2015 SEASON

This will be Artists at Play’s FIFTH year of producing theatre in Los Angeles, and we have some exciting programming lined up for you in 2015.


Mainstage Production
September 19-October 11, 2015

In Love and Warcraft 
(West Coast Premiere) 
by Madhuri Shekar
directed by Alejandra Cisneros


This fall, Artists at Play is absolutely thrilled to present our fifth mainstage show: In Love and Warcraft by Madhuri Shekar. Aside from having an amazing title, In Love and Warcraft is a fresh look at the collision between online gaming and In Real Life (IRL) relationships. We have all been fans of Maduri’s work in the past-- a delightful intersection of humor, love and subculture--and this play is no exception. So get ready to venture into the World of Warcraft with Artists at Play!



CTG Literary Tour
May 12-15, 2015

99 Histories 
by Julia Cho 

Artists at Play welcomed back the cast of 99 Histories (written by the playwright Julia Cho, directed by Leslie Ishii) for a week of readings in May at libraries located in East Los Angeles. Center Theatre Group invited us to participate in their library reading series as part of their program, The Shop, which provides residents throughout Boyle Heights the chance to make theatre a part of everyday life. The readings took place on May 12-15 and included post-show talkbacks with Christian Maldonado, exploring the issues of mental health in the Latino community.



Artists at Play Readings
Saturday, April 4, 2015

by Sanaz Toossi 

by Carla Ching

On Saturday, April 4, Artists at Play presented our annual spring reading series. Keeping with our 2-plays/1-day setup, this year we proudly presented readings of two new works: Nobody’s Child by Sanaz Toossi, along with The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up by Carla Ching. These readings were held at the Lounge Theatre, where we presented our last mainstage production, 99 Histories.

IN LOVE AND WARCRAFT (West Coast Premiere)

Artists at Play is proud to announce that our 2015 fall production will be the West Coast premiere of In Love and Warcraft by Madhuri Shekar, directed by Alejandra Cisneros. Join us at The LATC for opening night on September 19!

A delightful intersection of humor, love and subculture, In Love and Warcraft offers a fresh comedic look at the collision between online gaming and In Real Life (IRL) relationships. Evie is a gamer girl, college senior and confirmed virgin who has it all figured out. Not only does she command a top-ranked guild in World of Warcraft with her online boyfriend, she also makes cash on the side writing love letters for people who've screwed things up with their IRL partners. Love is like Warcraft, after all. It's all about strategies, game plans, and not taking stupid risks... or is it?

Madhuri Shekar, playwright
Madhuri Shekar was the 2013/14 winner of the Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Award and an alumnus of the 2013/14 Center Theatre Group Writers’ Workshop. She has been a finalist for the Princess Grace Award for Playwriting, and the Many Voices Fellowship at the Playwrights Center. Her plays include In Love and Warcraft (Alliance Theatre, No Rules Theatre Company, and others) and A Nice Indian Boy (East West Players, Rasaka Theatre) and her work has been showcased or developed at the Kennedy Center, the Alliance Theatre, the Old Globe, Center Theatre Group, Playwrights Horizons and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She received her MFA in Dramatic Writing from USC.

She is an artistic producer of the Los Angeles-based comedic ensemble company Better Than Shakespeare, and is a co-creator of their upcoming web series "Titus and Dronicus."

Alejandra Cisneros, director
Alejandra Cisneros is a graduate from the University of California, Irvine. She directs/produces Los Angeles-based theatre including the cult-classic superhero series El Verde! which has toured throughout Southern California. Recent credits include El Verde!, The Wrath of Kahlo at Inner-City Arts, Los Vampiros del Norte at East LA Rep, and For One Mariachi for Meet Me at Metro. She is an alumnus of Director’s Lab West, a Directing FAIR Fellow at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and a Nathan Cummings Young Leaders of Color Recipient.


Artists at Play is thrilled to share this work by emerging young playwright Madhuri Shekar, with director Alejandra Cisneros bringing her geek/comic sensibility to the production. Join us this fall for In Love and Warcraft!

