Around 100 performances will be digitized and made available to the public – Seattle’s Northwest Asian American Theatre was one of a small handful of national theaters dedicated to exploring the Asian American experience
Moving Image Preservation of Puget Sound (MIPoPS) and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience have begun work on an exciting new project: reformatting the videotapes in the Northwest Asian American Theatre Collection. The Northwest Asian American Theatre (NWAAT) company was one of the earliest theater companies in the nation to highlight the work of Asian American actors and playwrights. From 1981 until 2004, this company was an important cultural center for the large population of Asian Americans who called Seattle home. Funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, this digitization project will allow for the digitization of 99 videotapes.The material includes experimental dance, improvisational comedy, musical performances, and, of course, plays such as And the Soul Shall Dance (by Wakako Yamauchi), F.O.B., Dance and the Railroad (both by M. Butterfly playwright David Henry Hwang), and more.
Seattleite and CAATA Secretary Roger W. Tang, considered by many to be the “Godfather” of Asian American theatre, explained the significance of this project: “I am tremendously pleased that a valuable piece of our history and heritage has a chance to be preserved to be handed down to generations coming after us. In talking with younger artists across the country, I constantly am told that it’s too bad that a lot of our early work is not available. If there’s a fighting chance that this can get done, there’ll be a lot of excitement not just in Seattle, but across the country, as NWAAT was, for the longest times, one of just five Asian American theaters keeping the flame alive.”
Once completed, the majority of the collection will be available to the public on the Internet Archive. Segments from the collection will be shown at the next installment of Moving History (MIPoPS’s quarterly archival screening night series) held at the Northwest Film Forum, on Sunday, February 10th, from 5:00-6:30 pm.
To learn more about what MIPoPS does, please see this recent article by GeekWire: https://www.geekwire.com/2018/nonprofit-battles-magnetic-media-crisis-digitizing-aging-movies-vanish/
MIPoPS website: www.MIPoPS.org
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJU1hW2A0vP42bhMbU0085w/playlists