Women Playwrights of Diversity: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook

By Jane T. Peterson; Suzanne Bennett | Go to book overview

Brave, Bold, and Poetic: The New Generation of Asian American Women Playwrights

Chiori Miyagawa

Taking risks with their language, form, and message, Asian American women playwrights are breaking down the walls of small living rooms and kitchens that accommodated many of the Asian American plays of the previous generation. Their characters are not culturally displaced and defeated women anymore but are culturally displaced and agitated warrior women. Sometimes they are not even Asian. Unlike Wakako Yamauchi beautiful classic, And the Soul Shall Dance ( 1977), which focuses on the intricate emotions deeply rooted in the specific Japanese American and Japanese sentiments, playwrights today do not simply experience their culture internally or display it for the audience but demand the world to put it in context. And their "culture" goes beyond what is traditionally expected; it is no longer simply about some ancient Chinese folktale told by a grandmother or about a rude white customer at a laundromat. Yes, it is often still about identity or oppression, but the new generation is looking at a larger picture. Who is out there? To whom are we talking? How would they understand our "language"? How do we fit into or disturb our surroundings? How do we understand ourselves? What truly makes us Asian American? Today the questions are more complex, and the search is perhaps more dangerous because our plays take away the comfort of stereotypes from the audience.


SINGULAR VOICES

Four women on this front line are Eugenie Chan, Naomi Iizuka, Sandra Rodgers, and Diana Son: young women who range in age from their late twenties to mid-thirties, with Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Korean backgrounds, respectively. Though their personal missions as playwrights differ from one another, they share a common ground: these women are not interested in satisfying the audience's appetite for exotica; they have assumed the big job of

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