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At the Intersection: Asian Pacific American Identity & Art

This collection of videos presents artists, scholars, and speakers of various backgrounds on issues at the intersection of identity and art. The voices of a diverse array of artists who identify as Asian American are included in these discussions about artistic work that directly or incidentally relates to the Asian diasporic experience. Videos feature artists from Filipino playwright Jessica Hagedorn; to pioneering Bhangra producer and DJ, DJ Rekha; C.Y. Lee the Chinese American author of the 1957 novel “Flower Drum Song” that was adapted into a Rodgers and Hammerstein broadway musical; and the playwright David Henry Hwang. Questions are posed such as how can art be political besides through its content? Why is representation important and how can communities work towards this? How do Asian Americans understand themselves as such, through their bloodline or culture? How does immigration, colonization, and mixed race ancestry complicate ideas of identity? As well as, what does it mean to be an “Asian American” artist rather than just an artist? How can this be limiting creatively and professionally? And lastly, what is the value of being connected to and engaged with other people who share the same minority identity as you; what is the importance of community, mentorship, organization, and education among minority populations?

"Yellow Face": Talkback at the Public Theater with David Henry Hwang

Dorinne Kondo, Professor of Anthropology and American Studies at the University of Southern California, and playwright David Henry Hwang have a conversation about David’s play “Yellow Face” following a performance of it at The Public Theater. Hwang talks about why he wrote the play and made certain decisions when writing and producing it. The two discuss some of the larger questions and ideas in and around the play such as: What does it mean to play a race, on stage or off? And, are we currently obsessed with telling reality from fiction? They talk about the paradoxical balance of looking past race and knowing that it still does matter in this “post-racial” period. Lastly, David talks about the theater scene and opportunities for young Asian American playwrights.