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Oregon Shakespeare Festival

OSF Hosts Asian-American Theater ConFest

Oregon Shakespeare Festival logoThe Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) and the Consortium of Asian-American Theaters & Artists (CAATA) will present the 2016 National Asian-American Theater Conference and Festival (ConFest) Oct. 1–9, 2016, hosted by OSF’s biannual CultureFest.

Under the theme of “Seismic Shifts: Leading Change in the American Theater,” the 2016 ConFest will engage attendees and local communities in dialogues about social injustice and inequity in American culture through contemporary theater productions, panel discussions, plenary sessions, new play readings, workshops, and special events in Ashland, Oregon, the site of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

“CAATA has rallied Asian-American theater artists and professionals to dive headfirst into the deep, challenging conversations that surround what it means to be engaged in American theater as a person of color,” an OSF press release quoted Tim Dang, artistic director emeritus of East West Players, CAATA board member, and chair of the ConFest steering committee. “The 2016 ConFest will continue this vital work in the field, inviting artists and arts leaders from other underrepresented groups, higher education, and larger institutions in building a more inclusive and accessible American theater.”

This 2016 ConFest is CAATA’s fifth national convening since the group’s first gathering in Los Angeles in 2006, and marks the first time the event will take place in partnership with a non-Asian-specific theater company.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be hosting the largest gathering of Asian-American theater artists in the country with ConFest,” OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch said in the release. “What a phenomenal opportunity it will be for our community to experience the genius and passion of the writers, performers, and speakers who will be sharing their work.”

Tickets to ConFest events can be purchased at osfashland.org/CAATA or by calling the box office at 800-219-8161. Full Confest details and schedule can be found at caata.net.

The Conference, held for the first three days of ConFest, will include several notable plenary speakers—among them Roberta Uno, Karen Narasaki, and Zeyba Rahman—and breakout sessions addressing topics including casting and union representation of Asian-American performers, ending yellowface, immigrant, and refugee community-based theater, expanding the classical canon through international collaborations, and building the next generation of professional leadership in the field. Preconferences will include a gathering of Western and Central Asian American theater leaders and allies, as well as a “Beyond Orientalism” cohort.

The Festival portion, taking place throughout the nine days of ConFest, will feature six CAATA-presented fully staged productions, five new play readings, and free community programming as part of OSF’s Green Show series.

Confest and CultureFest Green Shows include Art2Action, Eth-Noh-Tec, Supaman, Edna Vazquez, Golda Supernova, A Moving Sound and the Anjali School of Dance, and Northwest Children's Theater. Green Show performances are always free and held at 6:45 p.m. on OSF’s Courtyard Stage, though Supaman will also perform at noon on Oct. 8 and Edna Vasquez at noon on Oct. 9.

CultureFest will help close out the week’s activities on Oct. 9 with Think & Drink: A Conversation with Luis Alfaro and Héctor Tobar, presented in collaboration with Oregon Humanities at 10:30 a.m. in Carpenter Hall. Tickets are $5 and will be available at osfashland.org and via the OSF Box Office.

“I thought it was really exciting when we figured out that the dates for ConFest would fall during CultureFest,” CAATA ConFest co-organizer Leslie Ishii said in a Summer Prologue Q&A in which she and OSF Associate Director of Audience Development Freda Casillas discussed the joys and challenges of the historic partnership between CAATA and OSF. “That was just perfect synergy. I can’t tell you what a gift it is.”
Following are CAATA-presented productions:

Scheduled new play readings follow:

CAATA envisions a strong and sustainable Asian-American theater community that is an integral presence in national culture—evocative of our past, declarative of our present, and innovative toward our future. Our mission is to advance the field of Asian-American theater through a national network of organizations and artists. We collaborate to inspire learning and sharing of knowledge, and resources to promote a healthy, sustainable artistic ecology. As a collective of Asian-American theater leaders and artists, CAATA brings together local and regional leaders to work nationally toward our shared values of social justice, artistic diversity, cultural equity, and inclusion. CAATA holds national conferences and festivals biennially in different parts of the country, reaching as wide a range of Asian-American populations and communities as possible.

September 30, 2016

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