five workshops without ever producing the play may earn you the heterogeneity badge, but it falls way short of making your theatre an exemplar of diversity.

You have to try harder than that.


ACT Launches New Strands Residency with 3 Lab Members



at_ja14_American-Conservatory-Strand-Theater_SOMLauren Yee, Don Nguyen, andDustin Chinn from Ma-Yi Writers Lab to Participate


The New Strands Residency gives American playwrights the opportunity to create and develop new works in residence at A.C.T.’s state-of-the-art Strand Theater

SAN FRANCISCO (March 28, 2017)—Today, American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.)’s Associate Artistic Director Andy Donald announced the first projects to be chosen for A.C.T.’s inaugural New Strands Residency program. Three playwrights/plays from New York City’s acclaimed Ma-Yi Theater Company will participate. They include: The Great Leap by Lauren Yee, The Man from Saigon by Don Nguyen, and Snowflakes, or Rare White People by Dustin Chinn. The New Strands Residency gives emerging and established American playwrights the opportunity to create and develop new works in residence at A.C.T.’s state-of-the-art Strand Theater, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Central Market neighborhood.

“When we put the call out to the Ma-Yi Writers Lab for the inaugural year of this program, we were overwhelmed by the amount of spectacular new work that came in from its membership,” says Donald. “These are all writers who are zeroed in on today’s American culture––its contradictions, its divisive politics, its future—so choosing just three was an enviable challenge. We could not be more thrilled to share Lauren, Don, and Dustin’s searing, often hilarious, deeply personal, and poignant work and watch it continue to grow with this esteemed group of directors and our San Francisco audience.”

Each year, A.C.T. will partner with a nationally recognized new-work incubator to select three playwrights who will spend a week in San Francisco. This year’s partner theater company is the Drama Desk and Obie Award–winning not-for-profit Ma-Yi Theater Company. Based in New York City, Ma-Yi is one of the country’s leading incubators of new work shaping the national discourse about what it means to be Asian American today.

Over the course of their residency, the three playwrights will participate in a reading of their work, develop and workshop their plays-in-progress with directors and a shared ensemble of actors, and sit on various panel discussions. The New Strands Residency culminates with a free public presentation of their work during A.C.T.’s annual New Strands Festival, now in its second year, taking place May 19–21, 2017. The complete lineup for the New Strands Festival will be announced in early April 2017.

The three selected playwrights/plays from Ma-Yi Theater Company for the 2017 New Strands Residency are:


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The Great Leap 

by Lauren Yee

Directed by Lisa Peterson— When an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for a “friendship” game in the post-Cultural Revolution 1980s, both countries try to tease out the politics behind this newly popular sport. Cultures clash as the Chinese coach tries to pick up moves from the Americans and Chinese American player Manford spies on his opponents. Inspired by events in the playwright’s father’s life.

Ma-Yi Theater Company Writers Lab Member, Don Nguyen

The Man from Saigon 

by Don Nguyen

 Directed by Hal Brooks— As Saigon nears collapse in 1975, a South Vietnamese intelligence agent forges a complicated friendship with Richard Armitage, a charismatic US officer who would later become George W. Bush’s deputy secretary of state. A political thriller based on the story of the playwright’s father.

Dustin Chinn

Snowflakes, Or Rare White People 

by Dustin H Chinn

Directed by Mina Morita— In a non-dystopian future, the dwindling white American population is protected by the federal government. Two of the last White Americans are brought to Nueva New York’s Museum of Natural History but are “freed” by a disgruntled activist. Is America ready for their return?

The New Strands Festival features new theatrical pieces, works in progress, and readings, as well as experimental work by innovative artists across different disciplines, including music, animation, and more. Devoted to supporting local, national, and international artists in the creation and completion of original theater, the New Strands Festival enables artists to connect and communities to experience theatrical projects as they take shape, all under one roof at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater.

The inaugural New Strands Residency with Ma-Yi Theater Company is supported by a Building Demand Grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the new A.C.T. Asian stARTup initiative to bring together Asian/Asian American artists and tech workers in the Bay Area.

The New Strands Festival is made possible by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Fund for New Works, Theatre Forward, and the Priscilla and Keith Geeslin New Strands Fund.

READ MORE about the New Strands Residency Program or A.C.T.’s New Play Commissions.

Mia Katigbak Awarded Distinguished Achievement Fellowship from The William & Eva Fox Foundation and TCG.

Mia Katigbak

Ma-Yi Theater offers heartfelt congratulations and continued success to Mia Katigbak, recipient of the Distingushed Achievement Fellowship from The William & Eva Fox Foundation and Theatre Communications Group (TCG). This award supports actors with 20 years or more of experience who have amassed a substantial body of work with grants that allow them to pursue continued growth and sustain the longevity of their careers and to adapt to physical changes in casting and as an actor later in their career.

Recently appearing in Ma-Yi’s rock music adaptation, Peer Gynt and The Norwegian Hapa Band as Ose (Peers mother) and other singing and musical roles in the recently opened play, our patrons will remember Mia’s many key roles in Ma-Yi productions, including House Rules, American Hwangap, Watcher, Last of the Suns, Middle Finger and Flipzoids.

Mia’s Fox/TCG Fellowship award grant will fund a series of intergenerational master classes at Ma-Yi Theater with a small group of advanced-level Asian American actors doing text analysis and scene work, working on a diverse repertory that will include classic and new plays that Ma-Yi and NAATCO continue to develop and produce.

