East West Players celebrates its 40th birthday with a One Night Only fundraiser

            East West Players celebrates its 40th anniversary as the nation’s premier Asian American theatre with its annual summer fundraising event, One Night Only: Happy 40th Birthday East West Players! on Saturday, August 20, 2005.  Hosted by the East West Players Council of Governors, led by Chair George Takei, the event will remember notable moments from the past 40 years through live comedy sketches, videos, personal testimonies and musical performances.

            “East West Players 40th Anniversary celebrates the passion and dedication of the artists who have built East West Players into the nation’s premier Asian American theatre organization and the longest-operating theatre of color in the United States,” said Producing Artistic Director Tim Dang. “It is also a time to recognize the commitment of our donors, subscribers and audience members who have enabled East West Players to produce quality theatre, provide opportunities to Asian American artists and tell the stories of the Asian Pacific American community.”

            Money raised from One Night Only: Happy 40th Birthday East West Players will help support East West Players year-round mainstage productions and educational programs including Theatre for Youth school tours in Los Angeles County, and training programs for writers and actors.

            East West Players began in 1965 with nine artists who wanted a theater where they could strive for artistic excellence, have control over their own careers as Asian American artists and to tell the stories of their own community. Over the years the organization has provided opportunities to Asian Pacific American artists by producing classic plays, Broadway musicals and stories specific to the Asian American experience.

            “The Asian American actor community was very small in the 1960s and every time there was a project involving Asian characters a lot of us would be there and talk about wanting to do something,” said Mako, one of the original nine artists who founded East West Players and the organization’s first artistic director.

            East West Players started with workshops in a small church basement and its maiden production of RASHOMON, then onto years of success in a 99-seat theater in Silverlake. In 1998, East West Players moved to its current 240-seat home, the David Henry Hwang Theater at the historic Union Center for the Arts in downtown Los Angeles' Little Tokyo district. The theater is now a nationally-acclaimed professional theater, serving more than 20,000 people each year through its mainstage production and arts educational programs serving youth and underrepresented Asian Pacific Islander communities.

            In 40 years, East West Players has garnered widespread artistic acclaim across the country from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and Washington Post and has been called a model for other theatres in Los Angeles and around the country.

            One Night Only: Happy 40th Birthday East West Players! will be held at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, CA 90012 on Saturday, August 20, 2005. A silent auction will begin at 6 pm and the performance at 7 pm, followed by a light buffet. Tickets are $250 for VIP, $100 in the orchestra and $60 in the balcony.  For more information on tickets and sponsorships contact Managing Director Trent Steelman at tsteelman@eastwestplayers.org or (213) 625-7000 x19.

            Past One Night Only events include a special reading of LOVE LETTERS by A.R. Gurney that reunited Asian American stars Nancy Kwan and James Shigeta for the first time since performing together in Flower Drum Song. Other One Night Only fundraisers celebrated Tim Dang’s 10th anniversary as East West Players Artistic Director and Hero honored actor George Takei’s accomplishments in Hollywood.

            East West Players has also taken One Night Only audiences to a tropical paradise with EWP Goes Hawaii, a jazzy nightclub during Red, Classic & Cool, the lights of the Vegas strip at EWP Goes Vegas and a night on the town with Classics from the 40s.

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Copyright 2005, Roger W. Tang

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