STAGE DIRECTORS AND CHOREOGRAPHERS FOUNDATION
AWARDS THE ZELDA FICHANDLER AWARD TO
OF EAST WEST PLAYERS IN LOS ANGELES, CA
COMMITTEE NAMES FINALISTS
Juliette Carrillo, Chris Coleman, and Ruth Pe Palileo
Tim Dang, Producing Artistic Director of East West Players in Los Angeles, CA, is the 2015 recipient of the Zelda Fichandler Award, an award to recognize an outstanding director or choreographer who is transforming the regional arts landscape through imaginative, brave work in theatre. The $5,000 award, given by Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, heralds both accomplishment to date and promise for the future, and lauds deep commitment to a community.
Tim has dedicated his career to initiating and innovating diversity and inclusion across the American theatre. He has been producing artistic director of East West Players, the nation’s premiere Asian American theater and the longest running professional theater of color in operation today, since 1993 and affiliated with the organization since 1980 in various capacities from actor to director to producer. Under his leadership, East West Players (EWP) has grown from a 99-seat black box space to a professionally equipped 240-seat mid-sized theater, the David Henry Hwang Theater, located in Los Angeles, CA. In addition to his outstanding work at EWP, Tim played an instrumental role in creating the Next Big Bang: The Explosion of Asian American Theatre, the first-ever national convening of 200 APA arts leaders, academics and artists.
A review committee selected Mr. Dang from nominees living and working in the Western region of the United States. Selection Committee Chairperson Chris Ashley said, “This year the Fichandler selection committee reviewed an incredibly diverse slate of candidates from every state in the Western region, and the breadth and depth of work being done – work that upholds and builds on the legacy of Zelda Fichandler – is astonishing. Directors and choreographers are embedding themselves in their communities in a significant, courageous way. Among the stellar group of candidates, Tim Dang’s profound commitment to the Los Angeles theatre community, particularly his unwavering support of Asian American artists, and the extension of that work into the national theatre consciousness made him stand out as a director most worthy of the Zelda Fichandler Award.”
Upon hearing of his receiving this award, Mr. Dang stated, “I am overwhelmed by this recognition from my peers and the SDCF and proud to represent the Western region of our country as this year’s award recipient. Zelda Fichandler is a monumental leader and pioneer of the American Theater who continues to provide inspiration to us all. This recognition inspires me to build upon and strengthen our bond between our art and community.”
This year’s Fichandler Selection Committee was chaired by Christopher Ashley and included Donald Byrd, Valerie Curtis-Newton, Mark Hofflund, Jonathan Moscone, Timothy Near, and Damaso Rodriguez. SDCF Chair, Sheldon Epps remarks “The Western region is bursting with theatrical creativity and innovative community work, and we are pleased that the Fichandler Selection Committee has also acknowledged three significant directors as finalists: Juliette Carrillo in Los Angeles, CA; Chris Coleman in Portland, OR; and Ruth Pe Palileo in Las Vegas, NV. The committee considered each to be a strong candidate for this award for different reasons: Ms. Carrillo for her long commitment to Los Angeles theatre and her tireless work on behalf of Latino artists, etc.; Mr. Coleman for his passionate artistic and civic leadership in Portland; and Ms. Palileo for breaking new ground in Las Vegas.”
In establishing this award named after Zelda Fichandler, a founder of the American regional theatre movement, SDCF recognizes the profound impact of the founders of regional theatre and honors their legacy. This award is given annually within rotating regions of the U.S. The Fichandler Award serves as a complement to the “Mr. Abbott” Award presented in recognition of lifetime achievement in theatre and the Joe A. Callaway Award for excellence in direction and choreography in New York City. The Zelda Fichandler Award will be presented in November in Los Angeles.
Tim Dang has been producing artistic director of East West Players (the nation’s premiere Asian American theater and the longest running professional theater of color in operation today) since 1993 and affiliated with the organization since 1980 in various capacities from actor to director to producer. Under his leadership, East West Players (EWP) has grown from a 99-seat black box space to a professionally equipped 240-seat mid-sized theater, the David Henry Hwang Theater, located in Los Angeles, CA. In 2006, Tim played an instrumental role in creating the NEXT BIG BANG: THE EXPLOSION OF ASIAN AMERICAN THEATRE, the first-ever national convening of 200 APA arts leaders, academics and artists. In 2009, he was recognized with the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award, only the second arts leader to receive this prestigious honor. In 2011, EWP along with TeAda Productions hosted the Third Annual National Asian American Theater Conference and Festival bringing artists from all over the US and Canada, India, Australia, China, Singapore, and Great Britain. Tim is on the Board of Directors of the Theatrical Producers League – Los Angeles (TPL-LA), and the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists (CAATA). He also serves on the Los Angeles Ad Hoc committee for the Society of Directors and Choreographers. Currently, Tim has been challenging American theatres (with the 51% Preparedness Plan for the American Theatre) to implement policy within their strategic plan to set goals for more equity, diversity and inclusion in their artistic programming to have more people of color, women and youth under 35 to better prepare theatres for the next generation.