Mia is a co-founder and artistic producing director of the award-winning company NAATCO (National Asian American Theatre Company) and founding director of CAATA (Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists). In addition to her many contributions to Ma-Yi productions, Mia is the 2016 recipient of the Lilly Award for Trailblazing, an Obie Award for Performance, the Lucille Lortel Award through League of Professional Theatre Women, and a Charles Bowden Actor. Her recent New York appearances include, Dear Elizabeth (Women’s Project); Awake and Sing! (NAATCO, Obie Award); Scenes From a Marriage (NYTW); I’ll Never Love Again (Bushwick Starr). Mia received her BA from Barnard College and her MA at Columbia University.

Ma-Yi 28th Annual Gala

Ma-Yi Theater Company requests the pleasure of your presence

at the

28th Anniversary Gala Benefit

in appreciation and gratefulness of our playwrights and honorees


at 6:00 pm on Monday, April 24, 2017

Three Sixty-Tribeca / 10 Debrosses Street / New York, NY 10013

Silent Auction / Premium Beverages / Live Music / Fine Dining / Festive Attire RSVP 4/12/17.


April 24, 2017, 10 Debrosses St, Tribeca THREE SIXTY

This year’s Outstanding Honorees are Elizabeth Roxas Dobrish, legendary prima ballerina of Ballet Philippines and Alvin Ailey Dance Company, and Frank and Lolita Valderrama Savage, an outstanding couple whose knowledge and love for the arts and business make theirs an extraordinary union.

For more information about this event click here.

“SAFE: Three Queer Plays” by Lab Member, A. Rey Pamatmat

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 10, Pearl Studios- 500 8th ave, Room 401,

directed by May Adrales, dramaturgy by Jesse Alick, Sarah Lunnie, and Aaron Malkin.

Ma-Yi Lab Member, A. Rey Pamatmat’s “SAFE:Three Queer Plays” will begin on 11:30 AM on Friday. See schedule below. Space is limited. RSVP to

with Satya Bhabha, Erica Bradshaw, Nicholas Carriere, Helen Cespedes, Tina Chilip, Daniella De Jesús, Sue Jean Kim, Jacob Knoll, Jon Norman Schneider, and Nick Westrate

11:30am: Reading of “Picture 24″

1:30pm: Reading of “Beautiful Day”

3:30pm: Lunch Break!

4:30pm: Reading of “Here Are Our Monsters”

"SAFE: Three Queer Plays" by A. Rey Pamatmat


I: “Picture 24″ — Joey meets Max, and it’s love at first sight… sort of. Joey meets Chuck, but love has nothing to do with it. While preparing an autobiographical photo series for a public showing, the romance and pornography in Joey’s private life start blurring together. Dot com parties, safe sex that’s hot sex, and dial-up Internet welcome you to a queer love story in the year 2000.

II: “Beautiful Day” — In 2007, Joey, Felicia, Kat, and Matthew reunite for a wedding in their small hometown of Port Huron, Michigan where a constitutional amendment was passed defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Haunted by past lives, they navigate the present traditions of marriage in the five nights preceding one beautiful day.

III: “Here Are Our Monsters” — Rupesh wants to marry Joey; Ilsa wants security for her impending tri-racial, quadra-cultural daughter; Philippa wants to buy a condo; and Joey wants to know why “acceptance” makes him more confused and not less. One week after the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision declaring marriage equality the law of the land, a “no” to a wedding proposal unleashes everyone’s anxieties and makes them wonder whether those monsters can ever be locked back up again.

Peer Gynt and The Norwegian Hapa Band Rocks On Thru 2/11

Peer Gynt and The Norwegian Hapa Band, by Ma-Yi Theater's Michi Barall, Lyrics by Paul Lieber and Matt Park, Directed and originally conceived by Jack Tamburri

Opening to a full house on January 21, Peer Gynt and The Norwegian Hapa Band follows a modern day Peer (Matt Park) across the globe as he chases and runs away from women, lies cheats and steals to make his fortune, and searches for true meaning. Written by Ma-Yi Writers Lab Member, Michi Barall, the play departs humorously from Ibsen’s six hour classic verse dram, but carries many of the themes of the original through live original music performed and sung by a talented cast. GET TICKETS

Theatre Pizzazz credits the show and crew with a big thumbs up:


Matt Park is transfixing and electrifying in the title role of Peer, a true rock star complete with guitar skills. Also co-composer, he audaciously leads the company through the ups and the downs as Peer’s stories gallop apace. Park’s physical commitment and range matches his fiery and imaginative inner life. Playing all of the women Peer finds himself in trouble with, Angel Desai is dynamic and vibrant, not to mention a killer violinist. Mia Katigbak is commanding and quite a force as Peer’s mother, among other roles, and steps in to tickle the ivories. Rocky Vega fills Solvay, the love of Peer’s life, with breathtaking vitality. Her voice blends styling likened to Regina Spektor and Charlotte Martin, and she’s a talented pianist. The chemistry between Peer and Solvay is just heart-wrenching. Paul Lieber, sharing the composer hat with Park, is always in the moment, whether bandleader, guitarist, or a smorgasbord of acting roles. On drums and mandolin, along with dance captaining and taking on a variety of wacky characters, Titus Tompkins is a knockout. Last but certainly not least, Uton Onyejekwe goes cross-gender as a youthful and warm Helga. This performance beautifully contrasts his strong-willed other roles, in addition to the band’s bassist. 

More Here


EXCLUSIVE: Inside Look at Among the Dead by Hansol Jung

(Left to Right: JESUS, LUKE WOODS, and ANA WOODS)

LUKE WOODS holds ANA WOODS hostage in a small hotel room in Seoul.


While reading her late father’s journal, ANA WOODS finds herself reliving moments from her parent’s past.


Memories of war haunt LUKE WOODS at night.


ANA WOODS (as NUMBER FOUR) shares a tender moment with LUKE WOODS.


Three time periods collide in Hansol Jung’s Among the Dead. Now playing at HERE thru Nov. 26.




On Stage
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