Carving Out A Space For Our Work
Mike Lew has been a member of the Writers Lab since 2005 and is currently the Co-Director alongside A. Rey Pamatmat. His play Bike America was a part of our 2013 – 2014 season. More recently his play Teenage Dick, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard III, was a part of the Public Theater’s Public Studio series.
Bike America | Photo: Web Begole
“Diversity” has become a buzz word in the theatre community. What does it mean to you?
“Diversity” is a bone-deep commitment to honoring experiences from a multitude of viewpoints, empowering artists from disparate backgrounds to tell their own stories on their own terms.
What was the most inspirational thing someone has told you?
At the TCG Conference, TCG gathered a group of Young Leaders of Color and I remember Dominic Taylor advising us, “Be Heard.” Which sounded so striking to me as someone who was still young in my craft and coming from a cultural context that prizes deference and respect for authority. But I get it now. Artists and audiences of color are underserved in the theater, and nobody’s carving out space for us – we have to carve out that space. Which means that we have to be heard.
Any words of wisdom for young aspiring Asian American artists?
It’s not our responsibility to write narratives that serve up our culture or water it down for a general audience. Rather it’s our responsibility to address our culture only when we’re artistically moved to do it (and not pressured into it), and when we do, we must write full-throated stories that reflect our experience in all its complexity and nuance… and trust in the fact that we’ll find a smart audience who will want to go on that journey with us.
What are you currently working on?
Mike’s play “Tiger Style!” will be produced at La Jolla Playhouse in September and at the Huntington in October. His play “Teenage Dick” will be workshopped at the O’Neill and Hudson Valley Shakespeare this summer and at OSF in the fall.