East West Players directing credits include A Little Night Music, Chess, Krunk Fu Battle (World Premiere), Mysterious Skin (Los Angeles Premiere), Imelda: A New Musical (World Premiere/New York Premiere), Pippin, Equus, Voices from Okinawa (World Premiere), Passion (Los Angeles Premiere), Nisei Widows Club, Pacific Overtures (Ovation Award), Sweeny Todd (Ovation Award), and Into the Woods. Tim has also directed at Singapore Repertory Theatre, PanAsian Repertory Theatre (New York), Asian American Theater Company (San Francisco), Mark Taper Forum New Works Festival, Celebration Theatre, West Coast Ensemble and Perseverance Theatre (Juneau, Alaska). Tim wrote the book and lyrics for the musical Beijing Spring, the lyrics for the musical Canton Jazz Club, and was co-writer on the trilogy of comedies, The Nisei Widows Club, The Nisei Widows Club: Holiday on Thin Ice and The Nisei Widows Club: How Tomi Got Her Groove Back.
Tim recently rotated off the Board of Directors of Arts for LA and announced that he would be stepping down as the producing artistic director of East West Players in June 2016 in a thoughtful and thought-through transition to make way for the next generation of leadership. Tim will continue to initiate and innovate diversity and inclusion across the American theatre and will play a leading role once more at the Fifth National Asian American Theatre Conference and Festival to be held at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) in October 2016.
Zelda Fichandler dedicated her early career to the establishment of America’s regional theatre movement. In 1950 she founded Washington D.C.’s Arena Stage and in 1968 she produced The Great White Hope, which became the first production to transfer from a regional theatre to Broadway, winning the Tony and the Pulitzer Prize, and launching the careers of James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander. Her production of Inherit the Wind toured Soviet St. Petersburg and Moscow and Arena Stage was the first American theatre company sponsored by the State Department to do so. Like many other regional theatres afterward, Arena Stage cultivated an evolving but resident company over the decades that included some of America’s best actors: Robert Prosky, Frances Sternhagen, George Grizzard, Philip Bosco, Ned Beatty, Roy Scheider, Robert Foxworth, Jane Alexander, James Earl Jones, Melinda Dillon, Dianne Wiest, Max Wright, Marilyn Caskey, Harriet Harris, and Tom Hewitt. In 1975 it was the first regional theatre to be recognized by the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League with the Regional Theatre Tony Award for outstanding achievement. When Ms. Fichandler retired as producing artistic director of Arena Stage in 1990, she had achieved the longest tenure of any non-commercial producer in the annals of the American theater. Ms. Fichandler is Chair Emeritus of New York University’s acclaimed graduate acting program where she personally taught, guided, and inspired more than 500 acting students, including Marcia Gay Harden, Rainn Wilson, Billy Crudup, Debra Messing, Peter Krause, and Michael C. Hall. She has received the George Abbott Award, The Acting Company’s John Houseman Award, the Margo Jones Award, and the National Medal of Arts, and in 1999 she became the first artistic leader outside of New York to be inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame.
About SDC FOUNDATION
For 50 years, Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation has developed and promoted the creativity and craft of directors and choreographers. SDCF’s mission is to create access to the field, to connect artists, and to honor the theatrical legacy of these artists. The centrality of the director’s role in theater and the impact that they have on other artists’ careers—from playwrights to designers to actors—makes SDCFs services essential to the theater industry’s health and continued vitality.
Through mentorship programs, community forums and public events, SDCF constructs paths for early-career directors and choreographers from all backgrounds to interact with established artists around the country; puts mid-career artists in the room together to debate and solve issues they face in the business; and reaches beyond the theater industry to tell the story of what directors and choreographers contribute to the art form. In a discipline that can often feel isolating, SDCF serves the needs of artists at all stages, building a cross-generational theater community. www.sdcfoundation.org