This year's iteration of Our Perspective: Asian-American Play Readings, produced by Asian Improv aRts Midwest, wrapped up on Monday with a staged reading of First Data Gold by Tanuja Jagernauth at Steppenwolf Theatre, but curator Mia Park has already begun planning for 2019: submissions for the next series of readings, which is scheduled for January 28, are due next Thursday, November 1.
The series, says Park, is meant to highlight the work of Asian- and Pacific Islander-American (collectively abbreviated as APA) playwrights in the midwest. Each reading will be directed by a local APA director and performed by Chicago actors—who aren't necessarily APA, because the plays can be, and have been, about people who are not Asian-American. The goal of the program is to encourage playwrights.
"There's a growing APA population in the Chicago theater world," says Park. "We don't even know how to define ourselves as a community. Whose voices are being represented here? There are a handful of costume designers and a handful of APA directors, but most of the theater artists are performers. I want to encourage all APA artists."
Our Perspective is definitely not a workshop, Park says. She accepts only completed work. In addition to Steppenwolf, the Goodman and Victory Gardens will also be hosting readings. None of the 11 plays in the 2018 series was picked up for a full production, but Park believes this is just the beginning.
"The coasts have so much infrastructure and support for APA theater artists," she says. "There's a deficit in the Chicago theater scene compared to New York and LA. We want to build an infrastructure, but we can only do it with people from here." v