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LJ Playhouse Director Continues Asian American Casting Inclusion Talks at LA Forum

La Jolla Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley will speak at a forum in Los Angeles on racial diversity and the inclusion of Asian Americans in theater casts later this month.

Discussions continue on the issue of racial diversity and inclusion of Asian Americans this month. A forum will be held Oct. 22 in Los Angeles for Southern California theater leaders. The discussion began three months ago when the La Jolla Playhouse was criticized for the lack of Asian American actors in the musical The Nightingale.

In July, the La Jolla Playhouse hosted its own panel discussion to address the racial tension stemming from its casting choices for the workshop production of The Nightingale. The playhouse had been under fire over its selection of a white male lead and lack of Asian performers cast in the musical, which is set in China.

“We didn’t intend to offend fellow artists or the Asian-American community. We inadvertently did so. And we are sorry,” said Christopher Ashley, La Jolla Playhouse’s artistic director, to an audience of a few hundred on July 22 in La Jolla.

Panelist Christine Toy Johnson, actor, playwright, filmmaker and member of the Asian American Performers Action Coalition, was emotional when she spoke following a performance of The Nightingale this summer.

“To see this production … with so few Asian American faces, reminds me how invisible we still are and how we are so often not invited to sit at the table. And to not be invited to sit at a table in a play that takes place in an Asian country is like a knife to the heart,” she said.

The LA forum will be held at the David Henry Hwang Theater in downtown Los Angeles at 2 p.m. on Oct. 22.

Forum panelists include Sheldon Epps, artistic director of the Pasadena Playhouse; Marc Masterson, artistic director of South Coast Repertory; and Michael Ritchie, artistic director of Center Theatre Group, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The forum, hosted by East-West Players, will be invite only, according to the Los Angeles Times. East-West Players artistic director told the newspaper that a limited number of seats may be available to the public and that it might also be streamed online. 

Also read: La Jolla Playhouse Says 'We Are Sorry' to Casting Decisions That Caused Racial Tension

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