"Our plays gave voice to those who were,
if not voiceless,
seldom heard in America."
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Tisa Chang, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre
Tisa Chang was born in Chunking, China, raised in New York City and educated at Performing Arts H.S. and Barnard College. Her father was the Consul General from Republic of Nationalist China to New York City until the late fifties. Early training in piano, ballet and Chinese dance began at age six. After an active career as actress and dancer on Broadway (BASIC TRAINING OF PAVLO HUMMEL, LOVELY LADIES AND KIND GENTLEMEN, PACIFIC OVERTURES), in TV and films (AMBUSH BAY, ESCAPE FROM IRAN, YEAR OF THE DRAGON), she sequed to directing at La Mama ETC for Ellen Stewart’s Chinese Theatre Group. Pan Asian Rep was founded in 1977 to celebrate professional Asian American artistry and to expand the boundaries of American theatre and is regarded as one of the most influential pioneers in professional Asian American theatre.
As a director, Ms. Chang specializes in intercultural productions including the premieres of RETURN OF THE PHOENIX, adapted from the Peking Opera and later premiered on CBS TV’s Festival of Lively Arts; GHASHIRAM KOTWAL, the Marathi play with music; Shakespeare’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM done as a Mandarin/English adaptation; CAMBODIA AGONISTES, the music-theatre commission which toured nationally and to Festivals in Cairo and Johannesburg; 1999’s THE JOY LUCK CLUB; 2001’s highly acclaimed RASHOMON which was invited to the Havana Theatre Festival in September 2003; 2004’s KWATZ! The Tibetan Project, 2015’s SAYONARA the musical and 2016’s English adaptation of A DREAM OF RED PAVILIONs, Qing dynasty China’s most beloved classic.
She is active in public service and has served on panels for The National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, The United States Information Agency, Fulbright Program, Philadelphia Theatre Institute and has been invited to China, Japan, Korea, India, France, Egypt, Singapore, South Africa, and the former Soviet Union.
Awards include 2016’s Visionary Award from East West Players, 2013 Commendation from Comptroller Liu, the 2012 American Dreamer Award from Mayor Bloomberg’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, 2010 Community Legacy Award from the Asian American Arts Alliance, 2004 Alfred Drake Award from Brooklyn College, 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award from Organization of Chinese Americans, 2002 Urban Stages Honoree, 2001 Lee Reynolds Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women, 1997 Proclamation from Mayor Giuliani for Asian Heritage Month, The 1993 NYC Cultural Pioneer Tribute, 1991 Barnard College Medal of Distinction, 1991 JIMMIE Award from AAPAA, 1988 Special Theatre World Award, and citations from the Chinatown YMCA, Chinese American Arts Council, New York Lionesses, Organization of Chinese Americans L.I., Mayor Koch, Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger, and Councilman Michael Woo of Los Angeles. She is a Board member of Coalition of Asian American Theaters & Artists (CAATA), Coalition of Theatres of Color (CTC), member of National Theatre Conference (NTC) and is a former Board member of The Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC). Ms. Chang has one son.