Monday, June 22, 2009

Raising the curtain on Asian American Drama

Hello all, I'm here to tell you about yet another of the awesome drama databases we have available from Alexander Street Press. Asian American Drama contains 252plays by 42 playwrights of Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Chinese, Hawaiian, Indian, Thai, Korean, Persian, and Malaysian descent. About half of these plays are being published here for the first time. As with the other drama collections from Alexander Street, this database includes detailed information on related productions, theaters, production companies, and more, as well as a selection of posters, playbills and other ephemera.

This collection will cover the works of Asian American playwrights from Sadakichi Hartmann in the late nineteenth century to contemporary artists like Philip Kan Gotanda, Elizabeth Wong, and Jeannie Barroga. The introductory note to this collection quotes Maxine Seller in Roles of Ethnic Theater: "Just as the lodge, the saloon, or the church did, the theatre provided a place where immigrants who often lived in cramped and dismal tenements could meet one another and enjoy being together."

Of course literature and theater scholars can benefit from this collection, but it should be of use to students of the social sciences as well. Asian American theater is said to focus on the lives and struggles of Asians in North America more so than on cultural traditions of Asian homelands. Through these works, students can gain a different perspective on historical events such as the construction of the railroads in the nineteenth century, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and the Vietnam conflict. Users of this database can also get an Asian American perspective on social issues such as integration, assimilation and cultural identity.

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