Previews: September 17 & 18 
Opening: September 19 
Closing: October 11 
Thursday - Saturday 8pm, Sunday 3pm 

Auditions for IN LOVE AND WARCRAFT

Artists at Play will hold auditions for the roles listed below as part of their upcoming production, In Love and Warcraft by Madhuri Shekar (West Coast premiere). Please send headshot / résumé to AAP.casting@gmail.com with Subject line: "ILAW - [Character Name]" by Wednesday, July 1.

In Love and Warcraft 


Producers: Julia Cho, Stefanie Wong Lau, Marie-Reine Velez, Nicholas Pilapil
Author: Madhuri Shekar
Director: Alejandra Cisneros
Location: The Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC)

Contract: 99-Seat Theatre Equity Waiver
Rehearsals: August - September 2015
Previews: mid-September 2015
Performances: September 17 - October 11, 2015
(possible one-week extension)
**Performance dates may be slightly adjusted**

Auditions: Saturday, July 11, 2015
Callbacks: Sunday, July 12, 2015


Union and non-union actors eligible to submit. To be considered for this project, email your headshot/résumé to AAP.casting@gmail.com with Subject line: "ILAW - [Character Name]." Submission deadline is Wednesday, July 1. 

Sides will be made available to actors who are selected to audition. Please note that Artists at Play is not able to provide full scripts. The play is available through Samuel French.

ARTISTS AT PLAY IS COMMITTED TO DIVERSE, INCLUSIVE CASTING AND ACTIVELY SEEKING TALENTED ACTORS OF COLOR FOR ALL ROLES. WE WELCOME ALL QUALIFIED PERFORMERS, WITHOUT REGARD TO DISABILITY, RACE, COLOR, NATIONAL ORIGIN, ETHNIC ORIGIN OR ANY OTHER BASIS PROHIBITED BY LAW UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFICALLY INDICATED.

SEEKING PRINCIPALS/ UNDERSTUDIES FOR FOLLOWING ROLES:

**Casting diversely to reflect present-day college campus in Southern CA**

EVIE - OPEN ETHNICITY, Female, 22, college senior, skilled gamer, committed virgin. Smart, funny, adorably awkward. Discovers that no amount of gaming expertise will help her out when she finds herself with a non-virtual, totally real, and incredibly cute boyfriend.

KITTY - OPEN ETHNICITY, Female, 22, Evie's best friend and roommate. Sexually voracious, confident and very bright.

RAUL - OPEN ETHNICITY, Male, 22, one of Evie's clients who later becomes her IRL love interest. Unassumingly handsome, sweetly charming, with Evie but even he has his breaking point.

RYAN - OPEN ETHNICITY, Male, 25, Evie's online gaming partner and somewhat boyfriend. Unemployed, passionate (about gaming), lives in his parents’ basement.

MALE ACTOR - OPEN ETHNICITY, Male, 20s-30s. Versatile with youthful energy to play miscellaneous characters, incl. TONY (gamer), JERRY (Evie's butt-obsessed client), NATHAN (sassy hairdresser), MONSTER (in Warcraft), etc.

FEMALE ACTOR - OPEN ETHNICITY, Female, 20s-30s. Versatile with youthful energy to play miscellaneous characters, incl. CHAI (gamer, Tony’s aggrieved girlfriend), CHARLOTTE (Evie's prim & proper client), SOLEDAD (Nathan's even sassier assistant), DOCTOR (Evie's OB/GYN), etc. SOME SPANISH REQUIRED.


SYNOPSIS: In Love and Warcraft—a delightful intersection of humor, love and subculture—offers a fresh comedic look at the collision between online gaming and In Real Life (IRL) relationships. Evie Malone is a gamer girl, college senior and confirmed virgin who has it all figured out. Not only does she command a top-ranked guild in World of Warcraft with her online boyfriend, she also makes a little cash on the side writing love letters for people who've screwed things up with their IRL partners. Love is like Warcraft, after all. It's all about strategies, game plans, and not taking stupid risks... or is it?

Meet the Artists of AAP's 2015 Summer Event (Sunday, June 7)


Dom Magwili has worked with Freda Foh Shen in the Lodestone production of American Monsters II. He has acted with Denise Iketani in the musical Merrily We Roll Along. Marilyn Tokuda and Dom were in the EWP production of The Avocado Kid. He did comedy sketches with Julia Cho for OPM. He has never worked with Tim Chiou but looks forward to this opportunity. Dom is currently teaching acting at the Acting Dojo.

