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LA Stage Alliance slammed for misidentifying Asian actress at awards – Deadline

More than 25 LA-area theater companies, including the Geffen Playhouse, Pasadena Playhouse, and Deaf West Theater, have revoked their LA Stage Alliance memberships after the nonprofit misidentified and pronounced the name of Asian actress Jully Lee at an awards show. earlier this week.

The LA Stage Alliance apologized and pledged to undertake “visible and transparent transformation”.

The incident happened Tuesday night during the Virtual Ovation Awards for local theatrical productions. Lee’s first name was mispronounced when the nominees for Best Featured Actress were read, and a photo of another Asian actress appeared on the screen.

Lee was nominated for her performance in Jiehae Park’s Hannah and the dread gazebo, a co-presentation of East West Players and the Fountain Theater. The next day, East West Players left the organization, posting a statement on Instagram saying, in part, “The mispronunciation of our names combined with the feeling that all Asians are alike is nothing new. However, it particularly stings when the evening is meant to be devoted to raising the profile of LA’s theater community and celebrating our performers.

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East West also denounced the Alliance’s traditional practice of recognizing only one theater per production, even in the case of co-productions or co-productions. “Whenever East West Players co-produces in an effort to give Asian American actors more visibility in theaters in Los Angeles, the other, predominantly white organization is uniquely listed and showcased,” the communicated. (Hannah and the dread gazebo received the Fountain Theater, which was credited throughout the awards ceremony.)

In solidarity, a growing number of theater companies revoked their Alliance memberships throughout the week, including the Pasadena Playhouse, Geffen Playhouse, Center Theater Group, Deaf West Theater, A Noise Within, Rogue Machine, Boston Court, Latino Theater Company, Playwrights’ Arena, 2 Cents Theater Group, Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, Inkwell Theater and Artists At Play, among others. (Deaf West Players, whose acclaimed production of Spring awakening won a 2016 Ovation and was nominated for three Tony Awards, also cited the Alliance’s inability to provide closed captioning and ASL interpretation as the reason for his departure.)

“We are supporting @EWPLayers and revoking our membership in LA Stage Alliance, effective immediately,” Geffen tweeted. Pasadena Playhouse tweeted that he “supports our producer partner #EWPlayers to revoke our @LAStageAlliance membership following last night’s Ovation Awards.”

The list of outgoing theater companies posting the hashtag #LeavingLASA has grown so rapidly that last night East West Players tweeted a thank you to their allies with a “quilt” from the supporting companies:

Lee, a Korean-American actress and director, wrote in a tweet that she “wasn’t the only person mistakenly identified with the wrong photo / name pronunciation. I was just the first of the night. #DoBetter doesn’t even scratch the surface. On the LA Stage Alliance Facebook page, Lee wrote, “Can you also post a public apology for Mike Millan and Joshua Bitton?” I’m sure you have a list of other people who felt looked down upon or looked down upon at the ceremony … to admit these mistakes would be to acknowledge them all instead of focusing on the mistake that held the most back. attention on social networks.

LA Stage Alliance, which has its origins in two separate organizations – the Los Angeles Theater Alliance service organization founded in 1975 and the professional association League of Producers and Theaters of Greater Los Angeles founded in 1983 – serves more than 500 arts organizations from the greater Los Angeles area. , according to the organization’s website. More than 300 of them are paying members.

Last July, the Alliance laid off several staff members due to the Covid pandemic, but later announced that it would conduct its annual Ovation awards. The pre-recorded show, in which the names of the nominees were read in a voiceover, was hosted by Celebration Theater artistic director Michael A. Shepperd (who by various reports correctly announced the names of the winners.)

In its apologies, the LA Stage board wrote that it “accepts full responsibility for any errors made during the Ovation awards ceremony on Tuesday, March 30. We sincerely apologize to Jully Lee and the AAPI community, as well as our members, constituents and the community at large.

“A written apology,” the organization continued, “can’t do much, especially when there are underlying issues that need to be addressed. LA Stage Alliance takes seriously its commitment to equality and the support of its theater community and diverse performances. With this in mind, with immediate effect, LA Stage Alliance will focus on achieving visible and transparent transformation so that it can be held accountable to the community it serves.

The organization said it would take what it called the following “initial steps”:

  • “Create a working group of diverse theater and artist representatives to review, assess and modify LASA’s mission, services and alliance with BIPOC and the marginalized community”
  • “Create an advisory committee made up of various theater stakeholders to review and revise its policies and procedures relating to the Ovations awards and ensure adequate representation of BIPOC on all Ovation committees”
  • “Create an operational plan that supports its members, constituents and programs in general.
    Create new partnerships and develop relevant programs for the benefit and fair treatment of all its members ”

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