Ma-Yi’s “The First Twenty: 20 Years of Asian American Playwriting” premieres Nov. 9 on ALL ARTS


|David Henry Hwang during his interview for “The First Twenty: 20 Years of Asian American Playwriting” | Photo Credit: Francisco Aliwalas

NEW YORK – The First Twenty: 20 Years of Asian American Playwriting, produced by Ma-Yi Theater Company, premieres Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 8 p.m. ET nationwide on the ALL ARTS app and, and in the New York metro area on the ALL ARTS TV channel (channel lineup). This new 30-minute documentary film showcases the evolution of the Asian American playwright over the last 20 years as part of ALL ARTS’ The First Twenty content initiative.

The documentary, created and directed by Ma-Yi’s Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña, looks closely at the shift in how Asian American plays are broadly perceived and the widening scope of subjects tackled by Asian American writers that move far beyond identity politics.

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Interview subjects include the following theater luminaries: Tony, OBIE and Grammy Award winner and Pulitzer Prize in Drama Finalist David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly, Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, Tarzan); playwright, director and filmmaker Young Jean Lee, winner of the Guggenheim Fellowship, two OBIE Awards and a PEN Literary Award, who was the first Asian American female playwright to have a play produced on Broadway; Qui Nguyen, (Vietgone, co-writer of Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon); Lloyd Suh (Charles Francis Chan, The Wong Kids) winner of the 2020 Horton for his play The Chinese Lady; playwright Mike Lew (tiny father, Teenage Dick), a Guggenheim Fellow and Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Ma-Yi; playwright Rehana Lew Mirza (A People’s Guide to History in the Time of Here and Now, Soldier X), a Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Ma-Yi playwright Lauren Yee (Cambodian Rock Band, The Great Leap); and playwright and director Chay Yew (Porcelain, A Language of Their Own).

The First Twenty is a new content initiative from ALL ARTS, curated by Artistic Director James King, uncovering how the first two decades of the 21st century have impacted American art, culture, and the collective consciousness.

Top Panel (L-R) Chay Yew, Lauren Yee, Qui Nguyen; Bottom Panel (L-R) Lloyd Suh, Rehana Lew Mirza, Michael Lew | Photos by Francisco Aliwalas

The First Twenty: 20 Years of Asian American Playwriting is the fourth special in the series. Previous offerings include The First Twenty: Afterwards, a compelling monologue by award-winning playwright Enda Walsh (Lazarus, Sing Street) in partnership with Irish Arts Center; The First Twenty: Ma’s House, an exploration of the evolution of Native American art from photographer and member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation Jeremy Dennis; and The First Twenty: Michael Mwenso Honors George Floyd, an influential concert homage featuring some of today’s greatest Black artists, on the first anniversary of George Floyd’s killing.

ALL ARTS is breaking new ground as the premier destination for inspiration, creativity, and art of all forms. This New York Emmy-winning arts and culture hub is created by The WNET Group, the community-supported home of New York’s PBS stations. Intending to be accessible to viewers everywhere, ALL ARTS’ Webby-nominated programming – from digital shorts to feature films – is available online nationwide through, the free ALL ARTS app on all major streaming platforms and @AllArtsTV on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. New York area TV viewers can also watch the 24/7 broadcast channel. For all the ways to watch, visit

Founded in 1989, Ma-Yi Theater Company is a Drama Desk, Lortel, and Obie Award-winning, Off-Broadway not-for-profit organization whose primary mission is to develop and produce new and innovative plays by Asian American writers.

Ma-Yi’s productions have earned 10 Obie Awards, 5 Henry Hewes Award nominations, a Drama Desk nomination for Best Play, and the Special Drama Desk Award for “more than two decades of excellence and for nurturing Asian-American voices in stylistically varied and engaging theater.”

The Ma-Yi Writers Lab, a signature program founded in 2004, is the largest resident company of Asian-American playwrights ever assembled. The Lab encourages a new generation of Asian American artists to voice their experiences while developing a steady stream of quality new works by Asian American playwrights for Ma-Yi’s own performing repertory. New works created at the Writers Lab have gone on to successful productions around the country, at such theaters as Victory Gardens, Laguna Playhouse, Long Wharf Theater, Woolly Mammoth, and the Actors Theater of Louisville, to name a few.

Ma-Yi Theater is under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña.

–With Jay Domingo

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