Marilyn Tokuda has been overseeing East West Players' education programming as the Arts Education Director since 2002. As an actress, she has performed in numerous productions at EWP including Follies, The Theory of Everything and as “Mrs. Lovett” in Sweeney Todd (2006). Television credits include Frasier, Friends, Seinfeld and Magnum, P.I. Film credits include Strawberry Fields, Farewell to the King and Xanadu. She is also one of the co-founders of the comedy improvisation group, Cold Tofu.

Freda Foh Shen has received several theatre honors, including an Obie for her performance in Top Girls at NYC’s Public Theatre. She began her career on Broadway in Pacific Overtures for Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince, and continued playing on Broadway, in NYC and numerous regional theatres across the nation. In Los Angeles, one of her favorite theatre roles was “Mrs. Lovett” in Sweeney Todd at East West Players (1994). On TV, she has recurred and guested on numerous series, including Elementary, Grimm, House and The Mentalist, as well as played in many TV movies. On the big screen, her films include The Lone Ranger, J. J. Abrams’ Star Trek, Red Doors, Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes and the cult classic Dude, Where's My Car?. Her voice can be heard as Mulan's mother in the Mulan films, in addition to other animation projects and audiobooks.

Tim Chiou is best known as the "Ninja Say What?!" guy with the hat. Stage credits include The North China Lover (Lookingglass Theatre Company), Snow Falling on Cedars (TheatreWorks) and Year Zero (The Colony, Victory Gardens). Recent TV credits include 2 Broke Girls, Chicago P.D., the CW's iZombie and NBC's sci-fi pilot Tin Man. You can see his upcoming film Crush the Skull premiering at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2015.

Denise Iketani is an actor and arts educator who specializes in theatre and storytelling. As a Teaching Artist, she has worked with arts organizations such as The Music Center and Geffen Playhouse, partnering with school districts, schools, teachers, parent groups and county agencies to actively encourage learning in and through the arts. Theatre credits include Follies, Pacific Overtures, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Cabaret, And The Soul Shall Dance and more. TV and Film credits include General Hospital, Frasier, The Division, Chicago Hope and After One Cigarette.

Julia Cho has performed/toured with East West Players, Will & Company, hereandnow theatre company, Lodestone Theatre Ensemble and Word for Word. A proud founding member of Artists at Play, Julia performed in the L.A. premieres of Ching Chong Chinaman, Cowboy Versus Samurai and 99 Histories. Film/TV credits include Wedding Palace, Larry Crowne, 2 Broke Girls, Scandal, Silicon Valley and Grace and Frankie. Julia starred in the web series Jeff and Ravi Fail History, which screened at SXSW, and the Emmy Award-winning The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.


Henry Chan (Director) is a director of film, television and stage. He began his career as an editor and won a Primetime Emmy Award for The Cosby Show. Henry has directed more than 180 episodes of television for all major U.S. networks. His recent credits include: A to Z, Growing Up Fisher, Neighbors, Whitney and Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23. Henry directed Masha No Home at East West Players and Telemongol at Lodestone Theatre Ensemble. 100 Days, Henry’s first Chinese language film, was shot entirely in Taiwan.



Sunday, June 7, 2015 
11 a.m. Brunch
12 p.m. Play Reading

Japanese American Cultural & Community Center
244 S. San Pedro St.
Los Angeles, CA  90012 
Little Tokyo

$65 per person 
To make a reservation, please email 
AAP.boxoffice@gmail.com by Wednesday, June 3.

Dramaturg's Perspective: AAP Readings

by Marie-Reine Velez

The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up cast and creative team: Nadja Barlera, Julia Cho, playwright Carla Ching, Raymond Lee, dramaturg Marie-Reine Velez and director Snehal Desai

I love staged readings. I really enjoy seeing the potential of a play as I’m listening to it, no matter what stage of development the play is in. There’s something about the rawness of the staged reading that I really respond to. Sometimes, most of the time, the play will never be the same again--mostly because a rewrite is usually what follows a staged reading. And that moment, of knowing that things will change, is very exciting. 

