In a major signal that South Asian Americans are a big part of the Asian American theater scene, East West Players has named Snehal Desai as its new Artistic Director.
Desai replaces Tim Dang who retires after 23 years leading the nation’s longest running professional theatre of color in the United States.
“Since I met Snehal in 2011, aside from his artistic gifts and his producing skills, I recognized a charm and diplomacy in his leadership that will advance East West Players and the next generation of artists through the remarkable sea change that is happening in American theatre,” said Dang. “Snehal’s extensive involvement in his career developing over 200 new plays, the vast majority by artists of color, has allowed him to hone an artistic style and voice that is focused on diversity, inclusion, community building and social justice. ”
Desai joined East West Players as its Associate Artistic Director in 2013. He has worked at more than a dozen theatre’s in New York and directed plays at theatre’s ranging from the Old Globe in San Diego to Old Vic in London. His directing work at East West includes A Nice Indian Boy and the U.S. v. Bhagat Singh Thind, as well as last year’s critically acclaimed production of The Who’s Tommy.
“We must keep working to provide artists of color the opportunities and visibility they deserve,” said Desai. “Under Tim’s extraordinary 23 year tenure, EWP has consistently demonstrated this with the rich and diverse range of work it has produced. I am grateful for his guidance and example.”
He was featured in American Theatre magazine’s “20 Theater Workers You Should Know” and Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC) Journal. As Artistic Director of East West Players, Desai will be charged with providing the artistic vision and strategic, financial and operational direction of one of the most prominent theaters of color in the country. Desai will assume artistic responsibilities immediately and select the 2017-2018 Season.
““We are excited that Snehal will be EWP’s next artistic leader,” said Board Co-Chair Daniel Mayeda. “He has a national reputation in the theatre world as a fierce proponent of diversity, multi-culturalism and new Asian American artistic work.”
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