Over the last four decades, playwright Philip Kan Gotanda has been a major influence in the broadening of our definition of theater in America. The creator of one of the largest collections of Asian American-themed works, Mr. Gotanda has been instrumental in bringing stories of Asians in the United States to mainstream American theater as well as Europe and Asia.
Mr. Gotanda is a respected independent filmmaker. His three films, Life Tastes Good, Drinking Tea, The Kiss, have been official entrants at the Sundance Film Festival. Mr. Gotanda is writing the libretto for the new music opera, Both Eyes Open, with composer Max Gitech Duykers. He is working on pieces with composer Shinji Eshima and multi-instrumentalist David Coulter.
Mr. Gotanda holds a law degree from Hastings College of Law and is the recipient of the inaugural 2021 Dramatists Guild Legacy Playwrights Initiative Award. Mr. Gotanda is a Professor with the Department of Theater Dance and Performance Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. He resides in the Berkeley Hills with his novelist wife, Diane Emiko Takei, and their new dog, Cosmo Finn McCool.
NEW PLAYS BY
PHILIP KAN GOTANDA
I DREAM OF CHANG AND ENG
A fictional reimagining of the remarkable lives of Chang and Eng Bunker. Born as conjoined twins in Siam in the early 1800’s, they were brought to America to be exhibited as “freaks.” They then sued to gain control of their own business affairs and successfully toured themselves around the world, hobnobbing with prime ministers, kings and queens. Internationally famous and wealthy, they retired in their early 30s to North Carolina and became Gentleman Farmers. There they met and married the Yates sisters, daughters of a well-to-do landowner, and between them all, begat 21 biracial children. I Dream of Chang and Eng is an impressionistic mash-up of speculative historicizing with contemporary Asian American issues.
AFTER THE WAR
In the mid to late 1940s, Japanese Americans, having been incarcerated in WWII American concentration camps, began returning to their homes on the west coast. In San Francisco they returned to Japantown, an area around the Western Addition and the Fillmore Districts. In their three-year absence, Black Americans who had lived in the neighborhoods adjacent to Japantown moved into the vacuum bringing with them a vibrant cultural scene. Japanese and Black Americans have both been disenfranchised. Whose neighborhood is this? Who gets to live here? What makes an American? After the War investigates a unique period in American history where two men attempt to build an equitable friendship while inhabiting different communities on the margins of White American society.