Earlier this month, Artists at Play presented a day of staged readings: The Two Kids that Blow Shit Up by Carla Ching and Nobody’s Child by Sanaz Toossi. I always have so much fun working on our readings because the nerd in me loves to bask in the dialogue between characters, the language of the play and all of the details. All of them. And the opportunity to be in the rehearsal room for one of these readings is a real treat because everyone is going through a process of discovery. And discovery is a tangible feeling in the room. 

(Writer’s note: When I start to talk about how theatre makes me feel, I think that I sound like an addict, with how I extol the “highs” of my theatre process. See: “T.A.A.” from Artists at Play … at Play!)

I had the pleasure of being the dramaturg in the room for The Two Kids that Blow Shit Up and while our process was short (2 rehearsals, 2 weeks apart), the journey the play took felt pretty epic. Before our first rehearsal, Carla never heard the play read by actors. She wrote the play very quickly in a workshop setting, and hadn't worked on it much since then. The dialogue was fast, dirty and playful. The scenes were in non-chronological order when we began. By the end of the second rehearsal, the scenes had been rearranged and set in chronological order for the staged reading. We had big discussions about complicated relationships, the lives of the characters outside of scenes shown in the play, the slippery slope of gambling addiction and why these two kids were blowing shit up. Flushing out these details in the world of the play is what makes this part of the process really fun for people like me who enjoy the art of storytelling in different ways, including “Easter eggs” and playing with language and dialogue.

So then we get to the Reading Day, and I kind of have no idea how the play will be received. Of course, there’s a part of me that knows people will enjoy the play as much as I do, but there’s also a part of me that gets really insecure, the part of me that over thinks things, or the part of me that doesn’t truly believe that my experience is reality. Did I imagine how good the play is? (I didn't.) Did we give Carla too many notes? (We didn’t.) Will people appreciate the chronological order version? (They did.) Or should we have kept it in non-chronological order? (We did the right thing.) But these were all fleeting thoughts—I was just very, very excited to hear the play again, and to hear it with a room full of people.

The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up staged reading

Our actors did a fantastic job. I especially got a kick out of hearing Julia swear so much. There was laughter, and then more laughter. You know the sound of people listening? (Hint: It’s not really a “sound,” per se.) We had that. Our audience was awesome. And then, before I knew it, the reading was over, and there I was, on stage, leading a talk back discussion about the play we just saw. Audience feedback is tricky. It’s a vital role to the development of the play, but this isn't retail where the customer is always right. Luckily for us, our audience understood their role in this process, and it was a very helpful session to have members of the audience articulate what they just heard. Again, I can’t help but think that the play we heard will never be heard again. There will be rewrites, probably another re-ordering of the scenes. 

So now, our role is to wait and see what happens next. Carla is writing a ton, whether it be rewrites for this play, or working on the other plays she has in her drawer. I had a fantastic time and am so grateful to have had this experience to live in Carla’s world for a little while. And I look forward to see what’s to come of the two kids. 

Statement Re: 99-Seat Plan Changes

As a theatre-producing collective, Artists at Play presents the following statement in response to the Actors' Equity Association and its new proposal to the 99-Seat Plan for theatre in Los Angeles.

Artists at Play (AAP) is a collective of Asian American creative professionals who present theatrical productions missing from our local landscape, telling the stories of communities underrepresented in theatre. One of the main core values is to provide opportunities for Asian American artists to increase their visibility in our artistic community. As producers, we have been conflicted about the proposed changes to the Actors’ Equity Association in Los Angeles 99-Seat Theatre Plan. Because other companies have raised the issue of how the new plan will stifle their ability to be diverse, and because we are one of the few companies of color in L.A.’s 99-seat theatre community, we feel that we need to address how the new proposal will actually affect diversity on L.A. stages.

