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    Posted May 13, 2010

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Equity Member Recounts History of Asian-American Theatre Artists in Bay Area

Lily Tung Crystal

Lily Tung Crystal, a San Francisco AEA member, has written an in-depth feature about the struggles of Asian-American actors in the Bay Area for the March 2010 issue of American Theatre Magazine (online at,) The article, entitled Opening the Golden Gate, profiles actors aged 18-92 winding through the 1930s' Chop Suey Circuit of all-Asian cabarets, to the founding of the Asian American Theatre Company in the 1970s, to the hopeful yet challenging environment of multiethnic casting today.

Crystal is one of this year's grant recipients of Theatre Communications Group's Bay Area Commissioning Fund. The grant is designed to bring Bay Area theatres and artists to national attention by expanding American Theatre Magazine's coverage of the region. She also is a recipient of the 2009 Theatre Bay Area Titan Award. Created by ATLAS (Advanced Training Leading Actors to Success), this award addresses the problems of actors struggling to earn a living in the Bay Area and provides a $2,500 grant to support career projects and training, plus a yearlong mentorship with a professional. Crystal's mentor is Equity member Velina Brown.

Crystal plans to use her grant to continue her acting and singing training and to diversify her skills into on-camera work and classical theatre. Some of her award will also go toward studio space for workshops and seminars for an Asian-American Actors group she is creating with Asian-American Theatre Company.

"Growing as an actor is all about opportunity, but getting work as an Asian-American performer can be challenging," says Crystal. "I hope my article in American Theatre Magazine will help raise consciousness and create opportunity. I hope artistic and casting directors will consider, not necessarily diversity, but rather reality-the reality that the world around us comprises people of all races and genders-and if theatre is to survive, it must reflect that reality. And finally, I hope the stories of the pioneers before us will inspire Asian-American actors today to work hard and commit themselves to the theatre."

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