East West Players Launches Virtual 55th Anniversary Season, ‘Between Worlds’

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East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running theatre of color and largest producer of Asian American work, is excited to launch its 55th anniversary season, “Between Worlds,” an innovative and interdimensional experience that expands the scope of its storytelling to the digital stage.

Actor Danny Pudi will debut as a playwright with his newest project, “Running.”

Shows presented throughout 2021 feature co-productions with theatres in the U.S. and Canada, including Rogue Artists Ensemble, as well as world premiere projects from Kristina Wong, Lavina Jadhwani, and Danny Pudi. All productions will be available via the East West Passport membership program available now at www.eastwestplayers.org.

“The pandemic has upended our world in unimaginable ways,” says EWP Producing Artistic Director Snehal Desai. “We are all changed by it and what lies on the other side of it still remains to be seen. As we traverse between these worlds we will also need to restore our faith and trust in each other and reckon with the inequity and injustice we seek to leave behind us as we move forward.

“EWP’s 55th season is a bridge towards that new world. A fully virtual season where we bring together artists from across the Asian diaspora of North America. We invite you to grab your passports and journey with us on these six unique and inventive journeys. EWP’s 55th season is a season of all new works, each examining the way things used to be and looking forward towards what could be.”

Launching in March, East West Players presents Rogue Artists Ensemble’s highly anticipated follow up to 2017’s award-winning “Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin.” The companies have collaborated on the creation of an interactive smartphone app making the user a part of the story, bringing the immersive experience of the original production into 2021, allowing users to participate safely from home.

“Kaidan Project: Alone” is a five-episode, intimate ghost encounter where your choices propel the user through terrifying looping stories of spirits, toward a confrontation with the fears of isolation inside us all. This new immersive theatrical adventure for iOS and Android features augmented reality effects and a GPS-activated walking ghost tour of Little Tokyo. Featuring a cast of over 12 L.A.-based actors, incredible puppetry, original music and special effects, this experience exists at the uncharted crossroads of immersive theater, podcasts. and interactive video games.

The app was created by Rogue Artists Ensemble and a team of programmers, with text by Rogue ensemble members Lisa Sanaye Dring and Chelsea Sutton. More information on the project can be found at https://www.kaidanproject.com.

Tetsuro Shigematsu in Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre’s “1 Hour Photo.”

Powerhouse artist, activist and elected political representative Kristina Wong (“Kristina Wong for Public Office”) will direct a new work entitled “From Number to Name,” in which formerly incarcerated Asian Americans and those in the API community impacted by mass incarceration take us on a journey through their experiences. “From Number to Name” challenges viewers to reflect on our criminal justice system and imagines its future.

The two-night event presented in partnership with API Rise is set to take place April 10-11. API Rise is a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower the Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander American communities and specifically those individuals who have been impacted by the criminal justice system.

EWP in partnership with San Francisco’s EnActe Arts will next present the world premiere of “Sitayana” by Lavina Jadhwani (Time Out Chicago’s “Best Next-Generation Stage Director”), an artful transposition of the Hindu epic “The Ramayana” told from Sita’s point of view. Part epic tale, part coming-of-age story, “Sitayana” is the ultimate breakup play. Audiences will be able to choose between three different incarnations of Sita from whom to hear their stories. which along the way upend traditional gender norms and subvert idealized views of femininity.

“Sitayana” will be directed by Reena Dutt (“Antigone, Presented by the Girls of St. Catherine’s,” Sacred Fools Theater Company), and is slated to premiere in May.

In June, EWP will present Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre (vAct)’s production of “1 Hour Photo” by Tetsuro Shigematsu (“Empire of the Son,” Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre). Called “superbly written and performed” (Review Vancouver), “1 Hour Photo” is a true, moving portrait of a Japanese Candian man’s quest to find beauty in the depths of a savage century, as he journeys from finding love in a WWII incarceration camp to rebuilding his life as a scientist, businessman, and father.

A heartfelt exploration of a life well-lived, “1 Hour Photo” employs the use of intricately crafted miniatures to explore the artifact of Mas Yamamoto’s life inside and beyond internment.

Closing out the season, actor Danny Pudi (TV’s “Community” and Apple+’s “Mythic Quest”) makes his debut as a playwright with his show in development, “Running.” After his estranged father suddenly passes away, Danny finds himself in his apartment piecing together objects, memories, and the puzzle of a father he never knew. “Running” is an interactive experience, where the audience accompanies Danny on an epic journey to ask “Where did I come from and who am I now?”

“Running” is a co-production with New York City’s Hypokrit Theatre Company and San Francisco’s EnActe Arts and set to premiere in late summer of 2021.

Tickets to all Season 55 shows are available now via the 2021 East West Passport, which you can purchase to view the entire upcoming collection of digital programming, plus exclusive events and content, including the December 2020 Daniel Ho concert filmed at the David Henry Hwang Theater in Little Tokyo. For more information on memberships and ticketing, visit www.eastwestplayers.org or contact the EWP Box Office at [email protected]

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