An Advanced Playwriting Reading List--With an Asian-y Twist!

The final session of my advanced Writing Is Rewriting course in the David Henry Hwang Writers Institute at East West Players was held at a Japanese restaurant in Little Tokyo, where we ate sushi, reflected on our previous 15 weeks of intense workshopping and instruction, and talked about the culminating New Works Festival of readings that went so so well.

(The accompanying group photo features me, the students, and EWP literary manager Jeff Liu. I'm quite aware that Alison De La Cruz is our only female of the group—but, seriously, we had way more male applicants than female applicants. It was quite unusual. But don't think too hard on it 'cuz—look—that's the Dante Basco on the far left!) (And so they don't feel left out, rounding out the group are Peter Kuo, Joey Damiano, Howard Ho, Aurelio Locsin, and Paul Kikuchi.)

Anyway, during the course, the students were forced—yeah, yeah, forced!—to read a bunch of plays, which we subsequently talked about in-depth. The plays were selected because they are examples of great playwriting (in my not-so-humble opinion, of course), especially for those students who are ready and willing to think deeply about everything that goes into creating a kick-ass piece of theater, and because they gave us lots to talk about on a sociopolitical level too.

So, here's what we studied this year (Season Three of Writing Is Rewriting):

  • The Substance of Fire by Jon Robin Baitz
  • 99 Histories by Julia Cho
  • Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov, adapted by David Mamet
  • Spinning into Butter by Rebecca Gilman
  • Yellow Face by David Henry Hwang
  • Ching Chong Chinaman by Lauren Yee
  • Red by Chay Yew (available in a collection called The Hyphenated American)

So, if you're interested in becoming an even better playwright, get these plays, go forth, and learn!

Writing Is Rewriting returns, not in the Fall, not in the Spring, but probably in the Summer of 2011—plenty of time for you to finish a new play and go through the rigorous application process.

By the way, here's a close-up of me and Howard. Who looks more Asian-y? Do I win? Do I win?!


  1. There goes my false sense of blogging least you could have chosen a photo in which I look pleasant/photoshopped!

  2. Howard, do you want me to anonymize you?

    I can.

    But I thought you were a narcissist.

  3. For the record, I look more Asian-y.

  4. I think you both look like a couple of handsome, serious writers.

    (Okay, now you can ruin my nice compliment with a pithy punchline.)