A reading to benefit NAATCO
In celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Streamed for One Night Only
May 19, 2021, 8:00pm EST
This reading of OUR TOWN is brought to you by:
(in alphabetical order) Susan Bernfield, Cindy Cheung, Miranda Cornell, Autumn Domingo, Connor Domingo, Ron Domingo, Richard Eng, Dan Grbic, John D. Haggerty, Amy Hill, Alyssa K. Howard, Midori Francis Iwama, Yumi Iwama, Paul Juhn, Kate Katigbak, Mia Katigbak, Peter Kim, Glenn Kubota, Deepak Kumar, Jordan Liu, Clara Haru Mulligan, Olivia Oguma, Trevor Salter, Larry Schafer, Jon Norman Schneider, Tori Schuchmann, Sean Koa Seu, Maria Striar, Alok Tewari, CJ Uy, ViDCo, Izaac Wang, and Rita Wolf
Mia Katigbak, co-founder and actor-manager of NAATCO, today announced that NAATCO will present a virtual reading of Our Town by Thornton Wilder with an all-Asian American cast for one night only, Wednesday May 19th, at 8pm, in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The proceeds of this reading will benefit the company.
Yumi Iwama, who portrayed Emily Webb in NAATCO’s 1994 production of the play, proposed the reading to NAATCO, following her recent interview with The New York Times: “The idea that I was this Asian actress playing this iconic American role was just daunting. I remember being in kind of a high emotional state throughout the run, because I really wanted to do it well. And I loved Emily. She didn’t have these issues of ‘Do I belong here?’ She was part of this town, part of this community. She just lives her life with abandon in a way that I never felt I had the license to. I grew up in a very white town, Rumson, N.J., and I was one of maybe two or three Asians in my entire high school. It was hard. My career started doing The King and I. I played Tuptim in seven different productions over the years. Emily was that first opening to me, that ‘Oh! Maybe there’ll be more to my career than these stereotypical Asian characters.’”
For this reading, Yumi will be playing the role of Emily’s mother, Mrs. Webb, and suggested her niece, Midori Francis Iwama (Usual Girls – Roundabout, The Wolves – Lincoln Center Theater), for the role of Emily. NAATCO enthusiastically agreed.
Amy Hill (best known for her TV work, from “All-American Girl” to the reboot of “Magnum P.I.” as well as “American Dad,” “Black-ish,” “Mom,” “Hawaii Five-0,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and more) will lead the cast as the Stage Manager, along with Cindy Cheung, Autumn Domingo, Connor Domingo, Ron Domingo, John D. Haggerty, Midori Francis Iwama, Yumi Iwama, Paul Juhn, Peter Kim (NAATCO’s associate producer), Glenn Kubota (who played Mr. Charles Webb in the 1994 production), Clara Mulligan, Olivia Oguma, Trevor F. Salter, Jon Norman Schneider, Alok Tewari, CJ Uy, Izaac Wayne, and Rita Wolf. Special guests will include Richard Eng, the co-founder of NAATCO and president of the board; Larry Schafer, NAATCO board member; Susan Bernfield, New Georges’ Artistic Director; Maria Striar, Clubbed Thumb’s Artistic Director; and Kate Katigbak, NAATCO’s graphic designer.
Mia Katigbak will direct the performance with Sean Koa Seau as assistant director, Alyssa K. Howard as production stage manager, and Miranda Cornell as production assistant. Tori Schuchmann, Senior Project Manager of VidCo Virtual Design Collective (ViDCo), will help create the project and Dan Grbic will be the video editor. Deepak Kumar & Jordan Liu will be the producers of “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”.
“The decision to do this reading came on the heels of the Georgia senate elections, when we thought an all-Asian American cast performing an American classic would be part of a celebration of hope and healing after the devastating events earlier in the month. Recent events of anti-Asian violence, however, have reframed our presentation. With this reading, we denounce the brutal and senseless attacks on Asian Americans as we underscore one of the basic tenets of NAATCO’s mission in the most affirmative way: to reflect and emphasize the kinship among people of disparate cultures,” said Ms. Katigbak.
NAATCO wishes to express its gratitude to the Performers’ Unions: ACTORS’ EQUITY ASSOCIATION, AMERICAN GUILD OF MUSICAL ARTISTS, AMERICAN GUILD OF VARIETY ARTISTS, and SAG-AFTRA through Theatre Authority, Inc. for their cooperation in permitting the Artists to appear on this program.
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. NAATCO joins The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental in its future success.
Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) was a novelist and playwright whose works celebrate the connection between the commonplace and the cosmic dimensions of human experience. He is the only writer to win Pulitzer Prizes for both drama and fiction: for his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey, and two plays, Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth. His other novels include The Cabala, The Woman of Andros, Heaven’s My Destination, The Ides of March, The Eighth Day and Theophilus North. His other major dramas include The Matchmaker (adapted as the musical Hello, Dolly!) and The Alcestiad. The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden, Pullman Car Hiawatha and The Long Christmas Dinner are among his well-known shorter plays. He enjoyed enormous success as a translator, adaptor, actor, librettist and lecturer/teacher and his screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt remains a classic psycho-thriller to this day. Wilder’s many honors include the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. More information on Thornton Wilder and his family is available in Penelope Niven’s definitive biography, Thornton Wilder: A Life (2013) as well as on the Wilder Family website, www.thorntonwilder.com
OUR TOWN ©1938, 1957 The Wilder Family LLC
Copyright agent: Alan Brodie Representation Ltd