East West Players announces virtual gala plus weekly streaming programming, featuring Fil-Am talent AJ Rafael, Isa Briones, Dante Basco and more

EAST West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theater of color and the largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work, announces that its 54th Annual Visionary Awards Dinner & Silent Auction will be celebrated online this May.

AJ Rafael

Recognizing the achievements of individuals who have raised the visibility of the Asian Pacific American (APA) community through their craft, the first virtual gala fundraiser takes place on Sunday, May 31 and will be livestreamed at 5 p.m., with more details on the platform forthcoming. Proceeds will benefit East West Players’ educational and artistic programs. As previously announced, EWP will honor longtime Board Member Dan Mayeda, screenwriter Adele Lim (“Crazy Rich Asians”), and The Aratani Foundation.

Exclusive extended content of the Gala will be made for EWP donors who purchased at sponsorship levels prior to the Safer At Home order. New sponsorship packages will be made available leading up to the Gala complete with exclusive content and special access to the event. Visit www.eastwestplayers.org for more information.

“East West Players is very excited to recognize the incredible work of each of our honorees this season and we look forward to celebrating them in this new format” says EWP Producing Artistic Director Snehal Desai. “Each has amassed professional accomplishments and contributions that have been pivotal in raising the visibility of Asian Americans. They also have deep, personal connections to EWP and have been instrumental in supporting our work and growth. It’s an honor to spotlight them as honorees of our 2020 Visionary Awards in our first-ever virtual celebration.”

Isa Briones

In addition, East West Players is rolling out a weekly series of streaming shows starting this May. The series, East West Wednesdays, will feature a variety of programming featuring conversations with members of both the Los Angeles theatre and the Asian American entertainment communities. The first East West Wednesdays premiering May 6th on Facebook Live is slated to feature a panel of comedians featuring Amy Hill (“Magnum P.I.,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), Randall Park (“Fresh Off The Boat,” “Always Be My Maybe”), with more to be announced.

The second part of East West Wednesdays debut broadcast will be a feature called “Clopenings,” a conversation hosted by EWP Artistic Director, Snehal Desai with theatre directors and designers from across the country whose shows were shut down due to the Safer At Home Order and are not scheduled to return.

East West Players is also partnering with artist AJ Rafael to produce their popular “Crazy Talented Asians” performance series on a monthly basis.  The second virtual edition of the show will be broadcast on Sunday, May 3rd on Rafael’s and EWP’s Facebook pages to kick-off Asian Pacific American History Month. The line-up includes appearances by Isa Briones (“Star Trek: Picard,“ East West Players “Next To Normal“), Dante Basco (“Hook,“ “Star Wars Rebels,“ “Avatar: The Last Airbender“), Sherry Cola (“Good Trouble, “Claws“), the cast of East West Players’ acclaimed production of “Mamma Mia!,“ and much more.

“Excited to partner with EWP once again for ‘Crazy Talented Asians’ to bring joy virtually to everyone in need of it during this crazy time,” says Crazy Talented Asians creator AJ Rafael. “I’m thankful we can bring people together without having to leave our own homes. I used to think that there was nothing like performing on stage, but I know now that our stage can be anywhere — I’m very happy to kick off Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with this event that will prove just that!”

East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theater of color in the country and the largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work, was founded in 1965, at a time when Asian Pacific Islanders (APIs) faced limited or no opportunities to see their experiences reflected outside of stereotypical and demeaning caricatures in the American landscape. EWP not only ensures that API stories are told, but works to increase access, inclusion, and representation across the performing arts and the entertainment industry.

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