Established in 1965, East West Players has been called “the nation’s pre-eminent Asian American theater troupe” (New York Times 12/16/01) for our award-winning productions blending Eastern and Western movement, costumes, language, and music. It is now the longest running theatre of color in operation. EWP has premiered over 100 plays and musicals about the Asian Pacific American experience and has held over 1,000 readings and workshops. Our emphasis is on building bridges between East and West, and one measure of our success is an audience of 56% Asians and a remarkable 44% non-Asian attendance. It is one of the most diverse audiences in the country.
EWP alumni include Mako, C.S. Lee, John Cho, Reggie Lee, Amy Hill, B.D. Wong, David Henry Hwang, Philip Kan Gotanda, Freda Foh Shen, Roberta Uno, R.A. Shiomi, Alec Mapa, Wakako Yamauchi, and Nobu McCarthy. East West Players has also had the opportunity to work with many respected artists and faculty such as actors Danny Glover, Tsai Chin, Lauren Tom, and Nancy Kwan, directors, Lisa Peterson and Oskar Eustis, musician Dan Kuramoto and instructors Deborah Shulman and Leslie Ishii and Fran Bennett.
In 1998, EWP Producing Artistic Director Tim Dang led the company’s move from a 99-seat Equity Waiver “black box” into a new 240-seat venue at an Actors Equity Association contract level. EWP’s mainstage is the David Henry Hwang Theater, housed within the historic Union Center for the Arts in downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district, where we serve over 10,000 people each year, including low income audiences provided free and discounted admissions and deaf audiences attending our series of ASL-interpreted shows.
EWP offers a growing array of educational programs training over 200 multicultural artists each year – the Actors Conservatory; David Henry Hwang Writers Institute (nation’s most active Asian American play development program); our career program Alliance of Creative Talent Services (ACTS); and our touring Theatre for Youth (reaching an estimated 20,000 K-8th graders and their families via in-school performances).
Over seventy-five percent of all Asian Pacific performers in the acting unions living in Los Angeles have worked at EWP. East West Players has provided training and opportunities to many emerging and professional artists who have gone on win Tony Awards, Obie Awards, Emmy Awards, Theatre L.A. Ovation Awards, and Academy Awards.
East West Players is a participant in the New Generations Program, funded by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the American theatre.