Due to a number of concerns and production complexities, NAAP has decided to cancel the upcoming production of Show Boat. We spoke with, and listened purposefully to members of racially diverse communities and particularly with our most direct constituents, Asian-Americans, regarding how tackling this work might be perceived when the Asian presence is thrust into the center of a conversation that has historically excluded it. After carefully absorbing arguments of both support and opposition, we have chosen to cancel the production, concluding that the goal that propelled us - to lift up the Asian-American theater artist - could not be sufficiently achieved.
The announcement of our Show Boat sparked discussions concerning the show’s prominent themes of racial discrimination, and how an Asian/Asian-American cast production of this controversial piece might speak to today’s audiences and artists. Our reasons for selecting Show Boat were manifold. Its enduring recognition as an American musical theater masterwork is a testament to the merits of its script and score, demanding a high level of artistry from those who accept its challenge. Here came a chance to explore the complexities of “color-blind” and “non-traditional” casting on a level rarely investigated; in addition, how an almost century-old classic, of numerous incarnations, could be rediscovered and examined anew, for and by those who are not conventionally represented in the piece’s traditional mounting. Such introspection is relevant within our own Asian-American families, as both culprits as well as victims of racial discrimination, from both outside and within our own communities.
We felt that with a creative team comprising some of the theater community’s most accomplished artists guiding the production, these difficult issues could be thoughtfully examined with great sensitivity. With permission from the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization to explore the show from a unique perspective never before seen, we recognized our duty to honor the integrity of the show’s themes. Ultimately, we believed Show Boat strongly supported NAAP’s goals of promoting opportunity, inclusion, and respect for the Asian/Asian-American theater artist.We are dedicated to our mission, and in the absence of opportunity, will continue to move forward in our pursuit to showcase the work of professional theater artists of Asian-descent through performance, education, and outreach. As a mission-driven not-for-profit organization, our work to confront head-on the inequity within the American Theater dialogue continues, and we encourage all theater artists to continue the learning and thoughtful discourse to which this experience has given breath.
Welcome to National Asian Artists Project
NAAP is a community of artists, educators, administrators, community leaders, and professionals. It is a not-for-profit organization that recognizes the need to build bridges between the work of artists of Asian descent, and the many communities that the work can serve, from underserved primary school students to seasoned arts patrons.
National Asian Artists Project (NAAP) exists to be a leader in educating, cultivating, and stimulating audiences and artists—current and future—through showcasing exceptional work by vibrant artists of Asian descent. Art constantly evolves, and NAAP strives to command a place at the fore with a uniquely compelling American voice.
NAAP believes that artists of Asian descent have many vital roles to play in the fostering of American communities.
- Through thoughtful educational programming, we seek to present the richness of theatre arts to underserved children, fostering creative self-discovery and expression.
- Support the artistic growth of theatre artists of Asian descent through professional employment opportunities.
- Build and cultivate new local and national audiences that encourage patronage and participation in the Carts, including predominantly Asian communities unaccustomed to playing a role in the local or national arts dialogue.
- Capture and archive stories of prominent artists of Asian descent that they may be made available for future generations from which to learn and inspire.