The History of Asian America On Stage: Highlights from the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives

July 1 - August 30, 2002

Exhibit posterThis display featured selected historical documents, photographs, scripts and graphic art work drawn from several Asian American performing arts collections, including the Asian American Theater Company (AATC), the Genny Lim Papers and the Elizabeth Wong Papers.

Two UCSB alumni were included in the exhibit, both are acclaimed playwrights: Frank Chin (1965) and Philip Kan Gotanda (1974). Chin, author of such works as "Chickencoop Chinaman" and "Year of the Dragon" founded the AATC. The exhibit highlighted several works by Gotanda including "The Dream of Kitamura" a fantastical fairy-tale like work set in ancient Japan.

Also on display were Elizabeth Wong's first draft of "The Laundry", a teleplay for "Seinfeld" and her play script "China Doll," the latter unveiling the dreams and frustrations of Anna May Wong as America's first Asian American film icon.

Selections from Genny Lim's "Paper Angels" depicted an account of the Chinese immigrants who landed on Angel Island. Also displayed were historical photographs used by Velina Hasu Houston for her play "Tea" a story about five Japanese warbrides, each married to an American soldier of a different race.

"Over time, playwrights of color find themselves unremarked, relegated to footnotes without context, without place in our American cultural history, even though we landscape it and strive to change it. So this library and the archiving of theatre artists of color is an important and crucial step in the chronicling of a truer, more honest, and richer cultural landscape." --Elizabeth Wong, Los Angeles-based playwright whose personal papers now reside in CEMA.