BEast West Players, the nation’s longest-running professional theater of color and the largest producer of Asian American theatrical work, will hold its signature fall event, EWP Night Market, on Saturday, Sept. 14, from 5:30 to 10 p.m. at EWP’s David Henry Hwang Theater, 120 Judge John Aiso St. in Little Tokyo.
The evening’s honorees are actor and playwright Jeanne Sakata and actor Aaron Takahashi.
EWP Night Market will feature tasting stations hosted by local restaurants, followed by an evening of performances. Proceeds support EWP’s artistic and educational programs.
Performers will include Lizz Adams, Steven Agdeppa, Jules Aurora, Dante Basco, Danny Bernardo, Miya Cech, Jake Choi, Takayo Fischer, Andrew Ge, Emily Kuroda, Ashley Liao, Sandra Tsing Loh, Allyn Pintel, Araceli Prasarttongosoth, Jasmine Rafael, Justine Rafael, Erich Tamola, Rodney To, Max Torrez, and Gedde Watanabe.
“For this year’s EWP Night Market, East West Players would like to celebrate the trailblazing achievements of Jeanne Sakata and Aaron Takahashi,” said EWP Producing Artistic Director Snehal Desai. “As we usher in our 54th anniversary season, ‘We Are the Ones We Are Waiting for,’ it felt fitting to honor these two remarkable artists who are also figures of inspiration locally and nationally.
“They have been prolific in their respective careers and also generous and respected leaders in our community. They have through their artistry lifted the visibility of Asian Americans nationally and done so with the utmost kindness, generosity and humility. We look forward to celebrating them and also ushering in our 54th season.”
Sakata’s nationally acclaimed solo play “Hold These Truths” (2013 Drama Desk nomination, Outstanding Solo Performance; 2019 Theatre Bay Awards, Outstanding Production, Direction and Principal Performance), has had over 20 productions since its world premiere with EWP in 2007. Earning rave reviews at such theaters as Barrington Stage Company, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Arena Stage, Pasadena Playhouse, Guthrie Theater, ACT Seattle, Portland Center Stage, Perseverance Theatre, PlayMakers Repertory Company, and Epic Theatre Ensemble, the play will be presented in 2019-20 at Vancouver’s Cultch Theatre, San Diego Repertory, and Pennsylvania’s People’s Light.
It is inspired by the true story of Japanese American civil rights giant Gordon Hirabayashi, to whom President Barack Obama posthumously awarded in 2012 a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Called a “local treasure” by The Los Angeles Times, Sakata has enjoyed onscreen recurring/guest star roles on Disney Plus’ upcoming “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” Disney’s “Big Hero 6,” indie films “Advantageous” by Jennifer Phang and “Find Me” by Tom Huang, ABC’s “Dr. Ken,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Threat Matrix” and “Line of Fire,” Bravo’s “True Fiction,” CBS’ “NCIS Los Angeles,” “NUMB3RS” and “Presidio Med,” Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns,” NBC’s “ER,” PBS’ “American Family,” John Ridley’s “I Got You,” the TV movie “Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes,” and “Sex and Marriage,” a Justin Lin YOMYOMF YouTube web series.
On stage, Sakata has performed with the Vineyard Theatre, Public Theater, Lincoln Center Theater, Kennedy Center, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Rep, Intiman Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, Portland Center Stage, People’s Light, Syracuse Stage, and Arizona Theatre Company.
Special honors: L.A. Ovation Award for Outstanding Lead Actress for Chay Yew’s “Red,” EWP; Lee Melville Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Los Angeles Theatre Community, Playwrights’ Arena; Outstanding Artist Award, Los Angeles’ Pacific American Friends of Theatre.
Takahashi has appeared in nearly 100 commercials, with multiple spots for Toyota, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Snapple, State Farm, Esurance, and Ebates. He is a former instructor and core performing member of Cold Tofu, the nation’s longest-running Asian American improv and sketch comedy troupe. He also was a main company member at ACME Comedy Theatre in Hollywood.
Along with his numerous appearances as a featured player on Conan O’Brien’s late-night shows, Takahashi has amassed several co-starring, guest-starring and recurring roles on popular shows for CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, Comedy Central, Netflix, TBS, and IFC, as well as a recurring role on the critically acclaimed USA Network series “Mr. Robot.”
He has been featured as a supporting lead actor in comedy blockbusters such as “Yes Man” opposite Jim Carrey, “Welcome to the Jungle” opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme, and “The Wedding Ringer” opposite Kevin Hart.
Takahashi’s long-lasting relationship with EWP includes an eight-year run in the Theatre for Youth touring program, starring opposite Gedde Watanabe in the main stage production of “Ixnay,” teaching his commercial acting workshop as part of the Actors’ Conservatory, countless volunteer hours, and emceeing numerous events for the theater.
Cocktails and tasting stations will be available starting at 6 p.m. (5:30 p.m. for VIP early access). The evening continues with performances at 7:30 p.m.
EWP Night Market is a benefit performance with levels of sponsorship available ranging from $1,500 to $10,000. Individual tickets are available beginning at $350 for VIP reserved seating in the Preferred Orchestra section, $250 for reserved seating in the Orchestra section, and $150 for reserved seating in the Balcony. For more information, contact Development Manager Dora Quach at [email protected], call (213) 625-7000, ext. 14, or visit www.eastwestplayers.org.