Since our founding in 2011, Artists at Play has produced four Los Angeles premieres and four public readings, all written by Asian American playwrights. We have provided opportunities for about 40 Asian American actors (at least 20 of them Equity members) as well as six Asian American directors and six Asian American designers. We have also gone beyond to hire other ethnically diverse artists to work on our shows. While some people claim that the new 99-seat proposal will close a lot of theatres in L.A., the reality for us is that we will only be able to afford to create theatre with non-union actors if the proposal is passed. With our inability to provide opportunities for Asian American actors who are union members, where can Asian American actors expect to find opportunities to perform? In intimate theatre, contract work is already limited for actors of color, especially when compared to their white counterparts at the LORT level.

When it comes to our art, Artists at Play is one of the few companies in Los Angeles that would produce a show like CHING CHONG CHINAMAN by Lauren Yee, EDITH CAN SHOOT THING AND HIT THEM by A. Rey Pamatmat, COWBOY VERSUS SAMURAI by Michael Golamco or 99 HISTORIES by Julia Cho. All of these shows were L.A. premieres (all published works, produced nationally) and critical/office successes for AAP, but even greater than that, they raised the profile of Asian Americans as theatremakers and theatergoers in L.A. One of the biggest setbacks that come with this proposal is that AAP will not be able to produce our mainstage show this year. For this coming fall, we have been planning to present the Los Angeles premiere of IN LOVE AND WARCRAFT by Madhuri Shekar. Under the new 99-Seat agreement, we will not be able to produce this fall but will instead need to spend the year raising additional funds in order to produce the show at a later time. Which means that in 2015, L.A.'s small theatre scene will lose at least one production (of very precious few) dedicated to telling the stories of and featuring the talents of Asian Americans.

When it comes to our business, Artists at Play only plans to grow to a certain point. We will probably never have a full season; at best, we are aiming for two full productions a year. Growing to a mid-size theatre is not our end game. Small theatres that intend to stay small need a plan to work with Equity members. The pay scale that the current agreement allows for is shoddy, to say the least, and we can’t help but feel a little silly giving our actors such small stipends. But we also give our directors and designers stipends that are just as small. When we can afford it, we raise artist stipends in order to reflect how we value our artistic community, and we feel that others should too. Producing theatre in general is tough. For the last four years, AAP has tirelessly worked to help change the landscape of Los Angeles theatre alongside like-minded colleagues. On top of the limited funding and resources, along with the challenging landscape in which we struggle to operate, we are concerned that the new 99-seat proposal will negatively impact AAP and other similar organizations. We agree that we need changes but not these changes. 

To Actors' Equity, we pose this question: How are you going to support the creation of roles/ opportunities for union actors of color? This new proposal makes it difficult for union members of color to do any work. White union members still have the chance to audition for roles—many which are written exclusively white—at the mid- and large-sized institutions and to possibly book them. By comparison, the already limited opportunities 
to perform onstage for union members of color are now being taken away. It can be argued that you are supporting and perpetuating systemic and institutional racist practices. We urge you to look at the impact that these proposed changes will have specifically on artists of color and on our artistic community in a way that you may not have considered. 

Artists at Play exists because we saw a void in our field that needed to be filled. We want to make sure that opportunities are not taken away before a decision is reached. 

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Artists at Play Readings 2015

Nobody's Child by Sanaz Toossi


Saturday, April 4, 2015


1 p.m. - The Two Kids...
3 p.m. - Dinner Reception
4 p.m. - Nobody's Child
6 p.m. - Dessert Reception

Lounge Theatre 2
6201 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

$15 Pre-Sale
$20 At the Door
As part of our 2015 spring reading series, Artists at Play will help develop and proudly showcase new work by two female playwrights. Continuing our mission to share stories of underrepresented communities, we are excited to present these plays to the Los Angeles theatre community.

Playwrights Sanaz Toossi and Carla Ching have each crafted deceptively simple stories that focus on the interpersonal relationships among family members, either bound by blood or by circumstances. Whether we're traveling through Iran on a train with a trio of sisters, or jumping through time in the lives of two step-siblings, we hope you'll join us on these respective journeys that are messy yet poignant and altogether modern.

The readings will be presented on Saturday, April 4 at the Lounge Theatre. The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up will be presented at 1 p.m., and Nobody's Child at 4 p.m.

Each reading will be followed by a talkback. A $15 ticket includes dinner, hosted bar and dessert reception. (Price will go up to $20 at the door.)

Get Your Tickets!