LOS ANGELES: Theatre collective Artists at Play (AAP) and Asian Pacific American Friends of Theater (APAFT) have announced the creation of the APAFT & AAP Emerging Playwright Commission, which will award $1,000 to an emerging Asian American playwright. The inaugural recipient is current UCSD Playwriting MFA student Ankita Raturi.
“Ankita Raturi’s writing feels fresh in its depth, strength, and empathy,” said Artists at Play producing artistic leader Marie-Reine Velez in a statement. “She is addressing difficult topics around colonialism and its legacy in today’s messy world, and we admire her ability to articulate and demonstrate these complexities in a very meaningful and theatrical way.”
The commission will provide Raturi with institutional and artistic support to advance her work on the commission, as well as mount a public staged reading in 2022. Finalists for the APAFT & AAP Emerging Playwright Commission included Kathryn de la Rosa, Lisa Sanaye Dring, and Mary Lyon Kamitaki.
“APAFT encourages the development of new APA plays as part of its mission to enable APA theatre artists to enhance their talent and gain access to the mainstages of this region,” said APAFT president Judge Ernest Hiroshige in a statement.
For the last 10 years, APAFT has advocated for the inclusion of Asian Pacific American actors, writers, directors and other performers in mainstage productions. APAFT supports theatre productions featuring APA performers or themes, and funds classes for APA high school and college students, professional actors, and playwrights to help elevate their theatre arts skills. The Playwright Commission is the culmination of APAFT’s vision, creating a dedicated space for Asian Pacific American stories.
“We are grateful to Judge Ernest Hiroshige and APAFT, who generously agreed to partner with us and fund the first APAFT & AAP Emerging Playwright Commission,” said Artists at Play Producing Artistic Leader Stefanie Lau in a statement. “With this collaboration, we will be able to ambitiously create and support new works, and uplift an emerging talent.”
Since 2013, Artists at Play has provided developmental support to over a dozen writers including Sanaz Toossi, Carla Ching, Leah Nanako Winkler and Preston Choi. The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up by Carla Ching and Two Mile Hollow by Leah Nanako Winkler emerged from Artists at Play Readings and have gone on to world premiere productions with Artists at Play and other theatres across the country. Artists at Play will produce the world premiere of Preston Choi’s This is Not a True Story in 2022.
“This commissioning project is a natural progression of our commitment to new works,” said Artists at Play Producing Member Nicholas Pilapil in a statement. “And our vision of bringing new Asian American and Pacific Islander narratives to the canon of American theatre.”
Ankita Raturi | अं कता रतड़ू ी (she/her) grew up in and around the capital cities of India, Indonesia, and the United States. Her first audio play, Backwaters, was recently released on Apple Podcasts and Spotify as part of UCSD’s Wagner New Play Festival. Ankita has developed new plays at UCSD, NYU, Page Break (SoHo Playhouse), Atlantic Pacific Theatre, the Hearth Theater, Hypokrit Theatre Company, New York Shakespeare Exchange, Pete’s Candy Store, and Natyabharati. Her devised work with co-creator Charlotte Murray was seen at Fresh Ground Pepper, Corkscrew Theater Festival, and Dixon Place. Ankita’s first poetry collection was performed in 2019 at Dixon Place. She is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in Playwriting at UCSD, and holds a B.F.A. in Drama from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts (Playwrights Horizons Theater School).
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