Rick Shiomi has been involved in Asian American theatre for over thirty-five years, as a playwright, director, and artistic director. He received the McKnight Foundation Distinguished Artist Award in 2015, the Ivey Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2012, and the Sally Ordway Irvine Award for Vision in 2007. He has written over twenty plays, including the award-winning Yellow Fever. He was a co-founder of Mu Performing Arts and the artistic director from 1993 to 2013.
He has directed for Mu Performing Arts, InterAct Theatre Company in Philadelphia, Theatre Esprit Asia in Denver, and the Asian American Theater Company in San Francisco. For Mu, he directed Into The Woods set in Asia, The Mikado set in Edwardian England and Yellow Face at the Dowling Studio of the Guthrie Theater. For Interact Theatre, he directed Caught by Christopher Chen in 2014 for which he received a Barrymore Award nomination for Outstanding Direction. He played taiko for thirty years and was the founder (in 1997) and the leader of Mu Daiko until 2010. He recently received a Doris Duke Charitable Foundation grant in the Building Demand for the Arts program to develop Asian American theatre and audiences in Philadelphia. He is currently the Co-Artistic Director of Full Circle Theater Company in Minnesota.
***Photo by Lia Chang.
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Rick Shiomi discusses the Philadelphia Asian Theater Project, sharing his process working with local theatre companies and organizations to promote Asian American theatre artists.
The term “collaborative” for me conjures up the idea of a loose group of artists with a shared Asian American identity and purpose, working together to produce a wide range of projects, from workshops, readings and short performances to full productions. If this process is successful, I believe it would be possible that within a three to five year period, there could be a significant Asian American presence in the Philadelphia theater community and a real demand for their work.